I had an eerie sense of déjà vu as I watched the Dinesh D’Souza scandal unfold last week. I’ve seen a number of men be accused of sexual immorality – politicians, businessmen, pastors – and almost always their first reaction is not only to deny the accusations, but to attack the accusers as jealous, small-minded, and part of a wider conspiracy or vendetta against them (e.g. Bill Clinton, Dominique Strauss, etc).
Obviously we have to resist the temptation to assume the worst of people, especially of powerful men. False accusers do exist. However, it does raise the question if this is the way those who really are victims of false accusation would or should react?
Or to make it more personal, what if I was wrongly accused of sexual immorality? What would I do? How would I hope I’d react?
First of all, I go to fairly extreme lengths to ensure that I am never in a situation where such an allegation could arise, or if it did it could easily be disproved due to the presence of other witnesses, etc.
Second, I would humble myself before God, as I would view such an accusation as divine chastening. I would prayerfully look for why God saw fit to allow such painful allegations to arise in my life. Even if not guilty, there is a humiliating shame involved. I would pray for much grace for my wife and family as such accusations would impact them as much as me.
Third, I hope I’d try to reach out to the accuser(s) in love and mercy seeking to understand why she/he is making such an allegation. I hope I would not denigrate her/him or seek to destroy her/his character. She/he is a precious soul with a great need for salvation, and so are those who may be supporting her/him.
Fourth, I’d ask my pastor/elders/employer to initiate a full and open investigation of the accusations. I’d want them to treat it seriously rather than dismiss it with “We know you’d never do that.” I would not want to be treated with any special favor or shortcuts.
Fifth, I’d seriously consider stepping aside from public Gospel duties while the investigation is completed. I imagine it would feel very strange and inappropriate to be proclaiming God’s truth while under such a dark cloud.
Sixth, I’d seek solace in the sufferings of Christ, trying to enter into the fellowship of his sufferings, who was falsely accused throughout his life.
Seventh, I’d pray for vindication, asking God to clear my name through due process. I hope I would not resort to threats, manipulation, or other political machinations to secure my reputation or innocence.
Eighth, I hope I’d be willing to submit to God’s providence even if it was not possible to clear my name, even if it meant the end of my ministry. That’s easy to say when it’s not happening, but I hope I would be thankful for the years God did grant me to proclaim His Word, and accept that now it’s over and God will advance His work and His kingdom without me.
Lastly, even if false accusations ended my ministry, Joseph’s and King David’s stories encourage me to hope that in time God would yet vindicate me and return me to even greater future usefulness in His Kingdom.
It reminds us all to pray more earnestly than ever before, “Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil.”