Amidst the current talk of a Trump impeachment, prudence demands Americans establish their rules for presidential conduct very carefully. Clouding debates and discussions with emotion and other changing standards merely causes useless strife. Check social media for examples. Christians ought to take to heart the repeated maxim of Scripture, that causeless strife must be avoided (Prov. 3:30 for example).
Then to what standard ought federal officials be held?
The constitution is a compact between the states comprising the United States. Since the people are recognized as sovereign in each of the member states, the people of each state made this compact in their separate political capacities. The US Constitution recognizes this in the preamble. “We the people of the United States….” By ratifying the constitution the way the states did, they further cemented this form of confederate union. The people of each state ratified the constitution separately, retaining their original political authority in all areas that they did not explicitly give up (see the tenth and ninth amendments to the Constitution).
Virginia in her ratifying convention gave probably the best summation of the standards to which federal officials ought to be held (Virginia Ratification Documents):
We…in the name and in behalf of the People of Virginia declare and make known that the powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the People of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression and that every power not granted thereby remains with them and at their will: that therefore no right of any denomination can be cancelled abridged restrained or modified by the Congress by the Senate or House of Representatives acting in any Capacity by the President or any Department or Officer of the United States except in those instances in which power is given by the Constitution for those purposes.
As the Virginia founders mentioned, the powers of the federal government are to be limited so as not to be exercised to the injury or oppression of the people. Executive powers especially (because they are the acting force in a government, the ones that can steal, murder, and enslave if they so wished) were strictly bound. Presidential war powers under the constitution are extremely limited and extend only to commanding an army after a congressional declaration of war. Note that the army itself is also created by and dependent on Congress (Art. 1 Sec. 8 army clause). Nor can presidents make law (Ar. 1 Sec. 1). In general, the president is bound to prove the cause for which he holds anybody in his custody (Article 1 Sec. 9 suspension clause). His prosecutors and investigators are bound to the terms of the fourth and fifth amendments. They cannot violate property, liberty, or life without proper legal proceedings. Such limitation to avoid the enslavement and detriment of the people is also extremely biblical. The end of Deuteronomy 17 lists the limitations of the kings of Israel in an exceedingly similar way.
This being the standard, an executive official at the federal level is impeachable the moment he no longer measures up to this standard. Unfortunately, most presidents in the entire history of the United States have fallen short of this standard while in office. In all candidness, this speaks of a deeper problem in the United States than merely a rogue President here or there. Jesus laid down a fundamental principle of justice when he declared, “let him who is sinless throw the first stone.” Those that wish to point out the lawless ways of their representatives ought first to examine their own hearts to see if they expect to make dishonest gain by way of the political system. Since a vast majority of Americans expect, and have nearly always expected, such gain, perhaps the solution to our problems is to rearrange our priorities before hollering for impeachments (although there is always a time for that, too).
Virginia Ratification Documents, The Avalon Project, Yale Law School,