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Choosing Between The Constitution And The Bible

Updated on October 5, 2011

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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    • Verily Prime profile image

      Verily Prime 6 years ago from New York

      Well said - that too is my priorities where God, through his Son Jesus, comes First. I am also reminded that it is under the Constitution where we sanction the killing of babies (Roe)and don't get me started on slavery....

    • Mandrake_1975 profile image

      Mandrake_1975 6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      The law is not always correct. In Nazi Germany it was the law to hand over jews. The laws of men often conflict with the Natural Laws of God. This is why I believe each individual must prioritize their life and decide what comes first. For me it is God, family, country (in that order). If a moral conflict arises between the laws of men and the laws of God or the love of my family, I must look to my order of priorities.

      I think we all must do that. It is these very issues that make up who we are inside. I believe in the Constitution of the United States of America because I feel it works best for all people and it is the best thing we have going for us until God sets up His kingdom because frankly I don't think humans are capable of much better. That doesn't mean I think the Constitution is perfect and it doesn't mean I agree with it on all points.

      In the end it is how we resolve these conflicts that ultimately shows us exactly what we believe in and who we are.

    • Verily Prime profile image

      Verily Prime 6 years ago from New York

      You are indeed right Brenda - these choices are available, but I simply wanted to underscore the conflict between those who are strict adherents to the Word in light of the Constitutional dictates that maybe contrary.

    • profile image

      Brenda Durham 6 years ago

      I think....that lawyer could refuse to take the case, unless he/she's a public defender? And even then, couldn't they refuse? And if in the middle of the case, they find out the defendant is guilty, they could withdraw from the case?

      I know that's also probably passing-off the responsibility to some other lawyer, but what else to do?

      Quite a quandry I guess...