Sometimes a news story guts me, usually because I can empathize with some aspect of the feelings of those involved. This week’s news of the conviction of Bill Cosby of drugging and assaulting a woman did not actually gut me. But what did cause me to suck in my breath and tear up in response was the video of his other accusers in the courtroom overcome with gut wrenching sobs at the announcement.
I was sobered that he was convicted, with all the lessons that his fall from grace symbolize. But I was ripped open by the women overwhelmed with emotion at the verdict.
For decades, these women had been maligned as money hungry women, seeking to sully the reputation of America’s Dad by claiming consensual sex was actually rape. Woman … after woman … after woman had identical stories. While two or three witnesses is the standard in Scripture, Bill Cosby had 60 women who accused him. Yet decades passed after the assaults. Bill Cosby flourished professionally, while his accusers were maligned, their reputations sullied. With this verdict, they were vindicated. They have been proven “right, reasonable, and justified.”
Vindicate me, God, and champion my cause
against an unfaithful nation;
rescue me from the deceitful and unjust person.
The Bible records many cries of believers longing for vindication. While Christians value perseverance in unjust situations, our belief system is one founded on the concept of objective truth. Our faith gives us hope when we must endure hardship, when we are maligned or even persecuted for our beliefs. But, fundamentally, we believe God is just, and that He will not tolerate those who break His laws and malign the victims that cry out for justice.
Lord, you have heard the desire of the humble;
you will strengthen their hearts.
You will listen carefully,
doing justice for the fatherless and the oppressed
so that mere humans from the earth may terrify them no more.
When someone is vindicated, those around them come to agree with them on the truth of a situation and put a stop to future oppression. Do not minimize the spiritual value of such a moment!
This is why a nation was transfixed by Rachael Denhollander’s victim statement at Larry Nasser’s sentencing.
It is why a memorial in Montgomery, Alabama recently opened to acknowledge and lament the victims of lynching.
And for those of us in reformed evangelical circles, this is why accusations against Mark Driscoll made back in 2007 didn’t go away, and why accusations against Sovereign Grace Ministries still today won’t go away. It’s because they literally CAN NOT go away without an agreement on what is the truth of the situation. Without an investigation by an unbiased third party who evaluates what did and did not happen based on the Biblical standards of witnesses and evidence, the cloud over SGM and CJ Mahaney will never go away.
Vindication, truth, confession, and repentance are concepts that are inextricably tied together in the Christian faith. As both Nasser’s and Cosby’s verdicts illustrate, truth eventually prevails. We must always as believers choose to be on the side of it, believing in objective truth even if we don’t yet know exactly what it is in a given situation.