Being a “public figure” who has had to leave my home with my family because of escalating threats that ended with a death, emails using every profanity and expression of ill will I could conceive, and lampooning by cartoon editorialists who think they know me but don’t, my heart broke as I observed yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee “hearing.”
I know my experiences pale in comparison to what Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh have experienced over the last ten days and in having aspects of their personal lives played out before a nation. It is easy for those who have never experienced any open and public vitriol not to appreciate the effect of such things on people in their zeal to achieve a certain desired political end.
I know there are those who would say I don’t care about people or certain communities of people because they are offended by the public policies for which I advocate and, because those policies run counter to their beliefs and practices, they take them as a personal attack. I understand that, and such comes with the territory.
Getting to the Truth
But we must remember that we will always have public policies touching on matters of human sexuality and thus, in principle, it’s as right for one side of a policy position to be offended and feel attacked as it would be for the other side. So, it is not personal in the same way as one person accusing another person of a particular sexual assault.
Dr. Ford’s accusation was a direct, personal charge of wrongdoing against one particular person, Judge Kavanaugh. If her recollection is accurate, she alone was the victim of sexual assault, and he alone was the perpetrator. If she is lying, then Kavanaugh is the victim of character assassination, and she is the perpetrator. And if her recollection as to the identity of the perpetrator is just an honest mistake, then there are only losers, Kavanaugh having the most to lose because he is now unemployable among a large percentage of those who would otherwise employ him.
I don’t think we’ll ever know which of the three scenarios is the truth. It would be easy for some to assume Dr. Ford has misidentified her perpetrator because none of those who she says were there recall the party, let alone the act, including her female friend. And those on the other side will have their reasons for explaining why none of those identified as being present or involved remember the event.
Furthermore, if the goal of further investigation by the FBI is to conclusively vindicate either Dr. Ford’s memory or Judge Kavanaugh’s character, then that is not going to happen. Justice Clarence Thomas has not had any allegations of sexual impropriety brought against him over the 26 years since he was confirmed, yet, as we’re now seeing, Anita Hill’s charges against him will always be associated with his name.
The Weightier Issues of Biblical Justice and Mercy
As I thought about how these matters could have been investigated in a more confidential manner to protect the innocent, whoever it is, and listened to the Senate wrangling over notations in a high school notebook over flatulence and vomiting in a high school yearbook, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the story in Matthew 23 in which Jesus condemned the Pharisees. Jesus noted that the scribes and Pharisees tithed beyond what the law required, tithing even the contents of their spice rack—mint, dill, and cumin. However, it wasn’t going beyond what the law required that Jesus condemned, but rather the fact that they “neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness” (v. 23 NASB).
I believe Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh really have been made pawns for the sake of a political matter in which at least some senators have made true justice and real mercy the victim. People who believe a wrong cannot ever be “lived down” and that “repentance” cannot be demonstrated by exemplary character for more than three decades have no concept of mercy. What they really want, assuming they really deep down believe a wrong was done 36 years ago and they are not just politically motivated, amounts to vengeance, paying someone back, and in that way, justice also suffers.
In the end, I couldn’t help but think of what the Psalmist said in Psalm 130:3, “If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand” (NASB)?
May God save us from ourselves.
David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.
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