natural law

I know we look to natural law. But can it be trusted? In Romans IIRC and if I am not misunderstanding; all creation groans because of the fall of man. Jesus has instituted something here. But it is far from complete. The damage that has been done and corruption that exists; isn’t going away overnight. I have been looking at this idea of “Gender Neutral” restrooms and I am confused. Neutral is an adjective modifying a noun much like an article would. Those who are “Gender Neutral” are by no means neutral. I have never seen in nature a male feeling like a female. And it being normal anyway. But politics has to weird out everything. :shrug: The 2 definitions I get for Neutral do NOT describe those wanting unisex restrooms. These poor kids. They’re not going to know if they’re coming or going.

So I ask for thoughts on nature, natural law, reasoning and linguistics canon law and anything other thoughts. :slight_smile:

Is natural law trustworthy since sin? Or am I misunderstanding natural law.

Natural Law is “a law that is in principle accessible to human reason and not dependent on (though entirely compatible with and, indeed, illumined by) divine revelation.” (The Clash of Orthodoxies, Professor Robert P George (Princeton),2001, p 169).

So that’s where you have to start – with reason. Fides et ratio will complete the equation.

There is general agreement that human nature is, in significant respects, indeterminate, unchanging, and structured. The objection that the idea of natural law is incompatible with a legitimate range of human freedom, ways of life, and diversity of choices presupposes a moral obligation to respect freedom and diversity as a matter not of mere convention, but of natural justice or natural rights. It is because human beings can act upon reasons provided by the basic goods of human nature that they possess the capacity for free choice, and are capable of understanding the moral law, a law of practical reasonableness, constituted by principles of right reason in practical affairs.

Those who understand the natural moral law do maintain, however, that on certain fundamental moral and political issues, there are uniquely correct answers. They cite the human rights against being enslaved, for example, or being punished for one’s religious beliefs, and against deliberate feticide and other forms of direct killing of innocent persons. On matters such as these, errors of reason must be responsible for anyone’s failure to arrive at the morally correct positions. Possible roots of such errors include prejudice which may be pervasive in a culture or sub-culture and also, logical failures or other errors in the reasoning process which can cloud judgment as in any other field of inquiry. Ignorance of, or inattention to, relevant facts or values may result in error.

Take an example:
Fr Harvey (The Truth About Homosexulaity, Ignatius, 1990, p 134-138) shows that the act of homosexual intercourse lacks the two components that make sexual intercourse natural:

  1. The gastrointestinal tract is a hole running through the body – oral or anal intercourse remains on the surface and is not inside the human being in the way that vaginal intercourse is about a real physical union.
  2. Since the homosexual act cannot be procreative it cannot unify those engaged in it by tending toward a child who will have characteristics of both parents.

Homosexual acts are ipso facto unnatural – against the natural moral law.

Hum. Very good. You are speaking of the “Alimentary canal” which runs through the entire body, I do not quite understand what you mean by on the “surface” and “inside”. When you refer to oral and anal intercourse which is I believe wrong for Catholics because of Humana vitae if I am correct. I may not be. I would think the error of homosexuality would be “self evident.”


Natural law, as a subset of Divine Law, is trustworthy. Human interpretation of it may not be. Which is why we need the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, to help us arrive at a trustworthy interpretation.

Or am I misunderstanding natural law.

I cannot tell from what was written, as it didn’t seem to identify the natural law that might be invoked.

So is all the church teaches and believes about natural law, since we need the church to reveal it infallible? Whether or not there is an official ex cathedra declaration?

The concept of a natural law is philosophically bizarre to me. I haven’t come across any compelling evidence for it that can’t be explained in simpler ways.

I don’t know if I understand what you are saying. What would be a simpler explaination?

Christi pax,


Yes, that was a bad post on my part. Let me have another go at it.

The concept of a natural law is philosophically bizarre to me. I haven’t come across any compelling evidence for it, and generally think arguments that rely on it fail for that reason.

billcu1 #5

So is all the church teaches and believes about natural law, since we need the church to reveal it infallible?

We don’t need the Church to “reveal” the natural law – it was understood very long ago. St Paul refers to a law “written on the heart” which informs the consciences of even the Gentiles who do not have the revealed law of Moses to guide them. (Rom 2:14-15).

The Roman philosopher Cicero (died 43 B.C.) wrote in* De Republica*, 3.22: “True law is right reason in agreement with nature. It is of universal application, unchanging, everlasting. We cannot be freed from it by Senate or people. This law is not one thing at Rome and another at Athens, but is eternal and immutable, valid for all nations and for all times. God is the Author of it, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge. Whoever is disobedient to it is abandoning his true self and denying his own nature.”

Roman jurist Domitius Ulpianus (c. 160 A.D. - 228 A.D.) had said, “by the law of nature all men are equal.”—Digest, L, 17.32; and “natural law regards all men as equal”—On Sabinus, Book XLIII.

The natural law means that if you want things to prosper, you have to use them in accord with their nature. If you want to grow good tomatoes, you have to treat tomato plants in accord with their nature. You have to give them sunshine and water and fertilizer and a good soil. It is something that man can discover by the basis of his own reason, if his understanding is not obscured by his culture – which happens to be in turmoil through relativism and selfism.

For those seriously interested, the following extensive article is fabulous…
Address of Papal Theologian on Natural Moral Law
“The Moral Natural Law: Problems and Prospects,”
Rome, Feb. 24, 2007 (
“There is a rapid decline of appreciation of basic moral truths and of the capacity of seeing what is obvious, in the name of that which is fleeting, ephemeral, and therefore not intrinsically binding. Will the social and political approval of gay marriages, of the adoption of children by gays and lesbians, of divorce, of contraception, abortion, euthanasia, the manipulation of embryos and laissez-faire theories of education finally arrive at the point of total absurdity, causing as a backlash a desperate return to rationality in ethics? We may certainly hope so in our wishful thinking, but for a few generations, the return to moral sanity may turn out to be too late.”

What is at stake is the essence of the law of nature or the natural moral law. The objective is to be able to answer all of the commonly held and promoted false opinions on abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, IVF, stem cell research (SCR) and more, on the basis of human reason. Doctrine enables us to be infallibly certain of what reason upholds, for it is false reasoning and/or uncontrolled emotions and wills, which have produced so many terrible assaults on mankind since time began.

Once again we see that the principle that good ought to be done and evil avoided is written on the heart, and the papal theologian gives us the reason why, through the fudging of “obvious” morality by a wilful attention instead to the bizarre, this natural law is wilfully avoided. (So is faith by dissenters).

In agreement with nature? Isn’t nature fallen too?

You have a dead link there.

I have no idea how you got this from what I posted. Below is a portion of the Church’s teaching on natural law (which ought not be confused with the laws of nature).

[quote=CCC]1955 The natural law states the first and essential precepts which govern the moral life. It hinges upon the desire for God and submission to him, who is the source and judge of all that is good, as well as upon the sense that the other is one’s equal. Its principal precepts are expressed in the Decalogue. 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:

Where then are these rules written, if not in the book of that light we call the truth? In it is written every just law; from it the law passes into the heart of the man who does justice, not that it migrates into it, but that it places its imprint on it, like a seal on a ring that passes onto wax, without leaving the ring.7 The natural law is nothing other than the light of understanding placed in us by God; through it we know what we must do and what we must avoid. God has given this light or law at the creation.8
1956 The natural law, present in the heart of each man and established by reason, is universal in its precepts and its authority extends to all men. It expresses the dignity of the person and determines the basis for his fundamental rights and duties:

For there is a true law: right reason. It is in conformity with nature, is diffused among all men, and is immutable and eternal; its orders summon to duty; its prohibitions turn away from offense . . . . To replace it with a contrary law is a sacrilege; failure to apply even one of its provisions is forbidden; no one can abrogate it entirely.9
1957 Application of the natural law varies greatly; it can demand reflection that takes account of various conditions of life according to places, times, and circumstances. Nevertheless, 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.

1958 The natural law is immutable and permanent throughout the variations of history;10 it subsists under the flux of ideas and customs and supports their progress. The rules that express it remain substantially valid. Even when it is rejected in its very principles, it cannot be destroyed or removed from the heart of man. It always rises again in the life of individuals and societies:

Theft is surely punished by your law, O Lord, and by the law that is written in the human heart, the law that iniquity itself does not efface.11
1959 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. It also provides the indispensable moral foundation for building the human community. Finally, it provides the necessary basis for the civil law with which it is connected, whether by a reflection that draws conclusions from its principles, or by additions of a positive and juridical nature.

1960 The precepts of natural law are not perceived by everyone clearly and immediately. In the present situation sinful man needs grace and revelation so moral and religious truths may be known "by everyone with facility, with firm certainty and with no admixture of error."12 The natural law provides revealed law and grace with a foundation prepared by God and in accordance with the work of the Spirit.


billcu1 #11
You have a dead link there.

Simple: the title in Google “The Moral Natural Law: Problems and Prospects,”
Rome, Feb. 24, 2007
, finds:

I think the Bible is written from a standpoint or opinion that there is a rational self-evident law of God. Cain kills Abel, and we just “know” that that was evil. That’s self-evident from scripture, I guess. Now, if Cain had killed Abel in self-defense, that might be natural law, too, but I don’t think it’s so obvious.

Having respect for the environment might today be considered a natural law, but I never heard of it expounded before. So, in that sense, I don’t trust the Church to have an exhaustive understanding of natural law.

I don’t know if natural law can handle DNA mutations, for example. DNA mutations are as natural as anything can get, but they are not always good. But, if God allows mutations, then must they be good, after all?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit