Both natural and civil law, as God designed, tell us why.
1. We should not expect non-Christians to think and live like Christians. So why all the fuss among Christians over the legalization of same-sex marriage?
2. Since when do we depend on the government to enforce Christian morals?
This article on Christianity Today tries to make the argument that secular civil authorities should implement some aspects of the Law of God not because of the authority of God’s Word, but because of the atheistical reasoning of natural law.
The idea of Religious pluralism draws its life breath from ideas of Natural law theory. Kill Natural law theory and you kill pluralism at the same time.
Natural law is the mask that allows everyone to think that the public square can be religion free.
“But on a functional level, to image God means at least that we possess the capacity to make sense of moral cues or moral demands. God endowed the mind to know right from wrong.”
And the fall of man has insured that fallen man will move heaven and earth to ignore what he knows is wrong and insist that instead it is right.
“Every human, even in a fallen world, has some capacity to do good. This is often referred to as common grace”
It is more accurate to say that common grace works to the end that fallen man is not as evil as he might be without common grace. This is saying something different than saying that fallen man has some capacity to do good.
One can’t depend on man to know right from wrong. That’s the problem with the article.
However, this does not mean Christians should not work for just laws and a well-ordered society. In fact, knowledge of human depravity should motivate Christians in a representative republic to fight for a government that promotes God’s law. And we should do this for several reasons.
This is true
Second, it is fictitious to assume that laws are amoral. Every law reflects some moral principle. Laws that govern theft, for instance, reflect the belief that private property is a moral right. Laws that govern food safety reflect the belief that corporations that sell food to the public should care about the health of the consumer. Laws that prohibit human slavery reflect the belief that humans possess inherent dignity. Each of these principles terminates at a particular goal: affirming that which is good, and shunning that which is evil.
The following scripture throws everyone into thinking that the conscience can be trusted:
“Not only that, he says that these practices are known to be immoral because they violate “the law … written on their hearts” (Romans 2:15, ESV). The “conscience also bears witness” to God’s moral law. The fact that mankind is mired in sin does not excuse anyone from knowing or doing what their God-given conscience knows to be good or bad.”
Is Natural Law … Legitimate?
14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.
This text is probably the main text that is seized upon by Natural Law theorists to justify the Natural law project. I hope to show in what follows that the text does not support the whole Natural Law project. The reason that I am pursuing this here is due to the fact that among some Reformed Churches, Jesuit trained scholars are seeking to revive the Natural Law tradition within the Reformed Church. One would have thought that given the thorough thrashing that the presuppositionalists in the 20th century gave to Natural theology and by extension Natural Law that this would be a battle that would not need to be fought again but alas memories are even shorter than lifespans.
From the passage above the Natural Law theorist posit three truths about the text that just are not so.
1.) Natural Law theorists are convinced that the text is a universal given for all men
2.) The word Law in vs. 15 is a reference to Natural Law or Laws found in nature.
3.) The Natural Law(s) are written in the hearts of all men
The background of this passage finds the Apostle making the case that fallen men will not be able to use the excuse of a lack of revelation for their insistence that they do not know God. This is due to the reason that the Gentiles have suppressed the truth of God’s revelation in unrighteousness and chose to worship the creation over the Creator.
The basis of God’s condemnation of the wicked is that they are ungodly and unrighteous, having inherited original sin and they are condemned having been imputed with the sin of Adam. The refusal to receive the message of General Revelation which teaches that there is a God and that man is condemned only ratifies the condemnation that fallen man is born under and with.
Some of these that come under God’s condemnation are those who have never heard of God’s Law (Torah). Yet, even these are condemned for
all who have sinned without the Torah will also perish without the Torah; and all who who have sinned under the Torah will be judged by the Torah. (Romans 2:12)
It is important to point out here that the “Torah” (Law) mentioned here is not reducible to the Decalogue. The Torah includes all of the Law in all of its detail that God gave to Israel. John Murray could comment on this text by offering,
“The law referred to is definite and can be none other than the law of God specified in the preceding verses as the laws which the Gentiles do not have, the law the Jews did have and under which they were, the law by which men will be condemned in the day of judgment.”
This is important to note because our Natural Law friends want to reduce the Law in Romans 2 to the Decalogue and they want to contend that the Gentiles did have the Law being referred to here if only as given by a different delivery system (Natural Law). The Law that the Apostle refers to here is a law that governed how one’s hair was cut, how one’s crops were planted, how sin was to be punished, etc. It was the whole Torah system. To assume that the law that is referred to in Romans 2 is only the Ten Commandments is to import something to the text that is not there. Clearly it is easier to make a case that Natural Law communicates that Murder is wrong. It is more difficult to contend that Natural Law teaches that if an animal gores and kills somebody it must be stoned. By reducing what the Torah is in Romans 2 the Natural Law aficionado makes it easier to successfully make his case.