Law as a Guide to Freedom

Man, when perfected, is the best of all animals, but, when
separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all.
Deep within his conscience man discovers a
law… The voice of this law, ever calling him
to love and to do what is good and to avoid
evil… For man has in his heart a law written
by God… His dignity lies in observing this law
◦ GS
As it was said, all of
us deep within have
this moral compass
that directs us, calls
us to be a certain
way. In some form all
human beings know
the immutable truth,
they know the
universal principles.
This is called natural
To understand
natural law we first
need to understand
a basic concept of
what law means and
the different kinds
of Law and how it
pertains to us
Law is an ordinance of reason. The word law
derives from the Latin word which means to bind.
Now, the rule or measure of human acts is
reason; what binds a man in reference to human
acts pertains to reason
◦ For this is a true law: right reason It is in conformity
with nature
 St. Thomas
Law is an ordinance of reason for the common
good of persons in a society. Law is not directly
for the benefit of individual persons as such,
although it binds individual persons. Law is
primarily for the benefit of individuals in a group,
in a society
A law is thus an ordinance of reason for the
common good. A law is made either by the
society which it binds, or it is imposed on
that society by the public personage who has
charge of the society and authority to rule it
A law must be promulgated. That is, it must
be sufficiently announced and made known
to those upon whom it lays obligation.
Without knowledge of a law, a person cannot
be guided by it in his human acts.
The full definition
of law is: an
ordinance of
reason, made and
promulgated for
the common good
by one who has
charge of a
community or
The Church divides
Law into Four
To understand natural
law we need to have a
basic concept of
Eternal Law
As Christians we believe in divine providence
which means that we (humanity) and the universe
is governed by Divine Reason (divine plan)
Since this divine reason is eternal, being
identified with God, this law is eternal Law
This law we believe is objective, eternal and
All created realities in some way participate in
this eternal law
Human beings who are rational creatures, actively
participate in the eternal law
We participate by our intelligence and reason.
We our masters over our acts and we have the
ability to govern with a view to the true and
the good
Christian morality teaches that the eternal law
is mediated to or shared by the rational
creature (us) by natural law but there is an
entity distinction.
◦ We are not God so we are incapable of knowing God
and His reasoning perfectly
◦ But as it was already said we are made in the imago
Dei so God allows us to share actively in his wisdom
Being made in the imago
Dei, we can naturally, by
exercising our ability to
reason, bring into light
natural law
Natural Law is a reality
therefore, brought into
being through reason; it
is a work of human
intelligence as ordered
to action
So the question is by looking within and
reasoning out who we are as we have been
doing, what is it that we are conscience of?
What are we aware of and what do we do with
this knowledge?
We can ask, what is our relationship with
ourselves, the world, other people, and with
God as we see Adam doing in Genesis.
So again this becomes a pursuit in which we
are seeking meaning in our existence by
simply understanding the basic precepts of
being human
The first principle starts with what we have
learned about Adam. Just as Adam became
aware of his being and just like we are very much
aware of our own individual existence this is
where we start since this is the first thing that
our intellect grasps
Now “being” (life) is a good thing so the first
principle is to understand the good
This is where practical reasoning comes in with
natural law—we are seeking what-is-to-be-done
Logically it should be obvious for us because of
natural law to do the good, pursue it and avoid
“Do good, avoid evil” is
the first moral principle
in natural law
This precept is the root in
which all other principles
grow out of
As we grow in awareness
of ourselves, what is
good and what is evil
becomes more apparent
or at least that is the idea
The good can be
understood as those
goods which perfect
us or fulfill us; evil is
what deprives us of
our perfection or
fullness. Evil is what
harms our human
So whatever it is that perfects or fulfills us
needs to be done/pursued, protected, and
Now we are not in the dark on what is good
for us because all of us have what are called
“natural inclinations” or natural impulses
We with some inward reflection can discover
this “voice” of conscience
We also discover/confirm them through
practical reasoning
To consider what is
means to be human
moral theologians have
narrowed down eight
These goods are what
they call goods of
persons, not goods for
These are the goods
that perfect us
The first four have harmony as their common
1. Self-integration or “inner peace” which consists of
harmony among our judgments, feelings and
2. Authenticity which is “peace of conscience” and
consistency between one’s self and its expression
3. Friendship and Justice which consists of peace
with others, neighborliness, etc
4. Religion and Holiness which consists of “peace
with God” or some more-than-human source of
meaning and value
This first four human goods are known as
reflexive (inward responses) because they fulfill
persons precisely insofar as they are able to
make choices and are thus capable of moral good
and evil
Choice in included in the very meaning of these
◦ Example: We choose to have friends
However these goods in themselves are not
looked upon having moral value
◦ Example: You are not an immoral person if you do not
have friends
◦ These goods do not discriminate between good or bad
 Again you have one friend or hundred
The next three are:
1. Life and health: This fulfills human persons as
bodily beings
2. Knowledge of truth and beauty: Fulfills human
persons as intelligent beings
3. Skillful work and leisure: Fulfills human persons
both body and intelligence and allows us to be
sharers in culture
The last good may be surprising because it is
in its own category and we may not think of it
as a basic good, but moral theologians see
that marriage is a basic human good:
◦ “Marriage is a basic human good, and the married
couple’s common good is, not any extrinsic end to
which marriage is instrumental, but the communion
of married life itself…couples being married, that
is, their being united as complementary, bodily
persons, so really and so completely that they are
two in one flesh…”
None of these good can be arranged in any
hierarchical order and compared or measured
with respect to each other
Each is its own category not making one
better then the other
Each one fulfills a certain dimension of our
We also cannot compare the goods that we
have with another
◦ Example: A priest vs. married couples
As the chapter is titled
Law is a guide to
freedom but for a lot of
us we do not
incorporate our
freedom being under
So the question for us
is what does freedom
actually mean?
Made in the image of
God, we are created free
We are our own power or
dominion. Our choices
and actions are our own
Freedom is what makes
us responsible for our
choices and actions,
either good or evil and
this is how we shape our
But JPII warned “when
freedom does not have
purpose, when it does not
wish to know anything
about the…law engraved
in the hearts of men and
women, when it does not
listen to the voice of
conscience, it turns
against humanity and
therefore does
not mean that “I
can do whatever I
Freedom is given
to us so we can
become the
people we are
meant to be
freedom enables
us to love
There are other
opinions on freedom
that fall under this
“deterministic view”
that denies that
humans have the
power to choose:
◦ Freud’s theories on
◦ Behaviorism
◦ Sociology
Freud’s view on the person
is fundamentally biological,
meaning he is a materialist
even though he is a
“scientist” of the “mind”
His key premise is the
reality of the unconscious
(the dark and murky realm
of our minds)
To Freud, the transparent
realm, the light of
introspection illuminated
by conscience is only a
small part of our mind
Our decision
making/behavior according
to Freudian theory
ultimately stems from
forces which are biological
deep within our
We are mechanically
determined by our
biological makeup and
So freedom becomes
nonexistent in Freud’s
Understanding the subconscious of Freud we
have to consider his theory
Freud developed this concept of the mind
◦ Id: the oldest region of the mind. It contains
genetic endowment. This is what we inherit like
instincts which originate in the body
◦ Ego: the part of the mind that controls voluntary
movement. Rationality resides here, perceptual
consciousness as well. The ego mediates between
the external world and the unknown world of the id.
It is developed during childhood where the parents
have a lasting effect on children
Super-ego: This if formed from the
oedipus/electra complex which is the sexual
frustration between child and parent. Here
the moral conscience is formed
What is interesting about Freud’s view is
values are mechanically developed. There is
no real “higher” nature of man. God becomes
only the voice of the parent, mechanically
internalized to resolve sexual frustration
Behaviorism states that man is a different
animal only in the types of behavior he
Behaviorist state that man admits that he is
an animal but he also thinks that he is
“something else.” This something else is the
problem for behaviorist. This something else
is where religion comes from and
morality/values/meaning in his life even love
which all can be explained by behavior
Freedom and morality therefore is based on
behavior. There is no “higher nature”
There is no such thing as conscience—
thinking, for example, is simply “internal
speech” which can be explained by “muscular
◦ “No ghost in the machine”
 Gilbert Ryle
So the existence of feelings, sensations, ideas
are nonexistent except explained by the body
◦ The mind of the spinal cord
 B.K Skinner
Freedom according to
Skinner is reflexive (a
stimuli response) caused
by operant conditioning
◦ Positive reinforcement:
Something we will want
more of
◦ Negative reinforcement:
Something we will avoid
Freedom is a matter of
contingencies of
Extreme ideologies in
sociology state the
human beings are
not free but
determined by social
Society, family,
friends, etc. all
contribute to type of
person someone will
Assignment on page 74
Then Jesus said to the Jews
who had believed in Him, if
you continue in my word,
you are truly my disciples
and you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free
◦ John 8:31-32
And the Lord is the Spirit;
and where the Spirit of the
Lord is there is freedom
◦ 2 Corinthians 3:17
For, brothers, you were called to freedom. Only
do not use the freedom for an opening to the
flesh. But through love serve one another…now
the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which
are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness,
lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, variance,
jealousy, wrath, strife, divisions, heresies,
envying, murders, drunkenness, reveling, and
thins like these; of which I tell you beforehand, as
I also said before, that the ones practicing such
things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
◦ Galatians 5:13, 19-21
Another major problem in regards to freedom
and how it is viewed is this strong autonomous
view on the person meaning
Again this idea that “I do what I want” is in
reality a false reality
We are in a lot of ways limited in our freedom
The truth is we cannot do whatever we want
when we want or how we want
There are limitations that
are external, and internal
But first, before exampling
the limitations on freedom,
it must be understood that
freedom enables us to
develop our humanity so
we became the people God
wants us to be
Externally some people are born in poverty.
Those who are starving are not “free” to
pursue an education that can provide for
them more choices
A parent who wants to travel but has to
provide for his family is not “free” to travel
whenever they want nor spend as much
money as they want
Externally we are not always in control nor
are we free to do whatever we want due to
limitations of the world
Internally, fear or
addiction for
example can enslave
us and cause us to
loose our freedom
◦ Fear of flying can
cause someone to not
travel and be cultured
◦ Addiction to alcohol
can keep someone
from work, our
Other limits are physical limits. Not all of us
are able to become star gymnasts.
Intellectually some are limited. Not everyone
is a rocket scientists
Emotional limitations. Some people have
severe anger
Bad experiences, family, friends, etc all can
limit your freedom as well
The Church recognizes a number of
“impediments” to freedom
Ignorance: Not knowing
Inadvertence: Being distracted
Duress: Being forced to do something
Inordinate attachments: Enslaved by possessions
Habit: bad habits limit our freedom
All of these and what has been discussed
limits our freedom to live wholesome lives
It should be obvious
that our freedom is
not absolute, it is in
fact limited
Now this does not
mean that we are not
ultimately free. We
are always free but
true freedom comes
from moderation,
discipline, and is
under control
When freedom becomes
excessive, undisciplined, and
unbridled then freedom
becomes abused
When we deviate from moral
law, we violate our freedom,
we become imprisoned
within ourselves, we disrupt
relationships, and rebel
against truth
This is why morality sees morality in two
◦ Freedom of indifference
◦ Freedom of excellence
Freedom of indifference results in the idea
that we actually have a chose in choosing
against good
Freedom of excellence results from always
choosing the good