Government and Law. Any legitimate system of government must be built on the dual realizations that all people (i) bear God's image and are therefore entitled to enjoy a number of fundamental, inalienable rights, but (ii) are tainted by sin and therefore cannot be trusted to be free of all government restraint. Importantly, sin affects not only those governed, but also those who govern.
In the words of James Madison:
If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.
Therefore, governmental and legal systems:
- must be of law, not of men; with rules and processes that apply equally to all persons regardless of their ethnicity, national origin, or skin color; their wealth; or their influence or prestige;
- must provide the rights of self-government, so that citizens may either directly decide questions of law and policy or have a voice in selecting those who make such decisions;
- should-in order to achieve the highest possible level of stability and fairness-be based on the firm foundation of a written constitution and laws, whose meanings are determined by their text and the original intent of those who enacted them, with appropriate processes for change and amendment over time and with the approval of the people; to do otherwise invites governments to recognize the acts of men to be the highest laws of the land rather than the laws of nature and of nature's God that have been committed to a written text; and finally,
- should maintain a separation of power among national, regional, and local governments and among the legislative, executive, and judicial functions of government, so that no leader or group of leaders may ever acquire unchecked power. [Deuteronomy 17:14 20]