Friday, October 5, 2012

Do You Think Legality Is Different from Morality?




"Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."  2 Cor 3:6
The issue of legality could be overly stretched out. People make the mistake of thinking that what is legal is ultimately what is moral. To lay the foundation, I will define both terms. The Free Dictionary defines legality as “Adherence to or observance of the law”[1] and morality as “The quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct.”[2] Only the person with a perfect conduct or ability to keep the law can set the rudiments for good conduct. Thence comes God. When there is no law against or for something, there is no talking about legality, for legality only comes when there is a law.  There was no law that established slavery, Apartheid or racism. Until the time that there was a law, that was the time that slavery, Apartheid and racism would be judged as fulfilling or lacking legality.  However, I do agree that the fact that there is no law that prohibits or allows an act does not mean that that thing is moral.
Syneidesis does play in whether there is a law or not and there, categorizes the act as moral or immoral. At times, something illegal may not necessarily be immoral. For example; when the government bans street preaching, it becomes illegal to preach in the street. Although it is against the law, it is not immoral. Immorality is interwoven with the fabric of divine law and conscience. God decides what is morally wrong and what is morally right. For instance, when Rehab lied to the guards about the two spies, it was against the law, but it was not morally wrong because God did not condemn her. He looked at the uberrima fides and sumom bonum of the act. Rather than condemn her, she is extoled and inducted  into the Hall of Faith (Heb 11:31). Another example; it is morally wrong in every sense of it to practice homosexuality, but it is not legally wrong because the law allows them to do so. 
Anti-miscegenation laws were legal but immoral because although it was against the law for a Negro to marry a white woman, God had not prohibited such a thing. Even though an act could be legal or illegal, it does not mean that it is immoral.
This begs the question then "what about the definition of sin which is breaking the law?" John said: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law (I John 3:4).” Like I said before, once the law is the law of man, it cannot serve as the foundation for morality because the law of man is not perfect. Euthanasia is legal, but it is immoral because God does not promote assisted killing. Permit me to restate Romans 7:7 again.
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. (Rom 7:7).
Before there was a law against covetousness, those who committed covetousness were not held accountable because there was no law that they had to break. Let us look at societies which condemn nudity. When there was no law condemning nudity, the people walked naked, but no one judged or faulted them until there was a law against one. 
What is morally wrong is inherently sinful because sin is missing the mark, and the basis for our morals is the Ten Commandments.  One would have loved to ask if it means that there was no sin without the Ten Commandments. No, it was because what the Ten Commandments did was take the law from our hearts and put it on paper in a way that we can now visualize it. The law was written in the hearts of all men (ECCL 3:11).  Let me give you an example. Before countries wrote their penal codes, they instinctively knew that murder and adultery were morally wrong.  That is because the laws against murder and adultery are written in the hearts of all humans.
Let us show the imperfection of the human law with the United States as case study. A black man killed a white man for self-defense, he is serving jail time, but the white man killed a black man for self-defense that did not even exist, but he is still out on bond. The reason too why the human law is imperfect is because of the means through which the conviction is gotten. The most recent case is Boston state chemist: Annie Dookhan who faked criminal drug test results she conducted during her 9 years at the lab. She used to alter the test results and made them positive just to convict the people she wanted to be convicted.[3] 

Until then, I hope what is legal does not necessarily mean it is morally right or wrong.

St Arrey of Ntenako.
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