Legitimate Civil Law
Legitimate Law is derived from 3 Sources
(1) God’s Law
Revealed Law: Laws & Commandments given in scripture (Always legitimate)
Natural Law: Standards derived from observing God’s order revealed in nature (Legitimate when compliant with revealed law)
(2) Common Law
Unwritten laws & rules of equity derived from antiquity (Legitimate through long use and must not be contrary to God’s law)
(3) Civil law_(Positive law)
Written law of men. Can only reach actions, not conscience. (Legitimate by consent of governed – IE: Constitutions, compacts, elections, commonwealth agreements and must not be contrary to God’s law)
God’s word says the following about civil authority and law;
Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. 1 Peter 2:13-17: 13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
Titus 3:1: 1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,
Acts 4:19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. Is this authority absolute, or must there be standards of legitimacy before civil law is binding upon believers?
Humanists will say that to be legitimate law must comply with mans standards of liberty, equality, and fairness. If it does not, we must choose wiser leaders and give them power to enforce conformity. Some religious leaders will say, like Martin Luther King Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi, that to be legitimate it must comply with the entirety of their perception of God’s justice. If it does not, we must not obey but practice civil disobedience. Most believers will say it is not absolute, but that we must obey God always, regardless of civil authority. To be legitimate, law must comply with God’s word. If it does not, we must not obey, but must accept our punishments. Our founders and early patriots will say, based upon Locke and others, that to be legitimate law must depend on the consent of the governed, and be based on God’s law. If it does not, it is not law and not to be obeyed.