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Should I pursue prosecution of crimes against me? | InFocus
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Jason Harris

Jason loves to communicate God's word both in the local church and at conferences and retreats. Jason has been involved with Worship Music since 1996 and InFocus since 2005. Jason has degrees in theology, music, accounting, and research and is currently a PhD candidate and lecturer in the College of Business, Law, and Governance at James Cook University, Cairns. Jason is also a pastor at CrossPoint Church. You can contact Jason at jason@teaminfocus.com.au.

15 Comments

  1. avatar

    PJ

    Thanks Jason, this clarified some things for me. It is a really difficult issue for some people and I think you’ve explained the pros, cons and Biblical position really well. God bless.

    Reply
  2. avatar

    Kez

    Wow, Jason, this is a really good post. It is well thought out and gentle but clear. It covers all the questions that immediately come to mind in a non-complex, but precise manner. It quietens the protestations of bystanders so quick to judge or give their uninformed opinions and it encourages thinking on these things without pressure. I appreciate you sharing the truth about these difficult topics. Thank you… =)

    Reply
  3. avatar

    Daniel kriss

    Hey Jason, wonderfully written article which lovingly and carefully suggests all the alternatives and gives very clear direction! I know many who will find this a great help. Sadly there are hundreds even with Christianity who have experienced abuse and I trust that this will encourage them to see it in its true light: gross sin! God bless you bro. Dan

    Reply
  4. avatar

    Alen

    Jason, the fundamentalist movement is notorious for keeping crimes in house. I believe these series of articles you’ve been doing are probably among your top work that you have done. I’m really glad that you’ve put these out there.

    I hope they lead not only to a culture change where crime is no longer kept in house but to also change the culture of attacking the victim. One is often seen as bitter and revengeful, especially if one is no longer a part of the community (such as myself) and cannot protect themselves against slander.

    Once again, great work.

    Reply
  5. avatar

    Wendy

    Was Joseph wrong to not want to prosecute a capital offence? “And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly.” This was after discovering that Mary was pregnant. He must have thought she was guilty of fornication, a crime punishable by death, but instead thought to deal with it secretly. I.e., Not taking it to the police.

    Reply
    1. avatar

      Jeremy Crooks

      I am not sure comparing fornication 2000 years ago and modern criminal behavior is a fair comparison.

  6. avatar

    Jason Harris

    @Wendy,

    I don’t think he was wrong. But I find the question a bit confusing since the post doesn’t suggest it is wrong to not prosecute. Of course there are times when it would be wrong not to prosecute (e.g. when others are in danger).

    Reply
  7. avatar

    Wendy

    In relation to the above article and your article on 16 reasons to prosecute criminal behaviour; I was just reading Mark 14:47 about when Peter tried to protect Jesus by chopping off Malchus’ ear. AT Robertson writes, “Mark does not tell that it was Peter. Only John 18:10 does that after Peter’s death.
    John MacArthur writes, “Mark and the other synoptic writers do not identify Peter explicitly, perhaps because they wrote earlier than John, during the time when Peter would still have been in danger of Jewish revenge.”
    Here is another biblical case of when a godly man was protected from being reported to law after a serious criminal event took place.
    The principle seems to indicate that not all criminal behaviour should be reported. These commentators are saying that the earlier Gospel writers, Mark and Luke,were protecting Peter from revenge (prosecution?)

    @Jeremy, fornication was punishable by death by civil authorities in that day, so I think it can be compared in principle to modern criminal behaviour, even though it is not punishable today in such a way in Australia.

    Reply
    1. avatar

      Jeremy Crooks

      @wendy. There is a point where justice does not equate to enforcing civil law. I would argue it that chopping the hands off thieves because they stole or sending them to a penal colony in 1788 is not a punishment fitting the crime. Both of these are/were valid civil punishments. I would probably put stoning for fornication in this category

      On the other hand, allowing pedophiles to escape the law of the land is like preventing them from having a millstone placed around their neck and dropping them in the ocean. History shows it also allows them to repeat offend.

  8. avatar

    Jason Harris

    @Wendy, Perhaps you need to go back and have a closer look at that earlier post. The title of the post was 16 reasons crime should not be handled in-house. That is very different from “16 reasons to prosecute criminal behaviour.” That article deals with a third party’s obligation to report crimes. This one deals with the victim of a crime themselves deciding whether to pursue prosecution of a crime. Hopefully that clarifies a little.

    Regarding the matter of Peter’s incident, the fact that the New Testament writers may have tried to protect him (of course that’s quite speculative) doesn’t suggest that that was the right thing to do. Prosecution is not revenge; it is justice.

    Reply
  9. avatar

    Kezia Dennison

    @Wendy, I may have misunderstood you, but you seem to believe that the law is something a godly man who has committed a serious criminal offense might legitimately need protection from and that it might be right to not report him for the criminal act. Do I understand you correctly in that?

    If so, how can that be when Scripture is quite clear that God has put the law and it’s officers in place specifically to deal in justice – especially in regard to criminal matters. If a “godly man” (or anyone for that matter) is innocent of a charge, he has nothing to fear from the law. But if he’s guilty, then what possible reason could people have for needing to protect him from his deserved consequences?

    As Jason said, why the New Testament writers withheld Peter’s name is speculation and even if ithe theory were true does not mean they did the right thing in doing so. I’m interested if you could you perhaps offer some modern day scenarios where it might be right to “protect someone from the law” and/or not report them when they have committed a serious crime please?

    Reply
  10. avatar

    Wendy

    Hey, all I’m saying is that the Bible shows that all things being considered, Joseph chose to secretly put Mary away when she was found pregnant, rather than taking her to law to be executed by a just, good and holy law. He thought she was guilty, after all, she WAS pregnant and engaged to him. He is not condemned for not turning her in to the authorities, is he?
    Thus, the implication is that there are times when certain factors have to be taken into consideration which may mean that a crime should not need to be reported. As Jason said, in his concluding statements above, “Ultimately, there are complex issues that need to be addressed at multiple levels (spiritual, legal, personal, etc.). ”

    @ Kez, Jesus died unjustly at the hands of the government that you say no innocent man needs to fear. Paul died unjustly at the hands of a government that God allowed to rule and a government that in principle he had written to Christians to obey in Romans 13. Paul was godly, and innocent of the charge but died at their hands unjustly. When the Nazis governed Germany, many godly people who were innocent of their charges were put to death or horribly tortured. Godly people had reason to fear when corrupt governments ruled. See Proverbs 29:2 and Matthew 2:16 where it shows that at times godly people have legitimate concerns about the injustice of government actions.
    @Jeremy I am not for hiding pedophiles. I once convinced one to turn himself into the police.

    Reply
  11. avatar

    Jason Harris

    @Wendy,

    First, the situation where the Jews wanted to stone the aduleress was neither law nor justice. An angry mob is incapable of administering true justice. That is not law… it is vigilantism and it is a crime in itself.

    Second, if indeed that was still law, it was a hangover from the time when Israel was ruled as a theocracy. Israel hadn’t been ruled by a theocracy for over a thousand years at this stage. It was originally intended to be carried out through due process and under direct divine authority. Governments today rightly fear to use this right of capital punishment because of the possibility of getting it wrong among other things.

    Third, Joseph did not know that Mary had committed fornication. He had no evidence. In reality, to turn her in would have been a false accusation based on no evidence except for that which was obvious to everyone… namely that she was pregnant. So it is invalid to suggest that this was a secret matter. Joseph intended to do what he was going to do discreetly, in a way that would not cause unecessary damage and this is admirable, but it is of course impossible to hide a pregnancy and a child.

    Fourth, if the point was valid, then it would be crucial to point out that while Joseph is not condemned, he is not commended either. It is interpretatively faulty to assume that because something is not condemned that it is not only commended, but also a pattern for our behaviour. This hermeneutic has done significant damage to the Church as immature expositors mistake biblical precident not only for biblical commendation, but for biblical instruction.

    Again, it’s unclear what you are suggesting overall. For instance your comment that “certain factors have to be taken into consideration which may mean that a crime should not need to be reported” suggests that you are referring to the previous post again. Fair enough. And I agree. If a man confesses a crime on his deathbed, you do not need to report it. If a man confesses stealing a pencil from a company, you do not need to report it. If a man confesses breaking the speed limit, you do not need to report it.

    But let’s be clear. If you are aware that a man beats his wife and/or children and you do not report it, you have done evil. If you are aware of a single instance of child abuse and don’t report it, you have done evil. If you are aware of significant harm, whether neglect, emotional, physical, or sexual to someone who is weak and you do nothing, you are a participant in the evil. If that weak person is under your spiritual care, the evil is multiplied.

    Reply
  12. avatar

    Kezia Dennison

    @Wendy, I must apologize. Communication is obviously not one of my better points. =)

    I meant to make it clear earlier that I was speaking in the context of criminal activity. In other words, you said about how we know Peter committed a serious crime but he was not reported and was even deliberately protected and you seemed to take the principle from that and say that in some circumstances other people who have committed serious crimes perhaps should not be reported to the law also. If that is a correct grasp of what you were saying, my question is once again, what would be some modern examples where it might be right to protect someone or not report someone who you know to have committed a serious crime? I am honestly very interested in some scenarios…

    I believe criminal prosecution is a very different matter entirely from persecution and martyrdom. In the context of criminal behavior, the law is there to protect the innocent and bring justice to the guilty. God has placed them there for this purpose so what cause do we have to fear civil authority in this context? If a person is innocent of the charge as judged by a jury of their peers, they’ll go free and if they’re guilty they’ll pay the consequences. If we love justice like God does, how could we justify not helping the law do the job for which they were ordained by God and our country?

    God has set the law up as an authority to which we need to obey but when it contradicts the highest authority of God himself than we may be crossing over into the area of persecution and corruption and legitimate concerns about government actions.

    Reply
  13. avatar

    David LaVeque

    dear brothers and sisters,
    The only things that have not been answered is why Peter was not reported?There was no crime comitted.Jesus repaired the damaged/severed ear.Not only that,but I believe that the gaurd became a believer at that moment.The gaurd could have reported the crime,but what evidence could he offer?
    Now,as to persecution of the Saints,and or crimes comitted against them,and no government to prosicute the evil doers,you may have forgotten the highest authority,GOD! He will always prosicute evil.The Saints did not have to report it,God was the witness'(thats plural)
    Now,as to joseph not haveing Mary stoned as was his right according to the law,he had the right to show mercy,and he did.Then an Angel of the Lord appeared to him and explained what God required of him.So Joseph being being a devout man,submitted to the will of God.That again,a higher authority prevailed.I hope this helps.May the Lord be exalted in all we do.

    Dave

    Reply

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