We live in a time of great cultural blessing, by which I mean that God is no longer permitting us to talk nonsense, at least not without that fact becoming manifest to all and sundry. Secular man is just standing there, shivering in his skivvies, listening to the imperious demands of Muslim clerics on the one hand, and the imperious demands of poofter pride on the other.
These conflicting demands are God’s way of using current events to run a reductio ad absurdum on us. Thus far, we are continuing to embrace all the absurdities, as we are able, in the hope that no one will notice.
When this kind of thing happens, it reveals all our hidden assumptions and secret commitments. This most recently happened to Russell Moore, who was trying to respond to the actions of Chief Justice Roy Moore. The feds are despotically trying force homo-mirage on a nation that does not want it, and Roy Moore instructed the judges in his state to disregard the illegal actions of the feds.
What Russell Moore did was say that judges should either comply with the federal requirement, or resign their office. Quoting from the article . . .
“Russell Moore, a national official charged with representing Southern Baptists’ beliefs with regard to culture and public policy, told Baptist Press any judge who ‘could not discharge the duties of his office required by law’ because of objections of conscience ‘would need to resign and protest it as a citizen.’
He said that there is a role for civil disobedience, but not for ‘judges and state Supreme Court justices … in their roles as agents of the state.'”
Before addressing the glaring problem here, we need to note the foundational moral compromise already present in this. He does not say that judges must resign, period. He says that judges must resign rather than protest in an official capacity, but not that they must resign rather than authorize a same-sex mirage. You may be okay with that. You must not be okay with defying the state. What this illustrates is that Russell Moore is a statist. He wants to stand for biblical principle, just so long as unbiblical people have given him permission to.
I said earlier that this kind of situation reveals hidden assumptions. What Roy Moore is doing, while many soi disant defenders of traditional values are pulling their skirts away from him, is an almost perfect example of the Protestant doctrine of the lesser magistrate. What we need is a thousand more men like Roy Moore.
Suppose a dispute arose between North and South Dakota, and a man who lived on the state line received a bossy letter from the secretary of state of each respective state. Say that one said he had to paint his mailbox blue and the other said he had to paint it red. The man was trying to figure out if one, or the other, or neither, had the authority to require something like this. So what would we think if Russell Moore walked up and said that what the man should do is “obey the existing authority.” Okay. Who might that be?
There are two debates going on in Alabama. One of them has to do with same sex mirage — that is the presenting problem. But the actual problem, as Roy Moore has cogently pointed out, is over who is the appropriate authority. Who has actual jurisdiction according to the law? Why would Russell Moore want to assume that the feds had jurisdiction just because the feds said they did?
So I have a simple question for Russell Moore. The question is designed to determine if he has a doctrine of the lesser magistrate at all, or if he has entirely capitulated to our lords on the Potomac. And if he has a doctrine of the lesser magistrate somewhere, where is the line? And why have we apparently not crossed the line with the sin that caused fire to fall upon Sodom from heaven? When would we cross the line? How bad would it have to get?
So here is my question. Is it possible for an agent of the federal government to tell a lesser magistrate to do something that the Constitution says he may not tell that lesser magistrate to do? Is that possible? If it is possible, what are the lesser magistrates to do if such an event occurs? Why would Moore say that he must resign rather than resist, but not say that he must resign rather than comply?
More importantly, is it possible for an agent of the federal government to tell a lesser magistrate to do something that the law of God forbids? If so, then is there ever a point when that lesser magistrate should resist in his official capacity? Or must he step aside in order to allow wolves to devour the sheep?
Suppose we get to the point where abortions are mandatory, as they are in some places in the world. Suppose a pregnant Christian woman appeals to a Christian judge, who stands with her. A federal district judge — one who in Russell Moore’s polity outranks the Christian judge — decides against the woman. What must that judge do? And why?
Russell Moore appears to be a good Christian man. But he is in the position of the proverbial man who brought a knife to a gun fight. We are in the midst of a clash of civilizations, and you cannot be a defender of Christian values apart from Christian civilization, and you cannot do that if you have no idea what the first principles of Christian civilization actually are.
Dead. Spot. On. Russell Moore I believe is an ecumenist. And is one of the last southern yellow dog Democrats.
I have great respect for Russell Moore in so many areas, but recently on a few social and political issues, I have found his analysis wanting and capitulating.
First commandment fail.
I’m having my children memorize this verse.
It would appear, more and more, that the Southern Baptist churches, mostly narcissistic and overly showy as far as I can tell, care more about keeping up appearances and maintaining the status quo of their organization than they do anything else. Anything as unbecoming as a defiant public stand is off limits. That’s not the kind of performance art they are looking for. I believe Russell Moore, along with most Southern Baptists, has a serious conflict of interest.
And in a stunning twist of epic internet proportions (on the scale of dramatic chipmunk, grumpy cat, and Russian motorcyclists who battle littering) we discover that Russell Moore has been active on this site for years, writing under the pseudonym “Eric the Red” (dun dun dun…)!
On a more serious note, I found a pertinent quote today, from one W.E. Channing, who was both a Unitarian and a liberal (in his day), but who might qualify for passage in the Fundamentalist Conservative camp now. He certainly wouldn’t make it as a Southern Baptist.
“The world is governed much more by opinion than by laws. It is not the judgment of courts, but the moral judgment of individuals and masses of men, which is the wall of defense around property and life.”
Currently (unless something has changed) the district court actually agrees that it can’t (on the basis of its previous ruling, without additional litigation) enforce the order on probate judges–I expect additional litigation will change this, but this is where things stand. Judge Roy Moore is not quite into civil disobedience territory yet even in the watered-down understanding of constitutional law that is generally accepted. He isn’t directly disputing the authority of the federal courts, yet, rather he using his powers given the _procedurally_ they haven’t done what they need to do to make this binding on him and the probate… Read more »
Does anybody have Russell Moore’s scriptural reasoning available ?
What are the scriptural arguments for resignation instead of assertion?
Is this the typical pre-milenialist resignation and learned helplessness common to Southern Baptists ?
Aren’t all offensive, off-topic comments inherently semi-pelagian?
Feel free to delete. It’s just a joke.
Most Baptists seem to be waiting for the rapture and then the tribulation to cure all of society’s ills. Ain’t happen’en any time soon despite what Hal Lindsey or Edgar Whisenant says.
My church’s elders agree with this Moore in principle.
Paint my mailbox red, they instruct … or you shan’t take communion here.
Ok not mailbox — but take these membership vows we made up, or you don’t comply to our authority.
And non-compliers are rebellers.
And rebellers won’t be served communion.
Rebellers are instructed to resign their attendance here.
What should I do?
Moore’s scriptural reasoning, albeit a bare reference, is available in the link Doug provided. Probably not convincing to most reading here, and I only point it out as an FYI, but there it is.
Wow, the comments are surfeited with Baptist haters. I love the “lumpemalltogether” mentality fellas. I guess we should take a cue from the presbyterians and split up….(and that right there folks is what you call “denomination baiting”)
Is it possible for an agent of the federal government to tell a lesser magistrate to do something that the Constitution says he may not tell that lesser magistrate to do? Yes Is that possible? Yes. If it is possible, what are the lesser magistrates to do if such an event occurs? Make their arguments in court and see where the judgment falls. Why would Moore say that he must resign rather than resist, but not say that he must resign rather than comply? Um….don’t know? More importantly, is it possible for an agent of the federal government to tell… Read more »
Newsflash: Nuremberg trials 2015, Russell Moore, SBC ethicist defends Nazi SS officers as having properly followed Romans 13 in fulfilling their orders at Auscchwitz.
The “law of the land” is the Constitution. It reserves powers to the states and does not give courts the authority to make up new definitions of marriage, the color of the sky, etc. When a judge does something beyond his authority, he is the one breaking the rule of law and the other judges have a duty to ignore it. If a fed judge, say named Matt, orders the incarceration of Christians, I shudder to think what the SBC ethicist would have lower magistrates to do. Until we weed out or educate our own team we will continue to… Read more »
Russell Moore at Bunker Hill: “Don’t shoot until you see the backs of your own troops!”
@JohnM Thank you, I found it; here it is: “As citizens and as Christians, our response should be one of both conviction and of respect for the rule of law (1 Peter 2:13; Romans 13). Our system of government does not allow a state to defy the law of the land,” Russell Moore wrote, according to Baptist Press. As for Romans 13, Pastor Wilson’s On The Lam For Jesus is a nice corrective. We must ask Russel Moore why he would ask St. Peter (The author of 1 Peter 2:13) to disobey Christ and return to jail. 1 Peter 2:13… Read more »
Russell Moore’s logic distills to the proposition that to fight the evil of a higher official, the lower official must disarm himself (resign) in order to do so. Sounds like self neutering unbiblical pacifism.
When I think about Russell Moore, I think about Shadrach, Meshac, and Abednego. Except I hope I would act like the latter instead of the former if I were in that position.
So you’re saying the other judges have a duty to ignore Roy Moore? Finally, left and right come together in agreement!
I’m thankful for your ability to see current goings-on with Biblical lenses and to present it with such clarity. Thank you for your work.
So you’re saying the other judges have a duty to ignore Roy Moore? Finally, left and right come together in agreement! @ Matt No. Judge Moore acted in accordance with constitutional limits that do not authorize courts to redefine marriage, the color of the sky or gravity. Christ has created and defined these Matt just like he created you for a purpose greater than trolling a Christian website. The irony is that he is using even your rebellion to sharpen the iron of those you oppose. Either way, your life now and hereafter is in His hands. The rational step… Read more »
Thank you and amen. I sent this link to Albert Mohler.
I could use some help with my reasoning here. If this issue is framed as states rights rather than the definition of marriage, what authority would the federal government ever have to overturn a state law, passed by the majority of the electorate, as unconstitutional? I understand that marriage is in a special category because it is not defined as a federal rather than state issue. But, if federal judges cannot tell a state how it may define marriage, how was the Supreme Court able to overrule the Commonwealth of Virginia’s definition of marriage as between people of the same… Read more »
Strictly in terms of law, yes, it is a parallel case. But in terms of morality, which you distinguished, it is not parallel at all. So what’s your point?…
No. Judge Moore acted in accordance with constitutional limits that do not authorize courts to redefine marriage, the color of the sky or gravity. There is no such limit in the constitution anywhere. If you think marriage is a physical fact about the world akin to the color of the sky or properties of gravitational force, then make that argument in court. My guess is you know how that would turn out. But, if federal judges cannot tell a state how it may define marriage, how was the Supreme Court able to overrule the Commonwealth of Virginia’s definition of marriage… Read more »
Hi Drew, I think my point is this (and I am certainly open to correction as I try to understand this issue): Would the Chief Justice of Alabama contend that Loving was wrongly decided in 1967 on the grounds that the federal government has no right to define marriage for a state? If he would make that contention, then I understand his legal argument about SSM. If, on the other hand, he would say that SCOTUS ruled correctly in Loving v. Virginia, I don’t see how he can say that the federal government has no jurisdiction over marriage in his… Read more »
Sorry, the States’ rights argument isn’t a red herring at all. I have, of course, heard people say that states that have legalized SSM should repent; but I have never heard any of those same people say the U.S. Supreme Court should strike down marriage redefinition statutes as unconstitutional.
Jill Smith, I think your question is an fair one and has to do with procedure – maybe there is a better term for what I mean. The difference is substance, and I think you acknowledge that as well. Matt, I think full disclosure on your part would be that you don’t agree with the original post, or most commenters, in substance at all, never mind questions of authority and procedure – yes? That said, Matt does have a point with his question in this case, though I don’t think their is any red herring involved. How important are states… Read more »
There is no such limit in the constitution anywhere @ Matt
You’re mistaken. There is no statutory or constitutional provision authorizing the federal judiciary to independently define marriage. Thus, the 10th Amendment, below, reserves this authority to the states and precludes federal redefinition.
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
The water’s still fine Matt.
From the moment I heard of Moore taking that position I thought of him as a sort of trojan horse. Doug, thank you for your >consistent< stance.
This just proves that many in leadership positions within the visible church are more interested in supporting the government than in obeying God. How many churches have pastors who encourage the sheep to go along with the evil of this country by not exposing and confronting it so the sheep can act accordingly with intelligence. It is all the result of the 501 c3 mentality. God bless you:)
I’m afraid I’m not understanding something. The federal court here is the lesser magistrate on two counts. First, this federal court is not greater than the Alabama Supreme Court. Second, no federal court is great than the Alabama Supreme Court. Even were we to allow the 14th amendment to grant the federal court to impose its will on state courts it would still only be allowed to do so in line with the 10th amendment. If the UN demands the US submit to the Tokyo protocols on global warming and the US refuses this would not be a lesser magistrate… Read more »
There is no statutory or constitutional provision authorizing the federal judiciary to independently define marriage. The federal government can offer marriage benefits for reasons of promoting the general welfare. To do this, it has to define who is married, and it has to do so with respect to the 14th amendment and the full faith and credit clause. The judiciary doesn’t even do the defining, but they can of course strike down a definition as running afoul of the 14th, which they did. As for the 10th amendment, the 14th amendment restricted its scope with respect to rights granted by… Read more »
Matt “the sky is blue” isn’t a physical fact, it’s a linguistic one. If someone decided to define “blue” in such a way that it included the position on the spectrum currently described as red, that would be redefining the color we use to describe the sky to include things that are not the same color as the sky.
It’s the same with “marriage is the union of a man and woman.” If the courts can redefine words, they can redefine words.
On a different note I wonder what Dr. Moore believes about the states legalization of marijuana in defiance of federal law.
As a member of the SBC, and though I have respect for the man and brother in Christ, I myself do not wish nor did I consent to be represented by Dr. Moore’s views, office, or organization.
I guess it depends on whether you are talking about the word or the actual color that the word applies to. As christian above also referred to gravity, I figured he was using the latter sense.
In the first sense, gay marriage is less like someone deciding to define red differently and more like the emergence of a societal consensus in favor of either shifting or expanding the use of “red” to include the color of the sky, in which case an official redefinition wouldn’t be at all out of line.
“gay marriage is less like someone deciding to define red differently and more like the emergence of a societal consensus”@ Matt
Your logic is flawed. You say marriage is subject to redefinition by societal consensus, but you support the overturning of the democratic definitions of marriage, which best reflects a true consensus, by the individual and unconstitutional acts of federal judges. Apparently your definition of “societal consensus” is that which must be consented to by judicial fiat or federal coercion.
Matt: Here’s an offer- I’d be glad to chat about the Lord who actually defined marriage.
Right on the mark.
The only Person with any legitimate “choice” in matters of protecting innocent life and defining marriage is God. And He made those choices at the beginning of His creation. The only real question left for us is whether or not we will dutifully conform our laws and practices to His choice, so as to be blessed, or to be a curse to our posterity.
God bless Roy Moore.
States’ rights were also used to abolish slavery in many states before national abolition, avoid de jure segregation when Woodrow Wilson, the great progressive, ordered it, and were also used to justify various states calling a homosexual couple “married” despite DOMA.
Read some history for once.
Well yeah Tom, that’s kind of the point. Everyone happily uses states’ rights whenever it’s good for their purposes, then just as happily throws it out the window whenever it isn’t. As a motivating principle it just doesn’t have any weight. You say marriage is subject to redefinition by societal consensus, but you support the overturning of the democratic definitions of marriage No no, it doesn’t matter what I support. My original point was that: 1. An unconstitutional order may be given. 2. A way to challenge an order believed to be unconstitutional exists 3. If a challenge is made… Read more »
Russell Moore is a member of this church in Nashville.
If you think he needs to resign his position I would encourage you to contact the elders at this SBC church.
“No no, it doesn’t matter what I support. My original point was that…”@ Matt Actually, your point was that societal consensus is grounds for redefining marriage. When it was pointed out that the societal consensus as reflected in the democratic laws that limit marriage to one man and one woman have been overturned, you jumped the rail and went into a new “original point” about procedural options. Matt, having eyes to see oneself as we truly are is a gift. When given and received, it’s a gift because we see how duplicitous and wretched we are without Jesus. C’mon in… Read more »
Excellent. Once again Wilson wastes more time and energy throwing rocks at other believers. While Judge Moore’s legal arguments may or may not have actual merit (I’m not a legal expert), Dr. Moore’s point is valid. It’s the same type of thing we’ve (Christians) have been screaming about for years- activist judges. We don’t like it when they do it, why should we. Obviously, the point can be made that it’s a crying shame there’s little room for men of Judge Moore’s faith and character within our justice system AND that we no longer live in a true republic (power… Read more »
Welcome to a new kind of tension,
All across the idiot nation…