How does law come to be?I am thinking here more specifically of moral law. From what are the “do’s and don’t’s” of morality formed?
The ethics of various institutional religions may vary in certain details but basically they address the same issues of being human in this world. In Christianity the teaching that comes from You combined with the older Judaic traditions of moral law are the foundation. Morality and church law are based on it. But as we move along through the centuries how is that law affected by the flow of life? Mark Twain once wrote that, “...custom supersedes all forms of law.” There’s something to be said about this.
First of all there’s truth in it because life on this planet does evolve and change; and, second, institutional religion always seems very slow and cautious in recognizing this. The purpose of any law is to protect something. As life evolves new things need to be protected. As the life of the spirit evolves, this is also true. People, over time, form certain habits of protecting the mind, body, and spirit. These habits become widely recognized and accepted. They become custom. If the demand for accepting the custom is wide-spread, emphatic, and pragmatic it often becomes a law – thus bearing out Twain’s observation.
But it’s not exactly the same with moral law and church law. The situations of modern life, like the ongoing innovations in the field of electronics, have ever-speedier attrition rates as life speeds forward. The ethics of these situations seem more and more to be affected by custom, whether or not the customs become law. In moral terms the dilemma is magnified by trying to determine what, against custom, and what, against law, is sin? There is only one path for uncomplicating the whole matter in spiritual terms: prayer to know God’s will and courage to act on it.
St. Paul in Galatians says, “...love joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – against such there is no law.”