What are we to make of the latest allegation of sexual assault being leveled against Alabama senatorial candidate Judge Roy Moore? Did he really force himself on girls as young as 14 and 16 when he was in his 30s?
It's easy to lose sight of the seriousness of these charges in the midst of the political circus unfolding before our eyes. Will the Republicans condemn their own candidate without a fair hearing of the evidence? Will they lose an almost guaranteed senatorial seat in the battle to maintain power? Will the people of Alabama turn out in even greater numbers for Judge Moore, perceiving the attacks against him to be an attack against them, part of an elaborate left-wing scheme?
These are the questions circulating and growing by the minute, but they cannot take our eyes off the real issues here. If Judge Moore is guilty as charged, then he engaged in prosecutable criminal behavior against others. If is he not guilty, then others are engaging in prosecutable criminal behavior against him.
This is not just a matter of "he said, she said."
In the words of Senator Ted Cruz, "Both last week and this week, there are serious charges of criminal conduct that if true, not only make him unfit to serve in the Senate but merit criminal prosecution."
Conversely, if the accusers are lying through their teeth, claiming that Judge Moore committed sexual crimes against them when they were underage teens, then they would be guilty of bringing serious, false allegations against the former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama and a current senatorial candidate.
And here is where things get very tricky. Many of us have embarrassing things in our past, but they are part of our public testimony and do not disqualify us from serving in our vocations today.
In my case, I was a heavy drug user from 1969-1971, and my life since then is a testament to God's faithfulness and mercy. In fact, my story, "From LSD to Ph..," is quite well known.
Although I regret the sinful and idiotic things I did back then, I use my story to encourage others not to make the same mistakes I did, and I've not had a drink of alcohol or abused a drug a single time in the last 46 years. The Lord is a Redeemer!
But in the case of Judge Moore, if the charges are true, this is something he never could have admitted to without disqualifying his entire legal career. He could only hope that things would stay quiet, or he would have to deny the charges if ever accused. To say this was just a youthful indiscretion would hardly work, since he was in his early 30s when these alleged acts took place.
This would also make a mockery of his very public, very bold stands for the Ten Commandments—along with other, moral stands he has taken—giving the impression that all his Christian acts were nothing more than hypocritical displays.
On the flip side, if the left has orchestrated a massive take-down effort against Judge Moore, this would be far beyond the pale of partisan politics and would make the National Enquirer's sex charges against then-presidential candidate Ted Cruz seem like child's play.
Not only would it mean that women have been persuaded (paid?) to come forward with slanderous charges against Judge Moore, but it would even mean that someone forged his signature in a yearbook. (Since Judge Moore claims not to have known his latest accuser, and since she seems to have a yearbook signed by him, this would be the most likely explanation if he's telling the truth: Not only are his accuser's tears a fake, but the signature is a fake as well.)
Emotions are very high on both sides of the debate, since Judge Moore is one of the most-hated and most-loved political figures in America. For the staunchly conservative right, he has been a champion and hero, refusing to back down no matter what the cost. And, if elected senator, he would be an absolute threat to the Republican and Democratic establishments, a man to remove before he can do more damage to the Washington, D.C, swamp. Surely, some conservatives think, we cannot let him be taken down, even if he blew it years ago. But to hold to such a view is to sell one's morality for a seat at the political table. This is heinous and ugly and inexcusable.
Conversely, if he has walked in personal integrity for decades and has been the subject of hit-pieces and professional attacks for years, is it not impossible that the charges are being fabricated, especially during such a volatile political season in America?
The stakes are very high on many accounts, and it remains my hope and prayer that the truth would come to light before it's time for Alabamians to vote.
If the accusations are false, then let then the entire conspiracy be exposed from the roots to the branches. Let no one go unpunished, and let Judge Moore be vindicated loudly and clearly. If the accusations are true, let Judge Moore immediately step down and throw himself on the mercy of the courts and public opinion, making the most heartfelt confession we have ever heard and demonstrating the fruits of repentance for the rest of his life, doing whatever he can to make restitution for lives hurt and followers betrayed.
The stakes, indeed, are very high.
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Saving a Sick America: A Prescription for Moral and Cultural Transformation. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.