Checks and Balances

Checks and balances is a system where different parts of a government are accountable to one another in order to avoid a misuse of power. The need for such checks and balances was stated very well by one of the framers of the U.S. constitution, John Adams: “It is by balancing each of these powers…, that the efforts in human nature towards tyranny can alone be checked and restrained and any degree of freedom preserved in the constitution.” Unfortunately, by far not every government is determined to set these kinds of boundaries - in contrast some governmental systems would rather serve what John Adams called the “human nature toward tyranny” than fight it. Others don’t see a need for accountability because their worldview makes them believe that the human heart is good in itself. In any case the lack of accountability, the lack of checks and balances, leads to an increase of corruption which always harms the welfare of the people because it benefits only a few while exploiting many. Therefore, where countries not only state principles of checks and balances in their constitution but also follow through on them, the welfare of their people increases. It is interesting to see that John Adams’ description of human nature mirrors what God said to Noah in Genesis 8:21, “for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” It reveals that his worldview was anchored in God’s word, and when he helped set up a system of checks and balances in his country many generations of people were blessed. That is the transformational power of God’s word!