As we prepare for the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to make two very important decisions this month, it is important to look at moral absolutes and how they could be employed by the Supreme Court Justices. Many people in our country today do not believe there are moral absolutes. They believe everything needs to be viewed in light of current culture and societal norms. This is the reason we have nine appointed Supreme Court Justices making moral decisions for the entire nation, often based upon their personal opinions and convictions instead of the letter of the law.
For those who are not aware, the two decisions set to come out this month concern Obamacare and same-sex marriage. In the case of Obamacare, the Justices will determine the intent of one line to decide whether some subsidies are allowed. According to Lyle Denniston, a blogger on the SCOTUS website, this is the question:
The fate of those subsidies apparently will now depend upon how the Court interprets four words in the Affordable Care Act. In setting up the subsidy scheme, Congress said it would apply to exchanges “established by the State.”
It seems it should be easy to determine the intent of the writers of Obamacare. Government subsidies would be provided to those who signed up on State established healthcare exchanges. According to one of the writers of Obamacare, Jonathan Gruber, this wording was inserted into Obamacare as incentive for the States to establish their own exchanges. However, according to the Pew Research Center, 27 States did not establish their own healthcare exchanges, so the people in those states were forced to sign up for healthcare through the Federal Exchange. Many of these people received subsidies, which they were not eligible for because of the way the law was written.
There is absolute truth in this case. The words are not ambiguous. The Federal government wanted the States to establish their own exchanges in order to receive subsidies. There is no need for debate. The language is plain and simple. If the Justices follow the letter of the law, the subsidies for individuals who signed up in the Federal Exchange will lose their subsidies. While the consequences for these people are terrible, the federal government has to follow the law, or it cannot expect the citizens of the country to be law-abiding.
In the same-sex marriage decision, SCOTUS has to decide two things. First, whether state bans on same-sex marriage are constitutional; and second, if they are, whether those states with bans may refuse to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. This again is a clear cut legal issue because the issue of marriage has always been determined by the States and the citizens of the states, due to the Tenth Amendment, which says: “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.” Marriage is not addressed in the Constitution, so it is not a constitutional right.
It is important to understand the Constitution of the United States. It was written to give the Federal government limited power over the States, to enable the nation to be governed by the people and not a tyrant. The Federal government was never given the power to dictate morality to the people. That was determined by the conscience and religious morality of the people, enacted and enforced based upon laws made by local and state governments.
Looking at these two issues, it is clear we are looking at two very different issues. One has to be determined by the Justices because it is a law. The Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, was passed by Congress and then signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. It is a Federal law, so any questions regarding the legality need to be determined by the courts. It is not a moral issue, unless the Justices choose to ignore the facts and the letter of the law. Then their failure to follow the law becomes a moral issue, but the enforcement of the law is not a moral issue.
In the case of the same-sex marriage decisions, it is a clear moral decision, which, constitutionally, should not be determined by the Federal government. They never should have had a voice in the issue. It should have been determined by the States with a vote of the people. Many states voted and their voices were silenced as the courts intervened and made moral decisions in opposition to the conscience and morality of the people.
As we look at what is happening to the government in our country, we realize this is not new. This is not the first time a government has gone beyond their lawful powers to enact policies for their gain. There have been governments around the world taken over by dictators and tyrants, with their own political agendas, which are not for the good of the people but for their own personal gain.
It is for this very reason, we must recognize there are very real moral absolutes, which were given to us to protect us from the tyranny of men. God was able to establish and institute moral absolutes, because He alone is morally incorruptible. While many believe man is basically good, God tells us the opposite is true:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:9-10).
Man is not basically good, we are evil. Our hearts are wicked, and while we can fool many people, we cannot fool God, because He alone can search our hearts and knows the intent of our thoughts and action.
God, knowing the heart condition of man, set up moral absolutes. He knew man could not fairly and justly govern himself. He knew power would corrupt man, and left unchecked the corrupt man would lord over the people. This basic truth from God’s Word has been demonstrated time and time again. It is not just a nebulous idea but a sad reality repeated through the ages. We have seen reasonable men and women rise to power, only to fall victim to their own greed, as they embrace power and turn it to corruption.
While many would say moral absolutes do not exist and we cannot follow the teachings of one religion, we have to recognize the real truth. Civilized nations were built upon Christianity and the Word of God. The Constitution of the United States was written based upon the laws, statutes and commandments of God. The original judges sat at the city gates to judge the actions of the people according to the Word of God, the Law:
“You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the Lord your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment”
Without God’s moral absolutes, we are at the mercy of the biases and prejudices of man, who are born with a sin nature and a wicked heart. As we look at our own Supreme Court Justices, we see the bias and prejudice of man in action. We have nine men and women who are influenced by their own personal biases and prejudices, good and bad. They are not bad people, they are just fallible. If they sought the Lord and instituted the moral absolutes of the Lord, law would be determined without bias and prejudice, and people would get true justice.