On Laws: Nature Says So vs “We Say So”

Our state legislature is now in session, with 500+ new bills under consideration. What will they pass, and how many of them do we actually need?

We are awash in laws. Every excursion from home crosses hundreds of them. While many are well-intentioned, others are inane. Law figures prominently into two current issues: the clash on same-sex marriage and so-called anti-discrimination legislation.

Not all “law” is logical or good. Some laws are obvious; they defy argument because everyone accepts them as wise and necessary. Others are arbitrarily forced on us by authorities that demand obedience “because we say so”.

Natural laws deal with what is true in any timeframe, circumstance, and culture. They condemn actions like theft, murder, and rape. Logic and reason tell every culture that these things are wrong. Natural laws give us freedom by telling us what is universally unacceptable. We then have liberty in all else, providing we do not infringe on the rights of others. Serious consequences result if natural laws are violated.

Natural laws apply to everyone; their built-in supremacy clause trumps all man-made laws. Prominent Founder James Wilson explained, “The Law of Nature is immutable…because it has its foundation in the natural constitution and mutual relations of men and things.” These moral forces are the “self-evident truths” Thomas Jefferson recorded in the Declaration of Independence.

Natural laws are as old as time. The great Roman statesman, Cicero, circa 100 BC, explained: “True law is right reason in agreement with nature…it is of universal application…(and) is impossible to abolish.” John Locke, whose “Second Treatise of Government” has inspired freedom planners for ages, taught natural law as the foundation of universal morality. Through the centuries, other great minds— Aquinas in Italy, Grotius in Holland, Suarez in Spain, Hobbes in England—have agreed.

The opposite of natural law is posit law, written by governments because they want to, and presented as arbitrary. Examples include zoning requirements, license laws, and property controls. These laws assume we are incompetent, and they stem from man-made authority that requires obedience. While natural law gets its authority from God, posit law is backed by force and threatened punishment. Natural laws freely invite acceptance and practice; posit laws need a bureaucracy for enforcement. Natural law is self-limiting, while posit law usurps and is greedy: the more it has, the more it wants. Posit laws may ignore reason; natural laws cannot. They can criminalize what is not criminal, condemn what may not deserve condemnation, and regulate by requiring government permission to proceed.

While posit law is not always bad, it can be unnecessary, costly, burdensome, and frustrating. Carry it too far and you dance with Lenin’s definition of communism: “(P)ower based upon force and limited to nothing, by no kind of law and absolutely no set rule.”

These two forms of law surround both same sex marriage and anti-discrimination legislation, which forces our property use and business practices. Both practices violate natural law; both are enveloped by posit law. Heterosexual marriage—the marriage of natural law—has been practiced by every culture, in every timeframe and in every national circumstance. If not so, we would not have survived, as heterosexual unions are mandatory to continue every animal species. Heterosexuality is the pattern for our planet. Also inherent in natural law are the rights violated by anti-discrimination legislation: the freedom to express ourselves, believe what we choose, determine with whom we will and will not do business, and how we will control our property.

Only posit law forces unnatural regulations and relationships on society and demands that we service them. Natural laws—laws that are “right reason in agreement with nature”—prevent harm; they do not cause it by forcing acceptance and association. There are some things that cannot yield to posit law. Our lawmakers need to know that the two above mentioned items are among them. Please tell them so.

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