All created things must conform to the laws of their nature. Birds fly, dogs bark, flowers produce nectar, bees make honey. God made them that way. Human beings, too, are to observe the laws appropriate to human nature. We are made by God to behave in a rational manner, because God gave us intelligence. It is unnatural for us to behave irrationally, as though we were animals without understanding. St. Thomas Aquinas called man "a rational animal."
St. Paul throws light on this in today's Epistle when he says: "We are debtors, not to the flesh, that we should live according to the flesh, for if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the flesh, you will live" (Romans 8:12,13). Of course, when St. Paul speaks of the spiritual, he is talking about something not strictly due to human nature, but a gift bestowed by God, raising man to the level of the supernatural. "You have received a spirit of adoption as sons, by virtue of which we cry, 'Abba! Father!'" (Romans 8:15). Thus the man who sins, not only goes against his own nature, but offends God and loses supernatural life.
God's Law within our hearts helping us to judge the goodness or the sinfulness of our actions is called conscience. St. Paul says that even the pagans "show the work of the Law written in their hearts" (Romans 2:15). God's Laws are not arbitrary rules, but are based on the nature of things. The Eternal Law is God's very nature - Goodness, Truth and Love - which is reflected in human nature as Natural Law."The natural law is simply the rational creature's participation in the eternal law" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I-II, q. 91, art. 2). Because we are made in the image and likeness of God, we must act according to the Natural Law. And if that was not clear enough for a fallen humanity, God spelled it out for us in the Ten Commandments, so that when our governments enact laws they have the Commandments to guide them.
Pope Leo XIII explains the true origin and function of human laws:
"Of the laws enacted by men, some are concerned with what is good or bad by its very nature; and they command men to follow after what is right and to shun what is wrong, adding at the same time a suitable sanction. But such laws by no means derive their origin from civil society, because, just as civil society did not create human nature, so neither can it be said to be the author of the good which befits human nature, or of the evil which is contrary to it. Laws come before men live together in society, and have their origin in the natural law, and consequently in the eternal, …the binding force of human laws is in this, that they are to be regarded as applications of the eternal law, and incapable of sanctioning anything which is not contained in the eternal law, as in the principle of all law" (Libertas Praestantissimum, June 20, 1888).
What we must conclude is that human laws that flow from governments that have detached themselves from obedience to God are really lawlessness, even though the form of law is retained. Laws that do not derive from the Natural Law are rootless and sterile, leading only to chaos and slavery in the end. Men become a law unto themselves, creating laws that contradict the Commandments of God. In the name of law, unborn babies are killed in their mothers' wombs, the weak and helpless are starved to death, the sacred bond of marriage is severed by the divorce courts, while persons of the same sex are "married," and preachers are charged with "hate crimes" for preaching the Gospel. Thus God's Commandments are displaced by the unlawful desires of a disobedient generation.
But such manmade laws have no binding force, and they must not be obeyed. No one has the right to do wrong, since evil is unnatural. The Natural Law cannot be repealed by worldly legislators. Our courts, though they be labeled "supreme," cannot sit in judgment over God's Laws. Governments that repeal God's Laws lose whatever authority they may have had in the beginning. Christ Himself condemns those who make void the commandments of God: "You make void the commandment of God by your tradition, which you have handed down," He says in Mark 7:13. "Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For amen I say to you, till Heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall be lost from the Law till all things have been accomplished" (Matthew 5:17,18).
Only the truth can make us free. A strange thing happens when men seek freedom by withdrawing themselves from God's authority and creating their own laws. They lose the freedom they already had as children of God, and they become slaves of this world, receiving "a spirit of bondage so as to be again in fear," as St. Paul says in Romans 8:15. The false religions enslave the peoples of the world preventing most of them from hearing the word that could set them free - the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The world itself is in bondage for fear of "jihad." True Religion is persecuted and eclipsed. Political and economic slavery afflict the millions, keeping them in poverty and debt all the days of their lives. A corrupt education system ensures that our children will grow up morally bankrupt and in ignorance of the truth, while the media offer us "bread and circuses" to keep our minds centered on the things of the flesh. Meanwhile, the tentacles of a tyrannous one-world government reach out to strangle us. Only God can help us.
"Love God, and do what you will," says St. Augustine, meaning that those who love God are happy to obey Him. St. John tells us that God's Laws are not burdensome: "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. And everyone who loves Him who begot, loves also the one begotten of Him. In this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and do His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:1-3).
"My son," says Ecclesiasticus, "when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials. Be sincere of heart and steadfast, undisturbed in time of adversity. Cling to Him, forsake Him not; thus will your future be great. Accept whatever befalls you, in crushing misfortune be patient; for in fire gold is tested, and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation. Trust God and He will help you; make straight your ways and hope in Him… Those who fear the Lord disobey not His words; those who love Him keep His ways. Those who fear the Lord seek to please Him, those who love Him are filled with His law. Those who fear the Lord prepare their hearts and humble themselves before Him. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord and not into the hands of men, for equal to His majesty is the mercy that He shows" (Ecclesiasticus 2:1-6;15-18).
"Happy are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord" (Psalm 118:1).