A Guiding Philosophy for the South
God made the physical (material) world for a special purpose. One of the objectives of man is to discover God’s purpose for him and society. God has ordained certain physical laws to guide the physical world and man’s relationship with the physical world, certain social laws to guide man in his relationship with his fellow man and in his development of society and its institutions and laws, and certain spiritual laws to guide man in his spiritual nature and in his relationship with his Creator. Man has a duty to discover and live by these natural laws ordained by God in order to harmoniously achieve man’s purpose, i.e., God’s purpose for man.
Man lives in both a physical world and a spiritual world. He perceives the physical world primarily with his senses and the spiritual world primarily with his mind. Those ideas that are physical in nature are derived predominately as a result of matter stimulating his senses. Those ideas that are abstract in nature are derived predominately by the mind acting independently of matter. Thus, man derives knowledge through the stimulation of his senses reacting to matter and by contemplation independent of matter.
Man is a physical being, but he is not solely, or even primarily, a creature of the material world or environment. He is, to a large degree, an independent force in nature with the capacity to adapt nature to his needs. He can and must adapt nature to his needs. However, if such adaption is contrary to the natural physical or social laws, misery results. The more closely he follows the natural physical and social laws in adapting nature to his needs the happier and more harmonious his life will be. The greater the liberty that society allows man, the better able man, acting individually and socially, will be to discover and follow these natural laws.
Man is a social being. He functions better in a society with other men. No individual is greater than the society in which he lives. Likewise, no society is greater than the individuals comprising it. Men in forming a society do not create an independent organism. What is commonly called the social mind is nothing more than the consensus of those who wield the political power of the state. The individual mind can only be subordinated to the extent that might makes right. Man functions best when he lives in a society that is obedient to the natural social laws of God. These laws maximize the liberties of the individual while forcing him to respect (not trespass against) the rights (life, liberty, and property) of his fellow man. The more a society tries to reprove or refute these natural laws, the more misery the individuals comprising that society must endure — not only in the material aspects of life but also in the spiritual aspects.
Man is a moral being with a duty to carry out God’s plan (the will of God). Man has a duty to render goodness unto his fellow man and to refrain from doing evil unto him although his sinful nature often makes doing the opposite more natural. In short, man has a duty to God, himself, and his fellow man to live by the Golden Rule even (especially) when acting contrary to it seems more natural. God gave man a mind with the ability to recognize the rights of others and to decide the proper coarse of action. The more a society enables (allows) an individual to accomplish God’s plan and to live by the Golden Rule, the more that society, i.e., the individuals comprising that society, are in obedience to God’s natural laws.
Men differ from one another. Each individual is innately different from all other individuals. No two men are equal. They do not think the same on all matters. They do not act the same. What uniformity of thought and action man achieves is achieved through his social institutions and laws. Because of the innate differences among men, these institutions and laws should maximize the liberty of the individual while preventing him from violating the rights (trespassing against the life, liberty, and property) of others. The closer man’s institutions and laws approach this objective, the more they agree with natural social laws and the more harmonious and happier life will be. The further removed his institutions and laws are from natural social laws, the more deprivation and depravity members of society experience.
Man is a sinful creature. He can never be perfected by his institutions or laws — even if those institutions and laws were in perfect agreement with the laws of nature, which because of sin they can never be. For a sinful creature to try to perfect himself leads to misery and despair. (If it were not for the grace of God and the work accomplished by Christ with His crucifixion and resurrection, man would be a hopeless creature condemned to eternal misery and suffering.) Because institutions and laws do not and cannot lead to the perfectibility of man, they should emphasize preventing man from doing evil. They should avoid forcing man to do good, but they should leave him free to do his own good deeds. (A deed resulting from force can never be a truly good deed no matter how good it appears because it results either from the selfishness of fear or from indifference and not from compassion, love, or duty.) A society with such institutions will be far more prosperous and happier and spiritually healthier than one whose institutions and laws seek to perfect man and force him to do good.
Some social institutions are necessary and highly desirable while others are detrimental to man’s welfare. Those social institutions that prevent man from trespassing against the life, liberty, and property of his fellow man while leaving him free to act as he wills, subject only to his innate, spiritual, and material limitations, in all other aspects of his life are desirable and good. Those social institutions that aid man in discovering and fulfilling the will of God are desirable and good. All other social institutions should be looked upon with suspicion, and those that retard man’s spiritual or material development should be discarded.
When man and society are spiritually well and live in obedience with God’s spiritual, social, and physical laws, there is no conflict among the spiritual, social, and material. Man’s social institutions and laws will allow him the greatest amount of liberty while preventing him from violating the rights of his fellow man. To the extent that man deviates from these natural laws, is the extent that conflict and discord arises along with the concomitant misery that man has suffered since the Fall.
Copyright © 1989 by Thomas Coley Allen.
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