“We must obey God rather than men.” -our first pope, ACTS 5:29
The voice of conscience is something we have a great responsibility to answer. It is not always right, but it should always be followed and obeyed. Thomas Aquinas says much to make sense of this in some of his Disputed Questions, and the same [supposed] dilemma is addressed by Pope John Paul the Great in The Splendor of Truth.
Certainly, the very Thomist Pope Leo XIII would agree. It would be more along the lines of the “likely never to be canonized” Thomas Hobbes to make such statements that are almost quoted in Pope Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors when it comes to government. If we read Hobbes’ Leviathan, and then read Jacques Maritain’s Man and the State, we find polar opposites in the key issue of sovereignty.
God alone is Sovereign, and no King, no congress, or any other person of people can rightly be called this. To be sovereign means to transcend and this is only possible with God. The idea of the sovereign king and the sovereign state is simply a distortion of what sovereignty actually means.
However, in our day, we have been so heavily influenced by this line of thought that we uphold the state as a God. We decide that the state is our father or mother and needs to provide for us (in the USA, we no longer live in a country based on the right to PURSUE happiness; happiness is an entitlement that the government should provide). If the state makes a law, then legal makes right and wrong. Those of us who think that right and wrong, rather, should determine what is to be legal, rather than the other way around, are looked upon as confused. Legal positivism is the way of the world, and this is acceptable because the state is now the sovereign entity.
If and when God is allowed to rule again, we will see the world move in the right direction. But we have a shorter syllabus of errors we must avoid, even when thinking this way:
- It will not lead to a Utopia, which is only reserved for those who are welcomed to Heaven.
- The phrase “when God is allowed to rule again” must be qualified: God is, no doubt, in charge, and those who fail to realize it in this life will see it with perfect clarity in the next.