“The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” (Proverbs 18.17)
It seems Christians have a hard time trusting the wisdom of this proverb. Maybe you have experienced this: you hear a brother or sister accuse your pastor of something, and it colors how you view your pastor after that. You have not even heard your pastor’s side of it. He is automatically forced to be on the defense.
Of course the accusations may be true. But we should stop to think also, “of course, the accusations may be off base, misinformed, or completely false.” If you are ever in this situation, and you think, “why would such and such make up a false accusation like that?” you should also think, “If I can believe that my pastor could possibly have done something so bad, I can also believe the accuser could possibly have evil motives for accusing.”
Such seems to possibly be the case with C.J. Mahaney. I heard from a friend of C.J. that he has been cleared four times by a non-Christian Maryland judge. In the eyes of the law, and in the eyes of all his friends, Mahaney is innocent of covering up any kind of sexual abuse. Yet, many have chosen to believe the one who made accusations, like in this interview with Tullian Tchividian. I have since heard that Tullian issued an apology, which is a blessing to me to hear (though I have yet to see that apology online anywhere, if anyone knows of it, please send it my way) (I will also say that whatever criminals were convicted and sentenced in this case is also a good thing, that some level of justice has been carried out). But you see my point: that often an accusation is made that colors the perspective of others pretty much forever.
I would just caution Christians to trust the wisdom of this entire proverb: notice who is stating the case first, understand that it may only seem right, notice any responses to cross-examination, or even if there is any cross-examining going on, and that defending oneself is necessary sometimes because of wrongful accusations. And remember that once in a while, the godliest men and women on earth do not care to defend themselves– even when they are free to– as they ponder on the One who faced the ultimate wrongful accusations and never defended Himself, for our sake.