The Rocket, the Republic, and Romans 13

There sure has been a lot of high-impact national legal news recently, what with the rulings on Obamacare, Arizona’s immigration issues, child punishment limits, and all.

But prior to the Supreme Court launching its multi-headed, end-of-session jurisprudential howitzers and accompanying confusion into the national conversation late last month, an earlier story already had me thinking critically about truth, justice and the American way: the federal “not guilty” verdict for legendary baseball pitcher Roger Clemens, aka, “the Rocket.”

My initial reaction had and has nothing to do with baseball, Clemens’ celebrity, his accomplishments, whether he used performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), whether he lied to Congress or whether he should be in baseball’s Hall of Fame.

What caught my attention was how many media outlets bundled the Clemens “not guilty” verdict with similar PED verdicts for baseball’s Barry Bonds and cyclist Lance Armstrong, and reported those successful defenses as “losses” for the United States government.

That gave me pause. First, because I question how a legal finding that exonerates a citizen is a “loss” for the republic. And second, because I think that God, not the government, is the only, proper and final arbiter of truth and justice.

Our secular government courts – whether by judge or jury – do the best they can to assess legal vs. illegal, but nobody should assume that every American judicial decision is on par with God’s righteousness. Secular justice is in the eye of the beholder; look at the O.J. trial, for heaven’s sake.

Romans 13 tells us that God ordains governments, and that “the one in authority is God’s servant” (verse 4). I see plain and persistent evidence that the government and media are perpetually confused about who is the servant and who is God. Only God is God, and justice is His alone. Read about the kings of the Old Testament who thought justice was theirs rather than God’s. It got ugly; it almost always does with earthly kings.

When the media – however indirectly, absentmindedly or irreverently – implies that government is the ultimate arbiter of justice, that’s a red flag. It’s a sign the media has succumbed to thinking that justice is Caesar’s (i.e., the government’s) rather than God’s. The overarching yet oh-so-sublime problem is this: Government has no God, only people do.

In Romans 13, Paul reminds us that we have to adjust to life and “justice” in this world, but not by forgetting God. Then in Philippians 3:20, Paul declares that for Christians our true citizenship is in heaven. That’s important to remember.