PAPER NO. 9
THE MORAL LAW
Derived from Human Nature
- The moral law is clear; it is grounded in human nature, which is easily knowable by all human beings.
- The moral law is for all men, everywhere, at all times.
- The moral law is teleological, aimed at the good, the end in itself, which is the knowledge of God.
- The moral law is comprehensive; it guides all choices that express all aspects of human nature.
- The moral law is the source of unity in each person and among all persons.
- The moral law is spiritual; it has inherent consequences of spiritual life or death.
- The moral law from general revelation is the same in content as the moral law given in special revelation (the Decalogue).
The following shows how each moral law (c) is derived from a fundamental feature of human nature (a), based upon analysis of that feature (b).
Moral Law 1: On the Good and God
- By nature we make choices concerning means and ends.
- The end in itself is the good, which is grounded in human nature.
- God, as creator of human nature, is the only determiner of good and evil for man.
Moral Law 2: On the Nature of Thinking and the Divine Nature
- By nature we think, and thinking by nature is presuppositional (we think of the less basic in light of the more basic).
- The infinite and eternal are more basic than the finite and temporal.
- We are not to think of the infinite, eternal and unchangeable (God) in light of the finite, temporal and changeable (man).
Moral Law 3: On Unity and Integrity
- Human nature is one, a unity of diversity; to be divided against oneself is self-destructive.
- Integrity is a concern for consistency, which preserves the unity of human nature.
- We should have integrity in all that we think and say and do.
Moral Law 4: On Work and Rest
- By nature work (of dominion) is necessary to bring human life into being and to develop and to preserve that being.
- Work is not an end in itself but is the means to the good, which is corporate, cumulative and communal.
- When the good is achieved man will rest from the work of dominion.
Moral Law 5: On Authority and Insight
- By nature we are born ignorant and come to maturity through being taught.
- Authority in teaching is based on insight into the good and the means to the good; this insight is historically cumulative.
- Authority based on insight must be honored; authority without insight must be changed where possible.
Moral Law 6: On Human Dignity and Rationality
- We are born human, with a dignity which distinguishes man from animal.
- Human dignity consists in the capacity to understand by reason.
- We are to affirm human dignity in man’s ability and responsibility to understand what is clear to reason.
Moral Law 7: On Spiritual Fidelity and Infidelity
- We are born of a sexual union between one man and one woman.
- A sexual union is a sign and seal of love, which seeks the good for and with the other.
- We are to avoid infidelity (failure to love the other) by pursuing spiritual fidelity (love for the good).
Moral Law 8: On Talent and Value
- We are each born with talent, given in the uniqueness of one’s being.
- Talent is an ability to achieve some aspect of the good for the benefit of all.
- We are to develop our talent in pursuit of the good in service to others.
Moral Law 9: On Truth and Justice
- We are born equal; in justice equals are treated equally.
- Truth is necessary and sufficient to prevent and to correct injustice.
- We are to prevent and correct injustice by knowing and speaking the truth.
Moral Law 10: On Contentment and the Good
- We are born changeable in our understanding; discontent arises from a misunderstanding of good and evil.
- Moral evil serves the good by deepening the divine revelation; natural evil serves to restrain, recall from and remove moral evil.
- We are to be content in all circumstances by pursuing what truly is the good.