A Question I Was Asked:

Shouldn't Deuteronomy 19:15 Be at the Bedrock of Every Legal System in the World?

Shouldn't Deuteronomy 19:15 be at the bedrock of every legal system in the world?

UK Apologetics Reply:

Yes, I believe that it should be but, unfortunately it is not. Let us look at that:

15. One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. (Deuteronomy 19:15).

This is backed up, of course, in the New Testament:

16. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' (Matthew 18:16).

I am not sure of the legal system in the U.S. but, for sure, here in England a man can be convicted and actually sent to prison on the testimony of just one person! There is, I understand, no requirement for a wider corroboration, that is, more witnesses. Of course, more witnesses are certainly preferred, but sometimes they are not available. A person can be convicted in such a way even if the alleged offence occurred many years before (but the claimed 'victim' never reported it at the time).

Obviously, a confession is one thing but apart from that, yes, the minimum of 2 or 3 witnesses principle seems to be a very sound principle to have. With regard to sexual crimes, Britain does nor even have a time limitation, unlike almost everywhere else:

'Britain is unique in Europe in that it has no Statute of Limitations for serious sexual crimes. This means that someone can be arrested, charged and convicted for a crime that they committed half a century ago, even though many witnesses may be dead, memories are faded and the only evidence is the word of the alleged victim - or more accurately, the accuser.

The limitation periods for other countries for this type of offence vary and they are often on a 'sliding scale' to take account of the age of the alleged victim or have exclusion or inclusion clauses built in.

The average limitation period across the EU is about 12 years from the date of the alleged offence with a maximum of 20 years if the alleged victim was under age at the time or if violence was supposedly involved. (source: The Opinion Site: http://www.theopinionsite.org/should-britain-have-a-statute-of-limitations-on-sex-crimes/).

So, yes, the principle of Deuteronomy 19:15 and Matthew 18:16 - a minimum of 2 or 3 witnesses for every criminal conviction - surely should be an international bedrock point of justice. Unfortunately, even here in the UK, it is not.

Robin A. Brace. February 20th, 2016.