"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Get Yourself a Locke on the Moral Laws of Nature

Photo: Martin Falbisoner / CC BY-SA / Creative Commons
In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson mentions "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God."

Most Americans have never taken time to consider the meaning of "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God." Do you know what they are?

The Founding Fathers did. They were well-read in the ancient Greek classical writers.

For example, the Greek philosopher Aristotle observed that things in nature behaved in a uniform fashion and asked if there could be a natural law that governed all human beings?

Or to put it more directly, the ancients asked if there could be an internal sense of right and wrong -  moral code if you will - that was the same in every person who has ever lived.

Aristotle observed that fire always burns in a similar manner, no matter where or when it was lit. The fires in Greece burn the same as the fires in Persia, whether they were lit today or a millennium ago.

Aristotle reasoned that human beings must have a similar moral code (Natural Law) regardless of when they live (civilization), where they live (culture), and how they live (customs).

Natural Law must be eternal and immutable, something easily distinguished from man-made (conventional) laws, and given by Nature's God (the Creator). By observation, Aristotle concluded that every human being intuitively knows that the following three actions are good, honorable, and moral.
1. The protection of human vitality. Every human being has the right to life, and the protection of life is moral and good. 
2. The promotion of individual liberty. The coercion of human beings to conform to the wishes authoritarians, be it kings, governments, or individuals, is a violation of nature. Natural Law must be seen in terms of a human being alone in nature, free to do as he pleases. Individual liberty granted by Nature is guaranteed by Nature's God, not government. 
3. The preservation of private property.  When an individual in nature takes possession of a piece of property and plows it for his sustenance, Natural Law demands that the individual has the right to preserve that property from being taken, damaged, or destroyed by another. The ancients defined this ability to pursue personal property and preserve it for their good as happiness, or the pursuit of happiness. 
Thus, the rights that Nature and Nature's God give to every human being are as follows:
LIFE, LIBERTY, and the PURSUIT OF PROPERTY (Happiness).  
Fascism, communism, nazism, socialism, and every other ism in the form of human government removes Natural Rights. A just government is designed to ensure Natural Rights and to enforce Natural Laws. If at any point, a government removes 

After Aristotle, there lived the Roman philosopher Cicero. He agreed with his Greek counterpart and wrote that Natural Law was "of universal application and unchanging." Cicero also said:
 "God is the author of this Natural Law (thus, Nature's God) and the Judge who enforces it."
After Cicero, came the Apostle Paul. In Romans 1, Paul writes that "the image of God" is seen in human beings by our capacity to reason. Man's reason is “the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking especially in orderly rational ways" (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Even if a person had never heard of the Jewish God named Yahweh, or was unfamiliar with God's covenant with the Jews, or had no understanding of the Messiah, that person was accountable to the Creator because
"What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." (Romans 1:19-20). 
Throughout the Middle Ages, the ultimate appeal regarding morals, politics, law and also divinity was to Natural Law. This Law, according to Thomas Aquinas, was placed by God throughout Creation in a natural way, and it is known by human reason.

Unfortunately, throughout God's Creation, certain men (and a few women) have subverted the natural order and have conquered, coerced, and controlled other men, some "Kings and Queens" even claiming the Divine Right to rule over others.

But the coercion of people by force is not according to Nature or Nature's God.

Our Founding Fathers had their heritage in Europe where multiple wars had been fought between kings who wished to conquer and subjugate other kings, nations, and peoples, all in the name of God.

Enter John Locke. 

John Locke, in the tradition of the ancient great philosophers, opposed the kings of Europe, arguing through his writings that certain rights are inalienable to every human being, or incapable of being removed or transferred. These individual rights are granted by Nature and Nature's God. A just and honorable government only protects these rights, for Nature and Nature's God alone grants them.

John Locke believed that a person can understand his or her Natural Rights by simple reasoning, rational observation, and human experience.

He wrote:
 "God having given man above other creatures of this habitable part of the universe a knowledge of himself which the beasts have not, he is thereby under obligations, which the beasts are not, for knowing God to be a wise agent; he cannot but conclude that he has that knowledge and those faculties which he finds in himself above the other creatures given him for some use and end. If therefore he comprehends the relation between father and son and finds it reasonable that his son whom he has begot and nourished should obey, love, and reverence him and be grateful to him, he cannot but find it much more reason- able that he and every other man should obey and revere, love and thank the author of their being to whom they owe all that they are. If he finds it reasonable to punish one of his children that injures another, he cannot but expect the same from God the Father of all men, when any one injures another; if he finds it reasonable that his children should assist and help one another and expects it from them as their duty, will he not also by the same reason conclude that God expects the same of all men one to another? If he finds that God has made him and all other men in a state wherein they cannot subsist without society and has given them judgement to discern what is capable of preserving that society, can he but conclude that he is obliged and that God requires him to follow those rules which conduce to the preserving of society?"
CONCLUSION: 

I am a Christian. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Savior of the world. I believe that God has expressed Himself to us in His Word and that those who trust the Person and work of Jesus Christ, will find peace with God.

But America is built on Natural Law, not Christian laws. 

My Muslim American friends ought to be free to worship as they please. My homosexual American friends should have the same civil liberties, the same freedoms, and the same privileges as those of us who believe marriage is only between a man and a woman. My American friends who disagree with me politically, religiously, and those who are different economically and intellectually, should all enjoy the same liberties as I.

Life. Liberty. The pursuit of happiness.

Civil liberties are built on Natural Law.

Natural Laws are higher than all conventional or governmental laws.
"When the government takes over an American's personal property (home or business) without due process (court ordered through legal action, precipitated by the individual's violations of Natural Law), or when the government takes away an American's individual liberty and coerces all Americans to conform to certain behaviors under threat of arrest, or when the government alone determines the course of an individual American's life, then that government has violated Natural Law and become detrimental to civil society, not beneficial."
Some might argue, "But the government demands conformity for the security of the American people." 
Any American willing to give up individual liberty for the sake of national security will one day lose both. 

27 comments:

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

“My homosexual American friends…”

Everyone has the right to smoke, but that right ends where my nose begins.

Likewise, homosexuals rights end when their actions bring harm like men kissing in front of my young children, or them using the ‘wrong’ restrooms.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-gays-military-idUSTRE78J3WP20110920

“President Barack Obama on Tuesday hailed the end of the policy banning gays from serving openly in the armed forces.”

Wade, do you think we should ignore?

“…God completely destroyed the whole world of ungodly men…Later, he turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into heaps of ashes and blotted them off the face of the earth, making them an example for all the ungodly in THE FUTURE TO LOOK BACK UPON AND FEAR.” (2 Peter 2:5-6 Living)

everette said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
everette said...

Wade, I enjoyed your essay, and agree with most of it, but I would object to your use of the Declaration of Independence as an exemplar of Natural Law in action.

Jefferson certainly appealed to Natural Law, and the Declaration's preamble rivals Plato for beauty and power.

But the end of the indictment of King George undercuts Jefferson's argument by revealing Jefferson's true understanding of Natural law: namely, the right of white people to have "life and liberty" at the expense of others. It refers to "domestic insurrections" and "merciless Indian Savages." The former is a reference to slave rebellions in support of the British against the colonists; the second is a reference to Indians literally defending their "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness" against American settlers illegally (due to the Proclamation of 1763) invading their land.

This makes the Declaration less a grand statement of the principles of natural law and more of a speech in favor of Jefferson's political party (i.e., the party of the minority of Americans who then supported armed rebellion against the British.)

I'm not suggesting that the Patriot's political grievances were insignificant--they were serious indeed--but the American revolution was fought more for the principles of "who should be in charge" than for those "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Indeed, during the years after the Revolution, Britain in some ways surpassed the US in its devotion to human rights and religious and economic freedom.

Christiane said...

'natural law' is something that is recognized universally, although it may be called many different ways, but even the ancients had a fairly good grasp of what it was, yes


"'For there is a true law: right reason. It is in conformity with nature, is diffused among all men, and is immutable and eternal; its orders summon to duty; its prohibitions turn away from offense . . . . To replace it with a contrary law is a sacrilege; failure to apply even one of its provisions is forbidden; no one can abrogate it entirely.'9 " (Cicero)
http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c3a1.htm

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

Do you have friends that are homosexual? What do you think about these Scriptures?

“That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And men…burned with lust for each other…” (Romans 1:26-27 NLT)

“…If a man practices homosexuality…They must both be put to death…” (Leviticus 20:13 NLT)

Anonymous said...

some things to think about:

all Creation comes to us from God and we do bear moral responsibility for how we engage with His Creation

there is a 'Lockean proviso' which seeks to prevent the mis-use of appropriation of natural materials by private entities in accordance with the moral responsibility laid on us by the natural law in how we are to make use of God's Creation 'fairly' and in accordance with 'the common good'



Christiane said...

Hey there REX RAY,

I once wrote something about gender issues, and I don't know if it helps with your concern but I will share what I wrote, this:

"I am conscious of people’s discomfort with those who are ‘different’ and that often not knowing how to ‘fix it’ for them or ‘make it right’ for them, how it is that we seem too eager to distance ourselves from them in ways that are not Our Lord’s Ways.

What there is that makes us ‘human’ is something even more basic than our ‘maleness’ or ‘femaleness’ . . . and that IS a difference that invites us to engage with people who have gender issues on more common ground: our common human origin . . . the very soil from which we were formed and the very life breathed into us by God.

Some in the Church are wanting to surround and care for those who are ‘different’ with great patience over time with gentle care and unremitting hope for their salvation,
whereas others seem impatient in how quickly they are ready to cast transgender folk out from their midst . . .

I think it important not to be afraid of encounters with those who suffer from differences so many of us cannot understand;
or worse, not accept them as having one kind of ‘presenting form’ of that far more basic fallen human condition we all suffer from, each in our OWN way.

The person who was ‘outed’ as ‘transgender’ IS, first and last, a child of God.
What could be more important for us to know?”

http://sbctoday.wpengine.com/survivor-transgender/


REX RAY, my best friend's daughter is a lesbian and she says she always knew she was 'different' from a very young age, and I believe her. She is an honest person and I do not see her as 'evil' as she spends her professional life as an attorney who also does pro-bono work for women who have been abused. I do not judge her, no. She is like family to me.

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

Israel was a theocracy, following God's laws in the Old Testament. The United States was never a theocracy, never built on God's laws in the Old Testament.

We are a Republic based on Natural Law, with freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press (and other Rights as outlined in the Bill of Rights).

Blessings, my friend!

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

Everette,

So appreciate your astute analysis.

Slavery was (and IS) the Achilles Heel of America's foundational principles. Many of the Founding Fathers knew it then.

I appreciate your comment, but still stand by the fact Natural Law (not Christian or Mosaic Law) was the foundational law of the Republic, but your point is conceded that there was an inconsistency in its application.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Wade, Unless I'm reading the correct version of history incorrectly, civil liberties here in America were built upon Natural Law as you say, yet they weren't secured from tyranny via mere "respect for authorities", but with violence against King George - the supposed "authority ordained by God".

Was this an act of rebellion against God in your opinion?

Too bad judges in Michigan (and abroad) think rights proceeding from Natural Law can be regulated:

"In his opinion and order Wednesday, Michigan Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray said constitutional rights are “subject to reasonable regulation by the state.”

The judge noted “the speed at which the virus spread was well known at the time the stay-at-home provision was implemented."

https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2020/04/29/judge-denies-injunction-whitmer-pandemic-stay-at-home-lawsuit/3053820001/

Good thing former Sheriff Richard Mack's organization is teaching sheriffs around the country how to honor the Constitution and Natural Law during this plandemic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTHARYfVTZM

Dr. Tenpenny (who has 40,000 hrs investigating vaccines) says Covid-1984 is the biggest scam in the history of the world. Tenpenny for President 2020! RB Kuter for VP 2020! :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXh7UIlWaPM

Christiane - I have been praying daily for God's tender mercies on you and your son ever since your husband died. All God's best to you both!

Rex - this is one of the reasons why NYC has such high inflated deaths during this plandemic. They love Federal funding. Money Money Money

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5f_6ltv7oI

Ken

Christiane said...

Hello KEN,

thank you so very much

God Bless!

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

You said, in ‘defense’ of homosexuals, “The United States was never a theocracy, never built on God's laws in the Old Testament. We are a Republic based on Natural Law, with freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press (and other Rights as outlined in the Bill of Rights).”

I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but you sound like you believe what America has is better than God’s laws in the New testament such as what Paul wrote in Romans 1:26-27:

“That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And men…burned with lust for each other…”

and what Peter wrote in 2 Peter 2:5-6:

“…God completely destroyed the whole world of ungodly men…Later, he turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into heaps of ashes and blotted them off the face of the earth, making them an example for all the ungodly in THE FUTURE TO LOOK BACK UPON AND FEAR.”

Maybe I have a chip on my shoulder against homosexuals because twice I’ve been a ‘victim’ of their desires, even knowing I wasn’t one of them. One said, “You can’t blame a guy for trying!”

Wade Burleson said...

Ken,

I've often asked myself "If I lived during the days of the American Revolution, would I have taken up arms to throw off the King's rule and fight for American Independence?"

It's a tough one, but BECAUSE I separate my faith from my state, I think I would. It's the same issue a Christian has in becoming an Air Force pilot. Can one, ethically and morally, drop a bomb? There are no easy answers.

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

I believe homosexual behavior is a sin. Just like greed, adultery, gluttony, gossip, pride, drunkenness, etc.

Sinners (all of us) who repent (turn), and submit to Christ as Lord of our lives, find salvation - that is - forgiveness of our past conduct and a transformation of our present character. The latter is a process, and without it, there is no warrant to speak of God's grace or love in my life.

That said, I'm not "defending" homosexual behavior.

I'm defending the right of Americans who are not Christin in character, conduct, or creed to have the same CIVIL rights as I as long as they do not VIOLATE NATURAL LAW - stimulate my mortality, steal my property, or squelch my liberty.

Rex Ray said...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Curtain

“The “Iron Curtain” became a term for the 7,000-kilometre-long (4,300 mi) physical barrier of fences, walls, minefields, and watchtowers that divided the "east" and "west". The Russians were Communists. They wanted to keep people in and information out. The Berlin Wall was also part of this physical barrier.”

Right after the war, when our Dad crossed the Iron Curtain, Russians like to hold their guns real close to his head as they checked his papers.

Later, there were seven American high-schools in Germany. One was in Berlin which was behind the Curtain. When we played them in basketball, their team had to fly to Frankfurt.

Since that war, who has caused America the most trouble, Germany or Russia?

I’ve said all this to say ‘Authorities’ should have done what General Patton wanted to do. He told them Russia was just as bad as Germany. He told them, their tanks etc. were worn out, hardly any fuel left, their army was shot, and we could make them surrender really fast.

Wade,

Just read your comment where you said, “I believe homosexual behavior is a sin. Just like greed, adultery, gluttony, gossip, pride, drunkenness, etc.”

Looks to me like you believe different than God, because he never killed any of those sinners with fire. On adultery, Jesus said, “He without sin may cast the first stone.”

Anonymous said...

Where was natural law functioning in the OKC McDonald's? Were those told they could not sit in the closed dining area exercising their pursuit of happiness when they shot the employees? Where were those natural laws when the security guard at a Family Dollar was killed for telling a woman her kid had to mask up to enter the store? Were they just invoking their right to pursue property?

This seems to point more to the truth we are all depraved rather than all hold to those points of natural law.

Christiane said...

we are all 'wounded', not 'depraved', which is why Our Lord is called 'the Great Physician'

Jennifer said...
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Jennifer said...

Our government has long been taking and or denying our rights for hundreds of years. Every singles person that lives in the USA should have the natural needed rights to a home, to equal pay and equal treatment, to all have health care equally regardless of circumstances. Health is a natural need therefore a natural law. Every human should have the right and ability given to them to work and provide for their families without discrimination. As it is now many in our country do not have these rights available to them because we have denied them based on race, sex where they live the jobs they can get and the ability to pay etc. We are a greedy selfish country that caters to those who are rich and many are rich off the backs of slaves. People of color have not been able to rise above because of the way our country continues to function and deny equal treatment and equal rights and equal access for everyone.
There has to be another way to function in our country besides pure capitalism that makes life in America unfair for those who cannot reach the amount of success because of their lack of privilege. It doesn’t have to be called socialism other countries have provided for their citizens the things they need. We can name it whatever we want but all Americans everywhere who live anywhere in our country deserve equal access to healthcare, to jobs, a place to live and help if they have mental issues that keep them from those things and help to overcome the systematic in justices our country continues to allow

Jennifer said...

The LGBTQ community deserves the same rights as anyone. They can kiss in front of anyone they want. Don’t look if you don’t like it. It will not harm you or your children or grandchildren etc.the only harm to others that occurs is because of their negative hurtful unacceptance of the LGBTQ as beautiful human beings created in God’s image.
Also the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah was not about homosexuality. That is false incorrect teaching
Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of their selfish greed

Jennifer said...

You can think it is sin all you want but not every Christian agrees with you about that.
Regardless it should not change how they are treated which should be with the same love kindness respect and equal treatment you want for yourself and all those you love.

Jennifer said...
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Jennifer said...

Thank you Christine for saying this. It breaks my heart to know all that the LGBTQ community has been put through by so called Christ loving Christians
It is terrible. There is no reason they should be denied anything that any us of would want as our rights. Their way of life does not hurt anyone. Many have more loving and long lasting partnerships/ marriages than many Christians. Some together as long as more than 70 years. Just watched a beautiful documentary called “a Secret love”

Jennifer said...

You are so very mistaken and being so very hurtful toward the LGBTQ community. If they was an Eternal conscious eternal hell, which o do not believe there is. Then it would be for ALL who sin, not just a homosexual. I think you do indeed have a very big chip on your shoulder against the LGBTQ that you really need to to take a look at. You seem very Fixated on it more than anything else. There are so many more important things to concern yourself with in this world. You are being hurtful. You can believe it’s in without being hurtful and without wanting their rights denied.

One Salient Oversight said...

Rex,

Leviticus 20:10 says:

"If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death."

Heterosexual adultery resulted in the death penalty in the Old Testament. And verse 13 confirms the same punishment for homosexual sex.

So when Jesus forgave the woman who had committed adultery in John 8.1-11, he was forgiving of a person who deserved the death penalty.

Rex Ray said...

Jennifer,

You said, “Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of their selfish greed.”
Have you read this Scripture?

“…the men of the city of Sodom, both young and old, the whole population, surrounded the house. They called out to Lot and said, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Send them out to us so we can have sex with them.” (Genesis 19:4-5 NLT)

I don’t expect you to reply to this Scripture.

Rex Ray said...

One Salient Oversight,

Yes, you’re right about Leviticus saying to kill etc., but that was the ‘Old Covenant’. Under the ‘New Covenant’ that came with Jesus, we’re not to kill etc.

You said, “Jesus was forgiving of a person who deserved the death penalty.”

She didn’t deserve death under the ‘New Covenant’.

The men that brought the woman to Jesus didn’t respect him. They wanted to tarnish his ‘loving ministry’ by having him ordering the woman to be killed.

Jesus put them in their place by saying, “He without sin may cast the first stone.” He also told the woman to sin no more.