What are the laws of God?

Q. In a nutshell, what are the laws of God? I take them to be analogous to the laws of physics, statements of foundational truth, such as I am as God created me. The Course mentions the laws of God frequently, but as far as I can see, we have to ferret out just what they are. Is there a way you can spell out these laws of God?

A. That’s a great question, but a challenging one to answer! To do it justice, I would really need to closely examine the over 300 “law” references, and out of them attempt to build an accurate overall concept, which is too big of a project for me to take on right now.

However, I can convey what I currently understand of the concept. You’re right that the laws of God are analogous to the laws of physics, in that we think of the laws of physics as binding. In other words, no matter what we do, we appear to be “under” the laws of physics. They appear to have a power over us which we cannot escape. This is different from the laws of society, which only have power when enforced. The laws of physics, however, seem completely binding, and that is how the Course characterizes the laws of God.

The similarity, however, ends there (and, actually, doesn’t even go that far, as we’ll see). This is because the character of physical laws is precisely opposite to the character of God’s laws. Think of your experience of the laws of this world. At this moment, you are having to obey all kinds of physical laws or suffer the consequences. You need, for example, to have enough light for your eyes to see, enough food for your body to operate, and enough warmth for your body to be comfortable.

Think of the law of gravity in particular. That is a law we are constantly under. It limits us at all times. It pins us to the ground, for instance, so that we can’t just fly off wherever we want to go. Over time, we have learned to respect it, though, for we know that there will be dire—and potentially fatal—consequences if we don’t.

The laws of this world, then, have two modes: When we obey them, they limit us; when we disobey them, they punish us.

For instance, while writing this, I realized that the garbage truck was about to come by. According to the laws of space, I need to get rid of my garbage or it will fill the house. According to the laws of time, I have to get my garbage out to the curb before the truck arrives. However much I wish I could send it backward in time, I can’t. According to the law of gravity, I have to make sure that as I empty the various wastebaskets in the house the waste falls into the bag, not outside it. And above all, according to the law of being a good husband and father, I cannot forget (yet again) that Tuesday is the day for trash pickup! All these laws—and many other relevant ones—at best limit me. At worst, if I disobey them, they enforce consequences on me. For instance, while collecting the trash from around the house, I accidentally knocked a book off of its perch in my office, and as it fell (almost as if planned by gremlins), it spilled the contents of my wastebasket onto the floor. Gravity making me pay again!

The laws of this world, then, limit us and punish us. They imprison us. We are “under” them; at their mercy. This experience is a constant for us; it hems us in every second.

What would it be like, then, if we were under laws that were the opposite? Imagine living in a realm where the binding laws only gave to you, only guaranteed your freedom, only kept you safe, only preserved your power. Imagine these laws lavishing kindness and care on you, and nothing else. That is how the Course characterizes the laws of God. This sentence captures the whole contrast: “God’s laws forever give and never take” (W-pI.76.9:6). What would it be like to live in a realm where such laws held sway?

A number of laws are mentioned or implied in the Course, but the ones most explicitly discussed seem to all be variations on a single idea: what you desire, what you choose, what you think, what you believe, what you extend, and what you give, fills your field of vision and comes back to you in kind, thus becoming your experience. In other words, you are cause, and all that you experience is effect. This law takes many forms in the Course, but if you step back a bit, you can see that they are in essence all the same:

Yet perception cannot escape the basic laws of mind. You perceive from your mind and project your perceptions outward. (T-6.II.9:4-5)

What you project or extend is real for you. This is an immutable law of the mind in this world as well as in the Kingdom. (T-7.II.2:4-5)

But learn and do not let your mind forget this law of seeing: You will look upon that which you feel within. (W-pI.189.5:3)

Today I learn the law of love; that what I give my brother is my gift to me. (W-pII.344)

In short, what I set in motion with the power of my mind becomes my entire experience. This may not seem like such a great law, since when we exercise our power in a negative way, the experience that results is necessarily negative. Yet note the Course’s response to this:

God’s laws hold only for your protection, and they never hold in vain. What you experience when you deny your Father is still for your protection, for the power of your will cannot be lessened without the intervention of God against it, and any limitation on your power is not the Will of God. (T-11.IV.2:3-4)

What this law amounts to, then, is that God’s laws ensure that nothing can limit our power. If we use our power to choose hate, then hate is what we’ll have, for nothing can limit our power. If we use our power to choose love, then love is what we’ll have, for again, nothing can limit our power. This is the exact opposite of the laws of this world, which by their nature limit our power, imposing their power on us.

The image that comes to mind is that, under the laws of God, we are a light that is forever inviolate. Nothing can snuff out this light. Nothing can even dim it. And nothing can contain it. Its rays shine unimpeded in all directions, freely extending with no hindrance whatsoever, stretching, in the end, to infinity. Nothing can intrude on the shining of this light. That is what the laws of God guarantee.

The good news is that those are the real laws, the laws that we actually under. They are the laws we are under in Heaven, and they are the laws we are under on earth. If we could only see it, those are the laws governing our lives right now.

The laws of this world, according to the Course, are not real laws. It is as if you walked in the house and your four-year-old said, “Today I am the all-powerful king, and you have to obey my every command, or my knights will lock you in prison.” You wouldn’t be seriously bothered by this, because you would know that such laws have absolutely no force. And so it is, says the Course, with the demanding and imprisoning laws of this world. They have no force. They are made-up laws. The only laws that have any real force are God’s, which forever protect our light, so that it can forever “shine in peace” and its rays can “extend in quiet to infinity” (T-13.VII.13:7).

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