Judge Moore Is Right to Oppose Judicial Tyranny and Deserves Our Support!
How I thank God for Jerry Falwell, Alan Keyes, and Howard Phillips! They were among the speakers at the Alabama State Capitol last Saturday to show their unwavering support for Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and his refusal to move the Ten Commandments monument, despite the fact that he faces fines and even jail time if the monument remains. Why is Moore so adamant? It’s simple. Removing the monument would violate his oath of office to the Alabama Constitution, which specifically declares the state laws to be under God, and would grant jurisdiction to a federal court that is acting beyond the scope of its lawful jurisdiction.
Folks, if you think Judge Moore is out of line for defying a federal court order, think again. Even better, read the Book of Acts. From beginning to end it contains a large number of public controversies in which the principal leaders of the Christian movement became involved. I’m not talking about common church-goers, but the apostles themselves! Far from caving in to government-sponsored tyranny, they came into serious conflict with the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem because of their public activities. Paul’s activities also resulted in major controversies within Gentile settings.
Unlike many church-goers today, the leaders of early Christianity, while not anti-Roman, were completely devoted disciples of Christ who refused to be dissuaded from preaching in His name despite the fact that controversy and turbulence ensued. Paul was no “law breaker,” but he was constantly embroiled in public controversy. Why? It was a matter of his loyalties. Paul’s references to Jesus as “Lord” served to circumscribe his loyalty to the state. In contrast to Lysias and Festus, he refused to take the emperor as his ultimate sovereign. This could only have proved troubling to the Roman authorities who were accustomed to think that a loyal citizen’s first allegiance belonged to the emperor and his decrees. How much like those evangelicals today who condemn Moore for his “activism”! The Paul of Acts was independent and assertive—indeed, far too independent and assertive for the Roman bureaucrats!
To those who criticize Judge Moore for asserting the lordship of Christ over human judges, I would ask: What Roman official reading Acts would not have been jarred by Luke’s report that Paul lectured Felix, governor of Judea, on “justice, self-control, and the judgment to come” (Acts 24:25)? Moreover, just as Moore has appealed his case beyond the federal appeals court to the U.S. Supreme Court, so too Paul was convinced that he would never receive justice if he allowed Festus to retain jurisdiction over his case. In appealing to Rome, Paul made no reference to the emperor’s justice, nor did he state that he thought his chances for acquittal were better with the emperor. Instead, he simply stated that his decision was forced upon him by the circumstances—just as in the case of Judge Moore! In fact, if Roy Moore is to be condemned for engaging in civil disobedience, then what about the apostles who said to the political authorities, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20), and who later said, “We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29)?
My friends, Judge Moore’s line-in-the-sand attitude is completely consistent with Luke’s narrative, which shows the apostles obeying and witnessing to the truth of God’s Word without regard for the concerns, and even the harsh reactions, of the authorities. Given his other reports regarding the misconduct of Roman officials and the lack of the resolution of Paul’s case, it’s clear that Luke did not write in order to persuade his fellow Christians to blindly follow the Roman authorities!
Jesus explicitly predicted that His disciples would have experiences comparable to His own at the hands of the Roman authorities. He also gave them specific instructions regarding the approach they should follow upon such occasions. But whatever their trials, both Jesus and the apostles remained steadfast in their witness. This faithfulness to obey God rather than men was, in my view, the quality that Luke wished to have his readers appreciate above all else.
At the Jefferson Memorial in Washington are the words of that great American chiseled in the marble frieze: “I have sworn on the altar of God eternal enmity against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” Ladies and Gentlemen, in my opinion Judge Moore deserves our wholeheartedly support for standing against judicial tyranny!
August 20, 2003
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.