Moore vs. Moore

Alambama State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, of Ten Commandments fame, is back in the news this month after a US District Court Judge declared Alabama’s ban on Same Sex Marriage unconstitutional.  Judge Moore believes the district court has no bearing on Alabama law and ordered the lower courts to not comply with the ruling.

Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore (no relation) is also in the news this month… for opposing his fellow Southern Baptist, Roy Moore.  President Moore believes a judge should either comply with the ruling or step down.

Let’s examine the arguments.  Judge Moore correctly understands his role as being the chief administrator of the courts in the State of Alabama.  He has a right to dictate the rules the lower court judges will follow, and he has a duty to interpret the law in the state as well as an obligation to see that it is followed.  The Constitution of Alabama is CRYSTAL clear on the issue with an amendment banning same sex marriage passing overwhelmingly.  Judge Moore is also correct in his assertion that a mere district court judge cannot set legal precedent that must be followed.  Only the Federal Appeals Court and the Supreme Court can do that.

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, overlooking his Ten Commandments monument.

President Moore, on the other hand, is making a different argument.  Appealing to the clarity of Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2:13, President Moore claims that we as Christians must have respect for the rule of law and understand that, however wicked a law may be, God has ordained such laws for His purposes.  Understand that President Moore is not claiming one needs to like or approve of the law -he recommends the judges resign and join him in protest- but thinks our dissent must stop short of disobedience.  President Moore also makes a separate argument claiming “Our system of Government does not allow a state to defy the law of the land.”  Therefore, President Moore concludes, Judge Moore and those lesser judges that object to the Federal Judges ruling ought to step down from their positions and protest as private citizens.

Scripture has to be our highest authority, including Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2:13.  We become hypocrites when we decide we’re not going to follow the parts of the Bible we don’t like.  That’s one of the reasons expository preaching is so important.  It doesn’t allow us to skip parts we don’t like and overemphasize the parts we do.  However, we also have an obligation not only to read, preach, and believe every part of the Bible, but also interpret and apply it properly.  So, while we can respect President Moore’s reverence and sensitivity to obey the Scriptures, we have to ask if he’s applying it correctly to Judge Moore and the other judges.

Judge Moore holds the highest judicial office in his state and was duly elected by the voters in Alabama.  He is the person, in God’s providence, that has been empowered with making the types of decisions he is making.  So, why isn’t Judge Moore one of the people Romans 13 is referring to when it says:

“For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.” {Rom 13:6-7 NASB}

Russell Moore, President of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

I mean, after all, it’s not as if Judge Moore is someone just pretending to have the job he has… he actually DOES have the job he has.  I therefore have trouble buying President Moore’s implied claims that Judge Moore is acting without any right to act.  I understand that President Moore believes that the Feds overrule the States, but I believe he’s mistaken about that.  Even if I (and others) are wrong and President Moore is right about the Feds overruling the States, that doesn’t take away from the fact that our own country’s history is unclear as to the role of District Courts in matters like this, and it certainly doesn’t detract from the fact that Judge Moore has rightly been given power.  At the very least the matter of who is really in charge should be adjudicated before making statements like President Moore’s.

What happens next is anyone’s guess.  I get the feeling from Judge Moore’s comments on CNN that he has no intention of complying with any order.  An argument can be made for that too.  Alabama is, by God’s providence, a law making body and has made a law.  Should the law be ignored simply because someone else says it should?  Maybe.  But then again, maybe not.

Maybe Judge Moore and President Moore will eventually agree.  Perhaps Judge Moore will resign and fight from the private sector.  Maybe Judge Moore will dig in his heels and refuse to budge citing the authority of his elected office.  Whatever may come, one thing is for certain… Christians should have NO PART in so-called “gay marriage”.  On that, we all agree.


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