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.