PAPER NO. 10
THE MORAL LAW
The Origin, Nature, Law, Application and Consequences of the Moral Laws
- Definition of “ethics”: ethics is concerned with giving a rational justification for the answer to the question “what is the good?”
Ethics assumes choice, choice assumes values and values assume the concept of the good.
What is particularly sought in ethics is rational justification, which guarantees that we have knowledge of the good.
There are necessary conditions in order to have rational justification for ethics.
- There must be a metaphysical absolute.
- There must be personal immortality.
- There must be freedom.
- There must be clarity.
- There must be rationality.
There is a moral law which is clear, comprehensive and critical.
- It is clear because it is grounded in human nature, and is therefore easily knowable and universal.
- It is comprehensive, including all aspects of human nature and choice.
- It is critical; its consequences are a matter of life and death.
MORAL LAW 1: THE GOOD AND GOD
The first moral law is about the good and the ground of the good; it is about the good and the real or eternal; it is about the moral absolute and the metaphysical absolute.
- On the ORIGIN of the concept of the good.
The good is grounded in human nature, in the reality of choice.
Choice assumes values and values assume the good, the highest value.
What is chosen is chosen either for its own sake, which is the good, the end in itself, or chosen as a means to the good.
On the NATURE of the good and the real.
- The good is the end in itself.
It is chosen for its own sake, not for the sake of anything else. It is the highest value (the summum bonum), the source of unity, the moral absolute.
- The good is not virtue.
Virtue is a means to the good.
There are different kinds of virtues: moral, natural, and instrumental.
- The good is not happiness.
Happiness is the effect of possessing what we believe is the good.
- The good is one.
As the source of unity in a person and among persons, there is one good for each person and one good for all persons.
There is one good for each person.
If there were more than one good for each person, there would be no rational basis for choice.
There is one good for all persons.
Good for a being is based on the nature of that being. The good for human beings is based on human nature. There is one human nature. Therefore there is one good for all human beings.
- The good is clear.
The good as based in human nature is easily knowable. It is objectively clear, knowable by all who can be held morally responsible, regardless of cultural background.
- The good is based on the real.
One’s view of the good is based on one’s view of human nature, which is based on one’s view of what is real or eternal.
- It is clear that only some is eternal.
There must be something eternal.
Matter exists and matter is not eternal.
The soul exists and the soul is not eternal.
What is eternal brought into existence, or created, what is not eternal.
The creator is God.
- MORAL LAW 1: on the good and God.
God, as creator of human nature, is the determiner of good and evil for man.
APPLICATION: what is opposed in Moral Law 1.
- Theism is opposed to all forms of non-theism.
Belief in God the creator is opposed to atheism, pantheism, polytheism, and shamanism, as well as to material monism, spiritual monism and dualism.
- Objective clarity is opposed to all forms of skepticism (nothing is clear) and fideism (belief without understanding or proof).
- Subjective clarity is opposed to emotivism and voluntarism.
It is opposed to the view that feelings and will are independent of and can be opposed to what one understands; that knowledge is not sufficient for morality; that knowledge of the truth does not set one free.
- Theonomy is opposed to all forms of autonomy.
God as the determiner of good and evil is opposed to all forms of man, understood apart from God, as the determiner of good and evil.
Theonomy is opposed to ethical egoism (individual happiness), utilitarianism (collective happiness), deontology (will guided by reason alone), existentialism (will apart from rational determination), naturalism (individual instinct), tradition (collective instinct), humanism (human nature as a whole understood apart from God), stoicism (denial of desires), mystical contemplation (knowledge apart from understanding).
- The moral law is opposed to heteronomy.
The law, given in human nature and knowable by reason, is opposed to the view that the law is given by an external source, independent of reason.
It is opposed to the claim that the law is known only by special revelation.
- The moral law is opposed to positivism.
The moral law, given in human nature, is opposed to the divine command theory, that the law is arbitrary or positive, that whatever God commands is good, apart from human nature.
- Teleology is opposed to deontology and consequentialism.
Duty is not pursued for its own sake; virtue must be understood in relation to the good.
Happiness is not sought for its own sake; happiness must be understood in relation to the good.
There is not a direct relation between virtue and happiness, apart from the good.
CONSEQUENCES of Moral Law 1.
- Moral evil is a denial of one’s nature as a rational being.
In moral evil, one neglects, avoids, resists and denies reason in the presence of what is clear about God.
In moral evil, man puts himself in the place of God to determine good and evil.
The consequence of the denial of reason is spiritual death. Individually, it brings meaninglessness, boredom and guilt. Corporately, it brings the death of relationships, institutions and cultures.
Spiritual death is present and inherent in moral evil; it is not imposed and future.
- To affirm what is clear about God brings a life full of meaning.
MORAL LAW 2: ON THINKING AND THE NATURE OF GOD
- On the ORIGIN of thinking and the concept of God.
By nature we think. In thinking, reason is used to form concepts, judgments and arguments, the forms of all thought.
By nature we have the idea of God, that is, concepts about the nature of God.
- On the NATURE of thinking.
Thinking is presuppositional. We think of the less basic in light of the more basic.
We think of truth in light of meaning. We think of experience in light of basic beliefs. We think of conclusion in light of premises. We think of the finite in light of the infinite, the temporal in light of the eternal.
Understanding what is more basic is necessary to understand what is less basic.
Agreement on what is more basic leads to agreement on what is less basic.
- MORAL LAW 2: on thinking about the nature of God.
We are to think presuppositionally about God.
We are to think about the finite (man) in light of the infinite (God), not the infinite (God) in light of the finite (man) or the finite (man) in light of the finite (nature).
We are to think of man as the image of God; we are not to think of God as the image of man.
The divine nature, which is infinite, eternal and unchangeable, is not to be likened to human nature, which is finite, temporal and changeable.
- APPLICATION: what is opposed in Moral Law 2.
Divisions among theists can be resolved by thinking presuppositionally.
Specifically, divisions among theists can be resolved by thinking presuppositionally about God’s goodness and justice.
God’s goodness and justice are not to be likened to human goodness and justice.
- Presuppositional thinking, in general, is opposed to rationalism and to empiricism. Both fail to recognize their assumptions.
- The divine nature is opposed the denial of divine providence in natural evil, and redemptive revelation in light of natural evil.
- The divine nature is opposed to the denial of atonement to satisfy divine justice.
- The divine nature is opposed to the denial of vicarious atonement by a representative man.
- The divine nature is opposed to the denial of the sufficiency of vicarious atonement, apart from human effort.
- The divine nature is opposed to the denial of the nature of moral evil and its inherent consequences.
- The divine nature is opposed to all forms of idolatry, both conceptual and visual.
CONSEQUENCES of Moral Law 2.
- Distortions in the concept of God, when developed, bring divisions among theists, apostasy, cultural decay and collapse.
- Affirmation of the true nature of God brings unity among theists, continuity of belief through the generations, and increase of understanding.
MORAL LAW 3: INTEGRITY AND KNOWLEDGE
- On the ORIGIN of the concept of integrity.
There is a natural unity in our being.
There is a natural concern not to be divided against oneself.
- On the NATURE of integrity.
Integrity is a concern for consistency (unity) in what we say and what we do.
What we say is both implicit and explicit, to ourselves and to others.
Concern for consistency is necessary and sufficient for knowledge.
Concern for consistency is objective, not subjective. Integrity is not sincerity.
Concern for consistency is necessary for dialogue.
- MORAL LAW 3: on integrity.
We should have integrity; we should have a concern for consistency.
APPLICATION: what is opposed in Moral Law 3.
- Integrity is opposed to claiming to want to know without self-examination.
We implicitly profess to want to know, yet fail to know what is clear.
What is basic is clear.
If we examine our own basic beliefs for meaning we can know what is clear.
- Integrity is opposed to dialogue without reason.
Dialogue requires reason.
Integrity requires that one does not neglect, avoid, resist or deny reason in dialogue.
- Integrity is opposed to professing skepticism without accepting its implications.
- Integrity is opposed to professing a position without discipline to put it into practice.
- Integrity is opposed to making a vow and not keeping it.
- Integrity is opposed to hypocrisy.
In hypocrisy one avoids shame and guilt by self-deception and self-justification.
- Integrity is opposed to placing practical and psychological concerns above concern for truth.
CONSEQUENCES of Moral Law 3.
- As integrity decreases, stupor increases.
- As integrity increases, clarity increases.
MORAL LAW 4: WORK, THE GOOD AND HOPE
- On the ORIGIN of work.
To bring into being and to sustain in being requires work.
On the NATURE of work, the good and hope.
- Work is not an end in itself. It is a means to the good.
- The good is the knowledge of God.
The good is continuing, inexhaustible, comprehensive, inalienable, corporate, cumulative, communal, fulfilling, ultimate and transformative.
- The good is achieved through work.
Creation is revelation.
Knowledge of God is through knowledge of the creation.
The knowledge of creation is through the work of dominion.
In dominion, man develops all the powers latent in himself and the world.
All lives reveal human nature. Human nature reveals the nature of God.
Some lives reveal human nature through natural rule.
Some lives reveal human nature through moral rule.
Moral evil and natural evil deepen the revelation. They require a greater dominion.
- Work for the good requires hope.
Hope is based on understanding the nature of things.
From the nature of things, it is certain that the good will be attained.
The nature of man requires the good.
The nature of the good requires dominion.
The nature of God as infinitely good requires that good will overcome evil.
From considering the past—there has been progress.
From considering the present—challenges remain.
As the work of creation ended, the work of dominion will also end.
As creation is revelation, the work of dominion brings knowledge of revelation.
The earth shall be full of the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea.
- MORAL LAW 4: on work, the good and hope.
We should work for the good with true hope.
APPLICATION: what is opposed in Moral Law 4.
- True hope is opposed to false hope.
The good cannot be achieved without work.
The hope of heaven as the good, in place of knowledge of God through the work of dominion, is false hope.
- True hope is opposed to no hope.
Work without hope for the good is meaningless.
Work for pleasure as the good is empty.
- True hope is opposed to revolutionary utopianism.
It is opposed to man’s work without God’s work.
Evil exists. It serves to deepen the divine revelation. It is removed gradually.
Work apart from divine grace cannot achieve the ideal community.
- True hope is opposed to the hope of righteousness by works.
Man’s righteousness comes short and does not merit divine favor.
- True hope is opposed to millennial supernaturalism.
It is opposed to God’s work as done apart from man’s work.
- True hope is opposed to cyclical fatalism.
There is no necessary cycle of history irrespective of human effort.
- True hope is opposed to the hope of mystical ecstasy.
There is no direct knowledge of ultimate reality apart from understanding the creation.
There is no beatific vision, no intuitive enlightenment.
CONSEQUENCES of Moral Law 4.
- Work apart from the good is empty.
- Work for the good is fulfilling.
MORAL LAW 5: AUTHORITY AND INSIGHT
- On the ORIGIN of authority.
We are born ignorant. We need to be taught the good and the means to the good.
Authority is expressed fundamentally in teaching.
- On the NATURE of authority and insight.
Authority is rational, not personal.
Authority is based on insight, not might.
Insight is historically cumulative, not individual.
- MORAL LAW 5: on authority and insight.
Authority based on insight must be honored.
Authority without insight must be changed where possible.
APPLICATION: what is opposed in Moral Law 5.
- It is opposed to persons without insight in positions of authority.
It is opposed to authority without insight in family, state, school and church.
- It is opposed to principles of authority as ultimate, which are not self-attesting.
It is opposed to tradition, intuition, science and scriptures as self-attesting.
- It is opposed to reversing the order of authority in each person.
There is a natural order of authority in each person: thought, feeling and will.
- It is opposed to reversing the order of authority in each institution.
In an institution, the philosophical must lead the psychological and the practical.
- It is opposed to totalitarianism among institutions.
No institution is over another; family, church and state are equally under the moral law, according to their form and function.
- It is opposed to an autonomous state and to a theonomous church.
The state is not over the church; it is under the moral law.
The church is not over the state; it is under the moral law.
- It is opposed to the state over the family and the family over the state.
It is opposed to a welfare state and to public education as religiously neutral.
It is opposed to the state over business and to business over the state.
CONSEQUENCES of Moral Law 5.
- Authority without insight subverts and perverts the good.
- Authority based on insight protects and is productive of the good.
MORAL LAW 6: HUMAN DIGNITY AND RATIONALITY
- On the ORIGIN of human dignity.
We are born human. Human dignity distinguishes us from animals.
- On the NATURE of human dignity.
Human dignity consists in the capacity to understand. We understand by reason.
Reason in man is natural, not conventional; it is universal—the same in all persons.
Human society is a society of rational beings. Participation in, or separation from, human society depends on the exercise of this capacity.
- MORAL LAW 6: on human dignity and rationality.
We are to affirm human dignity.
We are to treat others as having the capacity and responsibility for understanding.
APPLICATION: what is opposed in Moral Law 6.
- Affirmation of human dignity is opposed to use of force in murder and war.
Murder results from accumulated personal lack of discipline in self-control.
War results from accumulated collective failure to use reason, on both sides.
- Affirmation of human dignity is opposed to racism.
In racism, ethnicity is placed above our common humanity in reason.
- Affirmation of human dignity is opposed to gender wars.
In gender wars, we fail to understand the nature of male/female differences.
In gender wars we fail to hold each other responsible for the use of reason.
- Affirmation of human dignity is opposed to abortion, euthanasia, suicide, and intervention which disregards the loss of the capacity to understand.
- Affirmation of human dignity is opposed to psychotherapeutic programs which disregard interpretive assumptions and responsibility for our beliefs.
- Affirmation of human dignity is opposed to the view that temporal separation from human society by capital punishment is a denial of human dignity.
- Affirmation of human dignity is opposed to the view that final separation from rational human society by divine judgment is a denial of human dignity.
CONSEQUENCES of Moral Law 6.
- To deny human dignity in another, one must first deny it in oneself.
- To affirm human dignity in oneself is to affirm it in others.
MORAL LAW 7: SEX AND LOVE, AND MARRIAGE AND THE GOOD
- On the ORIGIN of marriage and the good.
The origin of our being is from a sexual union of our parents.
Through the nurture of our being, by our parents, the good is achieved.
On the NATURE of sex and love, and marriage and the good.
- Sex is a sign and seal of love.
- The physical union is a natural sign of a spiritual union.
- A physical and a spiritual union together is a full union.
- A full union is a union of persons.
- A full union of two persons is monogamous and lasting.
- A full union is the union of marriage.
- Love, in marriage, seeks the good for and with the other, and for those we bring into being.
- MORAL LAW 7: on marriage and the good.
Marriage is to achieve the good.
There is an order for marriage which protects it.
APPLICATION: what is opposed in Moral Law 7.
- The good for marriage is opposed to regarding the other as the good.
Friendship is reciprocal, lasting and shares the deepest concerns. It is the effect of mutual commitment to the good.
Marriage, as lasting, must be based on friendship.
The good of friendship is not the good of romantic love.
- The nature of persons is opposed to separating sex and love.
A person is a union of body and soul; the physical is not to be separated from the spiritual.
Sex without love is desecrated; the sign without the reality is contemptible.
Respect of personhood is opposed to casual sex, prostitution, rape and pedophilia, and whatever depersonalizes sex.
- The full union of marriage is opposed to polygamy (simultaneous or serial), and to polyandry.
- Marriage, as lasting, is opposed to divorce, except for adultery, or willful desertion which cannot be remedied.
- Sex, as a natural union, is opposed to what is not natural.
A natural union is mutual and simultaneous. What is otherwise is unnatural.
- The good for marriage is opposed to children or companionship as the good.
Children, as persons, are not the good; the good is by and for persons.
Companionship is not the good; it is the effect of mutual commitment to the good.
- Marriage, as lasting, is opposed to disregard of the order which protects it.
There is a natural order for marriage which protects it; what comes after requires what comes before:
- Seek the good for oneself (love of self and God)
- Seek the good for the other (love of neighbor)
- Seek the good with the other (friendship)
- Finding one’s complement (courtship)
- Endowment (preparation)
- Vows (commitment)
- Civil laws (sanctions)
CONSEQUENCES of Moral Law 7.
- Ordinary infidelity (lack of commitment to the other) is rooted in spiritual infidelity (lack of commitment to the good).
- Marriage for the good increases the good in one’s own life and the lives of others, through generations.
MORAL LAW 8: VALUE AND TALENT
- On the ORIGIN of value and talent.
We naturally value things. No one values all things alike.
- On the NATURE of value and talent.
Value is a function of supply and demand.
Demand is a function of one’s view of the good.
Supply is a function of talent.
- Talent is an ability to achieve some aspect of the good.
- Talent is in each; it is grounded in the uniqueness of one’s being.
- The origin of one’s talent is the origin of one’s being. It is given to each, for all.
- Talent is known by interest and ability, in the three categories of personality.
- Talent is developed through the efforts of others, as well as one’s own effort.
- Talent is developed fully only in the vision of the good.
- Talent is irrepressible. When fully developed, it forms its function.
- MORAL LAW 8: on value and talent.
One is to develop one’s talent in pursuit of the good in service to others.
Failure to do so is to take from others what is of value that belongs to them.
APPLICATION: what is opposed in Moral Law 8.
- It is opposed to the neglect of one’s talent through sloth or greed or pride.
- It is opposed to misuse of talent, when it is not used for the good.
- The origin and social development of talent is opposed to capitalism.
The origin and individual development of talent is opposed to communism.
Stewardship affirms that God as creator owns all absolutely. Man is steward.
Capitalism affirms man individually owns absolutely.
Communism affirms man collectively owns absolutely.
Both capitalism and communism are antinomies; they share a common assumption.
- It is opposed to social policies which are based on finite supply (vs. talent).
- It is opposed to economic policies which create disincentives to effort.
- It is opposed to wasteful spending of resources which does not advance the good.
- It is opposed to the unlimited accumulation of wealth by what indebts others.
- CONSEQUENCES of Moral Law 8.
- The neglect or abuse of talent increases the poverty of life for all.
- The use of talent for the good increases the richness of life for all.
MORAL LAW 9: TRUTH AND JUSTICE
- On the ORIGIN of justice.
We are born equal.
In justice, equals are to be treated equally.
On the NATURE of truth and justice.
- Ultimate justice is ontological. Consequences are inherent by creation.
In mercy, justice is satisfied by grace.
- Social justice is first distributive, then contractual and finally retributive.
- Full social justice is both preventative and corrective.
- Truth is necessary and sufficient for justice.
- To have justice, one must know the truth and speak the truth.
Justice, in a court of law, requires us to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
- Full justice requires knowing and speaking the whole truth.
- Knowing the whole truth is a function of the whole of one’s life.
- MORAL LAW 9: on truth and justice.
We are to seek justice by knowing and speaking the truth.
APPLICATION: what is opposed in Moral Law 9.
- It is opposed to ignorance as excusable.
If we seek, we can know what is clear. We can remove oppression justified by false worldviews.
- It is opposed to fideism.
Fideism is not knowledge. It declares what is believed to be true without answering objections.It nullifies its testimony.
- It is opposed to privacy in decisions affecting public affairs.
It is opposed to privacy for bribery to influence public decisions.
- It is opposed to restrictions on freedom of speech.
It is opposed to closed societies, restricted public forum and prohibited books.
- It is opposed to abuse of freedom of speech as the right of rational discourse.
It is opposed to slander, contempt, harassment, and incitement to violence.
- It is opposed to false advertising.
It is opposed to profit-making by withholding information regarding possible harm from the product sold.
- It is opposed to public exposure of what is private.
What is private is situational.
There is both a right to privacy and an obligation to privacy for spiritual and physical nakedness.
- CONSEQUENCES of Moral Law 9.
- An unfaithful witness shares in injustice and its consequences.
- A faithful witness brings about justice.
MORAL LAW 10: SUFFERING AND THE GOOD
- On the ORIGIN of suffering.
We are born changeable. We can change in what we think about good and evil.
Suffering arises when we think we cannot possess what we believe to be the good.
On the NATURE of suffering and the good.
- The good is not virtue—natural, moral or instrumental. Virtue is a means to the good.
- The good is not happiness. Happiness is the effect of possessing what we believe is the good.
- Suffering results from evil—moral and natural.
- Moral evil, at root, is an act contrary to our nature as rational beings.
It is to neglect, avoid, resist or deny reason in the face of what is clear about God.
It is to put oneself in the place of God to determine good and evil.
- The inherent consequence of moral evil is spiritual death: meaninglessness, boredom and guilt. Socially, it is the death of relationships, institutions and cultures.
- Natural evil consists in toil, strife, old age, sickness and death.
It is not original in creation, nor inherent in moral evil, but imposed because of moral evil.
Natural evil, at times, is intensified to famine, war and plague.
- Natural evil is imposed by God upon man, not as punishment, but as a call back, to stop and think.
Natural evil is the last, and continuing, call back from moral evil, self-deception and self-justification.
Natural evil serves to restrain, to recall from and to remove moral evil.
- MORAL LAW 10: on suffering and the good.
We are not to be discontent in pursuing our own view of the good, but to be content in pursuing what truly is the good.
APPLICATION: what is opposed in Moral Law 10.
- It is opposed to envy of others in their circumstances, abilities and honors.
- It is opposed to stoicism, as a hardening of oneself, to avoid suffering, seen as useless.
- It is opposed to resentment, complaint and bitterness, under circumstances seen as a hindrance to the good.
- It is opposed to discouragement in hardships in contrast to patience and perseverance in hope.
- It is opposed to the self-indulgence of hedonism to escape emptiness or to compensate for pain.
- It is opposed to cynicism, which sees the reality of evil without seeing the reality of grace.
- It is opposed to fatalism, a resignation to evil, seen as merely natural, not imposed as a call back.
- CONSEQUENCES of Moral Law 10.
- To those who do not seek the good, suffering from natural evil is avoided as meaningless.
- To those who seek the good, all things are seen as working together for the good.
© 2003 Logos Papers Press