Living constitution is the precept that the interpretation of the laws of the land should evolve as society changes. Proponents believe the original constitution was the starting point and was valid for the generation living at that time, but societal norms have changed and thus the interpretation of that document must keep pace meeting the needs of the current generation.
The idea of a living constitution opens the door for judges with varied political ideologies to interpret the constitution in a way that coincides with their particular ideology. That is a very slippery slope.
Who are the proponents and opponents of living constitution? Examine the basic definitions of liberalism and conservatism and the answer is evident. A major tenet of liberalism offered by Webster and accepted by most is ‘a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the innate goodness of man, and the autonomy of the individual…’ It is noted that the terms ‘progressivism’ and ‘liberalism’ are closely related. Conservatism on the other hand is partially defined as ‘a political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions…’ Recall that conservatism is from the Latin conservare which means to save or preserve.
Which political philosophy as defined above more closely relates to scripture? The Bible provides insightful information on the topic.
“For I am the LORD, I do not change…yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you…” Malachi 3:6-7
This passage was written approximately 1,000 years after the law was given. The Israelites, however, were judged according to that original set of ordinances.
“Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all grow old like a garment…but You are the same…” Psalm 102:25-27
The Old Testament affirms that God and His laws do not change. How about the New Testament?
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines…” Hebrews 13:8-9
‘Various’ in this passage translates from the Greek poikilos meaning many and diverse while ‘strange’ means doctrines foreign to Christian faith, unheard of, causing surprise and wonder.
The Bible clearly reveals that God the Father and Jesus the Son are immutable and do not change. The Father has established the original ordinances and the Son will judge mankind based on those same laws.
“…but now(God) commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31
Therefore, according to the Bible God raised Jesus from the grave to judge mankind at the appointed time in the future using the ordinances established thousands of years ago as the benchmark. So if that future judgment is based on ordinances set forth thousands of years ago, on what basis can principles of our constitution established just hundreds of years ago and based on Biblical principles be updated? It appears that the only things changing are contemporary societal norms and some contemporary politicians would have us believe the answer is to update our laws to keep pace with such changes.
As stated above liberalism espouses progress which means change. No one will soon forget the battle cry of presidential hopeful Barack Obama in 2008; “change we can believe in”. Election results confirmed that many subscribed to that philosophy but today many of those have severe buyer’s remorse.
The wisest man in the world said:
“…Do not associate with those given to change; for their calamity will rise suddenly…” Proverbs 24:21-22
There is another method being used to recognize the change in societal norms. Some contemporary liberal thinkers would allow judges to interpret existing law in accordance with their personal view of what contemporary values actually are. That kind of thinking would undermine the entire judicial system and would totally discard the ‘justice is blind’ concept as well as deliver a death blow to judicial impartiality.
So the argument remains. There are many who espouse the concept of applying justice in accordance with changing societal norms and there are those who remain steadfast on believing that judicial administration should be based on the original constitution which was drafted around Biblical principles. Recall “…He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained” where righteousness is absolute based on millennia old Biblical principles.
Living constitution is inconsistent with the Biblical teaching of the immutability of the Godhead and the original definition of righteousness.
There are many professed Christians who espouse liberalism and there are many who espouse conservatism. It is always constructive for the individual Christian to examine their political ideology to see if it aligns with Biblical teachings. The Bible is not silent on such issues.
Once again, this is America and dissenting opinions are allowed and encouraged, at least for the time being.