As Paul stated, "When Gentiles do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them" (Romans 2:14-15 [NIV]).

In his book The Discarded Image, Lewis showed that Paul's statement completely conforms with the view that morality is determined by "right reason" or the Stoic idea of natural law: "[T]he Stoics believed in a Natural Law which all rational men, in virtue of their rationality, saw to be binding on them. St. Paul['s] statement in Roman's (ii 14 sq.) that there is a law ‘written in the hearts' even of Gentiles who do not know ‘the law' is in full conformity with the Stoic conception, and would for centuries be so understood. Nor, during those centuries, would the word ‘hearts' have had merely emotional associations. The Hebrew word which St. Paul represents by kardia would be more nearly translated ‘Mind'" (p. 160).

Lewis posed similar arguments in his books The Problem of Pain and Christian Reflections.  However, like all natural-law proponents, he was careful to note that natural law does not afford easy or precise solutions to all questions. Echoing Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, he noted that "moral decisions do not admit mathematical certainty" ("A Reply to Professor Haldane," in On Stories and Other Essays on Literature, 80).

Copyright © 2010 by David J. Theroux

Read Part 2 of this series on C. S. Lewis' political philosophy at the Evangelical Portal.


David J. Theroux is Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of The Independent Institute and Publisher of The Independent Review. He received his B.S., A.B., and M.S. from the University of California, Berkeley, and his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago. Books produced by Mr. Theroux have received two Mencken Awards for Best Book, seven Sir Antony Fisher International Memorial Awards for Best Book, two Benjamin Franklin Awards, two Independent Publisher Book Awards, and three Choice Magazine Awards for Outstanding Book. He is Founder and President of the C.S. Lewis Society of California, and he was founding Vice President and Director of Academic Affairs for the Cato Institute and founding President of the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy.

Mr. Theroux has directed and published over seventy scholarly books, as well as articles and reviews that have appeared in USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Dallas Morning News, Insight, other publications, and he has appeared on ABC, MSNBC, CNN, C-SPAN, NPR, Voice of America, and other local, national, and international TV and radio networks and programs.