Choosing Between The Constitution And The Bible
Choosing Between The Constitution And The Bible?
I have written glowingly about a Reverend Dempster and lauded him because of his kindness to those in dire straits without him being paid or being a publicity whore. As a security guard at the hospital where I met Reverend Dempster, he would encourage those of us who had the mental faculties and ambition to pursue higher education, yet he would always have that Detective Colombo-like pregnant pause when I told him I desired to be a lawyer.
In essence, Reverend Dempster was considering the choices one must sometimes make as an advocate and juxtaposing them against the edicts of the Bible. The Constitution spells out the parameters one must use in criminal trials, which may be against one’s religious duties. Recently, the issue was brought to the fore because I listened to a homily by a Pastor Beard and he spoke about what is the Christian to do when there are conflicts between following the Constitution and Biblical teachings. What really got to me and resonated was the visceral examples Pastor Beard used to illustrate his point.
In the law, there is a code of ethics which requires every lawyer to vigorously defend his or her client; lawyers are supposed to divorce their personal moral feelings from that of the case. But what if you, as counsel to a rapist, know that your client did do the rape… what are your moral obligations as an officer of the court, who is sworn to uphold the tenets of our Constitution to that of the moral obligations of a practicing Christian? Moreover, what if in your vigor, by utilizing some of the precepts of our Constitution, say, the ‘fruits of the poisonous tree,’ which resulted in your client’s freedom? What if the client raped another person? As a Christian or for that matter, anyone in a similar situation with a moral compass, aren't you partially responsible for the new rape for enabling a guilty man to escape justice... since you were privy to the initial inculpatory evidence?
I know what the typical lawyer would say – that he or she is simply working within the confines of the rules of the law and that the job has nothing to do with religion. But if we are going to give an account of actions done in this life, do we get a pass for nefarious deeds done directly or indirectly in the capacity of a lawyer who helped his or her client escaped justice? Does a lawyer’s Constitutional duty trumps the Bible’s proscription against certain actions taken in the performance of one’s job, providing of course said lawyer is a believer? The point hits home, to a lesser extent, when one realizes and thinks of how many of us have sworn on the Bible and are Christians, yet have lied. I supposed in such a time… that is where the choice of affirming instead of swearing on the Bible comes in handy - it is our modern version akin to that of Pontius Pilot’s washing of his hands.
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