Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Legality and Morality
St. Paul says all things may be possible but not all things are beneficial (wholesome, salutary, and God-pleasing). I Corinthians 10:23 Jesus suggests exactly that which He is quizzed about divorce. Why did Moses permit divorce? Well, it was not God's will or intention but the hardness of hearts of the people. It was "legal" in the sense that divorce (under certain circumstances) had been permitted by Moses but it did not and does not mean that divorce is moral. We tend to think it is immoral for us to be unhappy but morality has a higher test than our pleasure.
The Law of God tells us in no uncertain terms what is moral, what is right, what is true, what is God's will... We have tried for millenia to weasel out of these commands and seek our own way. Most recently we have become antinomians who forget the Law because we possess the Gospel and usually end up with a principle of love that trumps all the thou shalt nots of the Scriptures.
We don't need to fret so much that legality and morality are now in conflict. They have often been, perhaps it is even typical that what we say is legal is neither godly nor salutary according to God's command or His promise. That which is legal is a cop out and one which Jesus did not fail to condemn among the Pharisees who sought the cover of legality over the morality of heart and will that is in accord with God's heart and His will. We do not have to choose. We have a higher cause that always trumps which is acceptable, legal, or normal. The Law of God is good and wise and sets His will before our eyes, shows us the way of righteousness, and dooms to death when we transgress.
The ultimate verdict is not what legislatures or councils or congress passes OR what courts define as legal. The ultimate verdict is not what is legal but what is moral, what is God-pleasing, what is salutary, what is good, and what is God's will. We may live in an age when this is more apparent than at other times but it has always been true and the people of God has always lived within this tension.