Principle 1: ‘The Only Reliable Basis for Sound Government and Just Human Relations is Natural Law.’
What is Natural Law? When the Founding Fathers sought to answer this question, they turned to the writings of Marcus Tillius Cicero.
Cicero was known for his philosophy of good laws, sound government, and the long-range formula for happy human relations. He understood that all of this could only be accomplished through recognizing and identifying the rules of ‘right conduct’ based upon the laws of the Supreme Creator of the Universe. Cicero also taught that man shares with his Creator the quality of using a rational approach, or common-sense, to solve problems. Thomas Jefferson referred these ideas as ‘the laws of Nature and Nature’s God’.
Natural Law is eternal and universal; it has also been defined as ‘true law’. Natural Law cannot be altered, repealed, or abandoned. Its basic principles can be understood by the human mind, and are completely correct and morally right in their application.
The first great commandment is to love, respect, and obey the all-wise Creator. The second great commandment is to ‘Love thy neighbor as thy self’. Cicero stated that justice is impossible unless it is based upon these two commandments. In his words, “For these virtues originate in our natural inclination to love our fellow-men and this is the foundation of justice.” These virtues are the glue that holds a just society together.
According to Cicero, any legislation that is in violation of God’s Natural Law is a scourge to humanity and it is a foolish notion to believe that all laws are good laws. Some legislation, he remarked, no more deserves to be called law than the rules a band of robbers might pass in their assembly. Just as deadly poisons prescribed by ignorant and unscrupulous men cannot be considered physicians’ prescriptions; neither can legislation be called law if it violates eternal principles. Even if an entire nation were to accept ruinous regulation, the true nature of the legislation could not be altered. In short, all law should be measured against God’s Law.
The Founders, who desired a moral and virtuous society which would cultivate freedom for the individual and prosperity for the whole commonwealth, sought to build our nation based upon Natural Law because they realized this was the only way to achieve their goal.
Unalienable Rights, Unalienable Duties, Habeas Corpus, Limited Government, Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances, Self-Preservation, Justice by Reparation, the Right to Bear Arms and No Taxation without Representation are all examples of Natural Law that can be found in the U.S. Constitution. Additionally, laws protecting the family and the institution of marriage are also based on Natural Law.
Natural Law is the foundation and framework for everything that we have come to call ‘The People’s Law’.
When reviewing legislation that is either currently being considered or is already on the law books, we must ask ourselves the following two questions: #1 “Does this violate the laws of God?” and #2 “By practicing or implementing this law, will it allow me to say; I love my neighbor as myself?”. It is true that in these two questions hang all ‘true and just’ laws.
(The 28 Principles of Liberty are adapted from the book "The 5000 Year Leap" by W. Cleon Skousen. This article is also published at www.Myspace.com/angelsings www.LDSFreemen.com and the Cape Fair Cryer newspaper in Missouri.)