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Pastor Dwight Dolby

I take the words of my title from Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, as he made his final comments at the close of the confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Wednesday afternoon.

He was apparently moved by some of the tender words just delivered by Sen. Marsha Blackburn regarding her wish that those opposing Judge Barrett’s confirmation might have somehow been inspired or captivated by Judge Barrett’s amazing accomplishments: embracing in addition to her career path, being a wife, a mother of seven and a Christian woman committed to her church.

Sen. Graham’s closing comments also included some levity as he good-naturedly spoke of his own family history — how his father owned the liquor store, his mother ran the family bar and he, when of age, ran the family pool hall. He quipped that such a background prepared him well for being a U.S. senator.

After Sen. Blackburn in her closing remarks referenced a song she thought apropos with regard to some senators’ apparent lack of trust in Judge Barrett, “You Don’t Know Me,” Sen. Graham felt compelled to identify one of his favorite old jukebox songs: “My Wife Ran Off with My Best Friend and I Sure Do Miss Him.”

Why such light-heartedness at this moment? Well, I believe something about the whole experience of these hearings for him (and others) was unusually and surprisingly, satisfying — a throwback to better days — or perhaps a rare taste of some deeply cherished good.

There was something about the engagement of those senators with Amy Barrett that elevated our national conversation. Her demeanor, brilliance, strength of character and legal knowledge seemed to draw out from all the senators the best of their reasoning powers. I appreciated every discussion whether conducted by a Democratic or Republican senator.

As he wrapped up two days of questioning, Sen. Graham reflected once again upon how difficult it is for a Christian pro-life woman who is also a wife and mother to get a “seat at the table” in places of influence in our society. He stated reflectively, “Somewhere we lost our way.”

Like the United States, the Church of Jesus Christ is also grounded upon an abiding law — the Word of God.

As a pastor I found all the discussion in the confirmation hearings referring to a judge as being a “textualist” or “originalist” very familiar. As different Supreme Court justices bring different approaches to reasoning through the law, so professing Christians bring different approaches to reasoning through the language of the Bible.

I am not sure what all might be involved in regarding the U.S. Constitution as a “living” document. I do understand in what manner the Bible is regarded as a “living” book by Christians.

It can be summarized by the response of the disciples to Jesus when he asked them if they were going to leave him, as at that point in his public ministry we read that many walked away because of some difficult teaching.

They responded, “Where else can we go? You alone have the words of eternal life.”

There was something arrestingly principled about Judge Barrett as she responded to the Judiciary Committee.

Senator after senator posed the same basic question: “If you are confirmed, will you remember the people whose lives are effected by decisions of the court?” Her answer could be summarized: “We are a nation founded upon laws. It would be my duty to the American people as a justice to strive to correctly understand how the law addresses the questions which arise.” She embraced her understanding of her task and would not be daunted.

And yet in less-formal moments, we saw her smiles and witnessed her humility, even rare moments of genuine playfulness.

She wouldn’t acknowledge herself as a great person or the world’s best mom. She came across as somehow being like the rest of us: imperfect people putting our hands to the plow of life.

It is my privilege from day to day to proclaim a real Savior. This wouldn’t be a Supreme Court justice, a president a congressman or the Affordable Care Act.

Amy Barrett’s faith is not in herself. In looking to Jesus Christ, and finding strength and hope in Him, she presses forward in an imperfect world, to apply justice as best she can as a judge.

There was a perfect rendering of justice for sinners like us at the cross of Jesus Christ for all who believe: He died for our sins.

It is in the forgiveness found at the cross of God’s justice where we experience freedom, newness of life and the source of power to love others as well as ourselves. It is where we human beings discover our true identity as sons and daughters of a supremely just and yet merciful God and Father.

There is a biblical passage that resonates with what I saw in Amy Barrett’s life this week: “Strength and dignity are her clothing … she opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue … her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (from Proverbs 31)

And for my part, and I am quite confident these sentiments are shared by many senators participating in the hearings this week, I will always stand when Amy Coney Barrett walks into the room.

Dwight Dolby is pastor of Auburn Road Presbyterian Church.


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