Can Christians Serve on a Jury?
Would you let your child sleep over at a home where a known child molester is living? If you showed up for your eye surgery and saw your surgeon and his nurses smoking a bowl in the back parking lot right before surgery would you let him cut into your eye? If your pilot greeted you with vodka breath and then fell down as he was leading you out to the plane, would you fly with him?
Not a one of you answered, “Well Jesus told me not to judge others, so I would go ahead and get on the plane.” On every one of those you answered, “No way!” Yet it is amazing that although we make judgments every day, we’ll have the audacity to step into a courtroom and tell a judge that we can’t serve on his jury, because as a Bible believing Christian, we can’t pass judgment on others. In the course of this column, we will see what the Bible really says about judging others and serving on juries.
Getting out of jury duty
Usually, if it is possible, people try for an angle to get out of serving on a jury. Once I sat in the courtroom when they were trying to pick a jury. They let it be known that in that particular case, the accused had allegedly used a firearm. Each potential juror was asked in turn a series of questions to see if they could be fair and impartial. When it came to one juror’s turn to answer the questions, he gave his name and place of employment. As soon as they got to the question about his personal experience with firearms, he launched into what sounded like a well rehearsed list that went something like this, “I have a concealed carry permit, I am a licensed instructor for the concealed carry class, I’m a lifetime NRA member, I coach the air rifle team, I am a gun owner, I own a buzillion guns...” The jury pool erupted in laughter, and immediately he was dismissed from serving on that jury.
The religion card
Sometimes there is no reason why a person cannot serve on a jury, they just don’t want to do it, and so they play the religion card, “My religion does not permit me to judge people”. In all fairness, I have to say, that I am not familiar with Islam, or Zoroastrianism, or Buddhism, and perhaps those religions really do prohibit their people from serving on juries. I do, however, know a little bit about the Bible that Christianity claims as its foundation.
Can we judge others?
Let’s examine that a little while. It is absolute fact that Jesus said, Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. (Matthew 7:1-2 NKJV) Clearly Jesus is not talking about criminal court proceedings; he is talking about how we treat people. He is teaching us that if we grudge people by their last name or their skin color, we will receive the same. If we refuse to show love to somebody because of their bad choices, then God himself will withhold his love from us when we sin.
Scripture actually calls us to judge
You have to make judgments about people. In fact in the same chapter that Jesus said, Judge not lest ye be judged, he also said, Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-16) The only way we can do this is to examine the fruits of a person’s life. This is exactly what a jury does, it examines the fruit, is it good, or is it rotten. If the fruit is rotten, then the case goes to the judge to measure out the punishment.
Your last jury duty
Jury duty doesn’t stop even when you die. If you die saved or you live until the Lord comes again, there’s still going to be jury duty. All saved persons will serve on a jury at the judgment. The men that Jonah preached to in Nineveh will be on that jury, as will the Queen of Sheba. (Luke 11:31-32) Speaking of that final jury duty, the scripture says, Do you not know that the saints [Bible termed for ordinary people who are saved] will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more the things that pertain to this life? (I Corinthians 6:2-3 NKJV) Can a Christian serve on a jury? Absolutely.
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, AK.