Thomas Aquinas’ idea that law should (always) serve the common good is, in my opinion, nothing more than a hope – what would happen in an “ideal/perfect world.” However, the world we live in is far from perfect and, as a result, the laws that governments create are also not perfect. An example of this would be the Chinese Government’s laws on the number of children allowed in a family.
In a nation that inhabits more than one billion people, the Chinese Government believed that creating a law that limited the amount of children a family could have would be beneficial to the nation. In some ways, it makes sense. Even though I do not agree with this law, it would keep families with limited financial resources from being stuck in debt by having to care for more children than they can afford. So, in that sense, I can understand why it was made. However, should it be the government’s job to create these restrictions? Why should the government have the right to create these laws that are unfair? No collective group of people should have that power – I believe that Thomas Aquinas would agree with me.
I grew up with a full family – three sisters, two parents, and a dog. I wouldn’t change it for a thing and I’m sure that my parents would not redo anything, either. The Chinese Government’s way of curtailing the amount of children a family can have includes a tax that shifts with families’ incomes. Meaning, the more money the family makes, the higher the tax is. Therefore, even if the family is wealthy, it could be tough to have more than one child. As Aquinas said in “The Summa Theologica,” that which is not just seems to be no law at all.” If the One-Child Policy is limiting the amount of happiness a family can have, how can it possibly be seen as just? Rather than looking out for the well being of the Chinese people by simply those in poor financial standing from having multiple children, the government penalizes those families that do have more than one child. How is that fair?
Aside from being unjust, it is possible Aquinas would disagree with this law because it simply goes against a verse in the bible. In Genesis 1:28, it says “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.’” Here, God is telling us to go out and have children; there is no limit on the number. Being a man of the Church, Aquinas would disagree with the Chinese policy on children simply for “limiting God’s word.” After all, it was Aquinas who said, “Secondly, laws may be unjust through being opposed to the divine good… we ought to obey God rather than men.”