Monday, June 20, 2011

Law and Religion

In my head, I seem to have a quote from someone famous, but I cannot pin it down either to its author or to the exact wording. Essentially, it states that the more legislation the civilisation has, the closer it is to collapse. If anyone can furnish me with the exact quote and its author, I'd be grateful.

It does make perfect sense, though. The more we have to legislate, the more we are saying that we lack a common understanding of what is right and have to rely on our government to supply that common understanding which we may not actually agree with - indeed we may see it as fundamentally wrong and protest and complain to the extent that the government might actually try to limit our ability to complain.

We have evolved into beings which are intrinsically designed to seek community for good reasons. God tells us that it is not good for a man to be alone and He's right as the animal kingdom itself demonstrates. In order to function in society, there must be some restriction on what we can or cannot do so that the interests of all are addressed and respected. This involves a binding of the will.

So what binds our will? Extrinsically, we have laws which are duty bound to keep on pain of punishment. They are determined and agreed upon by the society itself and infringements are met with sanctions to restore order. The more laws that are passed and it is clear that the more that members of that society are not considering the needs of others in the execution of their will. So law forces a binding on us whether or not we agree with it.

We could choose to limit our will ourselves by looking at the society around us and seeing our own part in that society as a duty. The trouble is that the rules we use to regulate that duty may not actually be compatible and thus of course we look for like minds. A common morality produces a common law which people abide by because they know it is right to abide by it. As soon as one begins to question whether one believes that the common law is right then the chaos begins. An intrinsic self-binding - a religion - brings law into being. As soon as that religion is lost, then the law loses its meaning. It is questioned, more laws are brought in to reinforce it which only serve to complicate the issue creating more unrest within the society.

We can see this all over the shop: Abortion, same-sex relationships, assisted suicide, the Equality Bill, spending-cuts, the right to strike. Where in each of these issues is the focus? Is it the good of the community?

More and more I look at society and I see so much disintegration of community. I wonder whether we are at the brink of another change in human existence. Of course, my prayers are for the rejuvenation in personal commitment to a local community if we cannot manage the revival of solid Christianity. I am tempted, though, t0 think the worst and that we are about to enter a time of social and political upheaval to match the moral upheaval through which we pass. Turmoil is natural at the end of an era. I pray that it doesn't go on for longer than is necessary.

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