What are we to do to resolve a “he-said, she-said” dispute like we have with Judge Roy Moore and his accusers? Perhaps resorting to the wisdom of Jesus can help us.
When it comes to sin, and suspicion of sin, the Master was quite clear. “Every charge,” he said, every accusation of wrongdoing, must be “established by the evidence of two or three witnesses” (Matthew 18:16; emphasis mine throughout). In other words, if there is just one witness, that accusation cannot be considered a valid accusation, cannot be considered a fact, and cannot be considered actual evidence in terms of establishing the truth about what did or did not happen. If there is just one witness, you have zero evidence in the court of public opinion, which is the only place this case can be tried. (In Judge Moore’s case, the voters of Alabama will serve as the jury on December 12.)
The accusers might even be telling the truth, but without at least one corroborating witness, we must, in fairness to the accused, refrain from speaking with any kind of certainty.
In Judge Moore’s case, there are five accusers according to the press. In truth, however, there are only two, since three of the five have not accused the judge of any kind of sexual impropriety. Kissing is not a crime.
So we have two witnesses, Leigh Corfman, who claims Moore touched her inappropriately in 1979, and Beverly Nelson, who claims Moore attempted to rape her in 1977. There are some character issues with Ms. Corfman which raise questions about her credibility as a witness. She has been divorced three times, filed for bankruptcy three times, and, according to a neighbor who knows her and her history, three times falsely accused pastors of sexual indiscretions.
This, of course, does not automatically mean she is not telling the truth when she talks about Roy Moore, but any prudent observer will want some corroboration of her story before giving it the weight of credibility. And that’s the problem. There is no corroborating witness who saw Moore do to her what she accuses him of. The response will be, of course, that he took her to a secluded place where no one was around. And of course that may be true, but we cannot, in fairness to Moore, take her accusation as actual evidence apart from a second witness.
There are also problems with Nelson’s account. Even a casual study of Moore’s supposed signature in Nelson’s yearbook reveals inconsistencies in structure, strokes, slant, alignment, etc., and the message is not consistent with his customary vernacular. There are two sets of “7s” in the note, and even to an untrained eye, each set seems certain to have been written by a different hand. And there are two colors of ink in the note, which begs for some kind of explanation. Further, she claims Moore locked the passenger door from the inside so that she could not get out, but child locks were not put in automobiles until the 1980s.
Nelson’s own stepson, Darrel Nelson, posted a video on his Facebook page challenging the veracity of his stepmother’s words. “I truly do not believe that she’s being honest about this...I don’t believe a word she says, but I do believe [Moore] is innocent.”
So the bottom line is we have just two accusers, not five, and there are reasons to be cautious about accepting the word of either of these accusers without corroboration. And there is no corroboration. There is no second witness in either case. This means, according to the teaching of Christ, we have no facts, no actual evidence to accuse Judge Roy Moore of anything.
This principle of two or three witnesses was a bedrock principle of jurisprudence in the legal system God revealed to Moses for ancient Israel. “A single witness will not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses shall a charge be established” (Deuteronomy 19:15).
God doubles down in Numbers 35:30 when, through Moses, he flatly declares, “No person shall be put to death on the testimony of one witness.”
It’s impossible to get any clearer than that. When both God the Father and God the Son go on record establishing exactly the same standard of evidence, maybe we ought to listen.
The apostle Paul declares his unambiguous support of the same principle. Speaking of accusations against spiritual leaders in the church, he commands Timothy, “Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses” (1 Timothy 5:19).
What this means is that mature men and women must not accept these charges against Roy Moore unless and until corroborating witnesses come forward. (Someone who only heard about what happened is not a witness - that’s hearsay.) In the absence of additional testimony, men and women of character must regard and think of Moore as if he is innocent of all charges.
This “innocent until proven” guilty concept used to be a foundational principle of American jurisprudence too. But it has been run through the wood chipper by virtually everyone in the Republican Party who really ought to know better. I’m deeply disappointed, for instance, in Sen. Ted Cruz who is a man of the Word and is very familiar with the words of Jesus. To see him toss the words of Jesus overboard right along with Judge Moore is unfortunate, to say the least.
The stampede to hang Moore from the nearest tree is understandable coming from the left, given their innate hostility to the truth. But it is truly shameful, embarrassingly so, to see those who should know better draw and quarter him and throw him under the nearest train. It is disgraceful and tawdry and beneath men of their stature.
Part of our concern must not only be for Judge Moore, but for the entire movement of social conservatism. The left has now seen, in the frenzied and frantic dogpiling of the GOP and the conservative media, their strategy for the future. The next social conservative who runs for high office is likely to find himself the subject of utterly unprovable accusations of child molestation. How many conservatives who have watched the left destroy the spotless reputation of a man of Moore’s character will be ready to step forward and run for public office?
Right now, in a way that is probably unexampled in American history, Judge Moore finds himself the object of the scorn of the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, and the entire media, including Fox News. We’re seeing a spectacular display of hatred and derision directed with full fury and venom against a single, solitary target.
In the 4th century, the bishop Athanasius was the lone voice defending a biblical view of the nature of Christ. Another bishop by the name of Arius had convinced the Christian world that Christ did not exist from eternity past but was rather the first thing that God created. Athanasius stood alone to defend the eternal pre-existence of Christ and his full divinity. For his troubles, Athanasius was exiled from the Roman Empire no less than six times.
One of his disciples came to him and said, “Athanasius, the whole world is against you.” “Well,” he replied, “then Athanasius is against the whole world.”
Right now, it’s Judge Roy Moore against the entire world. The world wants to destroy him, and he has precious few friends. Let’s be sure we are among them.