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Natural law, as Locke saw it, was something above and beyond laws made by Man. "He is quite confident that civil laws do not necessarily oblige the individual conscience, but he maintains there is a law of God which forbids 'disturbance or dissolution of governments'" (Laslett, 1999, p. 35). It is interesting to note that this sort of "natural" law's premises were founded on the belief in the superior power of God, and that God, literally as well as figuratively, created governments that rule, and laws that regulated that rule. It may be obvious, then, that America's Pledge of Allegiance, refers to "one nation under God"- which seems a direct descendant of the idea of natural laws as developed in the seventeenth century, a hundred years before the idea of an American democracy became fact.

If, as one presumes from the basic definition of "natural laws", every nation -- in order to be recognized as an entity -- must be a god-fearing nation, one whose basic laws and governments are beholden upward to God, and downward to its citizens. It is also fairly obvious that God's laws cannot be repealed, or changed. Man's laws can be. We usually think of law as a rule -- a command or prohibition -- which should be obeyed, but can be disobeyed. This is, of course, the sort of civil law Locke refers to. God's law -- natural law -- is not something that can easily be disobeyed. There is a difference between legal disobedience (we certainly see it in environmentalists and conscientious objectors to war in our times) and sin, the disobeying of God's law. It seems odd, therefore, to consider dissolution of government as a disobedience, a sin, of natural, God's law.

Natural law, as Locke sees it, goes further -- in that he thinks of it as being "instinctive". It is that way when man lives in a state of nature. It is a rule of conduct which man's reason is competent to prescribe. But, this competence is governed by God's law, not man...

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JOHN LOCKE'S THEORY OF NATURAL LAW. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 07:34, February 21, 2017, from