The Need for Law- Social Law vs Divine Law

Yesterday we looked at natural law, and what principles of law we can glean from it, which principles we would then expect to find in moral law as well. And yet we usually struggle to see moral law as being as “real” of a law as natural law. We see the forces of gravity and magnetism as universal and uncompromising, yet believe we can make bargains about moral rights and wrongs. Not only that, but we believe that if there are moral laws, we can transgress them, and yet avoid consequences through bargaining or concealment.

Why is this? A major reason is because we have human “laws” which defy all of the principles we found in natural law. Where the forces of nature never change, apply equally to all, and are cannot be petitioned for cancellation, both the laws of government and the trends of society do change, do not apply equally, and can be petitioned for cancellation.

Our first lesson in this likely occurred when growing in our childhood homes. Parents are forever inconsistent in how they respond to the same behaviors. Sometimes they let misdeeds slide and sometimes they don’t, they might punish incorrect behavior at a severe level one day and at a more measured level the next, sometimes they let one child get away with a certain action but never the other child. Parents can be persuaded and bargained with to let go of their principles. In short, parental law is extremely organic, based a great deal on their mood in the moment, and teaches a pattern that morals are flexible.

In school we learn about our governments, and the principles and laws upon which they are founded. We are told that those laws are meant to be administered universally and indiscriminately, but obviously they are not. Different officers and judges of the law act on different biases. What is more, their presence is not total enough to respond to all queries or misdeeds, making holes in the law’s coverage of the nation. Laws can be changed and even abolished, and the laws of one nation are different from the laws of its neighbors, an artificial boundary changing the legality of one’s behavior like the flipping of a switch. This starts to make us believe that moral law only applies so far as it can be seen. That it can be compartmentalized, hidden from, and vetoed by a strong enough consensus.

Social law, of course, is the most flimsy of all, the same behaviors being simultaneously applauded and condemned by different circles at the same time. There is absolutely no consensus whatsoever, a million different voices saying a million different things. This suggests to us that moral law is worse than organic, it is non-existent. All that we call morality is opinion, and has no universal binding whatsoever.

Our mistake is taking all these imperfect forms, and trying to extrapolate from them how Divine Law must work as well. We assume that certain commandments no longer apply, because society has come to a consensus to vote them out. We assume that if we hide our sins, then we need not pay the price of guilt. We assume that if we butter God up with love in other ways, then He might give us a pass on our misdeeds. We use the strategies that work with our fellow man, and try to apply them where they can never work. Divine Moral Law, to be Divine Moral Law, must be constant, universal, unchanging, non-negotiable, all-reaching, and all-encompassing. And even more than it needs to be all those things, we need it to be all those things. For with anything less than a totally sure foundation, nothing permanent can ever be built.

The Need for Law- The Principles of Law

Each of us is a member of our mortal world and are therefore subject to its laws of deterioration, entropy, and death. Or in other words, the laws of physics are inescapable to us. We are forever under the powers of gravity, force, action and reaction, magnetism, electricity, temperature, and everything else that is baked into the matter of this world.

We do not have to like these laws, but we do have to adhere to them, simply because we have no other choice. These laws are not elected, they just are.

These laws are impersonal and unbiased. They can work for our bad, such as tripping and being pulled by gravity into a hurtful fall. They can work for our good, such as jumping in the air and being pulled back to where its safe instead of floating out of the atmosphere.

That is the nature of pure law. It is entirely unbiased. It enacts itself the same way to a king as to a slave, and it never varies in its order. Also, it never ceases to apply. At all times and in all places the laws are in full effect. In fact, multiple separate laws may apply to the same subject at the same moment, but each will have its full realization, none will be denied effect by another. They will each control what they control, and not what they don’t.

The laws of nature not only give our world structure and predictability, they also serve as excellent schoolmasters for understanding law itself. If there is a moral law, then to be a law it must also be impersonal and unbiased, just like natural law. There can be several facets of moral law, but to be a law, then each of those facets must have full expression, with no variance in how they execute themselves on one subject or another. To be a law, moral law must apply at all times and in all places, it simply must be. Also, to be a law, it must apply to what it applies, and not to what it does not.

And that last point is why we find it far more difficult to accept the existence of moral law than natural law. For where natural law applies to the forces of nature exclusively, moral law applies to the soul exclusively. Thus we can see, hear, and touch the evidence of natural law with our external senses, but we cannot perceive the effects of moral law with our external senses. That simply is not the realm of its jurisdiction. We only perceive them in our heart. Not only that, but where the forces of natural law are often immediate, the effects of moral law are often enacted over a prolonged amount of time, making it difficult to draw the correlation of cause and effect.

But though it is harder to recognize moral law, it is still there.

The Way That Things Are- Summary

Whenever I see people expressing opinions that I feel are wrong, I immediately feel a rush of indignation and wish to correct them with my own opinions…which are sure to be just as wrong as theirs. Far better if I can realize that yes, those around me are flawed, but in just the same way I am flawed as well.
Indeed, if I could mold the world in my image it would be a sorry place indeed. I would not wish such a reality upon anyone. I simply do not understand enough to create a world of perfect harmony and balance. The only time I ever feel confident that I speak the truth, is when I am speaking God’s truth, and not my own.
This study was a good opportunity to remind myself of these things. It helps me to dismiss the biases in the world, but also the biases in myself as well. Self-interest, jealousy, and pride dissipate as soon as I feel the truth of these messages in my heart.

Truth Is Things As They Are

There is only one requirement for there to be a truth, and that is for things to exist in a state. So long as things exist in a certain way, then truth is any accurate statement of what that way is. Humanity is itself a state of being, the state of immortal spirits enfolded with a temporal body. This creates a system, and necessarily there will be facts about that system and its various states. And given that there are facts and states within our system, there will always be particular patterns of behavior that will be in harmony with our own well-being. These patterns we call morality.
In order for morality to change, our very condition of humanity (that of eternal spirits bonded with temporal bodies) would first have to change. A change of personal opinion or societal trend would not be enough, for those are not changes of the basic human condition. And so the principles of morality remain consistent through the years, whether we want them to or not,
But how are we to know these principles? How can we divide opinion from fact? It is very difficult for a system to know itself. In fact, as proven by Kurt Gödel, it is impossible. Thus the only way for us to know all of the behaviors for our well-being is to be shown it by another. And not just any other, but it must be one that is above our state, one that exists on a higher order, one that can see us the way that we really are. This the one that can truly reveal our own hearts to us.
1 Corinthians 14:25- And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
Doctrine and Covenants 93:24- And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.

Our Flourishing Depends on Following Truth

We live in a world that tries to regulate moral decisions by popular opinion. This pattern of democracy is necessary if there is to be liberty, and most often the masses will elect to follow that which is good.
But this pattern of governing the masses only works so long as individuals allow themselves on a private level to be governed by the conscience given of God. If instead individuals vote according to the passions of the flesh, then society will deteriorate just as surely as if it were ruled by a tyranny. It might take longer to get there, but the simple truth is that no structure of man will ever be able to safeguard us when eternal truths are ignored.
Any system based upon imperfection will eventually deteriorate. We have not yet built the thing that will not break. Entropy is undeniable. Any system conceived of by man will be necessarily flawed, even when made with the best of intentions. Our perceptions are limited and our reasoning is biased, so how could we ever hope to see things as they really are? How could we ever hope to adhere to the truth purely by our own devices? How could we hope to ever maintain ourselves, let alone flourish, without God in our lives?
1 Corinthians 1:25- Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
1 Corinthians 13:10- But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

The Evidence of God is in Living the Truth

If God truly did exist, and if He existed as described within the gospel of Jesus Christ: omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent, then there could be no logical argument against following him. It would be nonsensical to not adhere to the teachings of one who knows all things and only wishes for your own good. If we knew, really knew, of the existence of such a God and still chose to live in defiance of that being, then we would be knowingly acting in a manner of self-harm.
But, of course, the conundrum is that we cannot really know this God, we cannot understand Him in the way that we understand the things of this world. For Him to be all-knowing and all-good, he must necessarily exist in a higher order that we cannot perceive.
Yet we are not without hope. For even if we cannot know God perfectly, we can still know Him imperfectly. Even though we cannot see His face we can see His shadow. Even though we cannot understand how all of His principles will complete us, we can still follow them and feel them complete us all the same. By acting in faith, and tasting the fruit that follows it, we can come to know, even when we cannot understand.
1 Corinthians 2:7- But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.
1 Corinthians 13:12- For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

The Family of God- 3 Nephi 11: 29-32, John 17:21-23

For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.
Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine.
And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.


That they may be made perfect in one
All good principles are in harmony with one another. Love, kindness, peace, wisdom, patience, understanding, justice, mercy…all of these are able to coexist in full measure and never undo one another. They are a complementary set.
To that unity we can add God. God is a perfect being in harmony with all that is good. Also to that unity we can Jesus Christ. Christ is a perfected being that is in perfect harmony with his Father, and so he must also be in perfect harmony with all that is good. We are taught that the Holy Spirit is united in this perfect harmony as well.

Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us
Having acknowledged this unity between God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and all good principles; now let us ask what is the purpose of the gospel we have received of them? What is its objective? What is the end result that it attains? Well, we don’t have to guess, because the author of that gospel has already told us for what purpose it was given.
And that purpose is so that the unity between those perfect beings and forces can be ours as well. Our supreme destiny is to come in perfect harmony with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and every good principle. The gospel is the process by which this is accomplished.
Not only do we come into harmony with those perfections, but by extension we also come into harmony with every other brother and sister that strives for this same unity as well. We will have total harmony with saints, angels, the prophets, and nature after it has been perfected. By all of us converging on one perfect goal, we will converge with one another as well. And yes, we will all still be our own individuals, but we will be individuals in harmony.