Some would opine that a Christian can’t be a lawyer (at least not in good conscience).
Argument #1: COMPROMISE
Some contend that a Christian compromises his or her morals by representing an alleged wrongdoer -- for example, one accused of a crime. That position leads one to contemplate the popular acronym, WWJD (“What would Jesus do?”).
I seek guidance to that question by asking “What did Jesus do?”
During His earthly ministry, Jesus helped a woman caught in the very ACT of adultery. This woman was about to be stoned to death for such crime. (Actually, the accuser’s motive was a pretext to trap Jesus). Jesus responded, “Let you, who is without sin, cast the first stone at her.” Then He began to scribble in the sand (presumably handwriting the secret sins of the accusers), and each accuser, pricked by his conscience, left the room one by one in order from the youngest to the oldest.
The guilty woman was set free. Jesus then admonished her to go and sin no more.
An attorney can sometimes, like Jesus did, effectuate a more redeeming result for all involved and avoid the need for “blunt justice.”
This story is also discussed in the article: May a Christian Lawyer Represent a Guilty Criminal Defendant?
Argument 2: TECHNICALITIES
Some claim that attorney’s legally but immorally use procedural technicalities of the law to enable a wrongdoer to “get off the hook” for the wrongdoing. (Examples: “illegal search and seizure”, not reading accused his or her “Miranda rights”, missed “Statute of Limitations”).
In response, be aware that procedural and evidentiary technicalities are safeguards against tyranny and oppression.
In the Old Testament of the Bible, a person could only be convicted on the testimony of at least TWO witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15).
But what if there was one seemingly credible eye witness? One seemingly impeccable witness, perhaps a well-respected city elder… However, technically, the minimum 2-witness requirement is not met, and, therefore, the accused is set free.
Thus, under Mosaic Law, the State let the accused to go unpunished (whether or not he was actually guilty) to assure that the innocent was not punished. This principle of erring on the side of caution to protect the innocent was and is still used today in the United States.
Legal procedures are moral safeguards that seek to protect against unjust results. Examples: Trial by jury (U.S. Constitution, 6th Amendment), inadmissibility of many types of hearsay except those types deemed sufficiently trustworthy).
The media (partisan press) may try to sensationalize and advocate rather than merely report the news; and they may seek to convict certain persons “in the court of public opinion.” Further, power-hungry politicians sometimes promote prosecution at all costs, in order to garner future votes of a certain demographic citizenry.
From time to time, the police subvert the truth. Or an angry mob (with a “mob mentality”) seeks to meet out “street justice” by “taking the law in their own hands.” Yet, in America (and certain other countries), the accused is permitted to “have his day in court” with procedures and rules that seek to promote a fair trial with credible evidence.
In this world, justice is not perfect. Justice is perverted at times (Isaiah 5:20, 59:4; Micah 7:3). Procedures occasionally permit guilty perpetrator to go free. But, from my vantage point, the safeguard procedures achieve a level of fairness and promote justice far more often than they do injustice.
Mankind’s justice is imperfect. And while just laws and a good government are a blessing, human government and rule of law is an insufficient remedy to restrain evil by virtue of the fall of man. “Earthly rule in this present age is thus provisional and temporary,” and, due to being undertaken by fallen and flawed people, it is a “mixed blessing.” But ultimately, at the “end of this age”, and at the great “white throne” judgment, perfect justice (a “permanent injunction” if you will) shall be accomplished by a just and holy God (Matthew 13:49-50, 16:27; Revelation 20:11-12).
But God (who is also love and merciful) offers a way to satisfy His justice, yet enable a person to escape His righteous judgment and have eternal and abundant life as a FREE GIFT. See How to go to heaven when you die.
The principals elicited above apply also to the realm of civil law.
A Christian attorney at law has the opportunity to guard the system rather than exploit it. A lawyer is deemed an officer of the court; and a such, he or she is God’s ordained minister (as a government agent) to participate in the process of seeking to commend or reward those who do good as well as admonish or punish those who do wrong. (Romans 13:1-4; 1 Peter 2:14). See article: God and Government.
Like a doctor, minister or soldier, a lawyer is called by God to do legal service as spiritual service to the glory of God and the good of man. He or she will seek to represent the client zealously, diligently, yet ethically and within the bounds of the law. A Christian attorney will hopefully be a vital and positive influence as God’s minister. For he or she is an “officer of the court” and of the government, and, thus functions to promote justice and seek to restrain evil. A godly attorney desires not only to do well at his or her profession, but also to do good for society.
May a Christian, in good conscience, practice law? Yes. A “Christian lawyer” does not constitute an irreconcilable oxymoron. Rather, in most instances, a Christian lawyer may effectively serve God and his clients morally, ethically and without conflict with Biblical principles.