First of all, our stance against serving on a jury is based on many Biblical passages, not just on the requirement of two eye witnesses. Even if two honest eye witnesses were available to testify against an accused, a true Christian should still not participate in the jury system of this world. For a further in-depth discussion of this vital question, please read our Q&A’s in Updates #289 and #66.
In Update #66, we state, indeed, the following, after having discussed numerous additional principles prohibiting true Christians to serve on a jury:
“In following the biblical injunctions, one could not convict a person, in any event, unless the accusation is supported by the testimony of at least two witnesses (John 8:16; Deuteronomy 17:6-7). Since the witnesses would have to ‘cast the first stones,’ circumstantial evidence would not be sufficient, under God’s law, for the requirement of two witnesses.
“Since we may be required, as a juror, to apply man’s laws in conflict with the law of God, we could not take the oath as a juror, as we would, in principle, agree to obeying man rather than God (Acts 5:29; Acts 4:19).”
Far from being obsolete in this advanced scientific age, the Godly requirement of two eye witnesses is still very much applicable–as distinguished from witnesses giving “hearsay” testimony or just convicting someone based on circumstantial evidence. Let us note the exact Biblical instructions:
Deuteronomy 17:6-7 reads:
“Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall NOT be put to death on the testimony of one witness. The hands of the witnesses shall be THE FIRST AGAINST HIM to put him to death; and afterward the hand of the people. So shall you put away the evil from among you.”
Numbers 35:30 confirms that one witness was not enough to convict a person. The requirement of two or three witnesses was not limited to capital criminal cases. Deuteronomy 19:15 says: “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning ANY sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.”
This Old Testament law, which is based on a sound Godly principle, has been reconfirmed in many New Testament passages, including Matthew 18:16; John 8:17; 2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19; and Hebrews 10:28.
The accusing witnesses had to cast the first stones on the convicted offender. This was for the purpose of protecting the innocent–so that a witness had to be very careful in his testimony, lest an innocent person be convicted. In addition, if the innocence of a person accused by false witnesses should come to light, the accusing witnesses had to be stoned themselves (Deuteronomy 19:16-21).
None of these safeguard provisions are in any way applicable to “scientific evidence.” We need to understand that the idea that a jury may reach a conviction based on “scientific evidence,” is a misconception. Rather, a jury may decide to convict someone based on the testimony of so-called scientific experts who explain to the judge and the jury how they evaluate and interpret the “scientific evidence.” But more often than not, the testimony of several scientific experts does not harmonize. Depending on whether the scientific experts have been provided and paid by the prosecution or the defense, their testimony may differ greatly.
In a much popularized case in San Diego, California, scientific experts for the prosecution and the defense were asked to testify about the time when the murder of a young child had taken place. Their testimony, based on scientific evidence, differed greatly. The expert paid for by the prosecution prevailed with his opinion–but who is to say that his opinion was correct, and that the evaluation of the defense’s scientific expert was incorrect? And what legal mechanism exists to hold the scientific expert liable and accountable in the unlikely event that it should ever be clearly established that his testimony was incorrect? Basically, none whatsoever.
For many years, fingerprints were considered the “non-plus-ultra” scientific evidence. But then it happened that an innocent attorney was accused of a crime, due to fingerprints allegedly identifying him as the perpetrator, until it was proven beyond any doubt that he could not have been involved. But the wrong evaluation of the evidence, based on the “scientific evidence” of “his” incriminating fingerprints, was never clarified or detracted.
Also, for many years, evidence is being derived at from the evaluation of guns and bullets, to ascertain, whether a particular bullet was fired from a particular gun. Again, this is being looked upon by many as iron-clad scientific evidence — but recently, serious doubts have been raised in the judicial and legal community about the fool-proof “accuracy” of such evidence.
Today, many think that DNA-evidence has replaced the need for eye witnesses! But has it? Who is to say? And who is to be held accountable for false scientific testimony of “scientific experts”? Several years ago, a prominent and well-known person was acquitted in a criminal case because the DNA evidence was allegedly not sufficient. Later, he was found liable in a civil wrongful death action, based on the same evidence, but based on different legal standards.
God knew, in His wisdom, why He required the testimony of two EYE WITNESSES to guarantee righteous judgments. We must also not forget that at the time of Old Testament Israel, the nation was a theocracy. It was ruled directly by God, and God saw to it that no injustice would be carried out. He even instituted certain procedures, involving accusations of adultery, that required His direct intervention to make manifest the innocence or guilt of a person (Numbers 5:11-31).
But when there was insufficient evidence, the accused had to be acquitted. When there were no witnesses, a person could not even be accused and brought before a judge. Today, it seems that many times, even if there is much doubt, the accused is still convicted and condemned–and if it is a case involving a celebrity, he is, quite often, “tried” and “convicted” and “condemned” in the court of public opinion, before he has ever seen an “impartial” jury.
This is not God’s world, which, far too often, condemns the innocent and acquits the guilty. We are ambassadors of a better world to come, when true justice, fairness and equity will prevail for all.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link