By: Stephen A. Coston, Sr.
I want to speak to you today about the interrelationship of Justice and history, or more poignantly "How To Achieve Historical Justice." Specifically I want to call your attention to the notable example of an unjust history with respect to His Majesty King James. Nothing is more foundational to our culture than the concept of Justice. It has been the driving force of every great nation since the dawn of time, and the lack or abuse of it has preceded the fall of every civilized nation since recorded history. It has been eloquently embodied in the maxims "There is not a right way to do a wrong thing." Or "Two wrongs don't make a right." Today we speak to justice, historical justice. I will make a plea for equity in perhaps one of the most renown cases of historical Injustice we've witnessed in recent times, that of the case of His Majesty, King James. Though his case is one of the most famous historical injustices of record, it regrettably is by no means the only one. We must all start somewhere in our quest for truth and justice, and I choose to take a stand here. As King David once said "Is there not a cause?" [I Sam 17:29]. Justice has well been defined as "Truth in action." That is a good definition for it illustrates not only the definition of the word, but the application of the expression in our every day lives. Truth without action, or History without Truth is like a ship without an ocean, or a car without wheels - useless! History void of Justice is an Unjust History, and justice robbed of True History is an Injustice. In the case of His Majesty King James we have both. The Bible has much to say on the topic of Justice. Any concordant study of the Biblical doctrine of Justice will establish the premise I make here today. It seems only fitting then to make reference to this precept here at a Christian College. Philippians 4:8 says "FINALLY, brethren, whatsoever things are TRUE, whatsoever things are HONEST, whatsoever things are JUST, whatsoever things are PURE, whatsoever things are LOVELY, whatsoever things are of GOOD REPORT; if there be any VIRTUE, and if there be any PRAISE, think on these things." Truth, Honesty & Justice are the first three concepts the verse begins with that the word of God begs us tenderly to meditate upon. No doubt many of you here today have been told some bit of gossip or rumor about His Majesty King James. The most notable example of such gossip is the rumored homosexuality of King James. The natural question we must ask then in response to the allegation is "Is this true?" The only way to answer the question and discover the truth is to do "Justice" to the question. The only way to do Justice to the question is to uncover the facts. This is precisely how "Justice" and "History" connect with each other. If "History" is simply put as "Telling what happened" then to be honest you must TELL THE TRUTH if you want a true history. Telling the truth, or BEING HONEST, is a basic foundational principal of "Justice." Just as lying is a sin, so lying or perjury is a criminal offense, or a felony. When you testify you take an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Consequently, when you relate history you should tell the truth, and the only way to do this is to stick with the known facts. Regrettably, this is where the historical process has broken down with respect to James. Let me say this, there is no shortage of professional historians who are advocates of the critical theory, there are many. They each have varying levels of conviction with respect to James' allegedly engaging in sodomy. But one thing lacking in all of their claims is the actual proof behind their contentions. It is all circumstantial and opinionated guesswork. Many secular historians now make the claim with great caution. On the other hand many zealous advocates of the theory are fond of making reference to the fact that there is such a great number of historians who call King James a "homosexual." In response to this assertion I like what Abraham Lincoln used to say in court as a young lawyer to his colleagues. When Lincoln was faced with an opponent who presented opinions to the court as if they were established facts he would illustrate the fallacy by simply asking one question: "If a man were to call the tail of a dog a leg, how many legs would the dog have?" "Five" was the usual reply. "Wrong" Lincoln would say with a wide smile, "The dog still has four legs, CALLING THE TAIL A LEG DOESN'T MAKE IT ONE." Similarly, simply because some historians CALL King James a "homosexual," doesn't make him one. The question must be decided on the facts. The charge of homosexuality then as commonly leveled at King James cannot be sustained either by the principles of Justice, Biblical or secular, or historically. Not only this but the claim also fails the tests of logic and morality. Let us first briefly look at...Biblical Justice.
BIBLICALLY: The Bible demands eyewitness verification of any allegation made against a brother by two or three witnesses. Much to the consternation and utter dismay of James' critics King James without a doubt professed to be a Christian. To date not one single eyewitness account has been uncovered that claims to have witnessed first hand James engaging in sodomy. If we are to condemn James based on the circumstantial information presented thus far, then why not accept the original Pharisees' allegations and criticisms made against Jesus Christ as recorded all throughout the Gospels? Both secular and Ecclesiastical law required evidence and/or witnesses, both of which have not been provided outside of unsubstantiated opinion, and thus the claim fails both tests. I Timothy 5:19 states: "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witness." This was also the requirement of secular British law. James was head of the Anglican church and thus qualifies as an "elder." Under British law during the reign of James "sodomy" was a capital crime punishable by death and excommunication. Biblically speaking under Old Testament law it was required that the testimony of two or more witnesses be found before a defendant in a capital case could be convicted (The primary Biblical references are Numbers 35:30; Deut. 19:15; I Ki. 21:10,13). It is worthy to note that our Lord Christ confirmed and expanded this in Matthew 18:16. Under Old Testament law anyone who witnessed a serious crime was required to come forward with his information and act as a prosecutor (Lev. 24:11; Num. 15:33; Deut. 13:6-11). Interestingly, according to Old Testament law false witnesses or those espousing wrongful accusations were to pay the penalty that would have been inflicted on the defendant. One clear example of this judicial principle can be found in the book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 19, Verses 16-21. And with respect to verbal crimes we must not forget the injunctions of I Tim. 4:7, which is our command to refuse profane fables. It has been well said that the tongue can sometimes be sharper than the sword, no doubt this is why God Almighty Himself set down clear prohibitions against the sin of talebearing as pronounced in, to name but a few Scriptures: [Leviticus. 19:16; Proverbs. 11:13, 18:8 20:19, 26:20, 26:22; II Thess. 3:11, & I Tim. 5:13; ] It makes little difference whether one originates the gossip, or spreads or passes it on, the crime is committed in both instances. Moreover, verses in Scripture which speak to the office of a King, which James held, prohibit the dialogue James' critics engage in: "Curse Not the king," as found in Ecc. 10:20. "Thou shalt not curse the ruler of thy people" as stated in Ex. 22:28. "¼ Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people Acts 23:5." "But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities." 2 Peter 2:10 Passing on gossip makes you an accomplice to the crime of libel or slander, and thus quoting any number of books by others cannot relieve you from the obligations and demerits of such conduct. This brings us now to:Secular Justice.
The law, and I speak specifically of Florida law, which by the way is in the main representative of most other State and Federal law on this matter, requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, not to mention proper evidence to establish a claim in any capital criminal case. Merely believing the truth of one's assertions does not make them right as the law demands that such allegations must be proven to be true beyond a reasonable doubt. Florida law states that "If the only 'proof' of the guilt of an accused is circumstantial, a conviction cannot be sustained, no matter how strongly the evidence may suggest guilt. Circumstantial evidence must be of a conclusive character, pointing directly and unerringly to the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt; mere suspicion, probabilities, or suppositions are insufficient." The evidence acceptance criteria are equally important. Many mistakenly believe that the sheer number of persons or sources advocating a fact alleged lend greater support to an individual case. Not so, either by Biblical standards, or those of secular weights and sufficiency of evidence. Biblically the gift of salvation though available to all men is regrettably only accepted by the minority of human kind. Furthermore, only eight people were on the Ark, the majority perished in the flood. Lastly, more people even in Christ's own time disbelieved His claim of being the Messiah or God incarnate. In these three Scriptural examples we can clearly see that the majority is not always right, indeed, more often than not they are wrong. With regard to law we are not void of either precedent or example of the error of the majority when it comes to the probative nature of evidence. For example, Florida law addresses this point directly by stating in Section 490 that "Evidence should be measured by its probative force and effect, not merely by its quantity. Witnesses are not to be counted; rather, their testimony is to be weighed. Measured by this standard, evidence coming from one witness may preponderate over contradictory evidence given by half a dozen witnesses." This is why Section 1030 of the Florida Code states "in assessing the credibility of a witness, evidence may be considered that would impeach the witnesses' testimony." The witnesses' apparent fairness or want of fairness, the reasonableness of their testimony; the means of their observation and knowledge are all to be weighed. Concurrently, Section 1030 of the Florida Code states "The interest, motive, bias, or prejudice of a witness may affect credibility and justify disbelieving their testimony." This data is important because our present judicial system outlines three main degrees of persuasion. The level and severity of the crime basically determines the degree of proof to be offered. These three degrees or standards of persuasion are outlined as follows: 1). A Preponderance of evidence; 2). Clear and Convincing evidence; and, 3). Proof beyond a reasonable doubt. What a Preponderance Of The Evidence standard means basically is that in civil cases the probative (having the effect of proof) weight, influence, force, or power of the evidence must be extant. Simply put, the greater weight of the evidence, not number of witness, is what decides the matter. The Clear And Convincing standard is a greater burden of persuasion, and is an intermediate standard of proof, requiring more than a preponderance of the evidence, and less than proof beyond a reasonable doubt. This basically means the evidence must be found to be credible, the facts which the witnesses testify to must be distinctly remembered; the testimony must be precise and explicit, and there must be no confusion on the matter. In criminal prosecutions the degree of proof is the most stringent. In this instance the degree of persuasion is decreed to be Proof Beyond A Reasonable Doubt. This standard must be met no matter what type of evidence is offered. If this standard is not met then the prosecution fails to make its case. The presumption of innocence must be clearly overcome. Every essential element of the crime charged must be established against the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. If any fact essential to a conviction is not legally established to a moral certainty, the evidence is inconclusive and cannot be said to be sufficient in law to satisfy the mind and conscience to secure conviction. I have just outlined to you from both Biblical and secular law facts sufficient to prove this observation true regarding injustices suffered by victims of gossip and rumor. The standards of evidence in law be it secular, Biblical, or even international law simply are not met by James's critics who allege that he was a homosexual. I stated earlier that the charge of homosexuality commonly leveled at King James cannot be sustained either by the principles of Justice, be they Biblical or secular. However, I also mentioned that history itself is against the critical interpretation.Historically.
This brings me to the question of whether or not the alleged "sodomy" of King James is historical. History is defined by The Random House College Dictionary as "The branch of knowledge dealing with past events." And "Historical" is defined by the same volume as "Pertaining to, or of the nature of history, as opposed to legend or fiction or as distinguished from religious belief." None of the critical sources offered thus far prove that alleged homosexuality of King James was an actual past or historical event. Rather, it is assumed or believed the act(s) took place based on nothing more than guesswork, assumption, conjecture, hypothesis, rumor, gossip, etc. Consequently, this position is not historical at all, and in fact specifically is "History-Less." Concomitant with any accurate history are the principles of logic and morality. These two precepts must be addressed in any matter considered historical. The question that naturally arises is whether or not the alleged "sodomy" of King James can be advanced logically or upon moral grounds.Logically.
From the standpoint of logic the critical case also fails the tests of reason. Those who affirm James was guilty of sodomy logically must meet the burden of proof incumbent upon the affirmative. The affirmative always has the burden of proof, and this can only be met by first making a prima facie case based on probative objective credible evidence. The presumption of innocence must be overturned. Mere opinion alone cannot take the place of "evidence." Furthermore, any critical case must balance the positive and negative testimony in the matter. A series of facts must be established which would render the alleged conduct a likely reality rather than a remote possibility. In addition, "begging the question" is yet another logical fallacy to be avoided which simply means that one of the premises from which the conclusion is deduced is the conclusion itself, somewhat disguised in form. The critical case against James is unfortunately rife with such fallacies which is a fact rarely recognized by those trapped within the confines of this thinking.Morally.
I have also declared that the accusations of sodomy against James could not be sustained upon moral grounds. Here is why. So far in my experience none of James' accusers or critics has ever declared that they would allow themselves to be convicted of any crime based on the type of thin subjective evidence and methodology with which they so easily condemn King James. I find this most curious; and when I point out this glaring double standard to His Majesty's accusers the typical response is one of sheer silence. The inequity of the argument is so stark that one can scarcely imagine how James' critics can overlook it, but they somehow manage to find a way. Furthermore, the age old "Golden Rule" which my mother was so fond of repeating "Do unto others as you would have done unto you," doesn't seem to connect with James' critics. Rather, the phrase as commonly perverted today seems more applicable "Do unto others before or as they have done unto you." This is a question of ethics and morality. I say to you that it is immoral to subject James to an arbitrarily different standard than that which we would demand be applied to ourselves if under similar circumstances. The Lord Jesus Christ said of the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:3b and verse 4 "but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers." It is the height of hypocrisy to demand that James be found guilty based on evidence which we would reject if brought against ourselves. If evidence is unjust to us it is unjust to James- ergo the case is immoral. Remember the old proverb "What is good for the goose is good for the gander"? Well I am here to tell you that it applies here! Unless James' critics are willing to admit that gossip, hearsay, rumor and talebearing are acceptable forms of evidence with which to secure a conviction, and that they would submit to being found guilty of a crime based upon same, then the charges against King James are immoral from the standpoint of consistency. Will Rogers said it best "The only time people dislike gossip is when you gossip about them."Summary.
I covered a lot of information in a short space of time. We've seen that the principles of justice and the discipline of history are inseparable in terms of truth and fairness. I used His Majesty, King James, as an example of how the study of history can go terribly wrong when the principles of justice are removed from the equation. James was not only a King, but a husband and a father. He knew the love of a wife, and the pain of loosing a child. He had a life, and we should not allow small men to murder his memory so unjustly. After all, our memory of the departed is the only real tombstone, as long as we remember our loved ones they are never truly gone. Therefore, to allow the memory of anyone to wrongly fall into ill repute is a crime against not only truth but decency and honesty. James is but one example of a person unjustly accused. Which among us is next if our critics need not facts to assassinate our character? This is the real dilemma each of us faces practically every day. The choice is yours, will you practice and apply the principles of true justice to your relationships, friends, and acquaintances? Will you reject gossip, or embrace it? What is your individual moral code? I trust that when you leave here today you will have discovered what the medieval knights knew long ago, namely that living by a Biblical moral code is the compass by which you navigate successfully through the moral dilemmas of life. We can't make up the rules as we go along, and we are not our own final authority. We all have to answer to someone if not our own conscience, and in the end Christians know that one day we will stand before our Heavenly Father. Do not be lulled into a false sense of security by too much confidence in what you think you would do in any particular situation. To revise a famous saying "Eternal vigilance is the price of justice." The Bible warns us similarly in military terms "Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off". (I Kings 20:11). I've spoken to you of truth, and exposed the philosophy of lies and deceit. The only thing worse than releasing a guilty man is condemning an innocent man to death. This is why we have laws, to protect the innocent! Kings are in need of justice just as the common man. I plead in this case for justice for King James in particular, and trust that you will exercise justice not only in other historical matters but in your own personal lives as well. James was not perfect, he made mistakes. He held to his beliefs even when the political cost was dear. Consequently he has his critics who sit on the sidelines and ridicule him. In other ways James failed while striving to accomplish the seemingly impossible as in the proposed union between England and Scotland. He failed in his lifetime in these and other tasks. Hatred and enmity are powerful foes. But true failure lies not in the falling down, but in the refusal to get up. While James failed, he never quit. As Theodore Roosevelt well said, "It is not the critic who counts, or how the strong man stumbled and fell, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, and spends himself in a worthy cause: And if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that he'll never be with those cold and timid souls who know nether victory nor defeat." Eventually each of you here today will be faced with one of the most difficult questions man has encountered, both in large and small matters, perhaps on a daily basis. Will you press on despite the odds, and fight the good fight? In great attempts it is even glorious to fail. Are we willing to fail and sacrifice all in pursuit of Justice? Allow me to conclude by quoting advise from His Majesty King James with respect to his myriad critics: "And principally exercise true wisdom in discerning wisely between true and false reports. First concerning the nature of the person reporter; next, what effect he can have in the well or evil of him whom of he maketh the report; thirdly, the likelihood of the purpose itself, and the last the nature and past life of the delated person ... " I said at the beginning that justice could be defined as "Truth in action." I leave you with one tangible sterling example. I pay tribute to the memory a man of unquestionable moral character, a true champion of justice, a lover of history, my mentor and guide, His Grace George Iain Murray, Chief of the Clan Murray, and 10th Duke Of Atholl. I pay homage to him because of the example he set for me. He taught me to value and cherish truth, for in the end, it is all that we have that lasts. May God guard your hearts with the strength of his love, and may you judge wisely on all matters in this life. Thank you and God Save The King!
Note: More questions about this great King? Let's get the facts straight! We highly
suggest, "King James, Unjustly Accused?" by Stephen A. Coston, Sr. You can get it from A.V. Publications Corp.,
P.O. Box 280, Ararat, VA 24053, 1-800-435-4535 OR call 1-800-659-1478. You can write Mr. Coston at 7245 34th Ave. N. St. Petersburg, FL 33710.
To learn more about King James VI & I check out:
His Majesty King James VI & I Page
King James, homosexual, How to Achieve Historical Justice