Christian Ethics Vs. U.S. Supreme Court

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Introduction

I would like to approach how we view our judicial system in the United States of America; while tackling the use of Christian ethics in the process. This can be a very sensitive issue when it comes any court of law. Our nation was founded under the principle of taking an oath before God before approaching any proceeding.

Do, how much of Christian Ethics is applied to how we conduct proceedings? I will first describe how Christian Theology has molded our court systems into what it is known to be today. Then, I will attempt to explain how the Judiciary Law was come to change over the years. The position that I hope to substantiate is our approach as Christians to sentencing and court structure. When do we allow God to administer true justice or sentencing? Is it our responsibility to judge others, or is it the Lord’s decision to make?

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Christian Ethics

As described in this course, Christian Ethics is considered a form of Christian theology that defines a person’s behavior or improper behavior from a Christian perspective. This theological study of Christian ethics is also known as moral theology. Biblical Christian ethics is something that can’t be separated from theolog. Simply because it is grounded in the Word of God. The Purpose of Christian Ethics is to determine what is reflective or confirms God’s character and core principles. Without the divine direction of Christ, how are we justified in our decision making? The gospels clearly discern the difference between good and evil. God’s ethical order and commandments are the only true source of morality.

Christian Ethics is an expansion of the moral order that was spoken over all of God’s creations. When Adam and Eve resided in the Garden of Eden, God gave them specific rules to abide by. Genesis 2: 16-17 reads, “16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” [Holy Bible, New International Version.] Also, the prophets and apostles chosen by God (The New Testament) were led and convicted by the Holy Spirit to write the gospels. This further attests to the truth that God gave us rules to abide by on Earth. As Christians we recognize the truth of God’s law. We must try our best to live our lives obeying it. A responsible man, or righteous man, will try to make his life dedicated to answer the call of God.

U.S. Supreme Court

High Court’s often have decisions concerning religion in many ways. Everyone has heard the term “separation of church and state.” Derek H. Davis, [(Aug 2016)]. This is frequently used to describe the relationship between federal and state law when compared to religion. This term is often used when compared to how often the church and state often interact with each other within the courtroom. There is a huge misconception that the Supreme Court constantly seeks separation between church and state. The simple fact is that nothing can be farther from the truth.

The court system often tends to sanction state support of secular activities; which can arise in a within religious context. This is also while denying state aid to the considered sacred components of religious activity. Equality has always been considered the main pillar of American democracy. The founding fathers of our nation did not uphold equality as the main goal of the religion clauses though. The concept was created as a byproduct of deeper ideals. For example, the sanctioning religious pluralism along with providing equal access to the government office. The separation of church and state was really the center of how religion, and how state activity interacted in the United States. The court always carefully crafted a jurisprudence that rarely imposes on this kind of behavior. When looking at Supreme Court religion cases a little deeper; several philosophical lenses where used as powerful guides to understand a lot of court decisions when they were often considered highly complex. The United States Supreme Court has always played a huge role when it comes to the respect of religious institutions practice. The court’s jurisprudence basically has constructed the interpreted the meaning of the First Amendment.
Provisions generally were divided into two clauses. The first clause in mention is the Establishment Clause; followed by the Free Exercise Clause. Religious cases were addressed by the Supreme Court since it was first convened in 1790. A large majority of those cases have been decided only since the beginning of 1940. That is solely due to the court’s adoption of the incorporation doctrine in the twentieth century prior. The court had considered religion to be under the jurisdiction of the states only. Also, the incorporation of the Federal Bill of Rights into the Fourteenth Amendment had changed as well.

The United States system of judicial law is one of very strict separation between church and state. In some respects, this depiction can only be described as an overstatement. The separation of church and state is a traditional way of describing the relationship between religion and state in the American judicial system. This term itself is almost too broad to properly describe the whole system in its entirety though. American tradition in the respect to the separation of church and state does not necessarily mean that a separation of religion from government is required.

The US Supreme Court has often requested an examination of the eighteenth-century Founding Fathers writings to ascertain its relationship. The court has also relied on the writings of Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and the nation’s third president, to determine what the founder’s original intent of that very term. The phrase “wall of separation between church and state” was first used by President Jefferson in 1802. It was a shorthand explanation of the meaning he assigned to religion clauses. This phrase later was enlisted by the US Supreme Court in 1947 to be used as a formal definition. The court itself acknowledges that separating church and state was key to the founders’ original vision. Also, one of the most detrimental meanings of the separation of church and state is that the state is prohibited to shape, direct, or frame the religious beliefs of any American citizen. A person might believe that what is not true, or maybe even being manipulated into believing something that is false. This is a conflict of interest and a form of manipulation.

The Supreme Court still cannot protect an individual on religions choices or views. The institutional form of separating the church and state is viewed most frequently in judicial decisions that limit religious activity in the public schools. The Supreme Court’s decision to limit a schools’ ability to entertain vocal prayers and scripture readings is one of its most notable. Ten Commandments, religious texts, or to advance a religious worldview are intended to protect and uphold the sacred domain of religion. This is a conflict of interest to the The High Court. It is often stressed that children are highly impressionable and may be permissible for the state occasionally to accommodate religious observances. Also, higher public education settings are instructed to leave the religious training of young children to parents. Religious bodies, and other private organizations are considered the proper outlet for school children. It is very important to remember that public schools and institutions are where children begin their journey with social interaction and individuality. So, it is evident that courses that teach comparative religion, or literary aspects of religion are considered permitted. I can understand how the government should not intrude on those principles.

The institutional separation of church and states has been somewhat experimental throughout human history. American society has always operated with the assumption that government should be the moral agent. In ancient history it was considered custom for the government to sponsor religious worship and proceedings. This was in the hopes of instilling morality into the local citizens. The American founders were convinced that a successful nation would not need the assistance to teach or lead its’ citizens with moral projection. They believed that moral training and values must come from the faith of the community, and not government. The Establishment Clause was the founders attempt to remove the government from directing the religious views of citizens. Mimicking that same notion; The Free Exercise Clause reflected the very same intentions of putting religion in the hands of the citizens. This is a perfect example of our nation giving its citizens the right to choose their own religious preference. As a Nation, The United States of America still struggles with this very aspect of law to this day.

Conclusion

Christian Ethics is something that has always been at the forefront of our culture. From the beginning of our creation, to the beginning of civilization, the Word of God has always been right there guiding us. As Christians we are to recognize the truth of God’s law and abide by it. Romans 13:1-7 reads, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

Therefore, one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.” [Holy Bible, New International Version]. There may be large halls of government, political figures, celebrities, and even the rich and powerful. We are all held accountable if we do not lean on Gods’ understanding. We must all sacrifice everything and follow Jesus. Our law system may not have upheld those truths in the beginning, but the Word of God will never be denied. Grace and mercy is what the Holy Spirit shows us, so why is humanity so merciless to others? He must continue to pray for one another and love each other with a heart of Christ in order to receive forgiveness. It is very difficult to live in a secular word and exercise a biblical worldview. This is only because we are taught not to impose on someone else’s beliefs. I completely understand that, but maybe that is the issue.

We spend so much time worried that we are going to offend someone that we never take the time to ask. If we only could stand firm in what we believe in, and respect other peoples’ beliefs, maybe we could get somewhere. To me that would be an excellent opportunity to work out our differences as a nation. As Christians it is our duty to bring people back to Christ. Our worldview should always reflect one of peace, grace, favor, and mercy. Understanding someone else’s situation is not the same thing as tolerating wrong doing. God is the divine one; who are we to judge?

Bibliography

  1. Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011
  2. Francis Schaeffer, “Christian Faith and Human Rights,” Simon Greenleaf Law Review, 2 (1982-3), 5.
  3. Jones, Michael S. Moral Reasoning: An Intentional Approach to Distinguishing Right from Wrong. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt, 2017.
  4. Joan Windmill Brown, ed., The Martyred Christian (New York, NY: Macmillan, 1985), 157.
  5. Derek H. Davis, Religion and Politics, Religion in America Online Publication Date: Aug 2016

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