Sunday, May 15, 2005

Tradition and Legal Precedent

In the comments on Dawn Eden's post referenced below, lots of people complained that we shouldn't have to believe Our Lady was Ever Virgin simply because Tradition holds that she was Ever Virgin. And it's not simply in reference in Mary's virginity that people dismiss Tradition.

What these people who scorn Tradition forget, however, is that we have something parallel in the American judicial system - legal precedent. Now, Church Tradition and legal precedent are not equivalent things, but they are similar. U.S. judges often rule on an issue the same way their predecessors did. You'd be a horrible lawyer if you didn't research previous cases and present a judge/jury with examples of legal precedent in favor of your argument. And many legal cases are unwinnable if they don't have legal precedent. Continuity is necessary in the American justice system or cases would be decided arbitrarily. That's not to say that if something needs to be changed, judges won't go against precedent to change it, but they do hold precedent in very high regard because it connects us to our past and allows us to learn from our elders. Tradition does much the same thing.