January 12, 2018

Accountability in an Age of Accusation

My previous article dealt with the prevalence of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault accusations in our culture. Some of these claims carry clear evidence of behavior that demands justice –  either some kind of professional penalty or criminal prosecution. Many of these allegations, however, lack clear and compelling evidence. As these events become part of our national conversation, our culture shifts. We can be unaware of the subtle changes that take place in our own thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. How can followers of Jesus Christ sift through the barrage of information while also remaining blameless and above reproach in this accusation culture? Here are a few thoughts:

  • Guard your thoughts. Anything you let into your mind will influence your thinking. Whether it’s the sensual nature of many forms of entertainment or the spin of any particular media outlet, we need to guard what permeates our thoughts. The Bible encourages us to go on the offensive, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8).


  • Set boundaries. In a 2002 interview with The Hill, Vice President Mike Pence described, “building a zone around your marriage.” His personal policies include never dining alone with a woman other than his wife and working late with only male colleagues or assistants. Although late night comedians joked about his rules, Vice President Pence has wisely prevented even a hint of impropriety. Every believer, married or single, who desires a blameless life should set similar boundaries of protection. We need to employ the truth of 1 Peter 3:16, “andkeep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.”


  • Be accountable. I cannot stress how important it is to be active in a local Bible-believing, Jesus-loving, and people-serving church. Being active is more than just attendance; it’s being engaged in the lives of others through service and through small groups, which builds accountability. Listen to the challenge of Hebrews 10:25, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Authentic faith demands that we live in the power and person of Christ in a community of others with the same mission and mindset.

In last week’s blog I said that Satan doesn’t need evidence to accuse, just an environment where emotions rule. When emotions run high, as they currently are on this topic, an accusation is often all that’s needed for people to accept that someone is guilty. The account of Joseph and Potiphar is a prime example of what I’m talking about. Joseph did everything right when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him, yet he soon found himself in prison because she grabbed his robe and screamed when he ran. Any accusation of sexual sin is serious, but not all allegations are accurate. False accusations only serve to cheapen the true victims of sexual misconduct. As believers, we need to be on guard in our own lives and then love mercy and seek justice before we pronounce judgment upon someone else.