Libertarianism From A Christian Perspective: Guest Post
“Who are you to tell me what to do?”
“Why can’t I do something if it doesn’t hurt anybody else?”
“Big government is a big failure; keep its nose out of my business!”
Such sentiments echo at Libertarian rallies across the world. Libertarians value autonomy and freedom, and they are not afraid to openly express their disdain for the viewpoints of the opposition. As Christians, however, it is prudent to evaluate such claims in the light of scripture. It is wise to determine what Libertarianism is and if such a political view is congruent with Christian beliefs.
Libertarianism’s starting point is, as the name ostensibly indicates, liberty. Libertarians consider liberty to be one of humanity’s greatest ideals; it is the epitome of social interaction (within limits of course). Libertarians believe that people should be free to do what they want, so long as they do not infringe upon other people’s rights. As Walter Block states it, “The non-aggression axiom is the lynchpin of the philosophy of libertarianism. It states, simply, that it shall be legal for anyone to do anything he wants, provided only that he not initiate (or threaten) violence against the person or legitimately owned property of another.” We must then ask, does this concur with Christian moral philosophy?
The Bible certainly makes statements concerning morality, but to whom are such claims addressed? Moral claims are always directed towards believers. When Jesus commands His followers to love God and each other in Matthew 26:36-37, is He addressing the government? No, He is instructing those who will choose to follow Him. The epistles contain moral commands that are directed to believers (e.g. Rom. 1: 18-32, 1 Tim. 1:8-11, Gal. 5:19-21, etc.) but there are no commands directed towards the government.
Some may retort that the Old Testament contains commands towards civil government. Libertarians, however, would rebut that such claims were directed towards a particular government at a particular time. The Federal Republic system of the United States is certainly neither a theocracy nor a monarchy. A confusion here would be like entering Macintosh commands into the Windows operating system; it is not going to work.
Based off of these premises, it follows that Libertarianism is congruent with Christianity because it does not dictate what one should and should not do; it simply provides the freedom for individuals to choose what they want to do. One should feel comfortable with such a view because he can rest assured that his beliefs are safe from political takeover so long as his belief system does not include doing harmful acts towards others or their property.
For the sake of argument, what would happen if the United States began to infuse Christian moral commands into the laws? Well, so long as there is a Christian majority in the three branches, it would be wonderful for Christians who support such a notion. However what happens if Muslims or Atheists become the majority? What happens if Atheists decided that Christianity is intolerant and needs to be outlawed? What happens if Muslims decided that Sharia law needs to be implemented? Christians would be outraged, right? However, they would have no one to blame except themselves because they gave government “the power to define and legislate morality.” As Thomas Jefferson, a famous Libertarian, once said, “A government big enough to give you what you want is big enough to take it all away.”
It is vitally important to reiterate that the beauty of Libertarianism is that is provides the freedom for individuals to do what they want. It is a political philosophy that grants one the freedom to pursue happiness; it is not a personal moral philosophy that one adopts in order to indulge in licentiousness and immorality. I hope that this blog entry has shed some light on Libertarianism for you. We libertarians are not a mob of rebels who just want to smoke pot all day (as we are often accused of being); we are merely individuals who value life, liberty and justice for all.
Trevor Cartwright is currently a Middle School teacher at Lake Mead Christian Academy in Henderson, NV where he teaches World and American history. Trevor received a B.S. in Biblical Studies/ Philosophy with a minor in History from Evangel University. He is currently in the process of becoming a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God. He has been a youth pastor at an Assemblies of God church for almost a year before becoming a teacher, and he has been married to his beautiful wife Rachel for over two years. Trevor’s primary academic interests: theology, philosophy, world and U.S. history, political science, economics, natural medicine, biology, electrical engineering, and music. He also enjoys reading: Ron Paul, Wayne Root, Mark Levin, Thomas Jefferson, John Wesley, Fareed Zakaria, F. A. Hayek, Ludwig Von Mises, and scientific literature. Some hobbies of Trevor’s are listening to rock and heavy metal music, playing and writing music, philosophizing with others, drinking and brewing coffee, and watching anime and documentaries with his wife, friends, and cats.
Trevor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.