How IS Natural Law compatible with Christianity?
- God made the world and established within it a sense of order and purpose which reflects God’s will (Genesis 1).
- The motive for committing an act is important as well as the act itself (interior/exterior goods – Matthew 6v2).
- God creates all that exists, including eternal law, which is revealed in divine law found in religious scriptures and teachings, e.g. there are examples of these in the absolutist laws contained within scriptures (Exodus 20).
- People sometimes fall short of God’s purposes and sin (real/apparent goods) (John 8v1 – 11 – the adulterous woman).
- The primary precepts reflect the main purposes for humankind as outlined in religious scriptures (Genesis 1).
- It should be the goal of every human to return to God and gain eternal life (Matthew 25v31-46).
How ISN’T Natural Law compatible with Christianity?
- It conflicts with certain moral teachings: for example, Jesus said, ‘turn the other cheek’ (Matthew 5v39) whereas Natural Law would allow one to break this teaching in order to preserve one’s own life.
- Joseph Fletcher, who devised Situation Ethics, argued that in the New Testament Jesus appears to have opposed legalistic (law-based) morality. He says that people are more important than rules, e.g. the healing on the Sabbath (Matthew 12v10:12).
- Some religious believers would question Aquinas’ belief that there is a universal human nature; for example, gay religious believers may argue that they were created this way by God.
- Some religious denominations such as the Quakers reject the absolutist approach to ethics in favour of a more relativistic approach to issues on homosexuality.
- Some think that people perform good deeds as outlined by the precepts in Natural LAw because they believe that following these rules will gain them eternal life in heaven with God, but Jesus said that good actions should not be done for reward, but should be performed for their own sake (Matthew 6v1).
- It is based on reason and not love. Jesus, however, told people to ‘Love one another as I have loved you’ (John 13v34:35).