BY MASONIC TRAVELER
The Moral Law is a foundational aspect of the Fraternity if Freemasonry.
Anderson uses the phrase in his Constitution of 1723 without any explanation of what exactly he means in his phrasing of it. And, increasingly, it is being used as a de facto totem of decision making in violation of litigation and jurisdictional disputes. But in the modern civic age were criminal, civil, federal, and state (and lets not even get into international) laws abound we have in many ways lost sight (if ever we had a clear one) of what exactly the ideas were behind the linking of the “Moral Laws” to the fraternity. The source is ancient without a doubt, and most likely a challenge to come to any consensus over. Is the Moral Law from a religious perspective, as in given to man by the Great Architect, or a man-made law constructed with religious ideas but applied in a humanistic manner to apply to our interaction with one another. And then, how does it apply to Masonry? Is it a religious injunction or an instruction for how to behave?
At the root are the question then is what the Moral Law is and what is its purpose to be invoked in any decision making.
The first step to see it at the time when it was adopted by Freemasonry is to trace the idea though the ages, and it’s clear that the idea of a moral law has been around for some time. Before we get to these first steps, however, perhaps we should explore what exactly the moral law is.
From Wikipedia, Natural Law is defined as:
Natural law or the law of nature (Latin: lex naturalis) has been described as a law whose content is set by nature and that therefore has validity everywhere. As classically used, natural law refers to the use of reason to analyze human nature and deduce binding rules of moral behavior. The phrase natural law is opposed to the positive law (meaning “man-made law”, not “good law”; cf. posit) of a given political community, society, or nation-state, and thus can function as a standard by which to criticize that law. In natural law jurisprudence, on the other hand, the content of positive law cannot be known without some reference to the natural law (or something like it). Used in this way, natural law can be invoked to criticize decisions about the statutes, but less so to criticize the law itself. Some use natural law synonymously with natural justice or natural right (Latin: ius naturale), although most contemporary political and legal theorists separate the two.
It likens the essence of the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence to the ideas of the Natural Law, something any American reading should be intimately familiar with.