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F. Restitution

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Revised Aug. 20, 2008

Child Sexual Molestation...

F. Restitution


Repentance without Restitution is like faith without works.

Justice is sometimes described as fairness according to the law. It is the administration or determination of rights according to the rules of law or equity. Justice is the standard for both punishment and benefits. When people receive Justice, they receive the penalty they deserve, or they are repaid for damages done to them. Most people believe life should be fair and just. Even young children often complain, “That’s not fair!” Individuals seem to have an innate human sense of Justice that a wrong should be “paid for.”

One of God’s attributes is that He is absolutely Just : “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and iniquity” (Isaiah 61:8 NIV). The Hebrew word for Justice is also translated as “righteousness.” The two words are interchangeable in the Old Testament. Justice is of utmost importance to God: “O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8). When a person violates Justice in relationships with others, it makes his service to God unacceptable and meaningless (Amos 5:21-24). According to Jesus, God does not accept a person’s offering until he has reconciled with an offended brother (Matt 5: 23-24).

Justice calls for Restitution when someone has been wronged. Restitution is a key teaching in the Bible, a subject of great importance to be studied and implemented. New Webster’s Dictionary defines “Restitution” as “the act of giving back to a rightful owner,” or “a giving of something as an equivalent for what has been lost, damaged, etc.” Justice is often symbolized by a weighing scale.

Convicted Offenders pay their debt to society with time they serve in prison. They may also pay a fine to the government; however, this payment does not reimburse the Victim. Offenders also need to pay their debt to the person they wronged; to compensate their Victim for their losses. They are obligated to make Restitution to their Victims.The Bible gives guidelines for making Restitution.

What does the OLD Testament say about Restitution?

The civil government for the nation of Israel in the Old Testament was set up by God. His civil laws provided both aspects of Justice: (1) punishment for the Offender and (2) Restitution to the Victim. His laws provided for Restitution to be paid for: (1) loss or injury to life, limb or property; (2) theft; and (3) dishonesty. According to the Old Testament Law, the penalty for sins of a sexual nature was the maximum; i.e. death, so restitution was not required. These Old Testament laws contain principles which apply to New Testament believers today.

According to the Bible, there is only one state of sexual activity that can be blessed by God, and that is within the confines of marriage between a man and woman. All other sexual behavior falls into these four categories:

1. Adultery, which carried the death sentence.

2. Fornication, which carried the death sentence, with very few exceptions; one being forced marriage.

3. Same-sex activity, regardless of age, which carried the death sentence

4. Bestiality, which carried the death sentence for the person and animal

The four categories of sexual activity above are considered an abomination by God. There is no question that Child Sexual Abuse falls under one or both category Nos. 2 and 3, fornication and same-sex activity, according to Scripture. Death was the penalty for Child Sexual Molestation in the Old Testament: “So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.”

The most complete passage in the Bible concerning Restitution is found in Exodus 22:1-17 (see also Lev 6; Num 5:6-7). Restitution for theft required more than merely restoring or replacing the item stolen (Lev 6:1-4). Replacement alone didn’t provide punishment for the crime or compensation for the Victim. If an animal was returned alive, it was to be replaced 2 for 1. For example, it took 2 pigs to replace 1 stolen pig (Ex 22:4, 9). However, if the stolen animal had been slaughtered or sold, the thief was to return 5 oxen for each ox stolen; or 4 sheep for each sheep stolen (Ex 22:1). Further, if a man could not provide Restitution, he was to be sold as a slave and work out his debt through hard labor (Ex 22:3). Circumstances determined how some situations were handled (vs. Ex 22:7-15). If two people quarreled and one injured the other, he had to pay for "loss of his time" at work, and also take care of the hurt person until he recovered, which would include paying for medical bills, etc. (Exodus 21:18-19). The general rule for dishonesty was to add 20% to the restored value (Lev. 6:5). In addition to Restitution, the law also required a Confession of the sin by the Offender. For more information, see:

Apology Fundamentals

Confession Model:

What does the NEW Testament say about Restitution?

Two of the 700 plus names applied to Christ in the Bible are “The Just” and “Righteous One.” Jesus strongly rebuked the Pharisees for neglecting “the more important matters of the law…justice, mercy and faithfulness” (Matthew 23:23). Justice is a set of principles. The Old Testament laws for Justice, Repentance and Restitution are eternal principles that still apply to New Testament believers today.

Some unchangeable truths about God are: (1) God loves justice and abhors injustice; (2) God has compassion for those who suffer injustice; (3) God judges and condemns those who perpetrate injustice; and (4) God seeks active rescue for Victims of injustice. These truths about God are unchanging and eternal.

The most well-known example of Restitution in the New Testament is Zaccheus ( Luke 19:2-10). The law required Zaccheus make Restitution. It wouldn’t have been enough for Zacchaeus to simply apologize to his Victims. His Victims were cheated, had lost money and suffered financial loss. He felt a strong desire to do what was right concerning the money he had taken under false premises. When the law would have required a Restitution of cost plus 20%, he returned four times that much. And Zaccheus stood, and said unto the Lord;“Behold, Lord, thehalf of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.” He not only met what the law required, he exceeded it abundantly. Jesus’ response was, “This day is salvation come to this house”

If Zaccheus was very generous with his Restitution in money matters, and the Lord was so pleased that He granted salvation to Zaccheus’ household, then how much more careful and generous should Offenders be when applying these same principles of Restitution to pay for the shattered lives of children, including adult survivors of CSA?

Another, less well-known example of the Biblical principle of Restitution is Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus. Saul was born a Roman citizen and was the son of a rich Pharisee from Tarsus. Paul went to Jerusalem for his education "at the feet of Gamaliel," who was the most eminent of all the teachers of “the law” ( Acts 22:3). After Paul’s conversion, he became totally immersed in spreading the gospel and supported himself by making tents, which was the equivalent of Albert Einstein digging ditches (A cts 18:3).

The New Testament is silent as to what Paul did with his wealth after his experience on the road to Damascus. The following statement could indicate that Paul divested himself of all his material possessions and riches: "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ" (Philippians 3:8). Knowing the law as well as he did, Paul may have used his wealth to compensate the Victims and families of those he had imprisoned or put to death. After his conversion, Paul’s whole life was involved in active Restitution, giving his life as a living sacrifice to God and encouraging others to do likewise ( Romans 12:1, Galatians 2:20).

Justice is rarely easy or cheap. God’s laws for Restitution were not just a simple replacement of like value. Punitive damages were required also (1 time plus 20%, 2 times, 4 times, 5 times, etc. depending on the sin). Death was preferable to harming one of “these little ones” (Mark 9:42). The penalty for indulging in “works of the flesh” (which includes child molestation) without repenting of them is to forfeit eternal life. God’s principle of Justice is eternal and underwrites the entire Bible. God’s value and insistence on Justice is eternal and transcends the covenants. While the New Testament doesn’t set out a precise guideline for making Restitution, it is an inseparable component of Reconciliation and Justice. The opportunity for the Offender to make restitution and get right with God and with his Victim, is a gift from God. To refuse to take that gift of God means eternal death.

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness…they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” ( Gal 5:19-21).

How can I make things right?

An Offender is indebted to the person he harmed. The Offender owes a debt. A truly repentant Offender will make every possible attempt to make Restitution to the harmed person and to repay his debt; i.e. compensate the Victim for damages and losses they incurred. Restitution is not a bribe, penance or payment for forgiveness—it is payment of a debt. The Victim and/or their family (when the Victim cannot speak for themselves) has the right to ask for Restitution and to receive financial reimbursement for expenses they incurred through the fault of the Offender.

Restitution may be given in many forms. It may be in repaying or restoring something taken—a damaged car, a stained garment, a lost book or a stolen cow or goods. Some losses are irreplaceable, such as physical abuse, disfigurement, a limb, a life or Virginity. Repentance without Restitution is like faith without works. A truly contrite Offender will provide a generous Restitution to the person they harmed. “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation” (2 Cor. 7:10-11). A willingness to do something to make up for the pain the Offender caused the Victim is evidence that the Offender has sincerely repented, and it fosters reconciliation. In CSA situations, an apology without offering Restitution for the loss is empty and meaningless. Does it show repentance if a person admits that he stole money from someone and apologizes but doesn’t repay the money? Of course not.

An Offender has no right to ask for forgiveness from someone they hurt until after they have made things right. An example of this is given regarding our relationship with God when Jesus said to FIRST be reconciled with the offended person—and then go to God. “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; FIRST be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Matt 5: 23-24).

Notice that Jesus didn’t say the Offender could confess his sin to a preacher, parent or any other person. He said to FIRST, go and be reconciled with the particular individual the Offender has harmed. The Offender cannot go around or circumvent the person he hurt. Getting cleansing for sins requires reconciliation with a hurt brother BEFORE asking for God’s forgiveness. An offense is a barrier between the Offender and the Victim, as well as between God and the Offender.

Forgiveness and Restitution are two separate events in the Bible. One can forgive a person and still claim the right to Restitution. Even when the Victim forgives the Offender, the Offender is still responsible for paying Restitution to the Victim. If a repentant Offender makes a genuine attempt to reconcile, and the offended person rejects their attempt, the Offender is free. He may choose to make a charitable donation in lieu of the Restitution he owed. If the offended person is dead, the Offender should make a diligent effort to reconcile with the Victim’s family or next of kin and pay them Restitution. Numbers 5:6-8 instructs that if there is no kinsman to receive the Restitution, then "let the trespass be recompensed to the LORD . . ."

So…what happens when some use their positions of authority and responsibility in the church as elders or workers to take advantage of children and young people who did not possess the knowledge, judgment or ability to defend themselves? They are often scarred for life and left unable to ever fully trust and enjoy healthy adult relationships. Some are alienated from God because one who was supposedly His agent took advantage of them in the worst possible way. To make matters worse, these incidents were often covered up. The Abuser was quietly moved to another state, and in some cases, this occurred over and over again. Some Victims have been told to keep silent and have been made to feel guilty and are shunned to this day.

Under the law of Moses, those guilty of CSA would have received the penalty of death. So what happens now when the law of our country allows those guilty of CSA to live? How should the church respond?

In answering this question, let’s keep in mind Jesus’ words: “whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” (Mark 9:42). For the purposes of Restitution, there must be an understanding of the damages (visible, hidden and future) to one of “these little ones.” Some of the many long lasting effects to this hideous crime are listed below, but are not limited to these only:

1. The death of Virginity and the invaluable loss of a segment of childhood.

2. Physical, mental and spiritual damage.

3. Damage to existing relationships-family, friends, community (church)

4. Sexual sin/s

5. Future relationships-friends and spouse(s)

6. The ability to have children, in some cases

7. The ability to properly care for children, in some cases

8. Reenacting the crime on others which the Victim suffered, in some cases

9. Taking one’s life.

What amount of Restitution does God expect today for the sin of sexually molesting “one of his little ones?”

Obviously the death of Virginity and the robbed childhood that was taken away deceitfully from a child by sexual abuse; and the diminished quality of their adult life cannot ever be fully restored. There is no compensation great enough to cover it. However, this does not remove the Offender’s obligation to diligently try and find every means humanly possible to assist the Victim, including consulting with independent professional experts in the CSA field (independent of any of the Friends and Workers) and following their recommendations.

In an effort to gain some perspective about Nos. 1 and 2 above, let’s review the amounts God specified for Restitution in Exodus 22 and Leviticus 6. The scripture leaves no question that God’s justice includes punitive damages. For the sake of understanding punitive damages (Restitution) in the Old Testament, let’s use an example.

(1) Let’s equate an ox to Virginity. In Ex. 22, if the stolen ox is found and returned, the punitive damage to be paid is double that stolen; i.e. 2 oxen replace 1 stolen ox. In comparing the loss of an ox with Virginity (since Virginity cannot be returned) this particular Restitution of 2 for 1 doesn’t apply.

If the ox was killed or sold, then the Offender was to restore the stolen property with five times the amount stolen. (5 oxen for 1 stolen ox) In our example, Virginity has been stolen and killed, just like the ox. So the question we are faced with is: Is the death of the Victim’s Virginity, along with all the pain and suffering of the Victim and their loved ones worth as much as five times an ox? Or more? What is the price of Virginity--for past, present and future?

(2) In addition to the above, due to the nature of this hideous crime which includes physical, mental and spiritual damage, there are often heavy financial expenses incurred by the Victim. Victims usually need therapy, counseling, medication, and in some cases hospitalization, along with but not limited to, the loss of work, etc. In the Old Testament, these direct costs due to criminal injury would have been replaced at cost plus 20%. How could an Offender offer their Victim any less than the minimum God required in the Old Testament?

If the Offender committed the offense while s/he was a worker or elder, and the Offender is unwilling or unable to pay Restitution, the church they represented is responsible to pay Restitution to the Victim.

For this crime, the laws of our country require punishment; and in some cases they also require a fine and restorative damages to the Victim. In an effort to curb repeat offences in a number of American states, citizens have enacted the Three Strikes legislation. That means that upon the third offense, the Offender is incarcerated for “life.” This is how “the world” is refusing to tolerate repeat offenses. Jesus said, “That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven,” (Matt 5:20). Does this leave any doubt that the values and works of a church should exceed the morality of the “world”? Remembering that “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness…they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” ( Gal 5:19-21).

Let’s remember what Jesus said, “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea” (Mark 9:42).

God will be judging the offering of the Offender, so perhaps the Offender should ask his Victim, “What must I do to make this right with you?” And then, the Offender should put his offer of Restitution in writing and give thanks to God that s/he is alive and has the opportunity to try and make this right. Restitution is an opportunity to be right with the Victim and to obtain mercy from God.

Let’s keep in mind the example of Zaccheus, which was well pleasing unto the Lord.

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