3. A classic treatment of natural law's history is Michal Bertram Crowe, The Changing Profile of the Natural Law (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1977).
4. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica (5 vols.), tr. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (Westminster, MD: Christian Classics, 1948).
5. See for example Jean Porter, "Chastity as a Virtue," Scottish Journal of Theology 58 no. 3 (2005): 285-301.
6. "Natural law" and "the law of nature" are commonly erroneously equated. For instance, Wikipedia's article on natural law begins, "Natural law or the law of nature...." (italics added). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_law, last viewed December 17, 2009.
7. The impulse to reduce natural law to a list of increasingly refined, changeless rules is modern, not medieval (see William C. Mattison III, "The Changing Face of Natural Law: The Necessity of Belief for Natural Law Norm Specification," The Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 27 no. 1 [Summer 2007]:251-277). Still, Thomas believed that most changes in natural law's conclusions were matters of further specification or application; subtractions — reversals of earlier conclusions — occur "in some particular cases of rare occurrence" only (ST I-II 94.5). Apparent significant reversals (like Jesus's repeal of God's permission for Israelite polygamy) ended temporary divine concessions to sin but did not alter God's original intent; they were certainly not based on new, inductive, reasoned reflection about the changed social conditions for holistic flourishing in first-century Palestine in comparison with the Abrahamic period.
8. "Martin Luther’s Pragmatic Revision of Traditional Natural Law Theory," Journal of Lutheran Ethics (March 2010) 10:3.
9. Since Vatican Council II, these claims of strong, though not absolute, moral authority have drawn criticism from Catholic moral theologians, most famously in the United States Charles E. Curran and the late Richard A. McCormick.
10. See respectively Diana Fritz Cates, "The Virtue of Temperance (IIa IIae, qq. 141-70)," in The Ethics of Aquinas, ed. Stephen J. Pope (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2002) 321-39, at 325-27; Thomas Aquinas, excerpts of On Kingship, reprinted in The Political Ideas of St. Thomas Aquinas, ed. Dino Bigongiari (New York: Hafner Press, 1953), 175-195; ST I-II 95.3.
11. For instance, arguably even official Roman Catholic ecclesiastical natural law teaching on war, capital punishment, sexuality, and democracy has undergone sea-changes in the past century.
12. Scientific and social scientific data must be used and analyzed critically, however. The scientific equivalent of proof-texting is dishonest and, from a natural law standpoint, futile. Obscuring investigations into the processes and conditions of flourishing is quite literally counter-productive.
13. Jean Porter, "At the Limits of Liberalism: Thomas Aquinas and the Prospects for a Catholic Feminism," Theology Digest 41 no. 4 (Winter 1994): 315-330.
14. Lisa Tessman, Burdened Virtues: Virtue Ethics for Liberatory Struggles, Studies in Feminist Philosophy, ed. Cheshire Calhoun (New York: Oxford, 2005).
15. See William C. Mattison III, "The Changing Face of Natural Law: The Necessity of Belief for Natural Law Norm Specification," The Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 27 no. 1 (Summer 2007) 251-277.
16. This social justice tradition is said to have begun with Leo XIII's Rerum novarum (1891), although previous popes did publish encyclicals with social content.
17. See the sources in Cristina L.H. Traina, "Touch on Trial: Power and the Right to Physical Affection," Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 25 no. 1 (2005) 3-34.
18. "Don't Blame Your Genes: They May Simply Be Getting Bad Instructions — From You," The Economist (September 5, 2009), print edition, http://www.economist.com/sciencetechnology/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14350157, last viewed September 22, 2009.
19. For the argument that a postmodern ethics must balance its attention to culture with attention to "nature," see Douglas Kellner, "Zygmunt Bauman's Postmodern Turn," Theory, Culture, and Society 15 no. 1 (1998) 73-86.
20. Christine E. Gudorf, "The Social Construction of Sexuality: Implications for the Churches," in God Forbid: Religion and Sex in American Public Life, ed. Kathleen M. Sands (New York: Oxford, 2000) 42-59, at 44.
21. Gudorf, "Social Construction," 47.
22. Gudorf, "Social Construction," 44.
23. This raises a question important in interfaith dialogue: Is it appropriate for Christians condescendingly to declare, as Karl Rahner did, others of good will "anonymous Christians"? This is too complex a discussion to pursue here, except to say that all traditions must develop internal language for describing "others," even if committed to hearing others' descriptions of themselves.
24. M.L. Führer, review of Luther and Late Medieval Thomism: A Study in Theological Anthropology, by Denis Janz, Speculum 60 no. 3 (July 1985) 686-687, at 687.
25. "Martin Luther’s Pragmatic Revision of Traditional Natural Law Theory," Journal of Lutheran Ethics (March 2010) 10:3.
© March 2010
Journal of Lutheran Ethics (JLE)
Volume 10, Issue 3