Legality and Immorality

Mar 06, 2012

By Jamison Dance

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches the general principle that its members should be “subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law”. The interpretation of of this principle is left up to the members. It seems to equate legality to morality. If you break the law, then you are sinning by disobeying this commandment. There are many scriptural examples of this principle. Jesus said, “Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which be Cæsar’s[.]” In ancient Israel, the law of God was the legal law. There are also counterexamples. Daniel gets cast into the lions’ den for disobeying the law against prayer. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego disobey King Nebuchadnezzar’s commands and are preserved by God when they are punished. Paul is arrested for preaching the Gospel. In some circumstances, morality and legality are at odds. The law moves slowly, and is imperfect. Copyright and intellectual property laws are especially flawed in an age where digital media can be copied with zero cost. Copyright violation might be illegal, but that does not necessarily make it immoral.

Jamison Dance enjoys kittens, making computers smarter and the magic of children's laughter. He tweets at @jergason and GitHubs as jergason. He also podcasts on JavaScript Jabber and Soft Skills Engineering.