The other day when I opened up my Netflix app to view my options, I wondered if what was recommended for me to watch had something to do with a court case that seemed to be spoken about and covered currently here and there. I had no interest in watching yet another murder docuseries on Netflix, but I decided to do a quick search to see if it was indeed related to defendant Alexander Murdaugh. Learning that it was, I decided to watch the docuseries called, "Murdaugh Murders: A Sourthern Scandal". After watching the three episodes, I became curious about this ongoing trial. Lucky for me, it just so happened to be that the day I watched the series was the same day that it was announced that the jury had found him guilty. Today, I put my headphones on while my kids were finishing their breakfast to hear what the judge had said prior to giving the sentence (https://youtu.be/Dbkw-kfO1ac). My kids became curious. I decided I would carefully fill them in about what was going on with the judge, and they asked more questions. As a homeschool mom, I've learned to look for teaching opportunities, so I paused my video and taught my kids about our court system. We then went ahead and watched the last part of the judge's sentencing together. My child kept asking why the defendant's face looked like that. Having explained very generally what the defendant was accused of, his facial expression seemed to be communicating something very different.
My children were disappointed by how boring it all appeared on the video. They were expecting the judge to passionately hit a gavel as he sentenced him. I decided to transition into teaching my kids about how the judge and jury could confidently reach the verdict that he was guilty, despite his still claiming his innocence.
Ultimately, I wanted to end making the point that this court system is more or less the same method we use everyday to make decisions about what we accept as true, including the truth of Christianity. I encourage parents to make the most of this trial's opportunity, and find their own personalized way of having a similar conversation with their loved ones.
For our family, our conversation involved Star Wars. I saw a lego figure on the table, and decided to use that Star Wars' character "Chewbacca" as an example. I told my kids to pretend I was someone who had never heard about Star Wars or the character of Chewbacca. I asked them to prove to me that this character exists. I asked them for evidence.
The Evidence: They first explained who the lego figure Chewbacca was in front of us. I rebutted, "How do I know you didn't just get a bunch of lego pieces together and are making him up?" My child then went running to his room to collect his second piece of evidence: a mask of Chewbacca. Again I asked them how I could be sure they didn't just create this mask to convince me that this Chewbacca character actually exists. I then handed my daughter my phone and asked her to look up Chewbacca on YouTube. Content with this evidence, my kids had proven there was evidence out there that reached beyond the confines of our home. Ever the devil's advocate to push my point further, I asked them, "What if I think that you guys created this video, and it isn't in fact true that Chewbacca actually exists? What if this actor is actually your friend, and you made the Chewbacca actor look like the figure and mask to make me believe he is real?" I asked them if it was reasonable for me to think that way. I then extended my arms and hands as though they were a scale. On one hand was the evidence they presented me, and looking at the other hand I asked them if I had any evidence that Chewbacca doesn't exist or that they were purposefully deceiving me? I told them I only had presented doubts and questions on my side of the scale, and so it was most reasonable for me to believe that their side with evidence was true. This is the same way the court system arrives to decisions about what we can have more confidence about being true. I told them that there was evidence that the defendant in the trial had been near the murder scene when it happened, that he had a history of lying about his whereabouts, and that he also had a history of stealing money and being dishonest in that way too. I then mentioned that it seemed the defendant's lawyers did not offer convincing evidence to the jury or the judge to prove he was innocent. Coming back to Chewbacca's trial, I let my kids know that sometimes eyewitness testimony is huge evidence. If someone had recorded my kids scheming to deceive me by creating false evidence to make me believe there was a Chewbacca character, then that would bring up the scale on my side of the balance of evidence. We discussed other ways we could present evidence for other scenarios in a courtroom. Lastly, I pointed out how we can know or accept that Christianity is true based on that evidence scale. If all someone has are doubts and questions against the claims Christianity makes, then that does not count as evidence, and we as believers have more evidence on our scale to confidently be able to accept that Christianity is true. If anyone makes a claim against Christianity, all we need to do is ask, "Do you have any evidence to believe that is true?"
As Christians living in the time that we do, it is especially important for us to learn about the eyewitness testimony that has been left behind for us to hear about and to serve as evidence in the case for Christianity. Dive into that evidence with your kids, and grow in your confidence as your scale goes higher and higher the more you learn about the truth of Christianity.
Picture credit: Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/title/81519789 Judge Clifton Newman: https://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/news/crime/2023/02/02/alex-murdaugh-murder-trial-host-of-key-witnesses-prepared-to-testify-updates-live/69865555007/ Alexander Murdaugh: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2023/02/06/alex-murdaugh-murder-trial-week-3/11177960002/ Chewbacca Lego Minifigure & Mask: Susan Morales