Jury Duty...

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by amishrockstar, Jul 2, 2007.

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  1. amishrockstar

    amishrockstar Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm not sure if this belongs here...
    I've got a question about the Christian and "jury duty." My dad got papers for jury duty in the mail recently and he said that he wasn't going to do it. He said that Christians shouldn't "judge" unbelievers, "God will judge them." He went on to say that Christians are supposed to judge Christians not unbelievers, etc.
    Any thoughts???
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2007
  2. non dignus

    non dignus Puritan Board Sophomore

    I would begin by saying we should assume that the stranger is a believer; not foolishly believe it, but charitably believe it. And further, that the whole human race is in covenant together by virtue of creation. And further, that there is a civil covenant containing jury service for the good of that covenant and the community it serves.

    Modern life is more complex than just having a Christian identity in a wilderness. Think of the good service a Christian could perform on a jury that might have wide influence on the legal world. And think how your father might feel if he knew there were good Christians on a jury deliberating on a question about him.

    Having a jury of our peers is a blessing from heaven.

    I used to think like your Dad so I understand. I don't think that way anymore.
  3. Herald

    Herald Moderator Staff Member

    Amish - you need to have a signature!
  4. amishrockstar

    amishrockstar Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks for your reply. The main problem (and in order to put my question in a little more context) is that my dad is going to an Anabaptist church and as you probably know they are basically anti-government. So a lot of his thinking stems from the belief that believers shouldn't get involved in government at all (one reason is that believers aren't allowed to share their faith while at work), that we aren't to go to war (pacifism), among other similar ideas.
    So, the main thing that needs answering for him is how can we say 'biblically' that a believer SHOULD judge unbelievers, especially in 'light' of 1Cor.5:12,13?
    Any more thoughts???
  5. dcomin

    dcomin Psalm Singa


    In 1 Corinthians 5 and 6, Paul is not speaking of the propriety or impropriety of secular courts. He is talking about disputes between brothers and the need for such to be addressed by the courts of the church, rather than having brothers drag brothers before the civil magistrate over petty disputes. He says...

    You can see in the first part of this passage, that Paul says that if he were counseling seperatism, the Corinthians would have to go out of the world. Obviously, this is impossible, and thus Paul's admonition is not to be construed as commanding believers to shun the ungodly.

    When he writes, "For what have I to do to judge them also that are without?" Paul is speaking from his office as an Apostle - not as a private citizen. As an Apostle, he has no authority to judge those who are outside of the visible church. Again, the context does not support the interpretation that Paul means there is no valid place for a believer to sit in judgment of an unbeliever. He is merely speaking of the offices and courts of the church.

    The following passages speak directly to the question of the believer's response to and responsibility toward the civil authorities...

  6. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    I'd add in addition to what Mr. Comin has posted, that for your father to be consistent, he should avoid being in any position of authority over a non-believer. Otherwise, he'd be in a position to "judge" that person. In fact, he probably should not buy or sell from unbelievers either, because if he were wronged, he could not assert it.

    But that is not at all what scripture tells us to do. Your father has been summonsed to provide justice. In a sense, the civil magistrate has made him to be a master over a cause at trial. God has providentially placed him in a temporary position of authority. He would do well to consider how other men of God handled such a summons: Joseph in Egypt, Daniel in Babylon, and even Crispus in Acts 18 (who had some level of authority over nonbelievers).

    Col 4:1: "Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven." Although the context is addressed to believers all, I do not think there is warrant to not provide justice to servants who do not believe.
  7. amishrockstar

    amishrockstar Puritan Board Freshman

    Hey THANKS for all your answers...
    It's definately important to put the text in context and I like the idea of God's providence in raising Joseph and Daniel to positions where they were --in a sense-- "judging unbelievers."
    I love my dad greatly and believe (from hearing his testimony) that he's a Christian, but it's very 'hard' and sometimes a 'struggle' to speak with someone who comes from more of an Anabaptistic 'bent' while I would maintain a more 'reformed' outlook on life.
    Thanks again
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2007
  8. Dieter Schneider

    Dieter Schneider Puritan Board Sophomore

    It is misleading to say that the Radicals of the 16th century (the blanket label 'Anabaptist' is unhelpful) agreed. Here is a short extract
  9. amishrockstar

    amishrockstar Puritan Board Freshman

    Who's talkin about people in the 16th century???
  10. Dieter Schneider

    Dieter Schneider Puritan Board Sophomore

    Well - I am, of course!!!
  11. amishrockstar

    amishrockstar Puritan Board Freshman

    Dieter Schneider...
    I guess so...
    When I use the term "anabaptistic" I'm referring to modern-day-conservative anabaptists who are (to my knowledge) ALL in agreement with the 'pacifist' ideology and non-participation in ALL government work and/or involvement (this includes jury duty).
    So, I am in no way referring to "the Radicals of the 16th century" ...the context was 'modern' and in reference to my dad who attends an Anabaptist/Mennonite Church.
    Why DID you bring up the Radicals of the 16th century??? What does that have to do with my question???
  12. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    For a historic Reformed Presbyterian (Covenanter) response (which is quite different in its perspective to the institution of civil government than the Anabaptistic perspective) to the jury duty issue, see here.
  13. satz

    satz Puritan Board Senior

    I am not sure I understand how this response is compatible with Daniel serving the Babylonian empire faithfully over many years, or Joseph doing the same in Egypt. Joseph's job required him to give or approve of preferential governmental treatment being given to pagan priests but this did not disturb his conscience (Gen 47:22).

    In the New Testament we see Erastus serving as chamberlain of the pagan, immoral city of Corinth (Rom 16:23, 27), yet Paul commends his greetings to the Romans without any rebuke or warning.

    Jesus required paying taxes to the Roman empire despite its many sins and evils (Matt 22:15-22). Although that same empire later put to death the Son of God, the apostle Paul did not hesitate to proclaim himself a citizen of that empire and demand all the benefits he was entitled to as such (Acts 16:35-40; 22:24-30; 23:12-35; 25:9-12).

    What is the difference between serving as a juror for a pagan government and working as an employee for a pagan master? Although most christians would agree that the latter is definitely allowed (1 Tim 6:1-2).

    In the end, I do not see that rendering service to, or participating in or benefiting from a pagan government is sinful for the christian as long as he does not sin directly himself. Is there anything special about jury duty that would change that?
  14. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    I agree, Mark, that "rendering service to, or participating in or benefiting from a pagan government is sinful for the christian as long as he does not sin directly himself."

    An American juror, however, must swear an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution, and that in the view of Reformed Presbyterians historically would be an unlawful oath because the Constitution contains within it provisions which contradict the moral law of God and fails to acknowledge the law of God as the Supreme Law of the Land. An unlawful oath to become a juror and the expectation that a juror must act in accordance with those provisions of the Constitution which violate the law of God make the prospect of serving as a juror a matter of conscience and barrier to Reformed Presbyterians who share those convictions.

    This issue (the oath to the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution's moral defects) has been debated at length previously as you may recall. If you are interested, for further study of the Reformed Presbyterian position of political dissent from governments that oppose Christ as stated in the following sermons:

    James R. Willson, Prince Messiah's Claims to Dominion Over All Governments and the Disregard of His Authority by the United States, in the Federal Constitution

    J.H. Boggs, Why Covenanters Do Not Vote

    G.H. Milne, Political Dissent

    William Roberts, The Reformed Presbyterian Catechism
  15. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    That's a new one on me. Jurors in my state swear only to give a true verdict according to the law and evidence:


    I think that is an oath that can be made in good conscience, regardless of one's view of the Constitution.
  16. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Vic -- I can't really speak to Oregon's provisions but I'll give you an example from North Carolina:

    And another example from California:

  17. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Interesting. I don't know about Oregon either, haven't checked, but we Washingtonians have something of a contrary anti-fed history. Our state constitution provides more individual protections than the federal one, but nobody is required to swear to support it except political officers, judges, and lawyers.

    That California provision is interesting because it deals with grand jurors (who, of course, bring indictments). I wonder if you know whether petit jurors are also given a similar oath.
  18. satz

    satz Puritan Board Senior


    Thank you for your answer.

    You are right, I do recall the issue of oaths and the US constitution being debated previously on this board, although the topic has not come up for a while.

    My respectful thoughts:

    I understand your reasoning (I think), however I must ask, what is the difference between swearing an oath to uphold the US constitution and working a job that effectively upholds a pagan, God denying government? I mentioned the example of Joseph, who not only took care of the pagan priests of Eygpt, but took actions to protect and promote the reign of Pharoah though the famine. Now this Pharoah might have had a little more respect for God than the Pharoah who reigned in the time of Moses, but there is nothing to indicate he was a believer or that Egypt was anything up a pagan kingdom during the time. So regardless of whether he took an oath or not, Joseph was essentially upholding a government that denied the lordship of God.

    Regarding the oath to the constituion, certainly I think christians should not vow to do anything sinful. However, does promising to protect an ungodly government really classify as such? Christians are called to honor and king and I believe from the examples I quoted before that protecting and unchristian government is not sin per se. After a night in the lion's den and being vindicated by God, the righteous Daniel answered the pagan King Darius with 'O King, live forever' (Dan 6:21)! It does not seem to me that obvious that promising to protect the US constitution and government is against christian principles.
  19. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Vic -- I'll try to research California further later. Sorry about the Oregon faux pas! I get all dem NW states mixed up. :D

    Mark -- I may revisit this thread at another time but I'm going to be travelling for a bit and not able to respond in depth for a while. I'm really not interested another debate on this subject. I don't find debates on the PB to be all that fruitful or edifying (this is not referring to you specifically -- I think you are perhaps the most courteous and respectful poster on the PB) when weighed against the time and energy involved and so debating is not why I am here. My point is merely that public service to a government whether pagan or Christian is lawful and good (WCF 23.2) provided one does not sin in accepting or fulfilling the office (WCF 23.2 also emphasizes the duty to maintain "piety" in one's civic office). The next question is whether entering or fulfilling the office of juror (or other office under consideration) under the provisions of the U.S. Constitution is in fact lawful. The oath involved, btw, does not say anything about "protecting" the Constitution but it does use the word "support." And neither Joseph or Daniel had to swear an unlawful oath to serve in their respective governments, thus showing that one can serve in an ungodly government provided, as you said, "as long as he does not sin directly himself." But beyond that, my participation in this thread will have to wait. God bless, my friend.
  20. Dieter Schneider

    Dieter Schneider Puritan Board Sophomore

    Easy now - I was simply trying to paint a broader background. :cheers2:
  21. amishrockstar

    amishrockstar Puritan Board Freshman

    Sounds good.
    I just didn't know how to take your comment on being "misleading" etc.
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