Divine Power Vs. Societal Law Essay, Research Paper
Divine Power vs. Societal Law
Mankind is lost without law. Without law, government, and rules, there is chaos. Man attempts to keep order with rules that basically seek to maintain everyone s happiness and security. These manmade laws, however, cannot always keep people controlled. Since time began, man has worshipped symbols of ultimate power. Mankind, in its imperfection, makes these idols perfect, immortal, and divine. The divine beings have laws, laws that tell people what they should do, tell people the way things should be done and the way things should be. However, divine laws often contradict the laws that society creates for itself.
Conflict between divine and societal laws is shown in the Greek drama Antigone. Divine law required Antigone to perform a religious burial for her brother Polyneices. The king, however, had decreed that no one was permitted to bury or mourn him as a result of his traitorous deed. Antigone, with little hesitation, did the will of the gods and buried Polyneices. In so doing, she transgressed the king s law. Divine law is far more compelling than temporal law. It affects the believer forever as opposed to one s miniscule lifetime. Divine law is not necessarily a matter of fairness, but a matter of what is right.
To the believer, man s government has no power compared to the power of the divine. It is feeble, insignificant, with no real purpose other than preventing savagery and civil disorder. Humans try to prevent evil and have sameness and equality while the immortal try to cause humans to bring about goodness, kindness, and happiness. Furthermore, all the leaders of today s world will someday die. The immortal, as the word intends, cannot perish. They have the power to bring about good fortune to their followers and visit wrath upon their betrayers.
Divine law is eternal, as opposed to societal law, which only influences one s biological lifetime. This is another factor that contributes to the idea that divine laws hold greater importance than earthly laws. If a man conducts his life obeying all the laws of his community, but never has any will to do the favor of the immortal, he shall not live on beyond the grave. If he lives his life, however, standing up for the divine being that he believes in, even perhaps disobeying man s law to obey the law of his god, and going against authorities who say he must do otherwise, he may be rewarded with a heavenly afterlife. It would be illogical for believers to make laws that would counter the way to eternal life. Thus, persons of faith should obey divine law over temporal law in all circumstances.
The law of the immortal is based not on sameness and equality, but on doing right. King Creon of Thebes felt that it would not be fair if a traitor and a loyal man both enjoyed afterlife. Divine law said that family should bury family regardless, and that no man should be left unburied for hungry vultures to feast on. At a young age, children learn from their parents to do right. If a child s brother smites him, he should not smite him back, but forgive him. Revenge does not right a wrong. Man-made laws, however, are not inclined to take this approach. If one man is injured by another man, he sues him. Then the second man might appeal the settlement, claiming the decision is not fair. This legalistic pursuit of fairness may go back and forth endlessly. In contrast, the rules of the divine set a higher standard based more on what is right than what is fair.
Antigone s decision was a right one. Kings come and go, and man s law changes, but the deities are everlasting. There is no question that to the faithful, the laws set forth by supreme beings are far more meaningful than the petty earthly rules and standards invented by man.