Russell, We Have a Constitution

February 16, 2015

Dr. Randy White | Pastor
First Baptist Church, Katy, TX

**This article was previously posted by Dr. Randy White on his website and is used by permission.

Last October, when Houston Mayor Annise Parker used the court system as an illegal billy stick to cajole wayward pastors into her agenda, Russell Moore wrote an article he called, “Houston, We Have a Constitution.” Moore was “stunned by the sheer audacity” of the Mayor’s action. Rightly so, as was I.

Now it seems that Southern Baptists’ premier ethicist has changed his tune.

When Federal Judge Callie Granade recently instructed an Alabama Probate Judge to issue a marriage license for a same-sex marriage in Alabama, Judge Roy Moore, Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court, wrote a powerful letter to Alabama’s governor, explaining why he would support the Alabama Probate Judges Association, “which has advised probate judges to follow Alabama law in refusing to license marriages between two members of the same sex.” Justice Moore further stated that, “the issuance of such licenses would be in defiance of the laws and Constitution of Alabama.”

It’s no secret that I’ve never been a Russell Moore supporter. From the beginning I warned that Moore would bring “social justice in conservative clothes.” Dr. Moore and Justice Moore are not related, as far as I know. They are both Southern Baptists who carry the same last name, but beyond this there is little similarity. This is not the first time the ethicist and the Judge have been at odds. When the Judge refused to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Supreme Court, Dr. Moore sided with the Federal Government. Now we have Moore-vs-Moore, round two.

Russell Moore believes that Justice Moore should resign. Baptist Press quoted Russell Moore as saying that a Judge who is “faced with a decision of violating his conscience or upholding the law would need to resign and protest against it as a citizen if he could not discharge the duties of his office required by law in good conscience.”

This is flawed thinking to the core on two fronts.

First, it is inconsistent with Russell Moore’s own statements. Moore has consistently been against same-sex marriage, even while being softer and gentler in his speech about homosexuality. Take, for example, these words from Dr. Moore’s pen:

If the state ever attempts to force us to call marriage that which is not marriage in our churches and ceremonies, let’s obey God, even if that means we sing our wedding hymns in the prison block.[1]

It appears that this does not refer to Christian judges of conviction—judges that likely perform far more marriage ceremonies than the average Southern Baptist pastor. One wonders why “obey God rather than man” does not apply to those working in Government.

Or what about these words:

We have no authority to revise what Jesus handed down to us.[2]

The words sound very similar to what Justice Moore says in his letter to the Governor:

The laws of this state have always recognized the Biblical admonition stated by our Lord: But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and cleave to his wife…

Second, and more important, Russell Moore’s position is ill-informed of the most basic constitutional issue for a conservative America: state’s rights.

When the liberals began pushing for same-sex marriage, they spoke of the 10th Amendment as their friend. Not surprisingly, conservatives agreed that “Gay marriage is State’s Choice.” The 10th Amendment makes clear that, “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.” It is this principle that Justice Moore rightly articulates in his defense of judges who refuse to obey the billy stick of federal judges with their judicial overreach.

Gay-marriage should be decided in the states. Anything else is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court of the United States will be unconstitutional to declare otherwise. And Justice Moore will be right.

Which Moore needs to resign? You decide.


Leave a Comment:

All fields with “*” are required

 characters available

Rick Patrick

Dr. White,

Thank you for your excellent article in support of the only Moore still actively engaged in opposing same sex marriage. Sometimes, it feels like Russell Moore has simply given up and thrown in the defeatist, white towel of surrender.

This is what the SBC had to say in a resolution at our annual meeting in Phoenix in 2003: “RESOLVED, That we call upon all judges and public officials to resist and oppose the legalization of same-sex unions;”

How far our ERLC has fallen! We’ve gone from calling on judges to RESIST to calling on judges to RESIGN.

Randy White

The decline has been precipitous, and there is a large portion of the SBC populace that doesn’t even realize it. Young leadership, especially, is blind to the pseudo-conservatism of the SBC. I’m prayerful that we can turn this ship before it is too late.

Tommy Davis

Rus Moore is like Bart Barber, both good men no doubt, but comfortable with a readiness to back down when pressure is applied from on high. As thoroughly reconstructed men ashamed of their Confederate forebears who did have the nerve to stand against Federal Tyranny, we should not be surprised, only ashamed, of them.


While I (a) am not convinced that Russel Moore does not oppose same-sex marriage, even if we may think his strategy on this issue is flawed in some ways, (b) Would like to hear more about the supposed “pseudo-conservatism” of the SBC, and (c) am unsure how to take Tommy’s comment, which seems to wish the south had succeeded and retained their independent slave-driven economy….

…On this issue, I believe you are right, to a point. If JUDGE Moore believes it is his duty as a Christian and as a State Judge to uphold written Alabama Law and to refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses, even at the cost of his position… then he stands in a long line of Christians who have taken principled stands on moral issues. (However, if he, looking at the situation, decided that the only thing his consience allowed him to do was to resign rather than issue those licenses, the I would say we should also support his decision, because that also, in a slightly different way, is a principled stand.) I believe both of those reactions could be good Christian reactions: “I won’t do this, you’ll have to fire me!” …or “I would rather resign than do this.”

Tommy Davis

Yes, I do wish the South had been successful in its bid for State Sovereignty, with slavery dying out through Christian influence rather than Yankee Genocide, and if it had there would be neither Sodomite marriage nor Abortion as the law of our lands

Leave a Comment:

All fields with “*” are required

 characters available