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A Reply to Libertarianism

11 Aug Posted by in Commentary | 11 comments

My last article on Libertarianism caused some readers to leave interesting comments with very thought provoking questions. I have taken the best response from a Libertarian point of view by Steve and will work through it so you can see a response from the perspective of a Christian worldview.

“The real issue is whether the government should be the institution that coerces everyone to follow God’s law on all matters…”

No one that I know of believes that the government ought to be the institution that coerces people to follow God’s law on every matter. For example, should the government force people to get baptized, take communion and attend church? As laudable and lawful as these actions are, the government is not the church and the Founders had it right; Congress shall make no law establishing a religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

“Advocates for government intervention point to drugs, prostitution, etc. as examples justifying this. But there’s nothing that government intervenes with that the family, medical, or private social welfare sectors can handle just as well. While some call for the jail time for former NY Governor Eliot Spitzer for patronizing prostitutes, I’ll bet that whatever jail sentence he would get pales in comparison to the tongue lashing he got from Mrs. Spitzer. Similarly, with regard to drugs, look at smoking for a parallel. Smoking has gone from being widespread and respectable to being marginalized–almost entirely to actions within the private sector. The medical and social welfare sectors (including churches) can do the same with drugs, prostitution, and other undesirable behaviors without resorting to jail time or other punishment for those who engage in such behaviors…”

The unlawfulness of drugs, prostitution etc. are not simply matters of religion and family. Society in general has elected representatives to enact laws that reflect their views of morality. Of course, views of morality are often based on religion and on people’s idea of what’s best for the family.

This does not constitute coercion by government because we live in a representative republic. If enough people object, the law can be reversed. If it can be proven that there is an inalienable right to use drugs or prostitutes based on the laws of nature and nature’s God revealed in the Bible, then you have the basis for overturning the laws. Otherwise the people can restrict it.

A good example of unwarranted government action is the case of prohibition. Well-intended people, many of whom were Christians, thought the way to solve the widespread alcohol problem was by banning it. Eventually this was over turned, and rightly so. The Scriptures do not ban alcohol, although it does forbid drunkenness. But the same argument can’t be applied to drugs. While one might enjoy a glass of wine with dinner without becoming intoxicated the whole purpose for using drugs is to get high.

Getting high has a negative ripple effect in society that American’s rightly reject. Abraham Lincoln said it well, “There is no right to do wrong.” But, wrong by who’s standard? The Christian must answer by God’s standard as it is revealed in the Bible.

The same can be applied to prostitution. You can’t imbibe in prostitution “moderately” so as not to have a negative societal effect. Women are abused, marriages are destroyed, diseases are spread, pregnancies occur, babies are killed, etc. Scripture forbids both fornication and adultery so there is no way to engage in prostitution without violating God’s law.

“Just because something is legal doesn’t necessarily make it right or acceptable. The issue is who should hand out the punishment: the government or God. Even if those who engage in behavior unacceptable to God are not punished by the government, they’ll still have to face judgment from God.”

Agreed. Abortion for instance is legal, but it is immoral. Prostitution in some parts of Nevada is legal, but it is immoral. That’s why Christians ought to seek to overturn both. The Bible is clear. In criminal and civil matters it is the government’s duty to punish those who do evil. (Romans 13:4) That does not preclude God’s eternal judgment, but in this life the power to enforce just laws resides with the civil government. The church does have power within itself to impose spiritual judgment, such as ex-communication, but it cannot use physical coercion. God has delegated that to the state alone.

“Christians should not have to resort to the force of government punishment to enforce personal morality. To do so speaks poorly of the strength of their own moral persuasion skills. Christians should persuade people to act morally because it’s right, not because the government will punish them if they don’t.”

Christians have every right as citizens to decide what kind of society they want to live in as long as it does not infringe upon the inalienable rights of others. Someone’s view of morality will prevail in the culture. The fact that these laws do exist by the will of the governed proves the opposite of what Steve argues. Christians have been able to successfully convince the majority of people to self-impose these restraints on society, with abortion and homosexual marriage (which Libertarians seem to support) being the very terrible exceptions. Christians are busy trying to show the negative consequences for society when it allows for abortion and homosexual marriage. No one can impose unpopular laws on an unwilling American populous for long.

“Libertarians aren’t against ALL laws–just laws that are arbitrary (i.e., business permits) and those dealing with actions that are either confined to oneself or between two or more consenting adults. Most libertarians would support laws providing punishment for murder, theft, etc., for those are crimes against others and/or their property.”

Ironically, this statement makes my point. Libertarians are against arbitrary laws. That’s good. But then Steve gives us an arbitrary list of laws that he thinks everyone should support and ones we ought not to support. I don’t think Libertarians get it.

When you deny that Law comes from God and is revealed in nature and the Bible, then you automatically get a system of laws that are man-made. These laws are always and necessarily arbitrary. There is only one escape from this dilemma. There must be a higher standard to which all men can appeal that’s above arbitrary manmade law.

This is precisely what the Founders did in the Declaration of Independence. By appealing to their inalienable, God-given rights they threw off the arbitrary and tyrannical laws of England. In doing so they gave us the standard for our rights and laws, the laws of nature and nature’s God in the Bible. The Founders were not Libertarians, so our system of government only makes sense under Christian natural law theory.

From the Libertarian Party’s website, concerning their views on homosexuality and abortion:

Personal Relationships: Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government’s treatment of individuals, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships.

Abortion: Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.

  1. Jerry08-11-11

    I know of no political view that is entirely Christian, no necessarily should be. Political parties and philosophies, by nature, want to include as many people as possible without sacrificing their basic principles. Personally, I believe Christians are the reason our country is in the moral fix it currently finds itself. We did not act when the moral slide started, but let others frame the debates. Also, Christians today tend to be woefully ignorant of the principles of the Word of God. And yet, if Christians were to wake up, learn what the Bible says and vote accordingly, we could change this nation. Over 80 percent of Americans at least claim to be Christian. That’s a huge portion.

  2. Pat08-11-11

    Much libertarian thought has been based on the Non-aggression Principle, which simply holds that no person may aggress (initiate force) against another person. I have asked libertarians to explain the basis for the Non-aggression Principle. I usually get the answer that it is wrong to cause pain. However, nobody has been able to explain why pain is necessarily bad, since pain is also a warning that a person has suffered an injury that must be treated. Even more so, nobody has been able to explain why it is bad to cause pain. To confuse matters even more, many libertarians hold that if a person consents to being caused pain or harm, it’s not aggression if someone causes him harm. This doesn’t take into account the fact that law needs to be objective, and objectively applied. You cannot base law on the state of mind of a victim. The person may have been subjected to coercion, or may not be thinking straight. Any time someone causes pain, and it is illegal to do so, he should be dealt with, regardless of whether the victim consented or not. This is particularly telling when it comes to euthanasia. In that case, you can’t ask the victim if he consented! The mere fact he may have signed a document in the past doesn’t tell us his state of mind at the time.

    The abortion issue is a good example of libertarian thought run amok. The only way you can consider abortion to be a libertarian act is if you dehumanize the victims, who obviously did not consent. There is no good faith position in favor of abortion. Favoring abortion can only be done by rationalization of the scientific facts. About 1/3 of libertarians are pro-life.

    Smoking is another interesting case, about which I have argued ad nauseum. The law, thankfully, has outlawed smoking in most places. Smokers never respected the right of non-smokers to breathe clean air. Breathing is a necessity; smoking is a choice, and gratification can be postponed for five minutes. It is not consent to enter a building open to the public that allows smoking. Libertarians hold that property rights protect the right of the owner to permit smoking, but fail to address the fact that we cannot own the air. The people wanted laws against smoking because it is harmful to those around the smoker, and most people don’t want to breathe other people’s smoke. Your argument about the right of the people to pass laws is good.

    Libertarianism ought to be focusing on repealing a plethora of unjust and burdensome regulations that were developed by bureaucrats, cutting out all government expenditures that are unconstitutional, stopping property tax, which attacks the very foundations of property, shutting down public schools that simply indoctrinate children to accept government control and socialism, and the like. Instead, the movement has been co-opted by people who simply want to do as they please regarding vices, and don’t want to be held accountable. People who are enslaved to vices don’t fight for liberty from government tyranny.

    God allows us to exercise free will, but He also instituted government to punish wrongdoing. Thus, we are under no obligation to permit things that are harmful. All vices harm not only the person involved, but his family and friends, and society in general. Homosexual behavior spreads disease. Libertarianism notwithstanding, it is simply wrong to allow this kind of egregious licentiousness in the name of liberty. The Founders well understood this, and would have been horrified that people would ever argue against a society that wasn’t virtuous. They specifically said our Constitution would never work if the people were not virtuous.

    • Saabira09-13-11

      Excellent response; well thought out, written and presented. I have to say that I agree wholeheartedly with the points you made.

  3. Linda08-11-11

    One thing that I don’t think is addressed enough in these articles is a very basic one: children. Libertarian values do not work in a society with humans under 18. You can’t simply lock up your kids,or monitor them 24/7, and end up with resourceful, able offspring. This is why we used to have agreed -upon cultural standards, backed by laws that reflected the vulnerability of childrn, regulating abortion,prostitution, adultery, pornography and sodomy. Kids are deeply harmed by a society that applies the “freedom” of libertarianism, and it does not work, except perhaps if we love a thoroughly trashed culture and corrupted youth.

  4. Tony08-12-11

    This I know; that God judged all the nations around Israel according to His laws and commanded Israel to destroy them. Israel, likewise, He gave them laws and the punishments thereof and how they were to be adjudicated some by men and some by God. Not all of Israel were of the faith but all were to live by the laws not the laws of men but of God. Civil laws if not of God are of men and tyranical such as domestic partnership laws which pervert God’s law of marriage. God does not approve of consenting adults principle because even animals are subject to God’s laws eventhough they did not consent and were to be killed accordingly. God’s laws are good and eternal for everyone; believers and non-belivers. However, you cannot force someone to be baptized as an adult or partake of communion because belief is of God and not an individual right of choice. Thus, God’s house rules, as in a family, apply eventhough a family member may not believe.

    This is God’s world and not Satan’s. The kingdom of God was established at the crosss of Christ Jesus therefore now His Holy Land is the world and the world is required to live by the King’s laws irrespective whether one believes in the King or not.(Matt. 12:28)

    There are not two world governments the cross has changed that, contrary to popular beliefs. As stated in Romans 13:4, governments were established to be “minister of God” thereby servants of God. Civil government is not to be separated from God to be so is not to be His minister.

    Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler were elected democratically by consenting adults and surely they were not minsters of God in a moral sense but they were in a judgement sense as the Romans were used to judge and destroy Israel. (Deut. 28:49)

    The founding fathers of our nation had it partialy right regarding a constitution based on moral laws however they had it wrong when they disregarded the first four commandments of God in favor of Roger Williams doctrine that they were not applicable in the public square. He was excommunicated for his beliefs by the puritan John Cotton and their congregation. However, James Madison embraced Roger Williams teachings and today we are seeing the consequences thereof.

    I believe there are only two possibilities of governments that of God or that of Satan. Freedom of conscience has led us to be conscientiously evil.

  5. Bill08-12-11

    Judging by what was said on Trunews, Christians would be happiest under the Third Reich, unless they wish to do their due diligence to the entire libertarian movement.
    Ron Paul is NOT a libertarian party member, and he is a CONSTITUTIONALIST first, in any case.

  6. bucksnort10008-12-11

    Backwards is the key word to understanding what laws are being approved & disapproved.Eli Lilly produced cannabis at the turn of the 20th century & was commonly used for a number of ailments. But these days, cannabis is abused & defrocked by the modern culture rendering it unavailable to those who could be benefited.(see “run from the cure” the Rick Simpson story)on you tube broadcast yourself.

  7. AssassinActual08-13-11

    But my question is; As I am not a Christian, why should I be subject to laws coming from your religion? Moreso when (on the issue of homosexuality) no peer reviewed study has indicated that the moral fabic of America will fall.

    Why can’t, if you oppose homosexuality, just not be homosexual yourself and not judge others?

  8. Morris08-14-11

    Whether or not the issue is homosexuality or another violation of God-given Christian principles, you and the entire world are ultimately subject to the law of God and the issue of eternity, which many ignore. Because the God of the Bible is the Creator and Owner of the universe, whether someone chooses to admit that reality and receive the law of God or reject God’s law and live in rebellion to Him not only affects society, ultimately a choice for our eternal destination, no one able to escape the judgement of a just and righteous God (whether that judgement is executed by God Himself or through someone of God’s choosing). Because YOU did not create and, therefore, do not own the universe (the title of Creator, Lawmaker and Judge belonging to God and God alone), sin includes all that God calls sin, whether you or anyone else likes/dislikes or wishes to accept that fact. If YOU were God and Creator/Owner of the universe, you could run things your way, I suppose, just as someone else could do if they were God, although YOU are not God, simply no way around the reality God has established for all humanity. Like it or not, your eternal destiny depends solely upon what you finally decide for according to God’s Word, only two choices available: Eternal salvation through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ; -or- Rejection of God’s free gift of pardon resulting in eternal separation from God (damnation). Those are the only choices mankind has, regardless of any political party or ideological stance someone chooses to affiliate or identify with, a really great reason for submitting to God, don’t you think? Whoever you are, I pray you ultimately make the right decision, although it’s always your own choice.

  9. Petra Spahr08-15-11

    If it were only so simple! The Bible is the inerrant Word of God, but we humans fight wars over its interpretation. We agree to be governed by God’s law, but we face the conundrum of disagreeing on exactly what that is and who is to decide.

  10. Pastor Ken Morrison08-25-11

    If we are going to look at the mindset of the founding fathers regarding religion and government, we must go back to the reason so many from England and continental Europe fled to America in the first place. National and local laws enforcing their brands of state approved religion, with their take on what laws should be enforced on a religious basis drove many to flee here for freedom. While most of the founders were Christian, not all were regular church goers (many were deists) and some were Jewish. Atheism was not unknown, but was not popularized or adopted as a regular part of government until the French revolution with their avowed “goddess of reason” and the havoc and ruin such immorality brought on that nation at the time. A stigma that lingered for years and caused the American humorist, Mark Twain to quip, “That’s disgusting, that’s immoral, that’s irreligious; it is French!”

    My point is, the majority is not always right. It was the majority of Protestants who followed the same tyranny they had endured in the inquisition in their attacks of reprisal against Roman Catholics and in the attempts to control their own parishioners in Europe that the founding fathers of America fought against. Even here in America such abuses of authority in the church run pre-constitutional governments existed. One need only consider the Puritan laws, the Pennsylvania Dutch community, or the Salem witch trials to savor a distaste of what our founders still had to address.

    One issue that was distinctly Christian, that was the focus of many local laws and proposed to congress and successfully lobbied against there, were the so-called “blue-laws” and their modern watered down counterpart impacting the sale of automobiles on Sunday in most states. Blue laws, though not enforced, are still on the books in many jurisdictions.

    Talk about the kinds of things that could be regulated by a vocal majority or their religious representatives today. Enforcing blue-laws today, as always, would be an affront to religions including Muslims, Jews, Sabbatarian Christians, and the plain word of Scripture itself when stripped of man-made Sunday traditions (claimed by Roman Catholics as a sign of allegiance to their authority to change the laws of God by Papal decree).

    This is why the founding fathers DID NOT establish this as a DEMOCRATIC nation. Generations who have forgotten the reasons behind their wisdom have twisted their words and our laws to try to make it fit a pure democratic model.

    What they did originally intend and establish was a DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC. About the only remnant of that which remains is in the much abused and less than effective or understood presidential Electoral College. It has become a point of contention because people do not understand it and representatives are no longer free from bias or party obligations. Those elected are chosen for reasons other than their ethics or morality, position in the business community, and standing in the intellectual community: it is primarily all political now.

    I am not advocating a return to a republican form of government (no connection or even similarity to the Republican or Democratic parties), because we lack leadership that owe no allegiance to political parties or financial backers or interest groups. In an egalitarian minded society the thought that there are some better suited to lead by virtue of any kind is likely to be replaced by self-reliance and rugged individualism.

    I believe we do have a few who will “stand for the right though the heavens fall” and who would “stand true to principle” without capitulating to one Christian, or non-Christian, religion, or agenda. But try to fund an election campaign for such a person . . . most would-be supporters on one front would oppose them on another and consider them a “loose cannon.” One would have to be a lying two-faced, forked-tongued, double-talking politician with no real moral compass to have their own hidden agenda of mitigation, neutrality, and morality. However, this would be paradoxical, because one willing to stoop to that subterfuge in the first place would not be genuine or moral.

    Well, I promised myself I would not make this comment too long. I will only refer you to reformation and pre-constitutional as well as early post-constitutional US history. A good source for that would be an old book called “The Great Controversy between Christ and Satan” or sometimes just called “The Great Controversy.” Its early chapters cover much of this period in an eye opening non-political way. “Google” it. It is public domain and free online from many sources. Or go to Amazon and buy a copy. There are many other histories of that period too; avoid the modern reconstructed ones though.

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