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The Moral Law

From The Grand Lodge Of Texas

Adapted from Lightfoot's Commentaries by Jewel B. Lightfoot, Past Grand Master, The Grand Lodge of Texas, A.F.&A.M., Waco, TX (1934).

The first of the Ancient Charges of a Freemason is entitled Concerning God and Religion and states in part "A Mason is obliged by his tenure to obey the moral law, and if he rightly understands the art, he will never be a stupid Atheist, nor an irreligious Libertine." From this charge, it becomes the duty and obligation of every Mason to live his life by a strict moral code.

Morality is a prerequisite for admission into the Masonic fraternity and is an outward manifestation of Masonic philosophy. The moral law is the gateway through which one enters on the path to spiritual awakening and growth, which is the ultimate objective of the rites of initiation. No one who reads the Ancient Charges of a Freemason can fail to see that Freemasonry is strictly a moral institution, and the principles it advocates tend to make a brother who obeys its teachings a more honorable and virtuous man.

Morality is a very comprehensive term. It has been defined to be the doctrine of right and wrong in human conduct; conduct or practice which accords with moral principle or virtuous conduct; of or pertaining to the practices, conduct, and spirit of men toward God, their fellow men and themselves, with reference to right and wrong, and obligation to duty. Morality then covers the entire spectrum of human conduct pertaining to the distinction between right and wrong.

Moral laws are not man-made edicts or decrees; they spring from the eternal justice and wisdom of God. They are as absolute and immutable as the physical laws God has created for the government of nature and the universe around us. A violation of the moral laws brings about evil consequences similar to the consequences of trying to defy the laws of nature.

The distinguishing difference between man and all the animal life and intelligence below him is that man is morally accountable and individually responsible while the animal is not. Man is bound by a higher law of life than is the animal. He is bound by the moral law while the animal is not. Man is a creature of the Moral Order as is he vested with the attributes of a soul, which alone enables him to understand and respond to the moral law and discharge the obligation of personal responsibility.

Man is a moral being in the sense that he is charged with moral accountability and personal responsibility. Man is capable of becoming immoral because he alone can find it possible to knowingly and intentionally violate the moral law of his own being. Morality is therefore attributable to our immortal soul and is not the product of our physical senses. In fact, it is the desires and passions generated by our material senses that serve as obstacles to the development of lofty moral characteristics. Consequently, the Freemason is taught to circumscribe his desires and to keep his passions in check as an essential element to his personal growth and moral development.

Morality is the law which establishes harmony between the soul and the principles of its being. Morality is the avenue that creates a harmonic relationship between the soul and God, the Grand Architect of the Universe. Morality is also the means by which relationships are established between man and his fellow men and the world about him. The moral law is the outward expression of the spiritual attributes of the immortal soul.
A good moral character is a prerequisite for admission into Freemasonry and a strict observance of the moral law is essential for advancement and the retention of good standing within the Fraternity. The importance of the moral law as a fundamental principle of Freemasonry is exemplified by the fact that any act by one of its members involving moral turpitude is a Masonic offense subjecting the offender to discipline or expulsion.

Masonry is often described as a "system of morality veiled in allegories and illustrated by symbols." As such, the new Mason enters upon a path to moral, intellectual, and spiritual development, which can only be accomplished by obedience to the moral law. His practice of living must be in strict conformance to the principles and rules of conduct of the moral law whereby he enhances the growth and development of his soul. It is only by awakening the highest forces of his soul that he is able to reach the goal of true Mastership over his being and attaining a personal relationship with God.

Once this Mastership has been achieved, the circle of life's trials is narrowed and the sensual passions assail his heart in vain. Want no longer successfully tempts him to act wrongly, nor curiosity to do rashly. Ambition spreading before him fails to swerve his greatest allegiance. He refuses to be enriched at another's loss or expense, and feels that the whole human race are his brethren. Sorrow, pain, and anguish, are soothed by a perfect faith, and an entire trust in the infinite goodness of God. The world around him and the heavens above him become new, and all the ample glories and splendors of the universe speak to his soul the presence and beneficent care of a loving Father.

The achievement of spiritual growth, development, and illumination obtained by the Mason through obedience to the moral law is reflected by the following poem.

I had walked life's way with an easy tread,
Had followed where comforts and pleasures led,
Until one day, in a quiet place,
I met the Master face to face.

With station and rank and wealth for my goal,
Much thought for my body, but none for my soul,
I had entered to win in life's big race,
When I met the Master face to face.

I met Him, and knew Him, and blushed to see
That His eyes full of sorrow were fixed on me.
I faltered and fell at His feet that day,
While my castles melted and vanished away;

My thought is now for the souls of men;
I have lost my life to find it again,
E'er since one day in a quiet place
I met the Master face to face.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014