As there are, then, generally two laws presented to us, the one being the law of nature, of which God would be the legislator, and the other being the written law of cities, it is a proper thing, when the written law is not opposed to that of God, for the citizens not to abandon it under pretext of foreign customs; but when the law of nature, that is, the law of God, commands what is opposed to the written law, observe whether reason will not tell us to bid a long farewell to the written code, and to the desire of its legislators, and to give ourselves up to the legislator God, and to choose a life agreeable to His word, although in doing so it may be necessary to encounter dangers, and countless labours, and even death and dishonour. For when there are some laws in harmony with the will of God, which are opposed to others which are in force in cities, and when it is impracticable to please God (and those who administer laws of the kind referred to), it would be absurd to contemn those acts by means of which we may please the Creator of all things, and to select those by which we shall become displeasing to God, though we may satisfy unholy laws, and those who love them.
Origen, "Against Celsus," Book 5, Chapter 37
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Natural law vs. man's law
This early Christian idea, so important to them as a reasonable justification for their failure to observe the laws of pagan nations which required worship of and sacrifice to pagan deities, later became the foundation for the philosophy of "non-violent resistant" made famous during the Indian independence movement led by Mahatma Gandhi and the American Civil Rights movement led by Martin Luther King.