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Knowing difference between just and unjust laws Print
Letters to the editor
Thursday, Jul. 17, 2014 -- 12:00 AM

To the editor:

What is a just law? In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which had passed in the Senate by a vote of 85-14 and in the House of Representatives by a vote of 342-67.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, struck down a major portion of DOMA, which has led to an onslaught of federal judges striking down DOMA laws in many states, including Wisconsin. Which action was just?

In 1963, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote a letter from his Birmingham jail cell in which he talked about just and unjust laws. The great civil rights leader quoted from St. Augustine, “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Reverend King knew the difference between just and unjust laws. “A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.”

In Scripture from Genesis 3:24, it says, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.”

And from Matthew 19:4-6, when Jesus addresses a question regarding divorce, it says, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female . . . For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

Clearly DOMA and the states which passed their own DOMA laws were “just” according to the reasoning used by Dr. King. Nothing in Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and natural law would allow same-sex marriage. Our Declaration of Independence and Constitution that forms the basis for our government were deeply influenced by biblical religion. As Joseph Bottum in his book, An Anxious Age, writes, “The religion of the West gave the West a belief in a God who is distinct from and above any human, or social structure, or nation. It gave us an understanding of obligations to that God which are also distinct from and above the obligations to society and state . . .

“Most of all, biblical religion gave us an understanding of the world in which each of us — by ourselves, without the support of our nations or our families — will be judged for our thoughts and words, for what we have done and what we have failed to do. Together these are the beliefs that created, and grounded, the concepts at the core of the American democratic experiment.”

The U.S. Supreme Court and federal judges like Barbara Crabb have overstepped their authority. God is the author of all human life, and he defines the nature and definition of marriage.

Patrick Hardyman, Blanchardville

 
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