Thursday, October 5, 2017

In the News: God and the Rule of Law

Roy Moore's quotes got me to thinking about God and the rule of law.  Below are some quotes from some individuals who strongly believed that government and laws were stepping on the toes of the laws established by God.  A couple of the quotes are Moore's.  Can you guess which ones?

"the legislative power and competence to establish laws belongs exclusively to God Almighty."

"Rights come from God, not from government."

"Whatever we are suffering is from this group of intellectuals and judges. What we are suffering is because of them."

". . . that the duties we owe to God and the manner of discharging those duties are outside the purview of government."

If it is not the governments duty to enforce laws on its citizens then who has that authority?  Who makes those decisions?  I don't believe Roy Moore is calling for a Christian equivalent of Sharia law, but I do wonder how he thinks decisions should be made around rights and laws if not made by the government the people have elected.

There was once a man in Iran who held very similar beliefs to Roy Moore.  After he gained power here is what he had to say about democracy.

"Those who are trying to bring corruption and destruction to our country in the name of democracy will be oppressed. . . . We will oppress them by God's order . . ."

Is it wrong for me to think that Roy Moore's quotes are not too far from heading in this direction?  This quote and two of the quotes from the top of the page are from the Ayatollah Khomeini.  The other two are from Roy Moore.  It strikes me as odd that the very people who are most afraid of the idea of Sharia law would be willing to put a man into office who has openly said it is his interpretation of God's law that will define what laws he will enforce and which ones he will not enforce.  That is in essence way closer to the concept of Sharia law it would seem to me than anything the most liberal minded, socialist could ever come up with.

On the Heath Post we have always made a point of not being political, but as I have watched this story unfold I have found it hard to not write something.  To me the connections of what Moore has said to what individuals like Khomeini have said are too similar to be ignored, and it brings us around to a fundamental conflict in the life of anyone who holds religious beliefs.

If I believe that God's law disagrees with a nation's law, what is my responsibility.  In Roy Moore's case he has said that he will not enforce those laws he finds to be in disagreement with God's law.  This is why Moore faced suspension a number of times while on the bench.  In fact he said the following in talking about this conflict.

I was asked three times directly in the hearing before the board of the judiciary whether or not I would continue to acknowledge God if I were to resume my position as chief justice. And I said I would.

My concern about bringing God onto the bench has always been the slippery slope of where it leads. Yes Roy Moore is a Christian and so he will interpret laws through his Christian belief. Then wouldn't we expect the same of a judge who was Muslim or any other religion? Those voters who agree with Moore may be happy that this is how he is enforcing the law, but would they feel the same if the person enforcing the law didn't share those same beliefs? I've always felt this is why when you are put into a position of power in the government you should put the constitutional interpretation of law ahead of your own beliefs. If you can't fulfill that duty it seems to me you shouldn't be in that position of power.

I have not tried to make here an argument for a belief one way or another. What I have tried to do is express what I'm thinking about when I read about Roy Moore and his thoughts on the rule of law.  As a Christian it is a struggle I think we all deal with.  I think as a believer in any religion it is something we deal with.  Whether I'm right or wrong I don't know, but Moore has made me think a lot about it. 


  1. I have a code of behavior to which I am called to live. I live in a house that is big enough to accommodate the codes of behavior by which my daughter and wife live, plus mine. There's a lot of similarity among those codes, but they are not the same--so, consequently, the sum code of behavior is necessarily more liberal than any of the individual codes by which any of the three of us live. I don't see any other way to have a peaceful environment in which all three of us can faithfully follow our callings.

  2. Now, there might be instances where these codes come into actual conflict with one another. We have a system for figuring out how much to redefine the house code. In that system, two of us have more say than one of us--and when the two who are in conflict, we tend to go with whatever resolution is going to cause the least harm--especially for the least of us. It's not a perfect system, and we adjust it on the fly as we need to--and sometimes we just fail to follow it. But, whatever, the main underlying premise is that the house code is always going to be wider than any of the three individual codes.

    Basically, that's how I want whatever political jurisdiction to work ... that its code is mostly the largest extrapolation of all the individuals' codes added together but with some clearly defined, amendable system with a bias built in toward the least of us.