Religious law

We do not, in the United Kingdom, live in a “Christian country”, but in a secular country with, in England, an established church and, in Scotland, a church with constitutional rights. It is a paradox, but a necessary truth, that social goods are not delivered by religious law. Religious law (and, by inference, its penalties) are effective where compliance comes from the spirit and the heart. Societies at large are irreligious and the imposition of religious principle becomes, at best, cruelty and, at worst, tyranny. We do not need to look as far as the middle east and outside Christianity to see the obvious truth. Take, for example, unreformed Catholic Ireland where civil divorce could not be established for many years because of the extra-constitutional sway of the bishopric. People in failed and irreconcilable marriages were unable to gain some relief in law and obtain divorce, to the cruelty and oppression of many, and not just women.
We see a similar situation with the Vatican’s struggle to find a position on the use of contraceptives, searching out loopholes in the sayings of this celibate Pope and that.
The church is for the cure of souls – and adherent ones at that. Civil societies are comprised of imperfect, difficult, troubled and mostly irreligious folk and need civil remedies for social ills. The cause of public health has suffered greatly because of the celibate church’s position on procreation. What the churches tend to forget is that Christ said, “I come not to call the righteous, but sinners, to salvation”. He as said that unto Caesar should be rendered the things that were Caesar’s, that the Kingdoms of Heaven and of earth are different and separate.
The only rule is that we love our neighbours and, if we find ways to remove disease, hardship and oppression from their lives, these would be the fruits of the perfect Spirit in an imperfect world.


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