The Supreme Court has been at the top of the news lately with a contentious confirmation hearing. Both parties have, in recent years, ramped up the politics of the court nominations. In a previous era, even the opposing party gave deference to the President’s nominees if they were considered qualified. But this has changed as the Supreme Court’s rulings have become more and more significant in American life and as the parties have polarized.
So in the midst of contention and debate, how should faithful Christians think about the Court?
Christians Should Be Thankful for Our Supreme Court
The United States is not the Kingdom of God and is far from perfect. But our system of government, though flawed, offers individual freedom and checks on power. The Founders wrote the constitution with one idea in mind: too much power in one person or entity’s hands is dangerous. They understood the potential for tyranny. So they designed our system to balance itself. The Supreme Court has served as a check on Presidential power and Congressional overreach.
Though its power has grown, alarmingly to some, it’s basic job is to interpret new cases in light of the Constitution. There are varying degrees and schools of thought on how the interpretation should be understood, but we can all agree that having this third branch of government is essential to our freedom and flourishing. A society that limits the power of leaders in a fallen world has more opportunity to see all people flourish, not just the powerful.
Christians Should Work for a Court That Sees the Dignity of Every Human Being
Laws can’t change the human heart; only the Holy Spirit can regenerate sinners. Only the gospel saves. But laws are not inconsequential. Every law reflects someone’s morality. For instance, laws that rightly restrict human trafficking or sexual violence reflect a society’s belief that these predatory actions against the vulnerable are morally wrong.
If we truly believe what the Bible says about human dignity—that every human being is made in the image of God and is worthy of respect and protection—then we should work for courts that interpret laws based on this premise. If we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, we should want the highest court in the land to see dignity even in the most vulnerable. We should work for societies that ensure the flourishing of our neighbors.
The Court, to be sure, doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) write the laws. This is the role of our representatives in Congress and it is the role of the President to execute those laws. But the Court serves an important function in ensuring that those two branches don’t use their power wrongly.
At times, sadly, the Supreme Court has not seen full personhood and dignity in certain groups of people. The Dred Scott decision considered slaves property, not people. The Korematsu decision upheld the President’s power to intern Japanese Americans based on their heritage. And Roe v. Wade refused to see the personhood of the unborn, allowing abortions.
All of these cases were examples of a court siding against the dignity of the vulnerable and refusing to acknowledge their personhood.
Christians Should Pray for Our Supreme Court Justices
Lastly, Christians should pray for our Supreme Court Justices. Paul urged Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:2 to pray for leaders to rule justly and to allow space for religious freedom. Justices are humans, invested with power and authority that affects the flourishing of millions of people. We should pray for their welfare, pray for sound judgment, and pray for rulings that uphold religious liberty and human dignity.
And as we pray, we should refuse to put our full faith in the nine black-robed men and women of the highest court. While their positions are important, we who trust in God should not be shaken when we see adverse rulings. We should not adopt a kind of messianic fervor about every election and the next appointment of justices so much that we lose our Christian witness. Elections matter and judicial appointments matter, but we ultimately know that God is guiding and gathering history to himself.
God is not surprised by what happens in those secret chambers on the first Monday in October, when the court’s term begins. God is not caught off guard by the majority and minority opinions of these appointed men and women. God is not wringing His hands in anticipation of the decisions that are handed down on those marble steps every summer.
We should work and pray for a court that sees the dignity of every person, but ultimately we know that our true hope is in another kind of power: another king and another kingdom. Our life is hidden with Christ in God. And Jesus’ just rule will never be overturned.
Want to see more from Dan? Check out his other LifeWay Voices posts: