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The Constitution is Dead

It is said that the Bible is a living document, but what does that mean? Hebrews 4 tells us:

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

The Bible is truly alive. What this verse means is that the Word of God comes inside a person and shows you what is Godly and what isn’t. The Spirit that lives inside of us moves up beside ours, and ministers to us in a way that is reflective of Jeremiah 31:33: “…I will put my law in their minds, and write it on their hearts…”, and in Jeremiah 31:34: “…they all shall know me….” The amazing thing is that this has been occurring in the same, relevant fashion for over 2,000 years, ever since the writer of the book of Hebrews wrote 4:12! God’s Word transcends time and is applicable to every person of every time, regardless of their individual circumstances or where they are from. The Spirit of God is alive and well inside of believers and shows us the right way and truth about things as we thrive to draw close to Him and align ourselves more with His son Jesus. 

Conversely, the U.S. Constitution is a dead document… “dead, dead, dead,” said the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Here is the full quote: 

“It’s not a living document,” Scalia said while speaking at Dallas-based Southern Methodist University, according to a report from the Dallas Morning News. “It’s dead, dead, dead.”

Antonin Scalia

What does dead mean relative to the Constitution? Here is another quote from Scalia during a visit to Princeton University that provides some meaning: 

“The Constitution is not an organism; it’s a legal text, for Pete’s sake,” he said. “Unless you give [the laws] the meaning of those who enacted them, you’re destroying democracy.”

Antonin Scalia

This last quote really sums up the meaning of our dead Constitution. If you don’t interpret this document as it was originally intended, our country will evolve into something that will be, at best, a shell of its former self; and we are definitely seeing that today. If interpreted based on the whims of the day, it becomes an ineffective baseline for which the country is grounded and governed, and the authority of it becomes lost and meaningless. That’s why Constitutional amendments are difficult and require a two-thirds approval in both Houses (or two-thirds of state legislatures) and ratified by three-fourths of state legislatures. Look at what George Washington said of Constitutional modifications during his farewell address: 

If in the opinion of the People the distribution or modification of the Constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit which the use can at any time yield. 

George Washington

Today we are seeing the judicial branch of government make decisions that flood over into the legislative branch that are in the instance a supposed, “instrument of good, (but is a) customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.” When appointed justices can make rulings and change the face of society, overriding the will of the people, the Constitution is maligned and our free and elected government and subsequent laws are brutalized. Again, look at what Justice Scalia said:

Proponents of the living constitution want matters to be decided not by the people, but by the justices of the Supreme Court. They are not looking for legal flexibility; they are looking for rigidity, whether it’s the right to abortion or the right to homosexual activity, they want that right to be embedded from coast to coast and to be unchangeable. You want a right to abortion? Persuade your fellow citizens and enact it. That’s flexibility.

Antonin Scalia

Yes, amendments have been made to the Constitution, and one might argue that the amendment process is a basis for a living Constitution. But in reality, just the opposite is true. The amendment process is akin to changing something that is chiseled in stone… it is not easily done, and is not supposed to be an easy process that can be done as societal winds change like a passing fad. In a sense, that of a passing fad is that of a living document. The Constitution does allow for constructive changes to its powers as George Washington said, but it must be done as indicated with desired change at the grass roots level of society… that is, by a large majority of people… by the power of the people. And this is exactly what Justice Scalia meant when he said, “Persuade your fellow citizens and enact it.”

The Constitution is a tool that can be used as any other tool; the correct way for which it was designed, or incorrectly in an atypical way. The correct way is to apply the Judeo-Christian values upon which this country was founded, as outlined in the Declaration of Independence. To do so otherwise would be to limit and restrict life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness from the process. Founding Father John Adams said it best when he wrote:

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.  Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.  Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

John Adams

For those of you who are born again, consider once more Hebrews 4, Jeremiah 31, and your own personal experience with our living Word and living God. Now consider what we’ve said about the Constitution and its application to 21st century America. See what’s dead and who is alive?