The most difficult math problem in the universe, it turns out, is 70 x 7. Perhaps the hardest thing to do in the Christian life is to forgive someone who has hurt you, often badly. But Jesus says the alternative to forgiving one’s enemies is hell.
One of the reasons this is hard for us is because we too often assume forgiving a trespasser means allowing an injustice to stand. This attitude betrays a defective eschatology. At our Lord’s arrest (Matt. 26:47-54), Jesus told Peter to put his sword back into his sheath not because Jesus didn’t believe in punishing evildoers (think Armageddon). Jesus told Peter he could have an armada of angelic warriors at his side (and one day he will). But judgment was not yet, and Peter wasn’t judge. That’s the point.
I struggle with this issue all the time. An injustice has been done to my brother.
It’s gut wrenching to have a loved one accused of a crime he didn’t commit and frustrating to try and convey that to authorities who don’t care. The falsehoods told about by my brother include the lie that he’d had a prior conviction. The authorities misspelled his name. My brother’s name is Rick Enss. The authorities spelled his name Enns. The police record of a man named Richard Enns was attributed to my brother. Prosecuting attorney Cynthia Phillips was made aware of this in court and told not to make the claim again, but she continued. The first attachment with this entry of The Plea is the arrest/court record of the man Cynthia Phillips attributed to my brother. This record was one of the items used to determine how much time in federal prison he would receive. Never underestimate the correct spelling of your name.
It will never be within my power to overlook the wicked lies and wild justifications of those who have made me distrustful. It will be-it can only be-the love of Christ transplanted into my believing heart that can exchange my weakness for His strength.
Only God can soothe my aching heart when I consider the cruelty my brother has gone through. His glasses were smashed and his false teeth broken when he was raped and beaten several years ago. I was able to get his glasses replaced but it took four years to convince the prison officials to allow me to work on getting new dentures made for Rick. I needed the records from his dentist to make that happen. I was surprised to learn that my brother’s ex-wife had visited his dentist and taken my brother’s records. She did this long after she married the man she was having an affair with when she was with my brother.
The second attachment in this entry of The Plea is the dental records indicating when my brother’s ex-wife took Rick’s file from the dentist.
It grieves my heart that this happened. It will never be within my power to overlook this hurtful deed. Only God can bring that about.
When we forgive, we are confessing that vengeance is God’s (Rom. 12:19). We don’t need to exact justice from a fellow believer because justice has already fallen at the cross. We don’t need to exact vengeance from an unbeliever because we know the sin against us will be judged in hell or, more hopefully, when the offender unites himself to the One who is “the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 Jn. 2:2).
A prisoner of war who forgives his captor or a father who forgives a crazed shooter who kills his daughter, these people are not overlooking sin. Nor are they saying that what happened is “okay” or that the relationships involved are back to “normal” (whatever that is). Instead they are confessing that judgment is coming and they can trust the One who will be seated on that throne.
I long for my heart to be changed. I want to always remember that I am a sinner and have been forgiven of a great deal.
It would not be right to keep what I’ve learned from this horrifying experience to myself. It’s offered as a warning for all those who find themselves or a loved one falsely accused.
TYPICAL WRONG REACTION TO FALSE ACCUSATIONS:
“I’m innocent. This is crazy. If I talk to them and explain it will go away.” This is the initial feeling of the wrongfully accused. They have done nothing wrong and therefore there should be no adverse consequences. Those in authority will quickly recognize their innocence, the mistake, the overreaction, and it will all go away.
For the self proclaimed child savers though, no mistakes are ever made. “Of course the accused will deny it. Who among us would admit to being a child molester? Children do not lie. Adults lie. Molesters lie. You are lying.” This is the mind-set of those who will prosecute you.
Child Protective Services caseworkers and prosecutors like Cynthia Phillips believe the case is over once the child makes an outcry of abuse and that outcry is subsequently substantiated during the videotaped interview. No other evidence is necessary for them to submit the case to a grand jury. No physical evidence of abuse.
No medical evidence of abuse. Nothing.
Now they may try to get such evidence. However, in their minds a failure to obtain it does not undermine their conviction that abuse has occurred. Hymen still intact? Well the hymen does not have to be broken in order for abuse to occur, or for digital penetration. Lack of semen? Well, of course, this offense occurred over the course of years and the child did not make an outcry immediately after the incident.
Lack of substantiating witnesses? No matter, molesters work behind closed doors, in private, when no one else is around to witness. Lack of criminal record for the accused? The accused is a child molester, he is interested in secretly abusing children, not in committing adult crimes. Has the accused pass a polygraph test? Those are not admissible because a savvy adult can manipulate such tests.
Rule No. 1: Nothing an accused can say or do will convince a child saver (CPS, Child Advocacy Prosecutor, Police Investigator) that the abuse did not occur. NOTHING!
Rule No. 2: Talking to CPS or the Police Detective, or anyone without an attorney present is the single worst thing a wrongfully accused person can do.
Rule No. 3: In most cases an experienced attorney will not allow you to talk to CPS or the police or give a statement. The attorney knows whatever you say will be used against you.
The violation of the above three rules by those falsely accused is commonplace. An innocent person believes sanity will intervene at some point, and decides to cooperate fully with the police and Child Protective Services. The accused gives written statements and videotaped statements to CPS and the police. In addition, the accused talk on the phone to detectives and caseworkers. They talk in the investigators offices without knowing whether they are being recorded. They often talk themselves into a corner that is extremely difficult to ever get out of.
Roughly 120 people around the country have proved they were wrongfully convicted of sexually abusing a child and won release from prison, according to the National Registry of Exonerations at the University of Michigan. But advocates will tell you there are many more who never make it. Jeff Blackburn, chief counsel at the Innocence Project of Texas, estimates that 70 percent of the hundreds of letters his group receives every week come from people convicted of child-sex crimes.