Saturday, 27 October 2012
Fresh Air and the Natural Law
Pastor Emeritus has given me a gentle reminder, for which I am grateful, that it has been a few weeks since my last post. During the interval my husband and I have been away on a lovely week's holiday in the clear fresh air of the delightful little coastal town of St Ives, in Cornwall. While every day's weather forecast predicted lashing wind and storms, in fact we had an entire week of mild, dry weather, with only one windy day. A charming little Catholic church, dedicated to the Sacred Heart and St Ia, with beautiful Stations of the Cross. Row upon row of houses clustering in higgledy-piggledy terraces, clinging to every available shelf of the steep slopes up from the bay. Great exercise to walk up and down, but I fear my knee-joints will take some time to recover.
However, back to business.
I have occasionally seen rather dismissive references to the Church's appeals to Natural Law arguments in promoting or defending Her moral teachings. I think the core of the criticism was usually that the concept of Natural Law, being derived - I think - from Greek philosophy, was a type of accretion. The objectors maintained that its adoption was therefore both post-Scriptural (Thomist, I believe, though it may have featured in earlier centuries) and indeed unscriptural. If I have misunderstood anything in the foregoing, I shall be very happy to be corrected.
The idea of Natural Law, pure and simple, has always seemed very logical to me. But it was when reading a certain passage in the new Testament that I became aware of its presence in the words of Our Lord. Following His rejection of the Jewish traditions regarding divorce and remarriage, He was asked some searching questions. It was in one of these exchanges, in Matthew, Chapter 19, that I suddenly made the connection with Natural Law:
"Have you not read that He Who who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one'? So they are no longer two but one." ...... "For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so."
What was so from the beginning, and what was not so. I had the impression not only of the beginning of history according to the Biblical account of creation, but also of the beginning in the sense of the mind of the Creator at our creation; in His fundamental blueprint of the nature of man, woman and their partnership.
Words from the Word Himself, who was with God, and was God, from the beginning. Since gaining what I felt and still feel was a most helpful insight, I have never felt any disjointedness between the Gospel and Natural Law.
Picture from Wikipedia