5 votes

Just vs. Unjust Law

I do feel that there are two types of laws: One is a just law, and the other is an unjust law. I think we all have moral obligations to obey just laws. On the other hand, I think we have a moral obligation to disobey unjust laws, because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.

From 2:04 - 3:02


I think the distinction here is that when one breaks the law that conscience tells him is unjust, he must do it openly, he must do it cheerfully, he must do it lovingly, he must do it civilly, not uncivilly, and he must do it with a willingness to accept the penalty.

And any man who breaks the law that conscience tells him is unjust and willingly accepts the penalty by staying in jail in order to arouse the conscience of the community on the injustice of the law is at that moment expressing the very highest respect for law.

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There are two kinds of law...

There is just law and unjust law. Just law is natural law and, essentially, universal. For example, do not aggress against others; do not steal from others.

Unjust law is anything that does not follow from natural law. For example, pay your taxes (setting aside for the moment the "show me the law" angle); do not drive faster than 75 mph; black people can't own firearms. These can also be called arbitrary laws.

The fact that a person is willing to suffer for the violation of arbitrary laws indicates his respect for the law as MLK says. But this is an error. Arbitrary laws deserve no respect. There is no virtue in suffering for them. There is virtue in disobeying them. I can see disobeying them boldly, as in the colonial "Tea Parties" and "tar and featherings." I see no reason to disobey them openly, civilly, or with willingness to accept the arbitrarily imposed penalties.

Now here is some sound

Now here is some sound thinking that really helps me understand conflicts in my own mind. I do not want to be the creator of right versus wrong by excusing my own actions in my own mind, but I must follow what I truly believe to be the just law. The willingness to accept persecution is the bravery required to do the right thing in the face of evil.

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