The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

An Uncertain Sound

Become an insider.
Sign up for our emails.

We won't spam, rent, sell, or share
your information in any way.

The U.S. Supreme Court has thoroughly clouded the Ten Commandments issue beyond all recognition with its two recent rulings. In McCreary County v. ACLU, they ruled against displaying the commandments on government property. However, in Van Orden v. Perry, they ruled in favor of displaying the commandments on government property. What is going on here and what is being communicated by the highest court in America?

The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 14:8 that if the trumpet gives an “uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” Trumpets were used in war and worship alike (Num. 10:9–10). If the trumpet-blower were to give an “uncertain sound” the noise of the trumpet could cause the people to prepare for war instead of worship, or vice versa. The trumpet-blower was to give a clear, certain sound that communicated exactly what it was meant to and not simply make a noise. The Supreme Court has just blown an “uncertain sound” to the American people.

Recent rulings by the Court have revealed that the concepts of a “living Constitution” and “evolving standards of decency” to be the only concrete rules of ruling. Interpreting the First Amendment, not in the terms of when it was written, but by what most people believe today is how the Supreme Court is currently conducting its business. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said, “It is true that many Americans find the Commandments in accord with their personal beliefs, but we do not count heads before enforcing the First Amendment.”[1] This is a true statement, Justice O’Connor is quite right in stating this. The Court is supposed to rule legally, in terms of what the law states, and not emotionally, based on what the people believe. But Justice O’Connor is not true to this sentiment—her own words indict her.

I suspect that with time, we will rely increasingly on international and foreign law in resolving what now appear to be domestic issues, as we both appreciate more fully the ways in which domestic issues have international dimension, and recognize the rich resources available to us in the decisions of foreign courts. Doing so may not only enrich our own country’s decisions; it will create that all-important good impression. When U. S. courts are seen to be cognizant of other judicial systems, our ability to act as a rule-of-law model for other nations will be enhanced. [2]

She believes the United States should be more in line with what the rest of the world decides. The problem with this is that the United States has its own laws—not international laws—to inform its legal decisions. The Supreme Court is to rule in light of what the Constitution says and means, not what international courts have decided. Justice O’Connor, along with the rest of the Court, needs to realize that the First Amendment was in place long before religious symbols showed up on government buildings. The very building where the Supreme Court sits has a concrete statue of Moses and the Ten Commandments adorning it. Either every single reference to the Ten Commandments that resides on government property must be burned or chiseled off, or none of it should.

“Although we disagree on the facts of the Texas case and think the Supreme Court should have ruled that one unconstitutional as well, we're very pleased that what the clear majority of the court has done is reaffirm the principles behind church-state separation and religious liberty,” said Elliot Mincburg, vice president of People for the American Way. [3]

Mincburg's point is well-taken. The situational ethics that the Supreme Court used to allow the Texas display, but not the Kentucky one, is sending an “uncertain sound.” Whether a Ten Commandments display is surrounded by secular displays or is presented in an “historical context”[4] or not; it is either acceptable or forbidden. The First Amendment makes no provision for situations or context, as much as the Supreme Court wishes it would. The Court needs to begin ruling in light of what the Constitution meant at the time it was written, however unpopular that may be, instead of reinterpreting it in light of current post-modernistic thinking. This “uncertain sound” is telling the American public that the First Amendment can mean two different things at the same time—which is just right for a society that can absolutely tolerate anything … except absolutes.

Filed under: , , ,

Join the email family.

We won't spam, rent, sell, or share
your information in any way.

Join the support family.

Donate Now
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram
The American Vision