I am not a theologian or a lawyer but can’t get this subject off my mind. It has been said that a good writer always writes about those things he knows about which makes my writing about this even more puzzling. I can read and the tools of the digital age allow me access to a great deal of information. I was drawn to this topic because of the prevailing attitude concerning Laws and Rules. I consider rules to be the children of Law and they can sometimes become a bit unruly. Then as I pondered on this sudden revelation I was drawn in even more by a news story in the Washington Post, the link will be included later in this blog.
For law to work best it must be enforceable, fair and written in such a way that it protects those values that best reflect the will of the majority. There are of course other views. I will quote from Wikipedia:
“Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. Law as a system helps regulate and ensure that a community show respect, and equality amongst themselves. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.”
I think it can be said with some confidence that the influence of religious beliefs form the basis of many secular laws that are written. Our constitution in part is written by men of religious leanings, some of which worked their way into our constitution. The point of today’s blog is the disturbing trend of people to just simply ignore the law as written because it does not fit their agenda or social needs. Again I go to Wikipedia to look at another form of law.
“Canon law is the body of laws and regulations made by ecclesiastical authority (Church leadership), for the government of a Christian organization or church and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law, or operational policy, governing the Catholic Church (both the Latin Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches), the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the individual national churches within the Anglican Communion. The way that such church law is legislated, interpreted and at times adjudicated varies widely among these three bodies of churches. In all three traditions, a canon was originally a rule adopted by a church council; these canons formed the foundation of canon law.”
Please understand that I am aware of how tedious a read this can be but I want to be accurate and fair. So we start here. Over the past few years, months, weeks and days there has been a display of open disdain for the law as written, discussed, voted on and enacted in the required manner. Immigration laws, sanctuary city laws and just recently our withdrawal from the Paris Accords. Now the Paris thing is a bit different but the response to it by certain interests fits with the direction I am going. If you don’t agree just ignore. I might add that Paris is an agreement not a Law. Here again we see that opinion is far more important than law or any agreement. We have looked at two different forms of law and now I will add a third, again from Wikipedia.
“The Seven Laws of Noah (Hebrew: שבע מצוות בני נח Sheva Mitzvot B’nei Noah), also referred to as the Noahide Laws or the Noachide Laws (from the English transliteration of the Hebrew pronunciation of “Noah”), are a set of imperatives which, according to the Talmud, were given by God as a binding set of laws for the “children of Noah” – that is, all of humanity.
Accordingly, any non-Jew who adheres to these laws because they were given by Moses is regarded as a righteous gentile, and is assured of a place in the world to come (Hebrew: עולם הבא Olam Haba), the final reward of the righteous.
The seven Noahide laws as traditionally enumerated are the following:
1 Do not deny God.
2 Do not blaspheme God.
3 Do not murder.
4 Do not engage in illicit sexual relations.
5 Do not steal.
6 Do not eat from a live animal.
7 Establish courts/legal system to ensure obedience to said laws.
According to the Talmud, the rabbis agree that the seven laws were given to the sons of Noah. However, they disagree on precisely which laws were given to Adam and Eve. Six of the seven laws are energetically derived from passages in Genesis, with the seventh being the establishing of courts.”
There is another type of law, the “Law of God”. I have used that term a time or two in different blogs and it can open a whole new subject for a blog. But let’s keep it simple.How does all of this tie together? It seems that regardless of the origin of the law we have evolved to a place in time that in some issues have no law but that of opinion, and it is divided. We choose to do that which pleases us or fits our agendas, which begs the question, why the law? This may not be the best answer but I liked the fact that it is simple and straight forward.
“Law is simply a guide for people to follow to ensure cohesion, agreement, and peace in civil and interpersonal relationships. Without an understood standard, enforced by a sovereign ruler, everyone would act according to his own whim or desire, and nothing good or worthwhile would be produced” (http://www.truegospel.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Basics.tour/ID/6/What-are-Laws-of-Kingdom.htm)
I have noted that the references to the law above are from Wikipedia, you might want to seek other definitions elsewhere. I will continue on with what I have here. At the start of this blog I pointed out that it is best to write about things you have knowledge of, my next point. For more than 34 years I identified as a United Methodist and still hold a great affection for its people. The Methodist Church today is engulfed in a difference of opinion concerning same-gender issues. I am not going to mire this blog in an argument in which I have no standing. (I am a Christian so of course I have a faith-based reason about this issue.) I intend to use this as an example of the power of Opinion over Law. I refer you to:
Book of Discipline (United Methodist)
The Book of Discipline contains the laws, rules, policies and guidelines for The United Methodist Church. Its last edition was published in 2016. Without going to the link above I pulled this out and it serves the point I wish to make.
“…….is followed by a brief history of the church, then the church constitution, and a statement concerning the doctrine and theology of the church. The Social Principles of the church follow. Finally the legislative section, by far the largest part of The Discipline, appears.”
Other denominations have similar publications that serve the same propose.The following news story is an excellent example of the issue I am writing about. Let’s be clear that this is church law, earlier I listed some secular laws that have seen challenges based on opinion. The church law contained within the Methodist Discipline states that this is not allowed and provides actions to be taken. Before we jump on my Methodist friends we should make it clear that this particular issue has risen its ugly head in many other main-line denominations. The issue here is not the same-gender thing but the this practice of discarding, ignoring, and other wise completely by-passing law in favor of an opinion is not owned by any one group or interest. The link below is the story I have referenced.
I started out with the statement that Law is an adventure in Opinion. Why is this? If we incorporate our laws into rules that reflect the Rule of Law, how is it that Opinion, secular or religious now is in many issues the ruling factor. It would seem to me that a law which has been put into place by whatever agreed process is in place and is recognized by a majority vote of the government, institution, or organization would require a similar process to change the law or rule. Do we now live in a society that simply accepts and agrees on what Opinion has the loudest backing, the most money or the ability to just accept their view as Law and to obey the law is optional based on their opinion?
I guess I have left you with more questions than answers. You might say you are confused as to where I was trying to go with this. So am I…….I leave you with this thought. If we are unable to determine when life begins and after all these years we still have a difference of opinion as to how that applies here…….then I guess all our lives are subject to the Opinions of others.