Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Subjection To The Constitution

A few months ago, conservative Christians were criticized in the media because of the "Justice Sunday" simulcast in which many churches participated. The general consensus, even among many professing Christians, was that the church had no business pontificating on judicial matters. I personally know Christians who said the church shouldn't be involving itself in an issue that is so "blatantly political."

John Piper, however, makes a compelling argument as to why judicial activism is a biblical issue and thus one Christians have an obligation to be concerned about.

Preaching from Romans 13, where Christians are commanded to "be subject to the governing authorities," Piper says:
...in America, submission to “governing authority” is first submission to a constitution. This has significant implications for the way the constitution is interpreted and applied—which is a weighty issue in American life at the present time. One implication is that a constitution (or a contract or a lease or a statute or a Bible) cannot have authority over us if we can make it mean whatever we want it to mean. In other words, if you don’t believe that there are objective, original intentions of the authors of the Constitution that define and control its meaning, then you will give to it your own meaning, and that is the opposite of submission to it. So one great implication of saying that God calls us to submit to the Constitution (including its due process for amendment) is that it implies that the Constitution has a fixed, objective meaning.

In the days to come, as appointments to the Supreme Court are put forward, we will be hearing much about how judges interpret the constitution. I am saying that implied in Romans 13 and in the Bible as a whole is the truth that documents can have authority no further than they have objective unchanging meaning. And the Constitution should have authority and therefore it should be interpreted according to the objective meaning given by the authors, along with all the proper applications of those meanings which the authors may not have foreseen.
Piper is absolutely correct. Because American Christians have a mandate to be in subjection to the Constitution, they are not free to play games with the meaning of the document--nor to endorse those who do. Judicial philosophy is a biblical issue, and a Christian cannot obey Romans 13 without grappling with it.

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