MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The governor of Alabama, who formerly served as a deacon and Sunday school teacher at the Baptist church where he remains a member, says that he will obey the recent federal court ruling striking down the state’s Sanctity of Marriage Act as being unconstitutional.
Gov. Robert Bentley told Politico on Friday while attending a meeting of the National Governor’s Association in Washington, D.C. that he believes he must obey the courts even if he disagrees with them personally.
“[I would] never do anything to disobey a federal court ruling,” he told the outlet when asked about last month’s same-sex “marriage” decision, which Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has called on others to fight.
“We are a nation under laws,” Bentley said. “We may not always agree with them, but we obey them.”
The governor, who attends First Baptist Church Tuscaloosa, additionally told AlabamaNews that while he and Moore have the same convictions, they differ when it comes to compliance with federal court rulings. He said that he would not punish probate judges who decided to issue same-sex “marriage” licenses, nor those who have refused to do so, but will wait to hear from the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue.
“I don’t want Alabama portrayed in a negative light because when it’s portrayed in a negative light, it doesn’t help me to recruit jobs in Alabama,” he said. “So I’m hurting families when I can’t help people get a job in this state.”
“I want to do everything I can to make sure the people across the country, the people across the world, realize that Alabama is a different state,” Bentley stated. “And I will obey the law and that’s what I’m going to do.”
But Matt Trewhella, pastor of Mercy Seat Christian Church in Milwaukee, Wisc. and author of “The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate,” told Christian News Network that Christians should never place man’s decrees above God’s law.
“What must be realized is that the rule of law in Western civilization was built upon the moral law of God as revealed in Scripture,” he said. “The reason homosexuality was illegal throughout Western civilization for nearly 1,500 years was precisely because the moral law of God declared it a crime.”
“So, when you now have law made by men that is contradicting that, men should not recognize it as true law, and men in positions of authority like Bentley should actually oppose such a court ruling,” Trewhella explained.
He said that it is hypocritical for Christians to place “the law of the land” over God, whether it be court opinions affirming homosexuality or the slaughter of millions of innocent babies through abortion.
“This is a huge problem that Christians have in America as they separate their Christianity from their politics,” the pastor and author stated. “It makes it convenient for them to betray Christ, even in office.”
Trewhella said that if Bentley was handling the matter as a biblical Christian, he would join Moore in defending Alabama’s Constitution and resist the ruling.
“[H]e should be doing exactly what Judge Moore is saying, and that is [declaring] that this federal court ruling is immoral and unjust, and we’re not going to recognize it,” he outlined. “He should be defending Alabama’s Constitution from federal tyranny.”
During an interview earlier this month on CNN, Moore pinned down interviewer Chris Cuomo as to whether or not he would have obeyed the 1896 Supreme Court ruling in favor of racial segregation.
“Would you have followed the order in Dred Scott saying that black people were property? Or would you have followed the order in Plessy versus Ferguson that says separate but equal was the policy of the United States?” Moore asked.
“It’s not my place to answer,” Cuomo replied.
“Well, I’m asking you if you were the Chief Justice of Alabama, would you follow Plessy versus Ferguson and Dred Scott when they were issued. Yes or no?” Moore repeated.
“You follow the law of the land,” Cuomo said. “That is what our nation is based on.”
Martin Luther King, Jr., in his well-known “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” written in Alabama during a time when segregation was considered the law, said that while some may question disobedience to civil law, a law is not a law if it violates the law of God.
“One may well ask, ‘How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?’ The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust,” he explained. “I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
“How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law,” King continued. “Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire.”
Christian News Network attempted to reach First Baptist Church Tuscaloosa, but no one could be reached for comment.
Updated 2-23-15: This article has been updated to reflect that Bentley once served as a deacon and Sunday School Teacher at First Baptist Church Tuscaloosa, but is no longer serving in those capacities. He does, however, remain a member of the congregation.
Bentley Photo: Facebook