“MAN’S MORAL COMPASS”

IS THERE ANY LAW NOT BASED ON MORALITY ?

There was on one of the Facebook group pages that I am a member of, (Founder’s Intent) a question posed by another member recently, that really got me thinking in depth about this issue.  What ensued as a result of her posting was a very vigorous and lengthy exchange and debate that I recognized as being a very emotional and personal topic, yet one that most of us most likely rarely contemplate.  However whatever opinion you may personally hold in regards to this subject could quite possibly affect your views on a great many things…   I began to think about how this one little question is so very significant in regards to the issue of how we view our role in society, our view of authority, the law, our responsibility, political affiliation, religion AND could be a very integral part of the problems America currently has with partisanship, class envy and ways of dealing with one another.

I have to be honest; the members on Founder’s Intent are VERY knowledgeable, have strong debating skills and are truly great thinkers as a general rule!  I am often blown away by the expertise and quality of discussion I have witnessed and even been able to be a part of since connecting with these good people and although I am not selling myself short, I freely admit that I am nowhere near their league in respect to the insight, information and ideas I consistently see from them.  However having said that, they are warm, welcoming and in no way act superior to those of us armed with far less!  On this particular thread there was much discussed and as I read about the various philosophical, political, social and legal aspects that were offered in the discussion, I realized that my first instinct was to reply “YES” to the question of whether or not there were any laws NOT based on morality, but I didn’t really know why.  So I went on a search mission to find one(s) to give as an example —  Instead I discovered many things I hadn’t fully ever realized about something I thought I knew a lot about…  And was able to rethink my initial answer and even offer up a completely different perspective to the discussion as well!!   So, for what it’s worth, here is my reformulated opinion…   And believe me, I really did try to find a valid case where morality,  or whether making a choice between good and bad (evil) or fairness did NOT apply  —  But I just couldn’t!!     

What do you think?  I am interested in your thoughts and opinions about this subject – So, please comment!!            ~ Bren

  • JULIE’S TOPIC QUESTION:    

“Is there any law that isn’t actually a law based on someone’s morality?”

  • MY RESPONSE/COMMENTS:

Other than perhaps laws relating to property, tort or contractual law, etc (which could be argued that since these relate to agreements based on an equal exchange, to make reparations to a party that has possibly been inadvertently injured (for example) or may relate to rights belonging to an individual because of established ownership or by means of an inheritance of property, etc.; therefore there is no question of morality) – But even taking these types of legal issues into account, accepting that fact that our current system of justice is supposedly “blind and fair” and usually seems devoid of emotion when enforced and even interpreted…         

I would still have to say NO – none that I can conceive of!!  Let me further say, although it seems rational to relate law to reason and logic rather than morality which is usually attributed to emotions and (religious) views.   Although one cannot use logic without using the brain, surprisingly enough, our brain does not function without the moral obligation factor that was hard-wired into our physiological, emotional, spiritual and intellectual being from the beginning!  So, I definitely do believe that ALL laws established (from the first and all the way up to the current time) do indeed have some basis in morality!   Here are my reasons for believing that:

To begin with we must consider when and under what conditions the first “society” was formed and when laws became a governing force in the world…  And as I personally believe in God, Creation and The Living Word of God;     I would have to say that the first society we know existed was in Heaven.  From The Bible we know there was certainly a hierarchy, certain customs and protocol and other civil practices present between God, the angels, and archangels and any other Heavenly hosts.  We are told of a sort of mutinous effort made by the angel, Lucifer and because of his rebellion and for acting on his lust for power, jealousy and pride, he was cast out!!  He could no longer live in the presence of God as sin cannot co-exist with righteousness and instead the devil was given dominion over the earth.  It is unclear the exact nature of the law broken in respect to its origins and reasons for being.

The next logical example that comes to mind takes place in “The Garden of Eden” whose residents included God, then Adam (and later Eve) as well as the animals, at the very least and according to historians and The Bible, was the first community formed on Earth after Creation.  Here is the first example of a LAW being given and the consequences for breaking it.  This passage concerns the first principles of man’s intellectual and moral philosophy:  

Genesis 2:15-17   ~  RSV Holy Bible

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 

And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 

but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,  for when you eat of it you will surely die’.  ”

 

There is convincing argument that this initial command given to Adam was more than just an authoritative ruling or a “covenant of works”, but actually “Divine teaching”.  A means to train and guide the first pair to obey the Will of God and that disobedience has serious costs; to resist evil and turn away from wrong. Not solely out of fear of an actual physical death, but because of the corruptibility of the human spirit when not acting in accordance with our Creator.  This gentle but imperative command was a critical part of showing man his very nature, his purpose, potential and even his fallibility.  It established our need for spiritual connection/communion with The One who made us and our role in the relationship and in the world while providing a structure for society.  Being given this confirmation is probably a major reason why we understand and are assured of having those “inalienable rights” given us by our Creator as stated in The Declaration of Independence and that was set within the framework of our Constitution and government, while shaping our laws, general practices and customs throughout history all over the world.

The following is a good summary of what is going on behind the scenes in this scripture and what the implications are, as examined and explained in a study by Matthew Allen, an expert in the study of theology: 

http://bible.org/article/does-genesis-215-17-teach-covenant-works

  • THE CONDITION:  The condition was that of perfect obedience. In other words, Adam was temporary put on probation in order to determine whether he would willingly subject his will to the will of God in the way of obedience. He was subject to the “MORAL LAW OF GOD WRITTEN UPON HIS HEART“.  As Berkhof put it, the “great question that had to be settled was, whether man would obey God implicitly or follow the guidance of his own judgment.”  Hodge states that this specific command not to eat of a certain tree was not the only command given to Adam, but it was “the outward and visible test to determine whether he was willing to obey God in all things.”
  • THE PENALTY The penalty for disobedience was death B physical, spiritual and eternal death.  Because Adam did not obey God’s command, the execution of the penalty began instantly after the first sin. Spiritual death came immediately, and the aging process of the body began which would eventually lead to physical death.

In reference to the command given to Adam by The Lord as recorded in Genesis chapter 2, verse 16 and 17Mr. Allen states in the narrative contained here:     http://barnes.biblecommenter.com/genesis/2.htm   **

“This (instruction and divine command) is required in order to bring forth into consciousness the hitherto latent sensibility to moral obligation which was laid in the original constitution of man’s being”.  He goes on to say, “This is, therefore, man’s first lesson in morals. It calls up in his breast the sense of duty, of right, of responsibility. These feelings could not have been elicited unless the moral susceptibility had been laid in the soul, and only waited for the first command to awaken it into consciousness…   The special mandate here given is not arbitrary in its form, as is sometimes hastily supposed, but absolutely essential to the legal adjustment of things in this new stage of creation…   The command concerning this tree thus set his moral convictions agoing, and awakened in him the new and pleasing consciousness that he was a moral being.”   

Additionally, regarding this introduction of LAW into the life of man, Allen also makes this observation:

“It is to be noticed here that God reserves to himself the administration of the divine law. This was absolutely necessary at the present stage of affairs, as man was but an individual subject, and not yet spread out into a multitude of people. Civil government was not formally constituted till after the deluge.”

It is critical to remember that from the moment of our Creation, a covenant was established between God and man (Creator with His creation whom He designed after His own likeness) and that the heart, mind and soul of all human beings were purposefully and specifically designed having an innate wisdom or understanding of the nature of God (and thereby our own moral nature)  that was inspired by God and spiritually conveyed to Adam, and through him, to all human beings (as the father of all mankind).  

This (conscience or consciousness) provides us with the wisdom and conviction that to obey God’s Law and live according to His will is good, moral and righteous!  It means we can enjoy a strong communion with God when we “live in His Love”, act in accordance with His will, desire to know the mind and heart of God and seek His favor and wisdom.  But if we break the law of that covenant that binds us to Him, yet governs us; or when we disobey, we become separated from His love (by our own guilt and shame). This also invites all manner of evil, turmoil and hardship into our lives, whether by means of self-sabotage, consequences or by missing out on that spiritual union that our spirit yearns for, and without which we are not fully whole or complete. 

It is impossible to deny that we truly were created in His image when you consider that we were actually designed to operate at our fullest potential when we are connected to our Maker in mind and heart, and yes, when we are obedient!!  WILLINGLY CHOOSING Him because we love Him- Having unwavering faith, praise in our hearts and a joyful attitude… Because we know He will always be there and care for us!!  This is how we were designed to be, what our spirit thrives on and all He asks of us.  

As we honor our moral obligation as a spiritual being, guardian of this planet and as the beneficiaries of His Grace and gift of Free-Will; when we fully realize that we were made not out of selfishness to be “ruled” as willing slaves, but rather out of His deep, unconditional and abiding Love… Simply to love, be loved and to share His Love with all – thereby propagating, or re-creating the beauty of His Creation over and over again.  In doing this, we fulfill the promise His Love contains and the purity of spirit that can only be found in God’s Love will be glorified – It will drive out any and all the darkness for all eternity!!! 

Really that is what it is all about – We are an integral part of ending evil’s reign and in sin being abolished once and for all.  God knew that in order to ensure there would never be a chance that evil could tempt, deceive and take root and grow in the minds of man or souls of any living being again, was to allow a human being with highly functioning cognitive skills, the ability to discern and the freedom of choice, as well as a deeper understanding of spiritual things including God and having a strong MORAL character to fully experience the carnal aspects of life and being able to choose how we want to live and who to love and what to be loyal to or believe in… and yet in the end, choosing Love, Faith in the unseen and Right over wrong, no matter the temptation or hardship involved in having done so!! 

Evil is empowered by doubt, fear, confusion and deceit and so when we refuse to fall for these lies, when we value people, kindness and truth – rather than be swayed by a thirst for power, things, money or chaos and when we take the road less traveled that is far more challenging instead of walking on easy street…  Evil loses its luster, ability to tempt and its power of deception is diminished and consequently it becomes easier to see it for what it truly is.  With eyes wide open, it will then be the perfect environment for God to destroy what is left of that rebelliousness once and for all!!

So, how can one argue with the fact that beginning with the very first instance in which we encountered the Law, the first time our obedience was asked for, then on to our own implementation of laws to maintain order within our society and all through the years up until now, we have consciously or subconsciously applied this awareness God gave us.  We felt an obligation to honor righteousness and do the right thing and used our moral character to determine what laws were needed and the consequences for breaking them.  We as mortal beings, used spiritual principals and truths and the set of morals that was originally conveyed to us by our Creator and along with the abilities of thought and communication to contemplate and write the law, form individuals religions, analyze and philosophize about man, God, the universe and all aspects of life, to form governments, establish customs and create cultures as well as making decisions in our own lives each day and accepted the consequences that came from them.

In conclusion, the fact that it is our very MORALITY that God counts on to fulfill the prophecy and since it is so deeply ingrained within us, affecting all we say and do, I am convinced that ALL LAW is founded in some moral belief.  And although there are different variations of morality expressed or applied across the board, it cannot be disputed that each and every single one of us has some kind of moral compass, a sense of right and wrong and even though we may give in to temptation and do wrong, the awareness of having done wrong is there.  The conviction we feel and the ways in which we punish ourselves by feeling shame for knowing right and still doing wrong, or by being disobedient, is proof that we are governed fully by that moral compass! 

 

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By:     Bren Herring

~      January 22, 2013

www.Rockin4Right.com                               

www.facebook.com/RightWomenRock

 

Here are several other links I came across in my research…

http://barnes.biblecommenter.com/genesis/2.htm        ( especially section 2:16 – 17… ) **

http://bible.cc/genesis/2-16.htm                            http://biblos.com/genesis/2-17.htm

http://bible.cc/job/28-27.htm                                   http://bible.cc/job/28-28.htm

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10 thoughts on ““MAN’S MORAL COMPASS”

  1. Laws will always POSE as moral, but, this question from Lincoln illuminates: How many legs does a dog have it you call its tail a legs? Answer: FOUR! Calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg! So many laws do NOT have a true moral underpinning. I suppose a law to enact a Holocaust can be said to be moral because it is the opposite or morality — so every law may be “in the moral sphere” — was that the intent of the question?

  2. Rino: As I stated in re: to your comment on Facebook… I agree with you completely!! And although I do not know the exact reason for the question being asked in the first place, what I “got out of it” was a realization, or a deeper understanding, of the need for and how this example of “Law” being introduced to “man” CAN help us know and understand things better on a spiritual level!!

    The thing is, we are carnal creatures – mortal – human! And because of that and THIS event, we will always fall prey to the fallibility that is inherent in being HUMAN!! Our soul is corruptible. It is NOT our MORALITY that will bring us closer to God or to becoming the person we were created to be — It is OBEDIENCE! Man’s morality, as well as his emotions, attitudes, etc is changeable and not based in the constancy of God’s Love!

    It is only in our absolute obedience to HIS LAW, and in that accepting and understanding of His Love for us, that we then can truly begin becoming the spiritual being we were intended to become! He gave the commandment to us so that we could recognize His governance of us and in turn translate that within our society as well – it provided us with structure. However, because of our corruptibility, man’s carnal nature, we have used that “morality” at times for evil and harm. Which in the end is immoral! Religion, which is “man-made”, is rooted in morality, but often has been used as a means to further a group’s agenda, belief or need to control.

    I personally, believe that this is exactly what God does NOT want us to fall prey to! Which is where the Faith and Obedience comes in. TRUE morality can only be absolutely righteous when combined the wisdom of God. And that is something we can only have with a closer relationship with Him. The more we follow His will and accept His love, the more we understand Him and so on. I hope that makes sense!? 🙂

    I guess I was not addressing the issue of whether the outcome of our applying “man’s morality” was indeed righteous or not – But rather that fact that our intent is there to apply it in the first place and where that comes from! I certainly am not the one, to determine the rightness or wrong of certain “law” for us all — Only for myself! 🙂

  3. Bren: I may be misunderstanding. Do you believe that Man often acts with malice aforethought to be deliberately disobedient? If so, would you say this opposing would be considered “moral” because it was motivated by God’s will, but in the opposite direction?

    When I consider your statement “ALL laws established (from the first and all the way up to the current time) do indeed have some basis in morality” I have to ask if the laws that require, for example, genocide, qualify as “some basis in morality.”

    Because I think this a confusing, counter-intuitive way to define “moral” and is so perplexing that, under that umbrella, I’m not sure what value the word “moral” would retain in future discussion.

    Consider China’s laws to mandate abortion, or, Saddam’s laws allowing him to use the paper shredders and rape rooms without trial, review, or cause… if we describe those laws as having a moral intent, then what meaning does “moral” retain?

    • I believe the best way to answer that is to say that “morality” can be defined in two ways! According to the philosophical definition of morality ( http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/morality-definition/ ):

      1. DESCRIPTIVE THEORY: There is morality as implemented by society as rules of conduct: Which obviously would be based in cultural, historical, socially acceptable means of living and also would be determined by the people and leaders of that time and place and their specific ideology. For example, even in this country, “Political Correctness” has taken on a life of it’s own and is, in part, the cause of a great divide between Americans in many ways. The current issues regarding gun rights for instance. Many of us believe that we need to hold to more traditional ways of thinking and feel as if our rights our violated, constitutionally and morally, by not being able to protect our homes, family and person with a gun if we choose! Yet others believe it is wrong to have a weapon and risk it falling into the hands of a child or a criminal who can do harm with it!

      2. NORMATIVE THEORY: The other form of morality is a universal one that is a part of all peoples, cultures and religions no matter how their individual ethical, social, religious or philosophical views may differ. It is what I am referring to that comes from God and was given by divine inspiration to man with and at the time of the event I have described and explored here….

      According to the Stanford’s review of this subject (see link above):

      “When “morality” is used in its universal normative sense, it need not have either of the two formal features that are essential to moralities referred to by the original descriptive sense: that it be a code of conduct that is put forward by a society and that it be accepted as a guide to behavior by the members of that society. Indeed, it is possible that “morality” in the normative sense has never been put forward by any particular society, by any group at all, or even by any individual that holds that moral rules should never be violated for non-moral reasons.”

      “…The proposed normative definition of “morality” provides an explicit guide for how a person should behave. The proposed normative definition of “morality” is controversial but it does have some features that should be widely accepted. The definition allows as meaningful the commonly asked question, “Why should I be moral?”

      It really is all about perception in the first form of morality. Perception is reality and therefore the laws, rules of conduct and morality changes to accommodate the specific perception. It does not have to support a BASE BELIEF SYSTEM that all mankind is a party to. Oftentimes, it has been constructed without any acceptance of God (Communism) or in spite of it (The Holocaust, Rome’s sport of killing Christians) or because of the group ideas of what God is TO THEM (Saddam Hussein, the Crusades, fanatical religious zealots in general).

      This moral code can go from one extreme to the other and it very often can tear a person in two as well. Say for example a woman’s view of abortion may waver down the middle of the line, based on her experiences and the situation, etc. Or an environmentalist who sees the world being destroyed by over-population might be able to see the rationale of means of “population control” you mentioned in the case of China. It is subjective.

      But the morality which I was trying to break down in my essay, the “universal” one is that part of us that instinctively knows right from wrong, even as a child, whether we have had it “taught” to us or not!! It is how a very young girl who has been violated, molested,knows deep down that there is something very wrong about it – Or when a child walks into a room and sees something inappropriate, they immediately stop or turn away… That shameful feeling is meant to alert us not internalize it as we are bad. It is that thing inside that tells us when something is real or not and helps us be able to differentiate truth from fiction and set our boundaries as a person ultimately.

      For the most part, the specifics of the “rules” are unspoken and left to us all to interpret on our own! God didn’t say you must pray to me this many times a day and never say this word or do that thing on this day… He said “Here is all of this – for you to enjoy, BUT THAT tree is off limits, because to eat from it will cause “death” to you”. Just as a parent says to her child, “Sure you can help me make cookies, but when it comes time to get them out of the oven, you can’t do that part or you’ll get burned”!
      That child needs to have those lessons over and over to show them that there is a need to OBEY – To regard his parents as an authority allows them to show him their love for him in more ways and defines the relationship during that time!

      In response to whether it is ultimately God’s fault that “morality” has been used to justify evil and harm at times throughout civilization – – – I don’t see how!! Man’s nature is to rebel and to “sin” because of that initial disregard of Divine Law!! That was a choice made fully by us then and were it not for that “divinity” in the “universal morality” He instilled in us, we would have probably destroyed ourselves long ago!

      T

      • Which, if I may add, is I think the reason as time progressed certain “LAWS” were given by God (the Ten Commandments given to Moses) and then further explained and qualified by Jesus (Sermon on The Mount) based on the needs of the society at the time and it’s ability to discern for itself what right from wrong is a general sense was. At times in our history, God has had to come in and destroy (The Flood, Sodom and Gammorah) or “save” us (Christ dying on the cross) because we had closed ourselves off from His Love and Divinity and the laws of the land were bent on destruction and evil doing!!

  4. While I agree that some morals are subjective, and that many voices delight in saying there are no true values, I maintain there ARE true morals and even a true God. How many legs does a dog have if you call his leg a tail? FOUR — calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg. And laws that permit the Strong to “eat” the Weak are wrong, in spite of what the Strong and their cronies will say. The true morals exist across cultures and are not malleable. This is my “opinion” or, better worded, my conclusion based on education & experience. Laws that strip the weak of self-defense are, by definition, immoral. I’ll stick with Jefferson and his unalienable rights.

    • Nothing at all that I can argue with there….

      Those “TRUE MORALS” you speak of are what I would consider “Divine Law” or are those referred to in the analysis I quoted above as “Universal” I think.

      And furthermore, while I agree philosophically, I also agree from a personal standpoint as well!! I am a champion for others – refuse to allow people to be downtrodden in my presence or with my knowledge without taking a stand for “right”… Period!! 🙂

  5. Just to be clear, IMO the common practice of declaring morals & values to be subjective is objectively untrue, confusing, and, damaging. As such, many laws have no relation to morality unless you count “evil” as a type of connection. Great discussion!

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