Tag Archives: Child Negligence

The Elephant in the Room

Can you imagine Jacob’s torment?  Can you imagine the pain he must have felt, when his sons returned to his tent, the day they sold their brother Joseph into slavery?  He thought his son was dead, and the pain nearly killed him.  It aged him overnight.

I wonder how much greater his pain would have been, had he known what really happened to Joseph?  Do you think he ever suspected foul play at the hands of his older sons?  Do you ponder whether Jacob ever doubted the validity of what his ten oldest sons claimed had happened to Joseph?  The bible doesn’t say for sure, but I reckon Jacob suspected more than he let on.  Yet, as in most dysfunctional families, too often, there are just some things that are too painful to be spoken out loud.

Jacob must have known how much his other sons hated Joseph, for they had made no attempt to hide it from anyone.  They openly mocked him at every turn, and their jealousy of Joseph was evident to all.  It must have seemed dubious to Jacob, when Joseph turned up dead, after he sent him to check up on his brothers.  After all, he knew full well, when he sent Joseph to them, how angry they already were with Joseph.  After all, hadn’t Joseph given their father a bad report about them, just days earlier?  And what about the beautiful robe Jacob had given to Joseph?  It was the same robe his ten older brothers later returned to Jacob, covered with blood.  Their rancor towards their brother had known no bounds, when Jacob rewarded Joseph with that beautiful robe.  Indeed, Jacob had made it abundantly clear, over and over again, that Joseph was his favorite son, which caused their loathing for Joseph to burn even deeper.

Elephant-in-the-room (1)

Yet, as in most dysfunctional families, they ignored the proverbial “elephant in the room,” and no one ever addressed the issue.  The ten eldest sons never spoke directly to their father about the pain he had caused them, in showing favoritism towards Joseph.  Instead, they allowed their bitterness to fester, turning into a poison that blackened their souls, until their hearts turned violent.

Indeed, this wasn’t the first time that these ten sons of Jacob had turned violent.  They had slaughtered and plundered an entire town, after a man named Shechem, the prince of that town, raped their sister, Dinah.  True, what Shechem had done was evil, but what these ten sons of Jacob had done, was no less evil.  For they had tricked the men into believing that they had forgiven Shechem, and they would allow him to marry their sister, Dinah, if he, and his entire town would be circumcised.

Eager to make amends and marry Dinah, Shechem, and his father, King Hamor, agreed to the deal, and when they met with their council, they agreed too.  Therefore, all of the men in that community were circumcised.  Then, three days later, while all of the men were still in great pain from their circumcisions, the ten eldest sons of Jacob attacked and killed every single male, and afterwards, they took all of the town’s livestock, and enslaved the women and children who remained.

elephant-in-the-room

Yes, Jacob surely knew the violence his oldest sons were capable of, but, again, like the proverbial elephant in the room, he didn’t discuss his suspicions with them, because to actually hear the truth spoken aloud was too much for him to contemplate.  And now, as famine swept across the land, Jacob worried about his family’s fate.  There was no grain to be obtained in all of Canaan, but he had heard that there was grain available in the land of Egypt, so he assembled all of his remaining sons, and had a family meeting.

“We’re going to starve if we don’t get some grain,” Jacob spoke bluntly to his sons, who exchanged glances with one another, but said nothing.  “Why are you standing around looking at one another?” he asked impatiently.  “You know what I say is true.  However, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt.  Therefore, I want you to go down there and buy enough grain to keep us alive.  Otherwise, we’ll all die.”

“You’re right Abba,” Benjamin, Jacob’s youngest son, replied.  “We must go to Egypt right away.  Come brothers, let’s pack up and leave for Egypt at first light tomorrow.”

“NO!”  Jacob shouted.  “Benjamin, you will stay with me, and your brothers will go to Egypt.

“But Abba,” Benjamin protested.

“NO!”  Jacob shouted once again, as he fought the panic that boiled up within him.  His heart pounded loudly in his ears as he drew a shuddering breath, trying to slow his heart rate, and speak calmly.  “No, my son,” Jacob repeated.  “This is a job for your older brothers to handle.  You must stay with  me.”

Benjamin looked closely at his father, and noted the terror in his eyes.  Then he knelt down beside Jacob, and gently hugged him.  “Alright Abba,” he whispered softly.  “I will obey and stay here with you.”

Jacob’s oldest sons exchanged guilty glances with one another, for they, too, had seen the fear and pain in their father’s eyes, and they knew that they were the cause of his agony.  Though no one said a word, once again ignoring the elephant in the room, the brothers knew that Jacob wouldn’t allow Benjamin to travel alone with them, for fear they might harm him, just as they had harmed Joseph.  

Both Jacob and his ten eldest sons felt guilty.  Yet, still, they didn’t speak of what they had done.  Each was trapped in his own torment, and it seemed there was no hope for redemption.  Each one was a captive of a moment that had long since passed. Jacob was trapped in the moment when he had chosen to love Joseph more than all of his other sons.  In doing so, he had rejected their love as insignificant.  His rejected sons were trapped in the moment, when they had taken their anger out on the wrong person, their brother, Joseph, rather than confronting their father for neglecting to love them as a father should.  They were all, utterly without hope.

Yet, in the midst of all this turmoil and anguish, El Shaddai had a plan.  It was time for each one, Jacob and every one of his sons, to face the elephant in the room, and address it once and for all.

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Duggar’s 19 Kids and Counting Canceled: My Response to the Revelation of Child Molestation Committed by Josh Duggar & His Family’s Response to the Revelation

Josh Duggar

“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.”  (Josh Duggar – May 21, 2015)


If you live in the U.S., and you have access to newspapers, magazines, the internet or television, then by now, you’ve no doubt heard about Josh Duggar’s shocking statement, in response to allegations of child molestation.  Many people have commented and weighed in on this subject, with some valid points and some foolish ones.  This is an extremely difficult situation, for the victims of Duggar’s actions, first and foremost.  It is also extremely difficult for his parents, the siblings who weren’t molested, as well as Josh’s wife and children.  Many people have already cast judgment on Josh Duggar and his parents, and while I can’t judge the Duggar’s hearts, what can be judged is their behavior at the time Josh molested five different girls, and their behavior now.  In judging their behavior, let us remember that it is the responsibility of Christians, to help our brothers and sisters in Christ, when they fall into sin…


Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.  (Galatians 6:1  NLT)

20 “If righteous people turn away from their righteous behavior and ignore the obstacles I put in their way, they will die. And if you do not warn them, they will die in their sins. None of their righteous acts will be remembered, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. 21 But if you warn righteous people not to sin and they listen to you and do not sin, they will live, and you will have saved yourself, too.”  (Ezekiel 3:20-21  NLT)


As a former victim of child molestation, I feel compelled to share my thoughts on this indredibly painful topic.  First, I’d like to address the announcement that Josh made.  One thing that jumps out to me in his account is the fact that Josh appears to tiptoe around the subject.  While he comes across as sounding regretful and repentant, there is a part of me that questions Josh’s sincerity.  If you glance at Josh’s statement, he seems to address the issue, but read it again.

Never once does Josh confess his sin, which is all over the tabloids.  Not once, does Josh admit to molesting anyone or committing incest, not to mention pedophilia.  Instead, he merely says, “I acted inexcusably…”  A teenager acting inexcusably could be guilty of any number of offenses, ranging from minor ones to major ones.  Perhaps, you think I’m being too picky, and that Josh’s disclosure of his “inexcusable actions” is enough.  However, the fact is that he hasn’t said enough.  In his statement to the press, Josh never really confessed to the crimes of molestation, pedophilia and incest that he allegedly committed.  Is it necessary for him to say the words?  Absolutely.  Just as an alcoholic needs to confess that he/she is an alcoholic, so too, a pedophile and a child molester must admit that he/she is a pedophile and a child molester.


If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  (1 John 1:9  NASB)


According to scripture, we must confess our sins in order to be forgiven.  According to dictionary.com, the definition of confess is:


verb (used with object)

  1. to acknowledge oavow (a fault, crime, misdeed, weakness, etc.) by way of revelation.
  2. to own or admit as true:
    I must confess that I haven’t read the book.
  3. to declare or acknowledge (one’s sins)especially to God or a priest in order to obtain absolution.
  4. (of a priest) to hear the confession of (a person).
  5. to acknowledge one’s belief or faith in; declare adherence to.
  6. to reveal by circumstances.
  verb (used without object)
  1. to make a confession; plead guilty; own:  to confess to a crime.
  2. to make a confession of sins, especially to a priest.
  3. (of a priest) to hear confession.

According to the above definition, when Josh Duggar gave his press report, he did not confess to, or own the crime he committed.  He only admitted to acting inexcusably.  Many of us have acted inexcusably, but our inexcusable actions did not include child molestation or incest.  Josh Duggar needs to own and confess what he has done, without hiding behind words that are meant to minimize the crime, so that it doesn’t sound as bad as it is.

Another thing that greatly disturbed me when I read Josh’s statement was this comment:


“… I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life…” (Josh Duggar – May 21, 2015)


Perhaps you’re wondering how I could possibly find this statement disturbing, but I urge you to read his entire statement, and take note on whom he focused.  Josh understood that if he continued down that road, he would end up ruining his life.  He’s absolutely right.  He may well have ruined his life with those actions, but what about the lives of his victims?

Regardless of whether he continued on that path, he certainly, at the very least, damaged the lives of his victims.  And who, besides God and Josh, truly knows how many other victims there were?  We do know that Josh’s actions have already harmed the lives of at least five, not including the rest of his brothers and sisters, his parents, his wife, and the babysitter and her family, as well.

I also found it terribly disturbing that in their interview on  The Kelly Files,  Mr. and Mrs. Duggar repeatedly minimized the seriousness of their son’s crime against his victims, two of whom were their own daughters!

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J.B. Duggar:  “… And the girls, we talked to them, and they didn’t know that anything had happened because they were asleep…”

Kelly:  “Like when you went to bed at night during that time frame, were you scared?  Were you worried?  You know, he’s 14, he’s having this problem.  What’s going to happen when we go to sleep?”

J.B. Duggar:  “Right.  Nothing ever happened like that again in the girls’ bedrooms after that.”

Kelly:  “Ok.”

J.B. Duggar: “Ok.  So, we had safeguards that protected them from that.  But there was another incident where — two different incidents where the girls were, like, laying on the couch, and it was — he had touched, like, over the couch and actually touched their breast while they were asleep.  And so –“

M. Duggar:  “Over their clothes.”

J.B. Duggar:  “– over their clothes. And so it was a very difficult situation. But as we talked to other parents and different ones since then, a lot of families have said that they’ve had similar things happen in their families. And so — I mean, this is, for us, of course, this is public shame that our son did this back 12, 13 years ago…”

J.B. Duggar:  “… All of theseagain, this was not rape or anything like that, this was like touching somebody over their clothes. There were a couple incidents where he touched them under their clothes, but it was like a few seconds and then he came to us and was crying and told us what happened, and it was after that third time he came to us is where we really felt like, you know what?…”

Kelly:  “And we’ll going to get to that in one second. The subsequent incidents after the first one involved daughters who were awake, at least a couple of them?”

J. B. DUGGAR:  “There was a couple, yes. And they didn’t really understand, though, what happened.

Kelly:  “Yes. What –“

M. Duggar:  “It was more his heart, his intent. He knew that it was wrong. But in theirs they weren’t even aware. They were like, you know, it wasn’t — to them they didn’t probably even understand that it was an improper touch.”

Kelly:  “I know that the ultimate one before you really got help involved a very young daughter, and I’ll avoid the age because I don’t want to identify anyone specifically, but a single digit. I mean, what was that like for you to hear? You know, one, you must have thought for some time this is a pubescent boy, I don’t know what he’s going through, but he’s testing. But when it moves to a young daughter –“

J. B. Duggar:  “Right. At that point, that’s when we pulled him out of the house and we said, he can’t be here. And so, we pulled him out and then, he went through working with that man –“

Kelly:  “Yes. He goes through counseling.”

J. B. Duggar:  “Yes.”

Kelly:  “And then when he was done with the counseling, this is not like a licensed therapist, it’s somebody, a Christian-based –“

J. B. Duggar:  “Christian based. But I’ll tell you why.”

Kelly:  “Treatment facility…”


Kelly:  “… I’m asking you more as the father of your girls than as the father of Josh. You know, it must have been very hard to look at your little one and know the behavior had been ongoing, as difficult as your position was.”

J. B. Duggar: “Right. I was so thankful, though, that Josh came and told us. And our girls, even though this was a very bad situation, as we’ve talked to other families who have had, you know, other things happen, a lot of their stories were even worse…


To read the entire transcript of the Duggar’s interview, please click this link:

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The repeated minimization of Josh Duggar’s criminal actions against his sisters is disturbing.  In much the same way that King David, of Old Testament times, ignored the brutal assault that his son, Amnon, committed against his half-sister, Tamar, the Duggar’s also appear to ignore and minimize the traumatizing effects of their son, Josh’s, sexual assault against their daughters.  Indeed, protecting and defending their son’s reputation seems to be more important to them, than acknowledging the seriousness of the crime committed against their daughters.

As a matter of fact, the following statement, made by J.B. Duggar, shows just how out of touch with reality they are…


J.B. DUGGAR: I think you actually said pedophile, and a pedophile is an adult that preys on children. Josh was actually 14 and just turned 15 when he did what he did, and I think the legal definition was 16 and up for being an adult preying on a child. So he was a child preying on a child.

KELLY: You do not view Josh as a pedophile?

J.B. DUGGAR: No.


Just to clarify, Wikipedia provides this definition of pedophilia:

Pedophilia or paedophilia is psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children, generally age 11 years or younger.[1][2] As a medical diagnosis, specific criteria for the disorder extend the cut-off point for prepubescence to age 13.[1] A person who is diagnosed with pedophilia must be at least 16 years of age, but adolescents must be at least five years older than the prepubescent child for the attraction to be diagnosed as pedophilia.[1][2]


While it may be true that Josh committed these crimes when he was between the ages of fourteen and fifteen, at least one of the children was more than five years younger than he was.  Furthermore, what difference does one year or two make in a situation like this?  Let’s remember that Josh molested one of his sister’s, who was under ten years old.

The Duggar’s appeared to be more concerned about the release of Josh’s records, than the crimes he had committed against his sisters.  Quite frankly, this whole situation is troubling to me, though many Duggar’s fans claim that they are being unfairly attacked because of their Christianity.  I’m a Christian, and I find both Josh’s actions and their response to his actions terribly troublesome.

I believe the Duggars mishandled this situation from the very beginning.  Josh Duggar should be on the sexual predators list, just like all others who commit the same crimes.  Also, because of the nature of his crimes, he should never be left alone with children, who are unable to protect themselves.

Perhaps you think I’m being too hard on Josh Duggar and his family, but I would suggest that they did not then, and still have not taken this situation seriously enough.  I love the Lord, and I’m not questioning their faith in God, but consider this… 

Suppose there was a really nice young man at your church, who taught Sunday School, or worked in the nursery, and his background was just like Josh Duggar’s?  Would you, as a parent, feel comfortable leaving your children in the care of this man, who says he is a Christian, and he’s turned his life around, or would you remove your child from his class?  Knowing this person’s background, I believe that any parent who left their children in the care of someone who had committed incest and pedophelia, would be grossly negligent.  

Even if this person had totally turned his life around and given his heart to the Lord, I would not leave my child alone with him, because even after we are saved, we still struggle with temptation, and though I pray Josh has truly changed, to risk a child’s well being, when only God truly knows his heart would be a sin.  You see, up until very recently, this was something that was hidden in the dark, and it wasn’t Josh who brought it into the light.  He was content to leave it in the darkness, and because God hasn’t revealed whether or not it is now safe for Josh to be alone with children, I reiterate that it would be sinful and grossly negligent to leave a child alone with him.

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Because of this scandal, TLC has now cancelled the Duggar’s hit television series, 19 Kids and Countingand I believe it was the right decision.  While I understand that many Christians love the Duggar’s show, and they see a double standard here, believing that this cancellation is an attack on Christianity, again, I disagree.  Should the Duggar’s be held to a lesser accountability than other television stars, who have fallen in disgrace due to their sins?  Should they be allowed to continue to air their show, when Bill Cosby, for instance, who has been accused of drugging and raping numerous women over the years, has had his syndicated series’ cancelled?  I would have to say no.  

Friends, let us remember that we, as followers of Christ, are held to a higher degree of accountability than the world is, and although we may have sinned and committed crimes before our salvation, we are not exempt from the consequences of those sins and crimes, just because we are born again.  Accepting Christ as our Savior does not give us a “Get out of Jail Free” card.  What we receive instead, is a much greater gift, instead.  For, when we are saved and delivered from our sins, we receive eternal life, and a “Get out of Hell Free” card.

I won’t deny that this scandal tripped many triggers in me, due to my past.  However, I’m not condemning Josh Duggar or his parents.  I truly do pray that he has turned his life around with help from the Lord.  I also pray that Mr. and Mrs. Duggar will stop minimizing the incest and molestation committed by Josh against their children and their babysitter, and face the true scope of their son’s sin, and the harm that was done to the victims, so that all of them can truly heal from their pain.  

As for my fellow believers, let us all agree to pray for deliverance and healing for everyone who was involved in this crime, both the victims, their families, and the perpetrator and his family. 

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

Justin Ross Harris & Israel’s Cities of Refuge

Image Credit: people.com
Image Credit:
people.com

Everyone is talking about Justin Ross Harris, who left his twenty-two month old son, Cooper, in his hot SUV for seven hours, while working his job at Home Depot. This horrible incident has been all over the news media, and a couple of days ago, I watched his probable cause hearing online. By the end of that day, Mr. Harris’ motion to be released on bond was denied, so he must remain in jail until his trial.

In the aftermath of this terrible occurrence, one thing is certain; everyone has an opinion about it. Did Ross Harris deliberately murder his only son, or was it really a dreadful accident, like he says? As I watched the court proceedings the other day, I was struck by a sad thought…

Suppose this really was an accident? Haven’t you ever gotten in your car, planning to go to one destination, and then, while you’re on your way, you suddenly realize that you’ve driven somewhere else, almost as though you were on auto-pilot? Haven’t you ever gone into a room with a specific task in mind, only to get there and realize that you’ve forgotten what you had gone in there for? 

I realize that a child was involved in this incident that turned very deadly, but the fact is that each one of us are human beings, with finite minds, and we do sometimes forget very important people and things. Several years ago, I remember promising to pick up an elderly woman for bible study at the church we attended together. On the evening of the bible study, I arrived around fifteen minutes early, because I am a very punctual person. After arriving so early, I spent the next several minutes chatting with other friends before class started. At one point, I remember looking at one of my friends, asking, “Where’s Miss Betty? She’s usually here by now.” 

My friend gave me an incredulous look, then stated, “I was going to ask you where she is. Weren’t you supposed to pick her up tonight?” I was totally embarrassed, because as soon as she said that, I remembered telling Miss Betty that I would pick her up. How embarrassing it was, as I quickly exited and went to get Miss Betty and bring her to the bible study. 

That’s why I don’t think it is totally implausible that a father or mother could go to work and forget his/her child is in the back seat, especially if the child falls asleep. Before we pass judgment on this father, let’s remember that he is every bit as human as we are, and it is truly possible that he did indeed, forget his son was in the backseat of his SUV. 

And if he truly did forget his child, can you imagine how traumatic it would be to come to the realization that your forgetfulness killed your only son? Imagine how horrific that must be for him. If he truly did forget his son, this young man (who looks like a boy to me), must find a way to live with the knowledge that his stupid error killed his beloved son. If it was indeed an accident, he will have to live with all of the ramifications caused by his memory lapse… Think of it, while his wife and family are grieving the loss of this adorable little boy, Ross Harris must be carrying a crushing load of guilt, knowing that his son would be alive if only

If only…

  • he had taken Cooper to daycare…
  • he had remembered Cooper was there, in his car seat, in the SUV, before he got out…
  • he had thought about his little boy, instead of allowing his mind to wander to sexual fantasies with six different women (none of whom were his wife), and wasting precious minutes, (which could have saved his son’s life) by sending sexual messages to these women (one of whom was an underage, sixteen year old girl)…
  • he had remembered his son before he went to lunch with his friends…
  • he had looked in the backseat of the SUV, when he dropped the light bulbs off in the front seat of his car, after lunch…

The list of “if only’s” goes on and on, but sadly, they mean nothing, for Cooper Harris is gone now.

Meanwhile, Ross Harris now finds himself in a battle for his freedom, and possibly even for his life, since Georgia is one of the states, which still enforces the death penalty. While watching Mr. Harris’ defense attorney questioning Detective Phil Stoddard (who seemed to have convicted Justin Ross Harris already, before the investigation and a trial have been completed) that I began to think about how a situation like this would have been handled in biblical times…

Image Credit: Bob Enyart Live
Image Credit:
Bob Enyart Live

During biblical times, the people of Israel had six cities that were designated to be Cities of Refuge

These cities are for the protection of Israelites, foreigners living among you, and traveling merchants. Anyone who accidentally kills someone may flee there for safety. ~ Numbers 35:15  NLT ~

Were these cities of refuge available to everyone? As you can see from Numbers 35:15these cities of refuge were available to foreigners and traveling merchants, as well as the Israelites, who found themselves in a situation much like the one Ross Harris is now involved in. Also, because the Lord is a merciful and just God, He made sure that the cities of refuge were available to all, no matter where they lived in Israel…

“If the distance to the nearest city of refuge is too far, an enraged avenger might be able to chase down and kill the person who caused the death. Then the slayer would die unfairly, since he had never shown hostility toward the person who died. That is why I am commanding you to set aside three cities of refuge. ~ Deuteronomy 19:6-7  NLT ~

Now, this place of refuge was not a place for someone to stay to escape justice. Nor was it a prison. The cities of refuge were there so that the person who accidentally killed someone could live without fear of reprisal before being tried by the community.

These cities will be places of protection from a dead person’s relatives who want to avenge the death. The slayer must not be put to death before being tried by the community. ~ Numbers 35:12  NLT ~

God did not command these cities of refuge be created to help the slayer escape justice. He called for these cities of refuge to be built in order to ensure that justice was served. Indeed, the Lord didn’t appoint only three cities of refuge, but six, so there would be enough to make them equally accessible for people to escape to.

13 Designate six cities of refuge for yourselves, 14 three on the east side of the Jordan River and three on the west in the land of Canaan. 15 These cities are for the protection of Israelites, foreigners living among you, and traveling merchants. Anyone who accidentally kills someone may flee there for safety. ~ Numbers 35:13-15  NLT ~

To be clear about this, murderers would not be allowed to find haven in any of the cities of refuge. These cities were only to protect those who accidentally killed someone, and they, like anyone else accused of a crime would face a trial by their community.

Those who were found guilty of murder were sentenced to die by the hand of their victim’s nearest relative. However, if the person accidentally kills someone, the community must protect the slayer (the one who accidentally kills someone) from the victim’s avenger (the closest relative of the victim), and escort him/her to the city of refuge, where the person must remain until the death of the high priest. (Numbers 35:24-25  NLT)

As long as the slayer remains within the city of refuge, until the high priest dies, thus ending his sentence, he will live in safety, protected from the victim’s avenger. However, if the slayer is discovered by the victim’s avenger outside of the city of refuge before the high priest dies, and the avenger kills him/her, this will not be counted as a crime by the avenger…

26 “But if the slayer ever leaves the limits of the city of refuge, 27 and the avenger finds him outside the city and kills him, it will not be considered murder. 28 The slayer should have stayed inside the city of refuge until the death of the high priest. But after the death of the high priest, the slayer may return to his own property. 29 These are legal requirements for you to observe from generation to generation, wherever you may live.  ~ Numbers 35:26-29  NLT ~

Now, let’s go back and examine the scriptures in Numbers 35 again, and see how they explain the difference in an accidental killing and murder. As we study this, let’s keep in mind what we know about the death of Justin Ross Harris’ son, Cooper Harris… The following scriptures describe exactly what a murder is…

16-21 If someone picks up an instrument—iron, stone, wood,whatever—and batters somebody else so badly that the victim dies, or if he otherwise kills with intent (fatally pushes with hatred or throws an object from some hidden place that kills its target), the perpetrator is guilty of murder. His punishment is death in return, and someone shall be assigned to kill him. The one to carry out this death penalty is called the “blood avenger.” Whenever the avenger has a chance to kill the murderer, he should do so. ~ Numbers 35:16-21  VOICE ~

As you can see from the description, it is murder if someone picks up an instrument and batters someone with it so badly, that the person dies. Further, it is also murder if someone intentionally kills someone either by using a weapon, or by some other means. As we follow the case against Justin Ross Harris in the coming months, let’s keep this biblical description in mind when determining whether the man murdered his son, or whether the child’s tragic death was an accident.

22-24 Sometimes it happens, though, that a person pushes his friend or acquaintance, throws an object, or happens to drop a heavy stone on someone else without any intention of hurting (much less killing) the person, but the other person happens to die from it. The guilty person should be able to take refuge in one of the six designated cities, safe from the one who would avenge the death he caused. Then people from among the greater community shall judge whether it was indeed an accident or not. ~ Numbers 35:22-24  VOICE ~

Image Credit: couriermail.com
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couriermail.com

In the coming weeks and months, I imagine we’re going to hear many different things about Justin Ross Harris, as he is tried for murder in both the courtroom, and in the news. Many people have already formed an opinion regarding his guilt or innocence, without even knowing all of the facts. However, I would encourage all believers to pray especially for Justin Ross Harris, and his wife, Leanne Harris, for if this was an accident as Mr. Harris claims that it is, I can’t even begin to fathom the pain he and his wife must be experiencing. On the other hand, if it was murder, let’s pray that justice is served, and that the Lord would comfort Leanne Harris, who loved and trusted her husband with their child. Let’s also pray for their marriage, which has very likely suffered from this tragedy.

After reading the scriptures that tell how to know the difference between murder and accidental death, we understand how to determine the difference between the two. However, if we are members of God’s jury, in the case of Justin Ross Harris, how can we judge whether he is guilty of murdering his son, or if the death was accidental? Let’s turn to Numbers 35 once again to help us…

“All murderers must be put to death, but only if evidence is presented by more than one witness. No one may be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. ~ Numbers 35:30  NLT ~

As you can see, to convict a person of murder, there must be evidence presented by more than one witness. If only one witness testifies against the accused, then there is not enough evidence to convict him/her.

There is one more noteworthy thing about this chapter on the Cities of Refuge that I would like to mention. If the person accused of murder was found guilty, he/she would be sentenced to death by the victim’s avenger. However, if the death is found to be accidental, the person does not get off scot-free. He/She must remain within the city of refuge until the high priest dies.

You see, God values the life of mankind, most certainly, more than humans do. Therefore, if someone is killed by the hand of another, his/her death must be paid for by the one who killed him/her. Of course, if the person was murdered, his/her killer must be killed to pay for his/her death.

However, if a person was accidentally killed by the hand of another, that person’s death must also be atoned for by his/her killer. Therefore, though the killer does not deserve to die for the accidental death caused by him/her, he/she must still pay for the death with his/her own life. Hence, the killer must spend his life living within the confines of the city of refuge until the death of the high priest, whereupon he/she will then be free to return to his/her own land to live in freedom once again.

I think this consequence for causing the accidental death of someone is fair. By sentencing the accidental killer to live in one of the cities of refuge, several clear messages are sent to everyone involved…

    • First and foremost, the sentence acknowledges the value of the life that was lost, and though his/her death was accidental, it must still be atoned for.
    • This sentence makes it clear that the death was unintentional and accidental, therefore, the killer does not deserve to die for it.
    • Only God, (who knew when and how the victim would die), knows when the high priest will die, thus ending the killer’s sentence.

It seems that God’s plan for determining whether a death is  the result of murder or accidental is the best plan. Although most of us will never sit on the jury in Justin Ross Harris’ trial, there is still a great probability that we will all form our own opinions about whether little Cooper Harris died an accidental death, or whether he was the victim of his father’s heinous murder plot. Therefore, I encourage all of us to use God’s way of determining whether Cooper’s death was an accident or murder. What a shame we don’t have cities of refuge here in the United States!

Meanwhile, please join me in praying for Cooper Harris’ family…

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers