The Purpose of Earthly Law

Abram said to Lot, "Let there be no strife between you and me . . . for we are kinsmen."
GENESIS 13:8
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The Purpose of Earthly Law
What could Abram have said that was more proper and more conducive to peace? He puts himself on the same level with Lot and says: "Behold, we are kinsmen." Next he even lowers himself beneath Lot by letting him have the choice of where he would most like to go. Thus the uncle yields to the nephew, the older to the younger, the prophet and priest of God to the pupil—and all this to keep their love from being destroyed and to avoid giving occasion for strife. This account is worthy of our careful attention, for it teaches how all laws and rights are to be dealt with. The purpose of all earthly laws is peace, harmony, and quiet, or, as we theologians express it, love. . .. You should realize that this is being said about our laws and this earthly life, not about the laws of God, His promises, or the Sacraments. For there extreme justice should prevail, in accordance with the statement (Matthew 10:37): "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me." But in those things which people command us to do allowance is made for love, the moderator of the law and of all court actions; it is the main thing to be considered and followed. Therefore in order to preserve it, Abram, with extreme sorrow, sends his nephew away. Physically they were separated, but in spirit they were most closely united; this was something greater and more delightful for him than all his wealth.
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