The sudden death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Saturday came as a terrible shock. Back in 1996, Chuck Colson described this giant of a man.
There’ll be plenty of time over the next few months to discuss the political and legal implications of the passing of Justice Scalia. But today, I’d like to focus on the legacy of Scalia’s life. First, his family. For Scalia and his wife, married for 55 years, “choose life” was more than a slogan. As Ross Douthat tweeted on Saturday, “Politics aside, we should all die full of years, with 28 grandchildren, in our sleep after quail hunting.”
And agree or disagree with his brilliant legal mind, Scalia was clearly a kind of prophet, seeing where the Court’s embrace of the Sexual Revolution would lead. In Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned the state’s law against sodomy, he warned that the majority’s opinion would eventually invalidate laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, incest, and prostitution, among others.
People scoffed. But Scalia was vindicated, most notably by the recent Obergefell decision. The question is now how soon will we see his other predictions come true in a post-Scalia court?
One who did understand the importance of Justice Scalia’s insights was Chuck Colson. In 1996, Chuck’s BreakPoint commentary praised and thanked Scalia not only for his ability to read the times, but for his courageous Christian faith.
And so in honor of Justice Antonin Scalia, here’s Chuck Colson:
Justice Antonin Scalia would no doubt be embarrassed if I called him a prophet. But in many ways that’s exactly what he is. Scalia, considered by friend and foe alike to be one of America’s top legal minds, has never shied from pointing out the lunacy of the prevailing legal orthodoxy.
Some of Justice Scalia’s finest moments have been in his withering dissents. In Casey v. Planned Parenthood, he excoriated the majority’s position, which defined liberty as “choices central to personal dignity and autonomy.” He warned that it wouldn’t stop at abortion. The next stops were “homosexual sodomy, polygamy, adult incest, and suicide.” Unfortunately, time has proven him right.
Last year, dissenting from the Court’s refusal to hear an appeal from abortion clinic protesters, he stated that prolifers were a “currently disfavored class” that cannot expect the Supreme Court to look favorably on their appeals.
Well, a week ago the justice spoke out again. Speaking to a meeting of Evangelicals in Jackson, Mississippi, the Roman Catholic justice from Brooklyn told his audience that our culture has moved beyond skepticism to open hostility towards Christianity.
Taking his cue from Corinthians, he said “the [worldly] wise do not believe in the resurrection of the dead. . . . So everything from Easter morning to the Ascension had to be made up by the groveling enthusiasts as part of their plan to get themselves martyred.”
Scalia then noted that cretin—a synonym for moron and imbecile—is derived from the French word for Christian. Scalia said, “That’s the view of Christians taken by modern society. . . . Surely those who adhere to . . . Christian beliefs are to be regarded as simple-minded.”
Then he brought the crowd to its feet when he told them, “We are to be fools for Christ’s sake.”
Our response, Scalia said, ought to be to “pray for the courage to endure the scorn of the sophisticated world.”
And scorn is what he got. Washington was instantly scandalized. A Supreme Court justice talking about religion? Well, Justice Scalia reminded us of something we’d rather forget: that a world that has rejected the Truth Himself will naturally reject those who live by His word.
But thank you, Justice Scalia, for courageously speaking out and reminding us that acceptance by a hostile culture isn’t the goal for those who follow Christ.
But bearing witness to the “truth which is in Jesus” is.
Click on the links below to read other tributes to the life and legacy of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Fools for Christ: A Supreme Court Justice Speaks Out
Chuck Colson | BreakPoint.org | April 16, 1996
The Passing of a Supreme Court Giant
Peter Wehner | Commentary Magazine | February 14, 2016
What the Church Can Learn From Justice Scalia’s Life
Russell Moore | RussellMoore.com | February 13, 2016
Antonin Scalia, Conservative Legal Giant
Ross Douthat | New York Times | February 13, 2016