St. Thomas Aquinas
According to St. Thomas Aquinas, law is defined as an ordinance of reason that is made by him who has care of the community. Law is promulgated or made known to those who the law is made for, and it aims at the common good of the people (Aquinas, 2000). Additionally, Aquinas describes law as a given rule by which a human is induced to act or is restrained from acting.
Aquinas states that there are four kinds of law including eternal law, which was provided by God for the common good of His creation. Aquinas explicates that humanity is unable to have a full grasp of the eternal law. The second kind is the divine law, It is God’s revealed word in the holy book (the Bible), which tells people about the ultimate salvation. The third kind is the natural law, which is the participation of humankind in eternal law. This law is governed by several natural inclinations such as self-preservation, procreation and nurturing of the young ones, living in society, and acknowledging the truth regarding God (Aquinas, 2000). Therefore, Aquinas elucidates that in a bid to follow the natural law, a person must live in accordance with the mentioned natural predispositions. Consequently, he warns that any deviation from the four inclinations above is considered rebellious and only leads to suffering. The fourth kind of law is the human law, which is made by people for the common good and is considered conforming to the natural law (Davies, 2011).
The natural law can be a guide to living well through the following natural inclinations. Self-inclination refers to the commission or omission of something by an individual in order to avoid causing harm to oneself. It is the basic instinct that enables people to live a happy life. Procreation and nurturing of the offspring involve sexual intercourse among married couples with the primary aim of reproduction and taking care of children until they are all grown up (Aquinas, 2000). Living in society entails interacting with people in a peaceful manner without causing harm to others. The last natural inclination is knowing the truth about God, which is acknowledging that God exists and people are who they are because of God. Besides, this natural inclination demands that humans should recognize the role of God in their existence and the creation of heaven and earth (Davies, 2011). Notably, it is through this inclination that humankind can be able to live well.
Even if one is not religious, it is possible to take St. Thomas’ natural law theory seriously because it is basically about living well. Therefore, if one wants to live well, they do not have to be religious to rely upon the natural law. Living well essentially entails the ability to avoid causing harm to oneself and others as well as knowing and doing what is right. Besides, one does not need to be religious to acknowledge the truth about God because every human being knows the truth but it is only their choice whether to believe References
Aquinas, T. (2000). Treatise on law. (R. J. Regan, Trans.). Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing.
Davies, B. (2011). Thomas Aquinas on God and evil. Oxford and New York, NY: Oxford University Press.