Did you see in the news lately that Bill Cosby’s (upcoming) trial has already started action to initiate new laws that will extend the Statute of Limitations for sexual abuse cases?
First of all, let me state, unequivocally, that sexual abuse is wrong and that those who practice it should be punished.
Let me also state, just as unequivocally, that we are all responsible to immediately report wrong-doing, and that memories do not become more accurate as we age; in truth, they do just the opposite. How many of us know someone who has related a life-event over the years that has become more exciting and less accurate as time goes by? The person relating the event believes it is true, but for those of us listening, we know that the story has changed, over and over.
People who have done wrong should be punished, true- but what about forgiveness? I often state that sin will always have consequences in this existence, but it is the spiritual, the eternal existence that counts. Forgiveness from God (through Yeshua, the Messiah) is what we need, and forgiveness of a sin by the one who has been wronged, in this physical existence, is what the person who was hurt needs, now. The hurt never goes away without forgiveness.
God will forgive us as we forgive others, meaning- we get what we give. Check out Matthew 6:14-15.
I believe that those who have been sexually abused have an obligation to themselves and to others to report it then and there! Yes, it is embarrassing. Yes, it is painful. Yes, it is something we would rather not be associated with and want to forget. But that doesn’t change the fact that the person doing it to you will do it to someone else. If you don’t have enough self-respect and strength to report abuse for your sake, then do it to protect others. Don’t wait until it’s 20 or 30 years later, when both you and the other person might be totally different people, and who knows how many others may have been caused to suffer.
The bible says that if a sinner turns from his or her sin, then they will be forgiven. And if a righteous person becomes a sinner, they will die the second death. Even if a life-long sinner genuinely does T’shuvah (turn from sin) on their death bed, that person will be forgiven.
Crimes against others, especially sexual crimes, can have long-lasting effects. That is mostly, from what I have read and seen, because the victim doesn’t ever do anything about it.
When I was a teenager, I worked the night to morning shift at a 24 hour restaurant (Jack in the Box). One night a young man, harmless looking, came in and sweet-talked us into helping him with his Master’s program (or some such story) regarding rewards and punishments. It meant we went into the attic and answered questions, with bare-butt paddling as the negative reinforcement. All three of us went up to the attic, one at a time and yes- I allowed him to bare-butt paddle me. I was just an innocent, Long Island bred, white, middle-class protected child. The others said they didn’t allow it, but I don’t believe them. Afterwards, I knew it was wrong, told my parents and we filed a police report. As I recall, the police did know the person but I never found out what happened.
Because I did the right thing, I feel no regret or embarrassment- the thing to remember about those that prey on others is that they are really, really good at it, and we are, as a species, really, really stupid. When we accept that we are a trusting and gullible people, being a victim isn’t as traumatic.
If Bill Cosby is guilty, he will be punished, but this entire incident is a shame because one of the most beloved celebrities of our day is ruined, no matter what the outcome. And all the fond memories of his past activities are also ruined. I feel a personal loss because of this, don’t you? If he did these things, he deserves punishment, but 30 years later? At some point, when do we learn to let go and move on?
That’s the real issue, isn’t it? Forgiving and moving on. We like to be the victim, we prefer to accept the pity that the world gives to victims instead of realizing that we should be chastised for being a coward and unconcerned about the safety of others by refusing to come forward at the time it happens.
I believe the victim should be held just as responsible to report the abuse as the abuser should be held responsible for abusing the victim. And if that means telling them that it is too late now, too much time has gone by, then so be it!
The Statute of Limitations should be a reasonable time after the incident; the facts should be reported immediately while they are still accurately remembered. Extending the law that has been on the books for a long time already just because of one case is an over-reaction. If the accused had been some Joe Blow from Nowheresville, no one would care. But just because it is a well-known celebrity, some politician who wants to get his or her name on a law is making a big deal out of it.
Bill Cosby has become the victim now- not of sexual abuse, but of self-empowering and power-hungry politicians.
We don’t want someone to “get away” with doing wrong. Well, sure- that’s how we should feel. That’s why God invented punishment. Duh! And the guilty will be punished- if not here on earth, then when they face the Lord on the Day of Judgment.
But what if they atone and ask forgiveness? Do we then punish them? Doesn’t Yeshua say to forgive not 7 times, but 70 times 7 times? If someone does something wrong on earth, which means some innocent person will suffer for it (the innocent always do), then that person should be punished. It is right, it is morally the thing to do, it is biblical.
I think the answer, at least for me, is to forgive but not totally forget. In other words, forgive someone who asks to be forgiven (actually, forgive them even if they don’t ask- what they do or don’t do isn’t what God is concerned with: God is concerned with what you do when you have been sinned against), render fair and proper punishment, then accept them back. BUT- you don’t have to trust them. Not until they have earned it.
And report wrong-doing. Even if you are embarrassed, even if the memory is painful- do it for yourself, do it to protect others, do it because it is not just the right thing to do but what God commands you to do (Leviticus 5:1):
If you are called to testify about something you have seen or that you know about, it is sinful to refuse to testify, and you will be punished for your sin.
Not reporting evil is allowing it to continue, and you are just as guilty as the person doing the evil. We MUST prevent evil by reporting it. Look to your history, look to the Nazi’s, look back further to Japan attacking China, look back further to slavery in the New World, look back further to…well, you get the point. What we fail to fight, we empower to continue.
Don’t let evil continue- report evil wherever and whenever you see it, even if it is a personally painful and embarrassing thing. If you let it alone, it will never go away.