Should Your Past Sins Disqualify You Today?

By Michael Brown Published on September 17, 2018

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman more than 35 years ago, a charge which he “categorically and unequivocally” denies. Also implicated was Kavanaugh’s teen friend at that time, Mark Judge, who also denies the accusation. But what if the charges are true? Do they disqualify Kavanaugh today?

To be perfectly clear, an accusation is just that: an accusation. It is not proof of guilt. And despite our desire to give alleged #MeToo victims the benefit of the doubt, Justice Kavanaugh remains innocent until proven guilty.

But what if he is guilty? Should the Senate Judiciary Committee vote against his nomination?

Let’s put our past sins into four different categories, responding to each category in turn.

Foolish Things

The first category consists of the foolish things we did as teenagers and young people. But these transgressions are known, open, and a distant part of our history.

For example, my personal testimony, “From LSD to Ph.D.” is well-known.

It is well-known that I was a heroin-shooting, LSD-using, hippie rock drummer before coming to faith in Jesus at the age of 16 in 1971.

It is well-known I broke into a doctor’s office with a friend and stole drugs.

It is well-known that I was a proud, angry rebel.

As our daughters grew up, I shared my story with them. Now my grandkids know my story.

My story is known and out in the open, and it’s a testimony to God’s grace.

Since 1971, I have not used an illegal drug or abused a legal drug. And, despite drinking heavily at times in my teen years, I have not had a sip of alcohol since 1971.

Help us champion truth, freedom, limited government and human dignity. Support The Stream »

If Brett Kavanaugh got drunk with his friends and assaulted another teenager that would be grave and ugly. But if this was something that was known, open, and unrelated to his behavior and conduct ever since then, it should not disqualify him from service today. (To be “known and open” would also mean that he had made things right with his alleged victim.)

Lots of us did stupid things when we were kids and teenagers. But as we became responsible adults, we put those things behind us.

Recognizing this, those who voted for Barack Obama to be president forgave him for his pot-smoking days. (In his words, marijuana use was “what teenage kids did at that age when I was growing up.”)

Some of us even did reprehensible things as adults. But we made proper restitution, we were completely rehabilitated, and we have made something worthwhile out of our lives.

Such stories are noble and inspiring.

Past Behavior Honestly Addressed

The second category consists of sinful behavior in our past that we covered over, hoping it would never be discovered.

What happens when these old skeletons are suddenly discovered in our closet? If the behavior was totally uncharacteristic, if it did not lastingly wound or injure someone else, and if it was never again repeated, you can make a case for overlooking it — but only if the response today was proper.

In other words, if it came to light that, when you were a 16-year-old boy, you had consensual sex with your 16-year-old girlfriend, but since then, your moral behavior was impeccable, you shouldn’t be disqualified from public service today. But only if you responded properly when confronted.

A proper response would require full acknowledgment of guilt, not lying about the incident, and pointing to the changes you made to live rightly ever since.

To say that these sins of our youth make us unfit to serve today is to render unfit a vast percentage of the population. How many of us have an unblemished past?

Cover-ups

The third category consists of lying today when confronted with sinful behavior from the past. That would be the bigger issue to me with Justice Kavanaugh.

Did he do something reprehensible as a drunken teenager? Perhaps he did, but again, that is just an accusation at this point.

The big question for me is: Is he telling the truth today?

We’re not looking to confirm teenager Kavanaugh. We’re looking to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.

His present behavior is far more important to me than his teenage behavior. Can the man be trusted?

When Past Becomes Present

The fourth category consists of sinful behavior in the past that still carries over until today.

If Kavanaugh did, in fact, sexually assault his accuser more than 35 years ago, does that reflect his attitude towards women ever since? Is he an abuser? Does he view women as sexual objects? Does he look on his alleged past transgressions as just a bunch of guys having fun?

Obviously, there are major reasons to question the validity of the accusations, given today’s political climate. (And given the glowing testimony of those who knew Kavanaugh in those days.) On the flip side, Kavanaugh’s accuser is herself a professor today, which adds credibility to her story. May the whole truth come to light.

But let’s also remember that President Obama joked with students at the University of Chicago this past January, saying, “If you had pictures of everything I’d done when I was in high school I probably wouldn’t have been president of the United States.”

In the case at hand, the charges are more serious and more concerning, since they involved alleged sexual assault. But even if they were true, they do not, ipso facto, rule out present effective service today, even in the Supreme Court.

It all depends on which category, outlined above, these past (alleged) transgressions fall into.

Print Friendly
Comments ()
The Stream encourages comments, whether in agreement with the article or not. However, comments that violate our commenting rules or terms of use will be removed. Any commenter who repeatedly violates these rules and terms of use will be blocked from commenting. Comments on The Stream are hosted by Disqus, with logins available through Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or G+ accounts. You must log in to comment. Please flag any comments you see breaking the rules. More detail is available here.
  • Jim

    It’s very doubtful he had anything to do with this event. The woman is a know liberal activist. Smells fishy.

  • Nick Stuart

    This was utterly predictable. No matter who Trump nominated something like this was almost certain to happen. This is the standard playbook of the Left (which is what the Democratic Party is nowadays). If the Republicans in the Senate don’t stand up to this and get Kavenaugh confirmed:
    1. They will most likely lose control of the Senate
    2. They can expect the same thing to happen every time an important nomination comes up for confirmation. They can also expect these kinds of charges to be made in every electoral contest.
    No, I don’t believe the accusation is true. Sorry, not sorry. I know that makes me a villain for not uncritically crediting the testimony of a woman who claims to have been sexually abused, but this just stinks to high heaven. We’ve had enough examples in the past couple of years of women who invent stories out of whole cloth (University of Virginia, Duke Lacrosse) that unbelief is entirely justified, especially given the circumstances under which the accusation has been made.

    • Keith Heimann

      As opposed to the “Standard Playbook” of the right? Does the name Merrick Garland ring a bell?

      • Nick Stuart

        Yes it does, and the Republicans were using a perfectly legitimate tactic that had been previously endorsed by Democrats (Joe Biden for example). Perfectly according to the rules.
        If the Democrats want the new rule to be “any smear at any time means the whole process has to be shut down and the nomination derailed” they are not going to like that rule when it’s their turn.

        • Chip Crawford

          Garland came near a presidential election season. All the backchat on that won’t change that fact or legitimate tactic as you say. After this disgraceful showing by the younger Democrats in particular throughout this hearing, their paid hecklers and now this, it’s again amazing for someone to try throwing up old bogus “points.” It’s almost always either tin or brass with them.

  • Hmmm…

    An open hearing seems in the offing. Hope so. The ratings will soar. It will be the final test – please – of this much tried and tested SC candidate. It will be the trial of his life. How good it would be to see him come in peace, speak in peace and go in peace.

    Psalms 31:18 Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.
    1Peter 2:15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:

    I’m all in for Plan A above becoming the reality.

    • Qnon

      I think that we should make sure that hes a person of fine integrity become it’s a life time appointment

      • Hmmm…

        So we are in agreement.

  • NellieIrene

    Her past needs to be taken into account. She is a leftist, who has donned the requisite pink hat and attended anti-Trump rallies. Also problematic is that conservatives who have taken her course have left it, often after only a few weeks, because of her intolerance for conservative views. Any groping that Kavanaugh may have done when he was a teen-ager becomes muted and HER character comes into question.

    • John Climacos

      “Her past needs to be taken into account. She is a leftist” This is absurd. If she was a MAGA hat wearing blue collar house wife with five children, would you have believed her then?

      No, you likely would not have. Her background has nothing to do with whether the allegations are true or not. You are just trying to shoot the messenger in a bizzare ad hominem reminicent of the days when Dems called Paula Jones a liar.

      • NellieIrene

        On the contrary. One of the things that made Clinton’s accusers so believable is that they were supporters of his.

        • John Climacos

          Paula Jones was a state employee, not a political supporter. Gennifer Flowers was an actress, also not a supporter. Kathleen Willey was a volunteer White House aide. Her political affiliation is unknown.

    • Jim Walker

      Isn’t it glaringly obvious ? How many accusers are from the right each time they came out of the closet, some 30 odd years later ?

  • Steven Scott Alt

    There may be a fourth category. It is entirely possible that he did this but does not remember it. The victim says he was staggeringly drunk at the time, and she does not even remember how she got to the party or how she got home that night. Problem is, we have little way of knowing whether he has no recall or is suppressing the truth under the guise of a faulty memory.

    • tz1

      The accuser can remember less than she alleges Kavanaugh. Not the date place or even year.

  • Howard

    Hoo boy.

    First of all, there is no such person as “Justice Kavanaugh”. He’s Judge Kavanaugh, Mr. Kavanaugh, or Brett Kavanaugh, Esq. In other news, Charles III is not currently king of England.

    Secondly, it is simply wrong to say, “Justice Kavanaugh remains innocent until proven guilty.” His actual guilt or innocence were determined three decades ago. What you are actually referring to is a presumption that is prescribed for legal trials. So far, “Justice Kavanaugh” has not been indicted. That presumption is not binding on personal opinions, though, nor is it binding on senators who are supposed to be determining whether or not he is fit for office. No one on either side is really doing that — to them, it’s just a game of political football — but that’s what they are supposed to be doing.

    Thirdly, if the accusations are true, it is clear that Kavanaugh did not make proper restitution, and the process of rehabilitation has not started, much less completed. Also, in many states, convicted felons are not allowed to vote. Ever. In those states, a felony is not something from which one can be completely rehabilitated. It’s the same with a “registered sex offender”. The sexual assault of which he is accused dances very, very close to those lines.

    For the fourth point, let us temporarily assume the accusations are true, but that they are not characteristic of him today. There would be a serious question about what other surprises are waiting to be disclosed. There is something to be said for a member of the Supreme Court not being vulnerable to blackmail. There is also something to be said for senior members of the government not being national embarrassments, however easy it may be to find disgraceful examples from our past and present.

    It is disgusting how these charges have been saved up for the last possible moment, with the obvious hope of keeping the seat vacant until after the election and, should the Democrats win the majority, vacant until after 2020. That said, it’s also disgusting to see Republicans make excuses about how this sort of thing isn’t really so bad, and how even if they are true Kavanaugh would be a great man to take one of the most powerful positions in the American government. If only Republicans held nominees to the Supreme Court to the same high standards they expect of spokesmen for shoe companies.

    • Chip Crawford

      A bunch of petty nits and twits delivered with prissy indignation. Then some posed bugaboos ending in a fictitious last paragraph. As mentioned below, it’s usually tin or brass with your ilk.

      • Howard

        So you think it’s fiction that Pelosi’s intent was to delay the vote until after the election?

        • Chip Crawford

          Say, do you happen to know how many lie detector tests she had to take to pass one?

          • Howard

            You couldn’t actually find the “fiction”, so you’re changing the subject.

            Actually, though, that is a move in the right direction. Kavanaugh needs people who will say, “He did not do it”, or at least, “It is not reasonable to believe he did it.” Frankly, at least in my opinion, there are bigger issues than lie detector tests that work against the accusation.

            The fundamental problem with Michael Brown’s article is that he is NOT saying Kavanaugh didn’t do it, he’s saying even if Kavanaugh is guilty as charged, it’s no big deal, and the fact that Brown took LSD is supposed to prove that the actions of teenagers and young adults have no lasting consequences. That is really not a defensible position, and it is “help” that Kavanaugh does not need.

          • Chip Crawford

            The stuff about Republicans making excuses and minimizing the matter as you represented is bogus. Who, what, where, how?

            As in the Pelosi toss, you are short on facts with Judge K’s support. There are at least 65 women who have worked with him, studied and served speaking up and vouching for his character and integrity in writing. Dr. Ford (that’s the accuser, to help you, as you seem a bit behind the fact curve here) took a lie detector test, her side alleges. Your scan of the article and any previous ones reflecting M. Brown’s perspective produce more spam scam. Your fundamental problem is you don’t know what you are talking about. Hoo boy.

          • Howard

            “But what if the charges are true? Do they disqualify Kavanaugh today?” Yeah, that’s definitely not making excuses or minimizing the matter.

            If Kavanaugh is innocent, he deserves better friends than you.

          • Chip Crawford

            You have a right to your own opinion, Howard, but not to your own facts. Why don’t you settle down and read through some of this before going off half cocked with an obvious chip on your shoulder. Spluttering loose canons firing in all directions add nothing to a dialog.

        • Ken Abbott

          How does Nancy Pelosi factor into this? I think you mean Dianne Feinstein.

          • Howard

            You’re right. Sorry. From where I sit, they’re -dee and -dum, but one is in the House, the other in the Senate.

  • Chip Crawford

    It’ll be interesting to see if the Dems have also arranged a chorus line.

  • Craig Clark

    I have a 10 year rule when it comes to scandals. If it hasn’t happened in more than a decade then it is likely no longer a reflection of the person’s character. Regarding the judge – there are some problems with the woman’s account. Apparently she never told anyone until 30 years after the fact, and since then some of the details have changed. Memory is a funny thing and needs to be back up with supporting evidence.

    • Jim Walker

      She should have save an item or 2 like Monica.

      • m-nj

        Save what?… she is alleging sexual assault, but there is no indication of actual sexual actions a la Monica & Bill.

        • Jim Walker

          That’s why her story can’t hold up.

  • tz1

    1. Not sins but ALLEGATIONS of sins.
    2. Ask JUDGE Roy Moore. He was rejected on the same basis – should Ted Cruz reject Kavanaugh as he did Moore – the allegations and reasoning are IDENTICAL.

    With Moore, he could have been elected, then properly investigated with due process, and if found guilty, expelled. Kavanaugh could be confirmed, and investigated and impeached.

    But NO! The Allegations are SO SERIOUS! We don’t care if they are true, or gossip or calumny. We must destroy the character of this person on the accusation!

  • swordfish

    “Should Your Past Sins Disqualify You Today?”

    Never heard of original sin? According to Christian teachings, we’re all supposed to be condemned to death because of a trivial sin committed by someone else thousands of years ago, yet here you’re quibbling about the idea of someone being held accountable for their own sins from a mere thirty-five years ago.

  • George Tannous

    If I vote for Kavanaugh and I doubt the accusation, I give him the benefit of the doubt. If I do not vote for Kavanaugh then I am certain he is not good person. how reckless disregard of my own faults. that I am not a good person.
    Kavanaugh denied the accusation or he cannot remember but certainly he will remember because of the large volume he has done as a judge.
    People do not want justice to be in the trash bin because of politics, I say it is shame on Democrats to play a dirty game. give evidence of his prior works and make your decision as being a judge only.

  • Jim Walker

    The Dems always use this accuser act and its getting boring.
    If Kavanaugh is indeed guilty of it, let God be the judge.
    If he is a changed man, I vote for his future actions in office, not his past.

  • Cody

    Liars, liars, liars they all burn in Hell is it really worth it .

  • Chip Crawford

    Ha Ha, all this junk has stirred up Keith Ellison’s old girl friend accuser. Now, that is credible and current. She’s mad that her claim has been put down and threats come against her, but the Dems are believing this wisp in the wind for obvious political reasons. They should tend to their own oinker and leave decent people alone. But that’s a strong point here — character will tell with Brett Kavanaugh. His words will resonate and she will dissolve in her puddle.

  • fiveHats

    What is the status of the Keith Ellison investigation(s)?

  • That any Republican or conservative would even discuss this issue is pathetic. She is a left-wing liar. But I repeat myself.

  • Arthur Terney Wachline

    your past sins havenothing todowith your job today

  • Sapient

    You forgot the 5th and most obvious category of “past sins”: “Past Sins of the Progressive Leftist”. In this category 1) all is forgiven (as if forgiveness is even needed), 2) the sinner may be declared a hero/heroine victimized by hateful (and probably racist) people, 3) the MSM will remain silent, and 4) societal shame affixes only to those who won’t go along with the first three.

  • Jack Danner

    #syncretism

Inspiration
Is Your Heart Heavy? God Knew It Would Be
Charles Spurgeon
More from The Stream
Connect with Us