Sunday, August 29, 2004

What is "Christian libertarian"?

I deliberately chose the term "Christian libertarian" to describe my worldview/civic philosophy several years ago when I discovered none of the mainstream terms fit (Republican, Libertarian, conservative).

Why Christian libertarian? Because before anything else, I'm Christian, and I believe there are things Christians can and should do that government can't and shouldn't.

A lot of Christians seem to think saying "government shouldn't stop people from doing that" is the same as saying "people should do that" or "we shouldn't do anything to stop people from doing that." It's not.

One of the best books I've ever read on the proper role and mission of government is "The Law" by Frederic Bastiat. In a nutshell: Government's just role is to protect God's gift of life, liberty and property. What you, as an individual, have a legitimate right to do in self-defense of those gifts is what government has a legitimate right to do on behalf of individuals. Period.

One of the best summaries I've ever read of the proper role and mission of the Church is Matthew 28:19-20, the commission given by Christ. In a nutshell: Share the gospel with everyone in the world (which has the power to convert and transform) and teach them to obey My commands. Jesus begins it by saying, in verse 18, "all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." Thus, the King of kings has given his soldiers marching orders into a battle they can fully expect to win.

That's why I can say with all confidence: "Government can't and shouldn't stop people from doing drugs." And with equal confidence: "The Church can and should stop people from doing drugs."

The two institutions don't look or work the same way, of course. Government is, at its core, the power to kill. The Church is, at its core, the power to transform. Government uses guns and tanks. The Church uses prayer and persuasion.

We should never, never get the two mixed up.


At 4:09 AM, Blogger Queen of Carrots said...

Brief, eloquent, and right on. I concur.


At 1:01 PM, Blogger RGuyShipe said...

I have to respectfully disagree with your conclusions.

I whole heartedly agree that the God ordained mission of the church and the mission of the government should not be confused. But I believe that they work in tandem on similar issues. Government uses the sword to punish the evildoer and also to reward those who do good. I believe that the punishment that comes from the government helps to bring people to a position where they better understand their need for a savior. That better equips the church to bring the truth that transforms. The government cannot transform people's hearts but it can and should punish evil as we find in Romans 13.

You say:

"That's why I can say with all confidence: 'Government can't and shouldn't stop people from doing drugs.' And with equal confidence: 'The Church can and should stop people from doing drugs.'

You seem to be implying that dealing with illicit drugs is an area the church, not the government should be involved in. But what about murder? If that is an area that government should be involved in does that mean that the church shouldn't be involved in it?

I agree with many of the positions on government that libertarians hold. Generally my agreement with them is in the area of fiscal policy. My disagreement with them is in social policy. The difference comes from our differing views on property. Libertarians believe that the individual owns absolutely his body. As a Christian I believe that God, as the creator, owns everything absolutely. People are not property owners we are property stewards. An owner can do anything he wants with his property. A steward can't. Stewardship implies responsibilities and limitations over that property.

As an example, if you own your body than you have every right to sell it for prostitution. If your body is not your own than that right is held by the true owner. What does the true owner say about prostitution? The Bible, God's word, is clear on that matter.

Because a libertarian believes people own their bodies no government can tell them what they can or can't do with thier bodies. If that policy were implemented it would be a dramatic shift in our criminal policy. "Consent" would need to be inserted into criminal law where it currently does not exist. As an example, look at murder which is defined here:

Here is their short definition:

"Murder is the crime of intentionally causing the death of another human being, without lawful excuse."

Libertarians would insert "without consent" after "another human being" because libertarian philosohpy says man has the right to give your body up for distruction.

I could go on for many pages...but I need to get back to work.

In conclusion I think you should drop the "libertarian" qualifier and just discribe yourself as a "Christian."

At 1:01 PM, Blogger RGuyShipe said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8:43 PM, Blogger Richard Shepard said...

The first problem with "Guy's" comment is that he assumes the government has the "right" to define "evil." Left to its own devices -- God left American government at just about the same time Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud entered the government sponsored school systems. The deal was sealed when the Supreme Court took prayer out of the schools. -- government has arrogated to itself the right and the power to say that a certain act amounts to a crime just because it is prohibited.

Driver licences are a convenient example. Motoring a public road is prohibited unless you have one. And before anyone says, "Well they ensure driver competance!", let me introduce you to my 86 year old mother, who hasn't taken a driving test in 70 years, and who has had at least 3 accidents in the past 5 years.

How about the income tax? Is your failure to file a return "evil"? Why? And let us be clear. I am not talking about PAYING taxes! (Even libertarians will concede that the power to tax is constitutional.) I am talking about FILING returns! Yet failure to file a piece of paper upon which you are disclosing your deepest personal financial secrets to the leviathan, and which you must sign on penalty of perjury, is a crime. What happened to the Fifth Amendment?

How about marriage licences? Should it be a violation of law to cleave unto your wife because you didn't first apply to the state and take a blood test? For those of you who don't know, the only reason we have marriage licenses at all was to stop interracial marriages in the 19th century. Some "Godly" objective that was!

First year law students learn a distinction between crimes that are "malum in se" (evil in themselves) and those that are "malum prohibitum" (evil because the government says so). Whatever its application to malum in se crimes such as murder, "Guy's" argument fails completely when it comes to malum prohibitum crimes.

The second problem with Guy's reasoning is to assume that government has the "power" to reward "good." George Washington said it best: "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."

The simple truth is that government does not create anything. At most it redistributes what God has given men and women and what those men and women have made out of God's gifts.

This, by the way, includes men's and women's own bodies. "Guy" is right that people are merely stewards of their own bodies. But that fact alone does not confer any supervisory authority upon the government. As Jesus taught, we must render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto God that which is his. My body belongs to God, not to Caesar. To the extent I pay Caesar homage with my body I risk having two masters, which Jesus clearly tells us we should not do.

At 6:16 PM, Anonymous Christine G said...

"Government is, at its core, the power to kill." -

Just exactly how old are you?


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