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QUESTION: What does God’s Word say about “insanity” being used as a defense in a trial?


ANSWER:  The concepts of “premeditation” or “malice aforethought” as well as “accidental” or “unintentional” killing I see in Scripture (Numbers 35), but nothing of “insanity.”  The nearest thing I find to insanity is demon possession.


What does it mean to be sane?  Was Nebuchadnezzar sane, when for seven years he suffered mental derangement as a direct result of sin? (Dan 4:27-32)  If so, his “insanity” began by putting his own grandeur above God’s.  This is certainly the average man’s delusion of himself as the center of his world. 


King David said in Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”  This was not evidence for the defense, but for the prosecution, demonstrating greater guilt.


All men know God and the difference between right and wrong at one level or another (Romans 1:18).  Yet they “hold the truth in unrighteousness.”  And God gives them over to the path they’ve freely chosen, where at some mysterious point a line is crossed in the realm of human decision, so that what was once a choice, becomes a sentence: futility of thinking and darkened understanding.


If it is alleged that a man (or woman) was betrayed by his conscience and is thereby innocent, then let the record show that he is responsible for not feeding upon Bible truth for the sake of giving proper direction to his or her conscience.  The Bible emphasizes personal responsibility.  To have broken your own moral compass by a history of small rejections of truth and light and guidance is to become more culpable for any immoral action that may result, though you yourself may not “feel” guilty.


A woman hears voices and obeys them: “kill your children and send them to Heaven.”  Jesus heard voices too: “cast yourself off the pinnacle of the Temple” (Luke 4:9) – He rebuked the voice He heard.  There’s nothing that says you can’t hear voices.  But we don’t have to do everything we’re told.  At some point in everyone’s life mom or dad asked, “Would you jump off a cliff if a friend told you to do it?”  What was the point? Personal responsibility!


Guilty by reason of insanity…maybe?  Innocent by reason of insanity…Never!