Monday, March 19, 2012

Let me Apologize: The Moral Law is not the same as Religious Law.

I said before that the Moral Law is nearly universally recognized.  This is true.  However, some people have a better, a more true, understanding of it than do others.  The people who have the best, clearest understanding of the Moral Law are religious.  Specifically they tend to be Christian.  Read some Christian authors for more on this, but you will find few others who tend to have as strong logical and philosophical foundations for their moral pronouncements.  The problem with this is that not everyone agrees with everything they say.  In some cases, people do not accept the premise of a given argument, and much of the disputed premise is an issue of faith.

For instance, the Catholic Church, as I understand it (I'm not Catholic) preaches that all forms of abortiofacients (birth control pills, the "Plan B" pill, IUDs, etc.) are wrong, because they are the same thing as abortion.  They believe that life begins at fertilization: that is, the moment the sperm enters the egg, they believe life has been created.  Most Protestant religions believe that life begins at conception- that point when the zygote attaches to the uterine wall.  They believe that most forms of birth control are permissible, in the right circumstances.  Both are beginning from a similar, but distinctly different premise.  Now, if either of these groups were to legislate this particular piece of doctrine, we would have a problem.  For one thing, both groups have solid foundational principles for their stand, and both have Moral claims to non-interference.  So what do we do?

Well, while we do enshrine the common pieces of Moral Law in the Civic Law, when an issue is disputed- such as when life begins- we believe that the Civic Law should stay silent.  It should neither support one position, nor prohibit another. 

There are other issues that are even more doctrinal.  That is, they have no specific Moral Component other than our general reverence for the Creator and His Creation.  Catholics going to Mass is one of these areas, as is the Rite of Confession practiced by Catholics and other religions.  Holy festivals fall into this category as well.  Given that these have no specific Moral implication, we do not believe these kinds of things should be legislated.

Indeed, we find, once again, that enshrining the Moral Law in the Civic Law is actually proof against the very Theocracy social liberals claim to fear.  That same Moral Law that we all agree prohibits murder and theft, similarly prohibits interference in matters of the conscience.  The Moral Law does not speak on whether one should Worship the Creator on Sunday, or on Saturday, or, indeed, at all in any official sense.

So, in issues of dispute, and in purely "doctrinal" issues, we see that the Moral Law requires that the Civil Law remain quiet.  A civil government, truly and humbly (I'll wait for you to stop snickering) attempting to uphold and support the Moral Law stands no more chance of becoming a Theocracy than it does an Anarchy.

Box 9 checked.  Next up:  Responsibility is part of the Moral Law.

1 comment:

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