Law, yes; legalism, no
By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
March 29, 2011
A SIDELIGHT in the RH
Bill issue that is gaining public interest is that ordinance of the
Ayala Alabang Village that seeks to regulate the availability of
contraceptive materials. It so happens that the same ordinance is now
being copied by other barangays in Luzon, and so, the controversy
The brouhaha actually
surfaces a more important aspect of life, and that is none other than
the interplay between legality and morality, manís laws and Godís
laws. This is an area prone to a lot of problems.
For one, there is an
emerging attitude of considering any reference to God in the making of
our laws as completely out of place. How this mindset came to be is
quite a mystery to me, since as far as I can see, the ultimate basis
of our laws should be Godís laws.
Of course, we are now
in some secularized and Godless world, and thus, we should not be all
too surprised when we meet anomalies like this not only in the
streets, but also in our lawmaking congresses worldwide. Some would
ask, how would we ever know that such and such is the law of God?
So, some of our legal
minds are held captive by what is known as legal positivism. Thatís
purely human law with God having no place in it. Unfortunately, in
some so-called developed countries and among some of our bright minds,
this narcissistic anomaly reigns supreme.
There are also people
who may not openly profess atheism and agnosticism, but put God in
brackets when they pursue their temporal affairs, like making laws and
ordinances. They consider God a drag, a bother or an embarrassment in
law-making. At best, they give him only some formalistic references,
but no more.
This is actually a
common problem. While we need to have law and a whole legal and
judicial system to regulate our life in society, what we donít need is
legalism, or the distortion and abuse of our man-made legal system.
We are, of course,
vulnerable to this predicament, since manís intelligence and free will
can take tortuous turns that in the end are determined by how our
heart tilts Ė either toward God or is it just stuck with our own
Apropos of this point
is what St. Paul once said about freedom: ďYou have been called unto
freedom. Only do not make freedom an occasion to the flesh, but by
charity of the spirit, serve one another.Ē (Gal 5,13) St. Peter said
something similar when he said we should not make freedom a cloak for
malice. (cfr 1 Pt 2,16)
That's why Christ told
us to be most faithful to his word. ®"Whoever relaxes one of the least
of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the
kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be
called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Mt 5,19)
When our freedom is
not acknowledged as coming from God and therefore, for God, when it is
not lived in charity for the others as God wants it, then we can make
laws and ordinances that cater to our own ideas, and not anymore
Godís, of who we are and of how we are supposed to behave, etc.
We can abuse our
freedom and use it to pursue what we want, even to the point of
disobeying God. This abuse of freedom and of the other gifts of God to
us is rampant these days. Thatís why we have many brilliant people
entangled in their own web of conceit and pride.
In this RH
Bill-related Ayala Alabang ordinance, for example, it is claimed that
some sector of the Catholic Church is imposing their option on others,
and therefore, unconstitutional.
How that conclusion
was arrived at is again a mystery to me. I suppose we can look at
things in different ways and through different lenses. If one is not
clear about the intrinsic evil of contraception, not to mention
abortion to which the RH Bill is bound to approve one day, if
experience of other countries is to be considered, then anything that
regulates or restrains the use of contraceptives would be viewed
Some so-called legal
luminaries are questioning this ordinance when in fact other RH-related
ordinances that favor contraceptives not only regulate and promote but
rather impose the use of contraceptives.
In this RH Bill
issue, we are not mainly concerned about the legalistic intricacies
involved. We are more concerned about the morality of such bill.