Rule of Law

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. – Romans 13:1-5

When the Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage was legal throughout the United States, Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore sent out a directive to Alabama’s 67 probate judges to not issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Moore claimed that Alabama law superseded a federal court ruling. Luckily most of Alabama’s probate judges ignored Moore.

Moore and his supporters said, “If it’s not God’s law, it’s not law.” This does not follow what the Bible tells us. Romans 13:1 says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” I believe that most of America’s laws are inspired by God. I certainly believe that the Obergefell decision was based on love and the freedom to love. And remember that God is Love.

The United States remains a country founded on the principle of freedom, a place where my God can be a whole lot more tolerant than the damning deity depicted on signs in front of the Alabama Judicial Building this week.

In America, the rule of law is the Great Commandment. Without it we are lost, a lawless land controlled by the tribe with the biggest band and the biggest stick. That’s not America. It’s ISIS.

Moore’s supporters on Wednesday said they couldn’t understand why the chief justice was even on trial before the court of the judiciary. They argued that a charge against Moore is an attack on God and an assault on religion itself.

Which is as absurd. It is a protection of religion.

Moore, the top judge on the highest court in all of Alabama, was on trial for flouting the Rule of Law, for putting his own beliefs – again – above the decisions of the United States Supreme Court.

Moore was accused of ordering Alabama probate judges to deny marriage licenses to gay couples, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that essentially made gay marriage legal in all states. Moore argued Wednesday his order was just a suggestion – even if it did say “ordered and directed” right there before his signature.

“I would not defy a federal court order,” Moore testified – even though he was kicked out of the same office in 2003 for defying a federal court order. His follow-up was closer to the truth.

“I don’t defy federal court orders when they are within the law,” he said.

Within his version of the law.

The Court of the Judiciary stood for the Rule of Law this week, unanimously finding that Moore should be suspended without pay for the rest of his term for putting himself before his duty.

It had little choice.

Because Moore, again, put his own beliefs and his own flavor of religion above his duty, his country and his oath. He violated the one thing he was sworn to uphold.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

2 responses to “Rule of Law

  • Nathan

    I am not sure how I feel about this post. While I am strongly LGBT rights, after reading your post I read that this verse was used by Hitler to subdue the citizens. The truth is it is possible to use the bible for any means you want. That being said I consider my self a Christian as well as a member of the LGBT community. I merely wanted to raise my ambivalence toward this passage.

    • Joe

      I could have used other verses or no verse at all, but I think at times our moral compass takes over and as long as we keep in mind the Golden Rule, then we really can’t go wrong. Moore’s problem is that he thought he was above the law when he was not. Besides, he knew what would happen when he issued the order. He’s merely gearing up for a run for governor.

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