Divine and natural law

No I understand natural law to be various sexual sins and deviant desires. Man marrying man like they want to do. Why not go all the way and man marry his dog if he is into bestiality. Anything weird anyway we know by natural law that two men cannot produce offspring. That’s an example of natural law. Now I understand divine law to be higher. What are some examples of divine law?

Is that really natural law? For example, the survival of the human race (and any species) depends on new babies being born to make up for the elderly that die. Homosexual relations cannot create new life. Thus, the “natural law” is to forbid homosexual relations, and this is what the Church follows. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

To me divine law would be requirements that don’t necessarily help us on Earth, but God commands them for the sake of love. An example here is “Survival of the Fittest”. Many people believe if a person isn’t pulling their weight, it is okay to neglect them or even kill them (euthanasia), but God teaches us that every person has value. If they are still alive, there must be a reason. We are to take care of the elderly and sickly even if they seem like “drain” on the system.

That is not the meaning of “natural law” in Catholic teaching.

That is not the meaning of “natural law” in Catholic teaching.

See also the CCC 1954-1960. Some excerpts follow:
… The natural law expresses the original moral sense which enables man to discern by reason the good and the evil, the truth and the lie…

… This law is called “natural,” not in reference to the nature of irrational beings, but because reason which decrees it properly belongs to human nature…

… in the diversity of cultures, the natural law remains as a rule that binds men among themselves and imposes on them, beyond the inevitable differences, common principles…

… The natural law, the Creator’s very good work, provides the solid foundation on which man can build the structure of moral rules to guide his choices…

… The precepts of natural law are not perceived by everyone clearly and immediately…

Yup, if I’m not mistaken, natural law is that right sense of morality that man can acquire by using his natural faculty of reason to discern what is good or evil. This means that a person could grasp this sense of morality apart from appealing to religious doctrine.

The immorality of homosexuality and bestiality indeed belongs to the scope of natural law. That is why the LGBT lobby group cannot accuse us of “imposing religion” or “arguing purely from religion,” because it can also be discerned by reason.

If I remember correctly, Divine laws are those the God positively revealed to man, such as in those found in Scriptures. Examples include the Ten Commandments or Jesus’ commands to celebrate the Eucharist etc.

Natural law and Divine law are not mutually exclusive. There can be moral laws that are both divinely revealed and can be discerned by reason. For example, the essence of the Ten Commandments can be naturally discerned by reason. This explains why even pagans know that murder, stealing, adultery, or lying are wrong, or that justice demands that we worship God or respect his parents etc.

Interestingly, the phrase “divine and natural law,” the title of this thread, appears in CCC 1955 and it does not mean two different laws! That passage and others (e.g., CCC 1965) make it clear that the natural law is divine, that is, natural law comes from God through his act of creation.
“God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)
However natural law is not the only law which is divine.

The CCC refers to the higher law as “revealed law and grace,” or elsewhere, “grace and revelation.” Revelation includes the law of the Old Testament, the teachings of Jesus, and more. The higher law also enters our minds and hearts by grace, given to us through the Sacraments, by the work of Christ, and by the work of the Holy Spirit.
1965 The New Law or the Law of the Gospel is the perfection here on earth of the divine law, natural and revealed. It is the work of Christ and is expressed particularly in the Sermon on the Mount. It is also the work of the Holy Spirit and through him it becomes the interior law of charity: “I will establish a New Covenant with the house of Israel… I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

1966 The New Law is the grace of the Holy Spirit given to the faithful through faith in Christ. It works through charity; it uses the Sermon on the Mount to teach us what must be done and makes use of the sacraments to give us the grace to do it:
[INDENT]If anyone should meditate with devotion and perspicacity on the sermon our Lord gave on the mount, as we read in the Gospel of Saint Matthew, he will doubtless find there… the perfect way of the Christian life… This sermon contains… all the precepts needed to shape one’s life.[/INDENT]
As I understand it, each of us may understand and live by the higher law if we cultivate a well-formed conscience, informed by revealed law and enlightened by grace, and if we act out of love (“the interior law of charity”).

Readers may find Fr Hardon’s Dictionary very useful.

Modern Catholic Dictionary by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
NATURAL LAW. As distinct from revealed law, it is “nothing else than the rational creature’s participation in the eternal law” (Summa Theologica, 1a, 2ae, quest. 91, art. 2). As coming from God, the natural law is what God has produced in the world of creation; as coming to human beings, it is what they know (or can know) of what God has created.

It is therefore called natural law because everyone is subject to it from birth (natio), because it contains only those duties which are derivable from human nature itself, and because, absolutely speaking, its essentials can be grasped by the unaided light of human reason.

St. Paul recognizes the existence of a natural law when he describes the moral responsibility of those ancients who did not have the benefit of Mosaic revelation. “Pagans,” he says, “ who never heard of the Law but are led by reason to do what the Law commands, may not actually ‘possess’ the Law, but they can be said to ‘be’ the Law. They can point to the substance of the Law engraved on their hearts – they can call a witness, that is, their own conscience – they have accusation and defense, that is, their own inner mental dialogue” (Romans 2:14-15).

Then there must be an too many of us that are unreasonable then. Some people don’t seem to be able to think correctly. They think immoral things are moral. And that whatever “feels” good or right is right. Like Hedonists. Homosexuality I keep bringing up because everyone seems to be able to relate to it. There must be confusion mentally for people to be attracted to the same sex or to animals for example. But people do not care if it’s illogical. They’re sex is almost if not totally out of control by craving. Instead of a purpose, we have a past time. I think common sense might need to be a “divine revelation” to some people.

Rational? Are people rational? I’ve never really considered people to be “rational” at-large. If they were they would’ve known better than to follow persons like Hitler ec cetra over the centuries. It seems like people fall for the same thing over and over again. In as far as morals especially in these days they seem to be “up in the air”. Irrationality again. Morally and in other ways. I think that man on his own is lost and without God’s intervention doesn’t know right and wrong. Maybe I’m only seeing things from a certain point of view.

billcu1 #8
Then there must be an too many of us that are unreasonable then. Some people don’t seem to be able to think correctly. They think immoral things are moral. And that whatever “feels” good or right is right. Like Hedonists. Homosexuality I keep bringing up because everyone seems to be able to relate to it. There must be confusion mentally for people to be attracted to the same sex or to animals for example. But people do not care if it’s illogical. They’re sex is almost if not totally out of control by craving. Instead of a purpose, we have a past time. I think common sense might need to be a “divine revelation” to some people.

You are correct. As you think so do you act.

But homomania is but one of a range of “inclinations” which are “objectively disordered”. Obviously, the disordered human condition is due to Original Sin and the remedy is Christ and His Church.

Msgr John F McCarthy explains:
“From Scholastic philosophy, and, in particular, from Thomistic philosophy, we know that there is a hierarchy of sciences, of which empirical science is just one. If “science” is defined merely to coincide with empirical science, there results a false concept of science and an impoverished idea of reality. Technical science, as distinguished from common sense, is “certified knowledge,” and Bultmann, in his demythologizing, assumes that only the knowledge gained from empirical science is really certified, into which he might throw historical knowledge in a broader sense. But there are other areas and levels of technical science that also give certified knowledge. Not only is there true historical science, but, in the midst of the widespread confusion and misunderstanding in the field known today as “modern philosophy,” there is still an area of true philosophical science, if one can manage to find it, and it resides in Scholastic philosophy. Again, there is still an area of theological science, and it resides today especially in Scholastic theology, and the knowledge presented in these latter two sciences is also objectively true and real. Hence, Catholic intellectuals who want to escape the dangers of Bultmannian demythologizing will do well to turn to Scholastic philosophy and theology and update it in their own minds to the best of their ability.” See: rtforum.org/lt/lt123.html

I’ve never really considered people to be “rational” at-large.

How can they be “rational” at-large, especially after the Protestant Revolt, the so-called Enlightenment and that “penetration of Modern Philosophy into the seminaries which produced a phenomenon which comes soon to receive the name of modernism.” Writing in 1978, Msgr Eugene Kevane referred to the phenomenon of Religious Modernism “in which priests and professors on the level, of Catholic higher education have been engaged for approximately 200 years.” The Faith and Theologies, in The Teaching Church in Our Time, Daughters of St Paul, 1978, p 34].

Bl John Paul II noted in Fides et Ratio, 1998:
“54. In our own century too the Magisterium has revisited the theme on a number of occasions, warning against the lure of rationalism. Here the pronouncements of Pope Saint Pius X are pertinent, stressing as they did that at the basis of Modernism were philosophical claims which were phenomenist, agnostic and immanentist.(66) Nor can the importance of the Catholic rejection of Marxist philosophy and atheistic Communism be forgotten.(67)

Bl John Paul II in Centesimus Annus, 13, 1991:
“The atheism of which we are speaking is also closely connected with the rationalism of the Enlightenment, which views human and social reality in a mechanistic way. Thus there is a denial of the supreme insight concerning man’s true greatness, his transcendence in respect to earthly realities, the contradiction in his heart between the desire for the fullness of what is good and his own inability to attain it and, above all, the need for salvation which results from this situation.”

Well I can say this from experience. After absolution and if you keep taking the Eucharist it strengthens and you get that direct connection from God again. Of course I need to get back to confession. But I’m getting ready to move soon and I will be able to faithfully go to Mass. The buses don’t run on Sundays though.

If you look at human behavior as a mass phenomenon, then it may seem irrational. However, if you were able to examine each individual, I think you would find that most persons are rational, in a fallible sort of way.

Take the people living in Germany in the time of Hitler, for example. Perhaps one man thought “The French killed my father in the Great War. I must avenge his death.” Someone else may have thought “I can’t get a job or provide for my family. We must fight or starve.” Another thought “My neighbors hate Jews. If I stand up for the rights of my Jewish friends, then my neighbors will hate me, and my children as well.” Someone else may have thought “The English are bombing us. We must defend our homeland.” And on and on.

There are many aspects to the problem. Each person has an incomplete perception and comprehension of their situation. They act on the basis of limited information which may be skewed by cultural influences and distorted by propaganda. They may have unrealistic expectations: “Don’t worry, this will be over soon, and then we can get back to our normal lives.” Many individuals may be motivated by pride and fear. Many may not have been brought up with good moral sense. They may think retribution is good. They may think the end justifies the means.

By the way, all of this applies to people on every side of the war. Don’t think the people on your side were rational and got everything right. When we begin to think the enemy is less rational than we, or has less capacity for good than we, then we become a large part of the problem.

This is not to excuse evil actions like the persecution and mass killing of Jews by Nazi Germany. My point is simply that we must try to understand our enemy, and even love our enemy as we work to halt their evil actions and restore peace.

( Now that was a little off-topic! Sorry. )

Also a good formulation:
The morality of acts is defined by the relationship of man’s freedom with the authentic good. This good is established, as the eternal law, by Divine Wisdom which orders every being towards its end: this eternal law is known both by man’s natural reason (hence it is “natural law”), and–in an integral and perfect way–by God’s supernatural Revelation (hence it is called “divine law”).
[John Paul II, *Veritatis Splendor, 1993, §72] bold added

, 1993, §72] bold added

What now exactly is eternal law? And divine wisdom. Would that be divine providence in a way? I know God’s way is better than ours.


The eternal law is God’s rule of the universe moving all things, according to His wisdom and plan, to reach their ends.
“Wisdom” refers to His capability to order and organize things.

Properties of the eternal law.

It is:

(1) the primordial law
It is the fundamental reference for all laws.

(2) the foundation of all law
All law in some way or another is founded on it.

(3) intrinsic
It orders the universe through the very nature in the things God created, in other words, internally by the very way God created things.

(4) universal
It applies to every creature.

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