Libertarianism, Christianity, and Combating Bad Ideas with Good Ideas

When endeavoring to exchange information, it is best to fight bad ideas with good ones. Violence, intimidation, bullying, shaming, etc. may be effective ways of asserting one’s position to be sure, but these methods do nothing to substantively address the real issue(s) in question, nor are they logical exercises of intellect. Critically analyzing, thinking over, and addressing a given position’s real merits, or lack thereof, is the only logical and meaningful way of deriving conclusions and consequent decision making.

 

Obviously, when dealing with ideas, the difference between good and bad ones is largely subjective. Thus, it is necessarily up to the eye of the beholder to determine for themselves which ideas are best, but I believe in this instance I have made a case well enough – or at least, as best I can given the circumstances.

 

The following exchange took place recently between I and another online blogger, regarding what I believe was an inaccurate characterization of libertarianism generally, and how it relates to Christianity in particular. While it was very difficult to weed through the myriad of logical fallacies, digressions, and sometimes personal attacks, I felt it was necessary to provide an alternate perspective for readers to consider. While certainly everyone is entitled to agree or disagree with me on any topic at their discretion, I nonetheless feel that inaccurate representations of an opposing viewpoint fail to properly frame such discussions in the first place, and consequently lend in the drawing of poor conclusions.  Admittedly, I grew frustrated at the end with certain aspects of this exchange and felt that there was no more that I could add constructively to the discussion at that point, but I am confident that I lay out a reasonable case worthy of at least meaningful consideration.

 

On a side note, I grow increasingly tired of defending the Message of Christ in a modern environment so thoroughly inundated with people who, in my opinion, completely misconstrue, misunderstand, misrepresent, and/or corrupt it. Indeed, many self-identified Christians that I encounter really have no deep understanding of what the new covenant actually means, yet often take it upon themselves to proclaim a monopoly interpretation of it – or worse still, some arrogantly contrived authority to dole out divine justice according to their own benefit (never is this “authority” exercised to their own detriment, despite their (our) own status as sinners).

 

However, I will say this: at least the debater in this case openly acknowledges that he does not support individual freedom; that acknowledgement is far more than you will likely get from most contemporary Republicans or Democrats.

FWCON‘s original post (in green; my responses in blue for ease of visual and narrative separation):

 

“Why I Am Not a Libertarian”

 

Libertarianism is a political philosophy that has been with us for a while. It is deceptively similar to conservatism, or even liberalism.

 

My understanding is that it holds one thing as morally superior to all other things, that the only good is non-interference. That is, “Live and let live.” In other words, the principle of non-interference.

This is a philosophy that is foreign to Christians. Jesus taught us to help those who don’t deserve help. The Good Samaritan is an allegory where we are taught by the Master to show love and take on the responsibility of care of other for ourselves.

 

Jesus also spent his time warning everyone of the error of their ways. He didn’t hold back his warning from the Pharisees, Sadducees, the Romans, the Jews, or Gentiles. All of them he encourage to receive himself a the Savior of the World, and to trust in him. He encouraged all of them to keep the Law of Moses, but to keep it in your heart as well as in deed. The two great commandments he summarized as loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself.

 

Well, I love myself. I feed myself, I shelter myself, I clothe myself. And so as  a Christian, I believe the Law of God says I should love others, feed others, clothe and shelter them. “Live and let live” is not part of my religion or belief system. In fact, it is a doctrine and teaching we find Cain muttering to God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” It is, simply put, a doctrine of the devil, contrary to God’s law.

This is why I am not a libertarian from a philosophical and religion basis. There is a more practical reason why I am not a libertarian. First, some history.

 

Our country was founded as religious colonies by a religious country. The country we separated from had a state religion, and the king of that country was its head under God himself. The laws were all religious in nature. The freedoms we cherished before we separated from our mother country were all granted by God himself, according to our collective belief. We were a Christian country, in reality, and as far as I know, we never stopped being a Christian country. And not just any plain old Christian country, but a particular flavor of Christianity that isn’t hard to identify.

 

Thus, when we wrote, as a country, “We hold these truths to be self-evident”, we weren’t allowing any debate. We said, “These things are true, and they are so obviously true, we will accept no challenges to them from any grounds.” And what were those truths? That God, the Creator of the earth and mankind, gave us rights. And those rights allowed us the freedom to live, the freedom to do what we thought best, the freedom to pursue happiness (earlier versions had “property”.) Thus, our freedoms to life, our freedoms to liberty, our freedom to property were enshrined as inviolable. Not because we believed “Live and let live”, but because we believed God said so. Taking God out of the equation of our history, taking him out of the foundation that is the cornerstone of our country, is killing the country. It is one and the same. You take away the Creator, you take away the argument that we have rights He gave us that no one can dispute, then we lose those rights. The atheistic libertarian argument is thus not only historically inaccurate, our Founding Fathers would have found it contemptible and even dangerous.

Our country thus not only is formed by these Christian ideals, but in fact, depends on them. Our very existence as a country that resembles that country our ancestors gave us depend on us holding on to this tradition and religion and conveying it to immigrants and descendants.

 

Finally, I will argue from practicality. I will ignore history, ignore philosophy and religion, and rely on arguments that rely only on the materialistic view of the universe as everything being composed of matter and not form. The argument is rather simple.

 

Show me, praytell, where libertarianism has been implemented?

 

And, after giving me the example, show me what effect it has had on the people it governed?

 

The truth is the following.

 

One, libertarianism may have been tried, but it does not exist today anywhere. The philosophy “live and let live” has never been successful. See, what inevitably happens when a “free” people, or rather, a people with no government, exist, is evil people with evil intentions take over. They work and wheedle their way into power, and where there is no power to seize, they create it. Go through the history books, and you will see this is the case every time. Take any society that once approached the libertarian ideal, and tell me if it can maintain it so today. And tell me why not. The answer is really simple: Human nature.

 

This is the crux of my argument: Freedom does not work. Liberty is not an end unto itself. The result of unlimited freedom is captivity. Liberty does not beget liberty. It begets tyranny and slavery. Sure, you may bask in the sunlight of freedom for a season, but it will never last. I’m not talking about hundreds of years, I’m talking about tens of years, or even less. As in, during your lifetime. Right now.

 

Our Founding Fathers knew this, and so they rejected freedom as libertarians interpret it wholesale. They did not and never did intend for our people to be free in the way libertarians advocate. No, they instead demanded that the churches and religions do their duty and ensure that virtue, that is, self-constraint, reign supreme. Should the people be incapable of governing themselves, they warned, we will soon have someone to govern us against our wills. That is the message of history. Either we submit ourselves to our natures, and end up repressed, oppressed, and subjugated, or we submit ourselves to the Laws of God and embrace the freedom that only Christ can give when we do so.

 

Our constitution does not enshrine every liberty. None of our ancestors believed we had right to commit suicide or to commit adultery or homosexual acts. We know this because they wrote their laws. They wrote our laws to protect good and moral action, and forbid bad and immoral action. They knew that people needed government, they needed something to dictate what is right and wrong to those who refused to govern themselves, and they needed its fearful power to hurt those who would govern us as they govern themselves. The constitution was written in such a way that government could have more power, not less. It replaced the Articles of Confederation which were much more like what a libertarian advocates than what our Founding Fathers settled upon. The beauty of the constitution is that it limits government, yes, but the idea of limited government was not new. The beauty is how it limits government, how it ensures that it will fight itself rather than the people when the people’s God-given rights are at stake.

 

Yes, our country is sick. We are sick because we have all gone astray and worship false gods and embrace moralities that cannot give us happiness or peace. Among these are the false gods of the atheists and the corrupt morality of the libertarian. The way to restore health is not to kill the dying creature, but to bring back its life and vitality: a belief in a living God who loves his people and commands them to love him and each other, for their own good and not out of selfishness or vanity. We know we were once alive and vibrant, and now we are not, and so we should be returning to the principles that made us free, not inventing new ones.

 

“Oh, you are trying to impose your morality on us!” they shriek. What they don’t realize is that this is not the case. Instead, look deep inside yourself, and ask if your efforts to enshrine “live and let live” as the ultimate morality is not imposing your morality on me. See, I do not believe for one second that government force can coerce one to believe in God and worship him the way He intends. So I do not believe for one second that government should try. But you do believe that you can force people to “live and let live” if you were to get control of the government. Instead, you should be sending missionaries door-to-door to explain one-on-one why your moral system is superior to mine. It bothers you that your morality cannot inspire 18 and 19 year old kids to give up 2 years of their life in sharing it with others.

 

Perhaps you should understand that is why your morality is dead and fruitless.

I appreciate what libertarians have done in helping to convince people in freedom in economic matters. But I am wholeheartedly in disagreement about what they are trying to do in moral matters. That is why we don’t get along. We never will. Our beliefs are fundamentally opposed to each other. You will let your neighbor’s house burn down. I will put it out. Even if they don’t know their house is on fire.

 

My initial reply/rebuttal:

 

Your position is, unfortunately, a considerable straw man of libertarianism as a general concept – both classically and in its modern incarnation. But, to be fair, I do not speak for all libertarians nor do I hold a monopoly on the idea itself (just as I do not speak for all Christians/Christianity), so I can only address what I think and support. But I will try to concisely address some of your criticisms.

 

  1. “[Libertarianism] holds one thing as morally superior to all other things, that the only good is non-interference. That is, ‘Live and let live.'”

 

It is not true that this philosophy holds only one thing as “good,” nor does the it prescribe any such broadly rigid rules of logic at all. There is nothing about libertarianism that denies the goodness of helping others, or prohibits people from doing so. This statement is only (kind of) true when considered in the context of the state/government’s behavior, which is necessarily based on violence, and is only partially true to the extent that the government wields violence on behalf of one person/group in ways that do not directly protect individuals’ rights. A common straw man asserts that because libertarians do not support violent government infringements of individuals’ rights that they must therefore endorse those rights too. This is simply untrue; I disagree with drug use, for example, but do not support the criminalization of it because it is victimless beyond the individual (who has an inherent right to self-destruct if they wish) and causes far more problems socially, economically, and with respect to freedom than these policies actually solve. This is where libertarians think government should and must give way to other, non-violent coercive institutions and developments (i.e., churches, communities, social mores, etc.).

 

I am a Christian and a libertarian (which is just to say, I do not support Big Government, Big Parties, and the never-ending and inevitable cycle of transgressions they perpetuate). In fact, it is largely because I am a Christian that I am a libertarian. God did not grant me, or the state, or agents of the state, the right or authority to judge or punish others for their sins (that is solely His job, as I recall). Under the New Covenant through Jesus, God Himself avoids violently imposing His own will on us as He once did, choosing instead to peacefully allow us to follow or reject His way at our own discretion and risk. He certainly did not grant me or anyone else the authority to use violent proxies (the state in this case) to impose my will on others (and you point out that this is not effective at any rate). While it is true that Jesus implored us to follow the Law of Moses, a key difference between the Old and New Covenants is that we are no longer instructed or empowered to violently enforce that Law. We effectively traded old sacrifices for Jesus’ final sacrifice. Where we used to demand an “eye for an eye,” we now are expected to forgive, as we ask for forgiveness from God. Galatians makes it fairly clear that Christ removed the curse of the Old Law from us through His sacrifice, and to adhere to those old ways gives great offense to God.

 

But to try and not digress too awful far from the specific point, again libertarianism does not condemn helping others. However, one cannot violently rob Person A and give to needy Person B and still be doing the work of God or Jesus, even when Person B legitimately needs help. Indeed, taking from one and “giving” to another does not meet the spirit or intent Jesus’ teachings that urge sacrificial, selfless aiding of others. Just as Jesus could not fulfill God’s will through a proxy sacrificing their life on Christ’s behalf, neither can we truly meet the spirit of sacrifice in helping others if we use proxies to do so. Matthew 22:15-22 is often misconstrued to mean Jesus supported taxation; I posit that the real intent of this exchange was simply to demonstrate to the faithful that earthly quarrels of state and politics mean nothing when considered against the Kingdom of Heaven (similarly to how Jesus dismissed the importance of earthly Judaic royalty in His exchange with Pilate).

 

  1. “Thus, when we wrote, as a country, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident’, we weren’t allowing any debate.”

 

In quoting the Declaration, which is (as you allude to) part of the Organic Law of this nation, you approached what libertarianism means to me: “…That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…” This passage defines why the United States, as a national entity, were founded in the first place. And as you say, this is non-disputable. This is the essence of libertarianism. I do not know any libertarians who are demanding we “take God out of the equation of our history” or “take him out of the foundation that is the cornerstone of our country.” Again, for me, it is precisely because I believe God gifted me with self-reason, individual rights, and equality under Him that I do not subscribe to a human institution that seeks to function outside of this paradigm. Libertarianism is, in my opinion, a basic rejection of supplanting God for the State, a rejection of turning to other fallible humans to overreach their basic rights and privileges under God to violently punish and/or control their fellow man in lieu of an individual, willing subjugation to Him through Christ.

 

And honestly, I am not even aware of what “the atheistic libertarian argument” actually is. A beauty of libertarianism, unlike most other philosophies, is that it is so limited in scope (i.e., a rejection of unlimited, unchecked Big Government) that it is attractive to people of all walks of life. I believe it is the most inherently inclusive political philosophy that is in no way incompatible with spirituality in general, or Christianity in particular. One of the chief reasons that it is not more widespread is precisely because it is straw manned so much with disinformation, but the diversity of the movement’s makeup is undeniable relative to other, more common modern philosophies.

 

  1. “Show me, praytell, where libertarianism has been implemented?”

 

This is an overly simplistic rhetorical and partial combination of logical fallacies known as begging the question, the naturalistic fallacy, and the nirvana fallacy. Because it is fallacy, it fails to properly address the substantive merits of the position, and instead asserts (but does not prove) a conclusion within the question itself. We are told to strive to be like Christ. Would it not be equally easy to say “show me, praytell, where anyone has actually been like Christ.” When this challenge fails, as it surely will since no one is truly Christ-like, does that invalidate the propriety of trying to be like Him? Just because something presents an extremely difficult pursuit does not mean that the pursuit itself is unworthy. Indeed, I have long held that that right thing and the easy thing are most often not the same things. What matters is the substance of the message – is Christ’s message worthy of emulation? – not whether it is practically achievable. I will never be like Christ; but I believe I will be the best person I can be by trying to be like Him within my limitations. This is also why I exercise despite knowing I will never be at the level of a professional athlete. Besides, the Constitution can be accurately described as a mostly libertarian framework, original de facto endorsements of slavery notwithstanding.

 

  1. “What inevitably happens when a ‘free’ people, or rather, a people with no government, exist, is evil people with evil intentions take over.”

 

This is a true statement; it is also a common straw man levied against libertarians. Again, I speak not on a monopoly basis, but neither I, nor any other libertarian I know or exchange ideas with, believe this. There is a marked difference between anarchy and minarchy. Libertarianism, as I embrace it, is recognition of the need for government but for it to do one thing only (as laid down in the Declaration): protect individual rights from those evil people you noted. That is a minarchy. This purpose behind the institution does not include the vast majority of functions that modern American government embraces, including (but not limited to) social engineering, regulating victimless behavior, violently imposing moralistic standards on others that infringe individual rights, etc.

 

  1. “This is the crux of my argument: Freedom does not work. Liberty is not an end unto itself. The result of unlimited freedom is captivity. Liberty does not beget liberty. It begets tyranny and slavery.”

 

Part of this statement is simply untrue, at least when considered in the context of codified law establishing American government (i.e., Organic Law). Liberty is the end unto itself for the institution of the United States as a nation. That end is, as demonstrated, explicitly written and codified via democratic treaty and cannot be legally ignored. The rest of the statement is philosophy that is not proven fact, and cannot be proven. It is what you believe, but I hold to a different belief. Liberty does not beget tyranny and slavery; tyranny in the guise of liberty surely does this I will acknowledge, but liberty does not. I wish to be free from my fellow man, not from God. Libertarianism does not present a conflict with God but with other men who, under God, are equal to me and therefore present no legitimacy in regulating my life beyond protecting their own divine rights. I wish to be free, and I recognize that in order for me to be free I must be willing to allow others the same consideration.

 

To this point, libertarianism is not incompatible with people governing themselves, as you mentioned in the subsequent paragraph. Indeed, libertarianism expects people to behave themselves within the constraints of their just rights (i.e., not infringing on others’ rights, person, property, etc.) and expects people to be held responsible for their behaviors when they fail to do so. Freedom is not the same as lack of accountability; freedom and personal responsibility are two sides of the same coin, so to speak. Again, I think a large part of this disconnect is the belief that libertarianism equates to anarchy, when in fact it espouses minarchy (i.e., stern limits on the government, which has no inherent right to exist vice stern limits on individuals who do).

 

  1. “Our constitution does not enshrine every liberty.”

 

It is true our Constitution does not enumerate every liberty. However, the Tenth Amendment fairly clearly points out that it did not set out to, and that an absence of such a list does not preclude unmentioned individual liberties. Indeed, a libertarian argument would be that the federal government was never meant to provide any police authority whatever, let alone to those behaviors you have listed here as ones you disagree with. The Constitution is very clear – however it may be abused, misused, and/or ignored today – that no such power delegated (the use of that specific word is very important after all) to the federal government is not rightfully the federal government’s to assume. Those non-enumerated powers, including law enforcement, belong to the States and the people. It is true that regardless of this point, libertarians endorse decriminalization of behaviors that are arguably victimless as in your example, but this hardly equates to Godlessness or anarchy as is implied. Two gay people having consensual sex, while sinful, does not violate anyone’s individual rights and is thusly outside the scope of federal government propriety (the federal republican aspect of this is a slightly different discussion with different implications, though it is fair to say that a libertarian views marriage/consensual sex as being outside the realm of legitimate regulation for state government as well).

 

  1. “None of our ancestors believed we had right to commit suicide or to commit adultery or homosexual acts.”

 

As you pointed out previously, our rights are derived from God, not from our ancestors, so in truth what they believed is irrelevant in this sense. If God granted us free will to stray from His path, as He surely did even if this is wrong, then God granted us the right to behave in sinful ways, including those you mentioned. The only libertarian question here is one regarding the state’s behavior: does the state have the right to violently regulate victimless behavior? I believe philosophically, and the Constitution supports this at least at the federal level, that the answer is “no.” Tying this back to the Christian message: God did not grant us divine authority to violently regulate other people’s sinful behavior under the New Covenant. Repercussions for sin are His and His alone to dole out.

 

  1. “You will let your neighbor’s house burn down. I will put it out.”

 

This is a purely absurd assertion that bears no reasonable similarity to reality. I am going to forego addressing the multiple ad hominems listed in this post in the interest of limiting this to a civil discourse an intellectual exchange, but needless to say those fallacies do nothing to substantively further one’s position logically.

 

As we all know, everyone is certainly entitled to their perspectives, interpretations, opinions, and beliefs. I just feel that libertarianism has been inaccurately characterized in your post according to what you think, or maybe wish, it means rather than what it actually means – at least to me. This is not so much meant to “convert” you to my way of thinking, as you have made clear that this cannot be done and I can understand that. This reply is really meant to give the third party viewer a different, and more accurate as it relates to me at least, characterization of libertarianism for them to consider.

 

FWCON’s subsequent response:

 

“A Thoughtful Response Requires a Thoughtful Response”

 

I’ll try to limit the arguments to their core. If I leave something out that was important, I beg you’ll explain why leaving it out was wrong.

 

Your position is, unfortunately, a considerable straw man of libertarianism as a general concept – both classically and in its modern incarnation. But, to be fair, I do not speak for all libertarians nor do I hold a monopoly on the idea itself (just as I do not speak for all Christians/Christianity), so I can only address what I think and support. But I will try to concisely address some of your criticisms.

 

I will show you why reducing libertarianism to “Live and let live” is not a strawman. It is, in fact, the core morality of libertarianism, and in order to believe in it, you must adhere to it.

 

What awoke me to this fact was the contradiction between what libertarianism encouraged me to do and what Christianity encouraged me to do, both within and without government.

 

  1. “[Libertarianism] holds one thing as morally superior to all other things, that the only good is non-interference. That is, ‘Live and let live.’”

 

It is not true that this philosophy holds only one thing as “good,” nor does the it prescribe any such broadly rigid rules of logic at all.

 

Every philosophy which speaks about morality must have a central moral tenet. In Christianity, it is that God is good. If libertarianism has none, then libertarianism cannot speak about good or evil at all, but simply facts of nature.

 

There is nothing about libertarianism that denies the goodness of helping others, or prohibits people from doing so.

 

I agree.

 

This statement is only (kind of) true when considered in the context of the state/government’s behavior, which is necessarily based on violence, and is only partially true to the extent that the government wields violence on behalf of one person/group in ways that do not directly protect individuals’ rights.

 

Here is the crux where Christians and libertarians diverge. Christian morality dictates that government *should* be of one form or another. In times past, they argued that there should be kings ordained by the pope. Today, they argue that the government should be structured on Christian morality.

Libertarians, as you are stating here, have as their guiding principle on what government should do as “protecting individuals rights”. All uses of violence outside of this is, apparently, abhorrent to you.

Never do libertarians list the rights that humans have! Nor do they have a resource that people should consult to discern what is a right and what is not. Isn’t that curious?

 

A common straw man asserts that because libertarians do not support violent government infringements of individuals’ rights that they must therefore endorse those rights too. This is simply untrue; I disagree with drug use, for example, but do not support the criminalization of it because it is victimless beyond the individual (who has an inherent right to self-destruct if they wish) and causes far more problems socially, economically, and with respect to freedom than these policies actually solve. This is where libertarians think government should and must give way to other, non-violent coercive institutions and developments (i.e., churches, communities, social mores, etc.).

 

And here we are! Is drug use a right? Would the Founding Fathers have said, “People have the right to destroy their brain with harmful drugs?” Of course not. Because they would never consider suicide a right, just like you don’t have a right to pluck out your eye or cut off your arm. See, rights, to a Christian, are those things God tells us to do. And part of that is to treat our body as a temple used to house the spirit of God. We don’t have time as Christians to desensitize our minds and alter them in psychadelic experience, what between our preaching of the gospel and baptizing of the nations.

 

Drug use can only be considered a “right” (keep in mind that the word “right” has moral connotations) if your morality is based on “let people do what they want (within these bounds we set for ourselves.)” I can’t imagine any other framework where the idea that someone can and *should* self-harm themselves to be a moral good. Only the Libertarian can claim moral victory by watching people kill themselves!

 

I am a Christian and a libertarian (which is just to say, I do not support Big Government, Big Parties, and the never-ending and inevitable cycle of transgressions they perpetuate). In fact, it is largely because I am a Christian that I am a libertarian. God did not grant me, or the state, or agents of the state, the right or authority to judge or punish others for their sins (that is solely His job, as I recall).

 

I beg to differ. Read the Old Testament. When God had his chance to establish his government the way he wanted to, he set up all sorts of laws about who we have to punish when they commit certain sins. In fact, after Noah, God put all of mankind under covenant not to murder, and to kill those who do murder. In other words, the Christian God does compel men to execute his justice in certain instances. To deny this is to ignore the Bible.

 

Also note that the church that Jesus established did inflict punishment on people who violated the rules of that church. There’s a reason why Christian nations have strict laws and there’s a reason why they enforce those laws. We do not leave it all to God and I have a hard time finding that passage in the Bible that says so. Some sins, yes, other sins, absolutely not.

 

Under the New Covenant through Jesus, God Himself avoids violently imposing His own will on us as He once did, choosing instead to peacefully allow us to follow or reject His way at our own discretion and risk.

 

That is, until he decides it is time to wipe away all the wicked from the earth.

 

You seem to subscribe to the lovey-dovey God who is all mercy and no justice. What happened to the Jesus who used a whip to drive out the moneychangers from the temple? What happened to the God who promised eternal damnation to those who did not believe in him?

 

The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament. Jesus did not change the law, he fulfilled it. We confuse ourselves if we think the game is any different now than it was 5,000 years ago. God doesn’t change. Our understanding of him changes, but God is still the same and demands the same thing today he demanded back then.

 

He certainly did not grant me or anyone else the authority to use violent proxies (the state in this case) to impose my will on others (and you point out that this is not effective at any rate).

 

Let me clarify: You cannot use the force of government to force someone to believe something. You cannot use the force of government to do certain other things as well. But you can use it to, say, keep thieves out of your cities and keep child molesters from patrolling your neighborhoods. You can also use it to defend your borders and regulate markets. You can use it to rally troops for war or build religious sites.

 

While it is true that Jesus implored us to follow the Law of Moses, a key difference between the Old and New Covenants is that we are no longer instructed or empowered to violently enforce that Law. We effectively traded old sacrifices for Jesus’ final sacrifice. Where we used to demand an “eye for an eye,” we now are expected to forgive, as we ask for forgiveness from God. Galatians makes it fairly clear that Christ removed the curse of the Old Law from us through His sacrifice, and to adhere to those old ways gives great offense to God.

 

We’re free to disagree about our interpretation, but from what I see, he did no such thing. Yes, we are supposed to forgive, and agree with our enemies quickly, etc… but at the same time, the law is still in force. I don’t know exactly which passage you are referring to in Galatians, but I do know that Romans 6:15 says that just because we are forgiven for our disobedience it does not excuse us from obedience. How then can adhering to God’s law cause offense to God? It is what he commanded us to do, it is the law Jesus kept, it is the law that we are to keep when we are forgiven by grace.

 

But to try and not digress too awful far from the specific point, again libertarianism does not condemn helping others. However, one cannot violently rob Person A and give to needy Person B and still be doing the work of God or Jesus, even when Person B legitimately needs help. Indeed, taking from one and “giving” to another does not meet the spirit or intent Jesus’ teachings that urge sacrificial, selfless aiding of others. Just as Jesus could not fulfill God’s will through a proxy sacrificing their life on Christ’s behalf, neither can we truly meet the spirit of sacrifice in helping others if we use proxies to do so. Matthew 22:15-22 is often misconstrued to mean Jesus supported taxation; I posit that the real intent of this exchange was simply to demonstrate to the faithful that earthly quarrels of state and politics mean nothing when considered against the Kingdom of Heaven (similarly to how Jesus dismissed the importance of earthly Judaic royalty in His exchange with Pilate).

 

So in the last breath, you argued that we are not supposed to keep the law, and now you are arguing that we are? Charity has been clearly delineated in the Old Testament. The method whereby the rich are to help the poor and the poor to petition the rich are laid out in crystal clarity. I disagree with the methods liberals espouse because it is non-Biblical and a violation of the most basic commandments. You disagree because why? Because it conflicts with the central morality of Libertarianism: Don’t interfere.

 

  1. “Thus, when we wrote, as a country, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident’, we weren’t allowing any debate.”

 

In quoting the Declaration, which is (as you allude to) part of the Organic Law of this nation, you approached what libertarianism means to me: “…That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…” This passage defines why the United States, as a national entity, were founded in the first place. And as you say, this is non-disputable. This is the essence of libertarianism. I do not know any libertarians who are demanding we “take God out of the equation of our history” or “take him out of the foundation that is the cornerstone of our country.”

 

You don’t know any atheist libertarians then? Because it’s all I hear from libertarians who are atheist. They want to get rid of that pesky religion that keeps interfering with their plans to make minimal government.

 

Note that a plain reading of the Declaration says it is God who tells men to make governments to secure the rights that God gave them.

 

Again, for me, it is precisely because I believe God gifted me with self-reason, individual rights, and equality under Him that I do not subscribe to a human institution that seeks to function outside of this paradigm. Libertarianism is, in my opinion, a basic rejection of supplanting God for the State, a rejection of turning to other fallible humans to overreach their basic rights and privileges under God to violently punish and/or control their fellow man in lieu of an individual, willing subjugation to Him through Christ.

 

Do you admit that Christ set those bounds for government, or do you think human reason sets those bounds? This is a very important question and shows whether you are a Christian first or something else first.

 

And honestly, I am not even aware of what “the atheistic libertarian argument” actually is. A beauty of libertarianism, unlike most other philosophies, is that it is so limited in scope (i.e., a rejection of unlimited, unchecked Big Government) that it is attractive to people of all walks of life. I believe it is the most inherently inclusive political philosophy that is in no way incompatible with spirituality in general, or Christianity in particular. One of the chief reasons that it is not more widespread is precisely because it is straw manned so much with disinformation, but the diversity of the movement’s makeup is undeniable relative to other, more common modern philosophies.

 

It is inclusive, until the pesky morality starts peeking its head in and saying, “Wait a minute. This law would maximize the freedom of the people to do certain things, but are those the *right* things that government should allow people to do?” Minimum government is not the goal of the conservative. It is an effect, true, but not the goal. Small government is better than what we have today, but government can be too small as well.

 

  1. “Show me, praytell, where libertarianism has been implemented?”

 

This is an overly simplistic rhetorical and partial combination of logical fallacies known as begging the question, the naturalistic fallacy, and the nirvana fallacy. Because it is fallacy, it fails to properly address the substantive merits of the position, and instead asserts (but does not prove) a conclusion within the question itself. We are told to strive to be like Christ. Would it not be equally easy to say “show me, praytell, where anyone has actually been like Christ.” When this challenge fails, as it surely will since no one is truly Christ-like, does that invalidate the propriety of trying to be like Him? Just because something presents an extremely difficult pursuit does not mean that the pursuit itself is unworthy. Indeed, I have long held that that right thing and the easy thing are most often not the same things. What matters is the substance of the message – is Christ’s message worthy of emulation? – not whether it is practically achievable. I will never be like Christ; but I believe I will be the best person I can be by trying to be like Him within my limitations. This is also why I exercise despite knowing I will never be at the level of a professional athlete. Besides, the Constitution can be accurately described as a mostly libertarian framework, original de facto endorsements of slavery notwithstanding.

 

So you admit my argument is moot because… no one has tried libertarianism? That was my point.

Regarding whether any Christians have tried government by Christian law: Yes, yes they have, and you don’t have to look very hard on the European continent to see it. Which Christian has ever claimed to be like Christ? That is not the point of Christianity. Christianity admits that we are all flawed. We owe Western Civilization to all of the people who tried to rule as a Christian should rule, whether that was Charlemagne, the later emperors of Rome, the various Popes, or the kings and governors of the nations of Europe. I accept their flaws and their victories as contributing factors to my current status. As a people, we were pretty screwed up, but so was everyone else, and in balance, we turned out OK.

So have we tried rule by Christianity? Yes, and it worked exceptionally well. We beat the Middle East, the Far East, and all the islands everywhere else. No culture can compare to ours, and now our culture is infiltrating every corner of the globe.

 

  1. “What inevitably happens when a ‘free’ people, or rather, a people with no government, exist, is evil people with evil intentions take over.”

 

This is a true statement; it is also a common straw man levied against libertarians. Again, I speak not on a monopoly basis, but neither I, nor any other libertarian I know or exchange ideas with, believe this. There is a marked difference between anarchy and minarchy. Libertarianism, as I embrace it, is recognition of the need for government but for it to do one thing only (as laid down in the Declaration): protect individual rights from those evil people you noted. That is a minarchy. This purpose behind the institution does not include the vast majority of functions that modern American government embraces, including (but not limited to) social engineering, regulating victimless behavior, violently imposing moralistic standards on others that infringe individual rights, etc.

 

So, Libertarian says, “Government is good, except ours.” With that argument, no one can ever implement Libertarianism. It seems also there is a fatal flaw in Libertarianism. There is the paradox that if you accept all freedoms, then you accept the freedom to limit freedom. Obviously, that leads to contradictions, which is my point. The ultimate end goal of minimum interference or securing rights for right’s sake is that exact contradiction. Who gets to define which rights are worth defending and which are not?

 

  1. “This is the crux of my argument: Freedom does not work. Liberty is not an end unto itself. The result of unlimited freedom is captivity. Liberty does not beget liberty. It begets tyranny and slavery.”

 

Part of this statement is simply untrue, at least when considered in the context of codified law establishing American government (i.e., Organic Law). Liberty is the end unto itself for the institution of the United States as a nation. That end is, as demonstrated, explicitly written and codified via democratic treaty and cannot be legally ignored. The rest of the statement is philosophy that is not proven fact, and cannot be proven. It is what you believe, but I hold to a different belief. Liberty does not beget tyranny and slavery; tyranny in the guise of liberty surely does this I will acknowledge, but liberty does not. I wish to be free from my fellow man, not from God. Libertarianism does not present a conflict with God but with other men who, under God, are equal to me and therefore present no legitimacy in regulating my life beyond protecting their own divine rights. I wish to be free, and I recognize that in order for me to be free I must be willing to allow others the same consideration.

 

This is where you are wrong: “Liberty is the end unto itself for the institution of the United States as a nation.”

 

Liberty was not the intended consequence of the American government. It is a means to the end, but it is not the end. Read the preamble. It never says that the point of government is to secure liberty, it says that the point is to secure the *blessings* of liberty. We were not formed as a nation to protect liberty alone, but to ensure that we would be able to enjoy the fruits that liberty brings. Also, note that it is listed as the last of many ends of the formation of the government.

 

Did our Founding Fathers form the United States because they wanted to make sure people had access to harmful drugs, to prostitution, to homosexual marriages, and to all manner of perversions and filthy behavior? NO! To them, these things were not indications of freedom, but indications of subjection, namely, being subject to the powers of darkness, namely sin. There are no blessings you get from prostitution and other moral vices. They wanted no part in that, and they didn’t want to secure that for their children.

 

There are blessings in the freedom that comes from Christian salvation, the freedom from sin and the freedom promised by Christ to those who embrace the truth of his mission to save this world.

 

To this point, libertarianism is not incompatible with people governing themselves, as you mentioned in the subsequent paragraph. Indeed, libertarianism expects people to behave themselves within the constraints of their just rights (i.e., not infringing on others’ rights, person, property, etc.) and expects people to be held responsible for their behaviors when they fail to do so. Freedom is not the same as lack of accountability; freedom and personal responsibility are two sides of the same coin, so to speak. Again, I think a large part of this disconnect is the belief that libertarianism equates to anarchy, when in fact it espouses minarchy (i.e., stern limits on the government, which has no inherent right to exist vice stern limits on individuals who do).

 

Again, who defines the rights people are entitled to and government must protect? What should be the punishment for people who abuse their freedom, when it doesn’t directly infringe on someone else’s? The Bible dictates death to the adulterer, for instance. Why would the Bible say that? Do you trust the Bible’s morality or do you trust the libertarian morality, where sexual relationships outside of marriage are no evil because there is no harm and we should just ignore it if we have a religious objection to it?

 

  1. “Our constitution does not enshrine every liberty.”

 

It is true our Constitution does not enumerate every liberty. However, the Tenth Amendment fairly clearly points out that it did not set out to, and that an absence of such a list does not preclude unmentioned individual liberties. Indeed, a libertarian argument would be that the federal government was never meant to provide any police authority whatever, let alone to those behaviors you have listed here as ones you disagree with. The Constitution is very clear – however it may be abused, misused, and/or ignored today – that no such power delegated (the use of that specific word is very important after all) to the federal government is not rightfully the federal government’s to assume. Those non-enumerated powers, including law enforcement, belong to the States and the people. It is true that regardless of this point, libertarians endorse decriminalization of behaviors that are arguably victimless as in your example, but this hardly equates to Godlessness or anarchy as is implied. Two gay people having consensual sex, while sinful, does not violate anyone’s individual rights and is thusly outside the scope of federal government propriety (the federal republican aspect of this is a slightly different discussion with different implications, though it is fair to say that a libertarian views marriage/consensual sex as being outside the realm of legitimate regulation for state government as well).

 

I don’t need to remind you that I trust the constitution over our current government, which has perverted the constitution in every way I can imagine and then some.

 

There is a reason why the constitution doesn’t list every right. The federal government was not the place to protect those particular rights that weren’t listed. Note that the 10th amendment does not leave everything else to the people. It leaves it to the states or the people. Meaning, there are some things the states could do to limit the behavior of the people, and that the constitution is counting on them to do.

 

I see you are being more explicit and brave now, putting God’s laws and morality below the libertarian. See, to God, marriage and sexual relationships were something extraordinarily important. Violating his laws in these matters was a capital offense. The reason why government is involved in these matters is because our government is a Christian one, based on the Bible. And the Bible says that these things should be laws. The reason why we are having a debate today is because there are a lot of people who don’t believe that we should be a Christian nation anymore, yourself included. You have decided to substitute God’s morality with your own, or somebody else’s.

 

I can argue that homosexual acts *do* infringe upon my individual liberties, but that’s not the point of this. I’m not trying to justify God’s morality, I am merely saying that his morality is mine, and so I believe that should be the guiding star in moral discussions.

 

  1. “None of our ancestors believed we had right to commit suicide or to commit adultery or homosexual acts.”

 

As you pointed out previously, our rights are derived from God, not from our ancestors, so in truth what they believed is irrelevant in this sense. If God granted us free will to stray from His path, as He surely did even if this is wrong, then God granted us the right to behave in sinful ways, including those you mentioned. The only libertarian question here is one regarding the state’s behavior: does the state have the right to violently regulate victimless behavior? I believe philosophically, and the Constitution supports this at least at the federal level, that the answer is “no.” Tying this back to the Christian message: God did not grant us divine authority to violently regulate other people’s sinful behavior under the New Covenant. Repercussions for sin are His and His alone to dole out.

 

“What they believed is irrelevant.” All of the work and thought they put into trying to form a nation that would have freedom and maintain it through the ages is being thrown away here. Here you stand, acting as if you know more than they knew, or they were somehow beneath you. What gives you the perspective they didn’t have? What makes you a superior theologian or philosopher?

 

God did grant us the ability to break his laws, true, and he also gave us a commandment to punish certain violations of those laws. Never did he excuse even the smallest violation of the law. All sins will be accounted for. If we do not embrace Christ, then we will be damned by our own sins.

To suppose that you somehow understand the Bible better than your ancestors… that is true pride and audacity. “Pride cometh before the fall.” What an apt description for our generation!

 

  1. “You will let your neighbor’s house burn down. I will put it out.”

 

This is a purely absurd assertion that bears no reasonable similarity to reality.

 

It bears everything with reality. As the world reels in sin and error, I am not going to stand idly by and say government should not do things government should do, or government should do things it should not. I am going to use God’s morality as my own. I am going to spend the time and effort it takes to appreciate our ancestors rather than suppose that because I was born in a later century than them I know better.

 

I am going to forego addressing the multiple ad hominems listed in this post in the interest of limiting this to a civil discourse an intellectual exchange, but needless to say those fallacies do nothing to substantively further one’s position logically.

 

As we all know, everyone is certainly entitled to their perspectives, interpretations, opinions, and beliefs. I just feel that libertarianism has been inaccurately characterized in your post according to what you think, or maybe wish, it means rather than what it actually means – at least to me. This is not so much meant to “convert” you to my way of thinking, as you have made clear that this cannot be done and I can understand that. This reply is really meant to give the third party viewer a different, and more accurate as it relates to me at least, characterization of libertarianism for them to consider.

 

I haven’t seen any place where you’ve disagreed with my assertion of the central morality of Libertarianism: Let people do what they want. As long as it doesn’t directly affect me, it’s none of my business. “Live and let live” as they say. You’ve tried to contort Christianity to conform with Libertarianism, I am sure, but you have not rejected the definition I gave of it.

 

My final attempt to cut through the morass of layered fallacies:

 

Now we are engaging in (hopefully) constructive discussion and exchange. I will provide my replies in listed fashion as well, as you have done, to keep things tight.

 

  1. “Christian morality dictates that government *should* be of one form or another. In times past, they argued that there should be kings ordained by the pope. Today, they argue that the government should be structured on Christian morality.”

 

I understand that, historically, Christians have blended faith with governments of various designs and makeups. However – and this is probably a central place where we diverge, not just politically but religiously as well – I have never seen anywhere in the New Testament where Jesus outlines how a government should look, function, and behave. He only outlines how individuals should do so. The Old Testament’s framework for a government for the Jews is overcome by events with the New Covenant, in my opinion. God stepped away from micromanaging (my words for lack of better) human, earthly affairs in favor of individual eternal salvation (a concept that did not even exist as Christians know it for the Jews). Remember, one of the central reasons Jesus was rejected by the Jews was that he rejected the concept of a messiah as an earthly king of Israel in favor of a savior for all (including the Gentiles). This was, of course, an interpretation that the Jews did not accept; they were fixated on earthly government and rule, whereas God through Jesus presented a new message that says such theocracies are no longer important in the context of our eternal souls. This is ultimately why I, as a self-identified Christian, make a conscious decision to delineate mortal government affairs from my individual relationship with God.

 

  1. “Libertarians, as you are stating here, have as their guiding principle on what government should do as “protecting individuals rights”. All uses of violence outside of this is, apparently, abhorrent to you.

 

This is true, at least as far as I interpret libertarian limited government. All policies of government I view through the lens of the use of violence. Violence is, contrary to many people’s assertions, a very effective answer to almost any problem. However, this does not, I am sure you will agree, mean that all uses of violence are legitimate or just (re: Aquinas’ Just War Theory/Doctrine). I am a large, strong, well-trained man; this means that, if I wished, I could resolve many of my problems by wielding violent aggression against those who are weaker than I but clearly this is an unjust, evil use of violence. However, wielding violence in clear defense of my person, or another, is a just use of violence. I provide this train of thought for context to understand that this is subsequently how I weigh government behavior since everything the state does – from law enforcement to regulations, to tax collection, to judicial punishment – must necessarily be predicated on the use of violence or its threatened use. Thus, all government actions are necessarily viewed, by me, through the prism of whether or not violence is appropriately applied. So in this vein, I would say this is the guiding moral compass of libertarianism as I embrace it. I guess you could say “live and let live,” is somewhat appropriate, but only because the inappropriate use of violence is worse than the original offense in many cases. I would be just in punching someone in the face for simply telling a lie, even though that is a sin.

 

  1. “Never do libertarians list the rights that humans have!”

 

I will rectify this now; I neglected to mention this in my previous reply because I did not think a list was necessary (I thought I implied it well enough). In short, however, people have the right to do whatever they wish, provided they do not infringe on another person’s equal rights to the same. This is why murder and theft (just to name two easy ones) are not just individual rights. However, engaging in victimless behavior that others disagree with is absolutely an individual right pursuant to free will. To use the previous example, there are ways to deal with liars that do not involve state-sponsored violence (i.e., community shaming, losing business/friendships/relationships, etc.).

 

  1. “Nor do they have a resource that people should consult to discern what is a right and what is not.”

 

Again this is untrue, because it confuses personal (i.e., spiritual) liberties with civil liberties. Libertarianism does not govern my personal conduct or lifestyle. Christianity, along with other influences (family, culture, etc.) govern this. Libertarianism is only meant to govern how the state behaves towards its constituents (me).

 

  1. “Is drug use a right? Would the Founding Fathers have said, ‘People have the right to destroy their brain with harmful drugs?'”

 

I absolutely posit that drug use is a right, regardless of how harmful it is to the individual in question. George Washington was, of course, the largest whisky distiller in the fledgling nation at one point (and of course, alcohol is a drug like any other). There is every reason to believe that the Founders smoked marijuana, and they absolutely drank alcohol, while debating, framing, and writing the Constitution. God does not judge one’s acceptability for Heaven based on these particular choices, and even if He did, He granted us free will (i.e., an inherent right) to make such choices. To deny this asserts that God either erred in granting us this will, or is contradicting Himself somehow by the very concept of forgiveness. Again, I think it is a mistake to assume all rights are good; a right is simply something that someone can choose to do or not do without violent intervention from the state, and have the consequences, good or bad, fall upon their shoulders in different forms. That the government is not the only answer to all situations is another central tenet of libertarianism.

 

  1. “…you don’t have a right to pluck out your eye or cut off your arm”

 

I disagree here as well. I most certainly have a right to donate a kidney or other organ to a needful person, just as I have a right to desecrate my flesh if I wish on pain of God’s judgement for doing so (including Old Testament desecrations that are no longer valid under Christ).

 

  1. “See, rights, to a Christian, are those things God tells us to do.”

 

Here, we simply disagree. Divine commandments are not the same thing as rights. For example, there is no commandment to procreate, yet we clearly have the right to do so, both politically and under God’s framework for life.

 

  1. “And part of that is to treat our body as a temple used to house the spirit of God. We don’t have time as Christians to desensitize our minds and alter them in psychadelic experience, what between our preaching of the gospel and baptizing of the nations.”

 

Again, this confuses rights (including the right to disobey) with commandments. I do not disagree that this is how Christians are instructed to do works; I am simply pointing out that part of the Christian message is that we absolutely have a right to turn our backs to God as we wish on our mortal plane, and consequently accept His judgment accordingly. Part of providing Jesus as the sacrificial lamb was releasing us from God’s direct control of our mortal behavior and decisions and granting us discretion to come to God freely and willingly through Christ (vice through Levitical law). This is why Christianity is such a struggle; without a choice (and temptation to reject such a choice, as Christ had to face in the Garden of Gethsemane), there is no real sacrifice.

 

  1. “Drug use can only be considered a ‘right’ (keep in mind that the word ‘right’ has moral connotations) if your morality is based on “let people do what they want (within these bounds we set for ourselves.)’ I can’t imagine any other framework where the idea that someone can and *should* self-harm themselves to be a moral good. Only the Libertarian can claim moral victory by watching people kill themselves!”

 

I disagree here as well. As I view it, a “right” does not have a moral connotation for the individual exercising the right so much as it has moral connotations for the person(s) presumably seeking to dictate one’s non-violent, non-infringing choices, behaviors, and decisions. Libertarianism is not about celebrating bad choices, but rather celebrating the restraint demonstrated when one refuses to use violence directly – or indirectly through the state proxy – to control another. I did not, nor do any libertarians I am familiar with, endorse poor behavior as being something someone “should” do. We simply peacefully respect another’s right to do so provided they do not harm me or mine along the way. Similarly, we do not convert people to Christianity, which “should” be their chosen path, with fire and sword, because folks have a right to stray from Christ as they wish and I am not justly authorized to judge/punish that decision.

 

  1. “I beg to differ. Read the Old Testament. When God had his chance to establish his government the way he wanted to, he set up all sorts of laws about who we have to punish when they commit certain sins.”

 

Agreed. But all of that in the Old Testament became null and void with the advent of Christ’s sacrifice as the New Covenant. Indeed, adhering to the Old Law is a sin unto itself. Galatians 3 (NIV):

 

10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

 

This is, I believe, why he saved Mary Magdalene from a clear, just punishment by the Jews under the Old Law’s provisions – because he introduced a new approach to address sin for a new age, as personified by Him.

 

  1. “That is, until he decides it is time to wipe away all the wicked from the earth.”

 

Fair enough, and I did point out it was at risk.

 

  1. “You seem to subscribe to the lovey-dovey God who is all mercy and no justice. What happened to the Jesus who used a whip to drive out the moneychangers from the temple? What happened to the God who promised eternal damnation to those who did not believe in him?”

 

It is true; Jesus is, in my opinion, the personification of a “lovey-dovey” God. The Jesus that used a whip is also the Christ who declared a Golden Rule, forgave non-violent sinners without violent repercussion (indeed, forgave even his crucifiers, though I do not espouse that degree of tolerance), and says that the only way to Heaven is through faith in Him (not by taking the Law into one’s own hands). That he treated the moneychangers so is not a point of contention here; as stated, I do not subscribe to an environment with no government or no laws. Fraud, theft, and extortion are all violations of individual rights and are justly illegal already and in a libertarian environment. Also, I have already addressed that God retains the sole right to damn or forgive anyone He wishes at His discretion, a risk we all are faced with every day that we walk this Earth.

 

  1. “The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament. Jesus did not change the law, he fulfilled it. We confuse ourselves if we think the game is any different now than it was 5,000 years ago. God doesn’t change. Our understanding of him changes, but God is still the same and demands the same thing today he demanded back then.”

 

I agree, Jesus did not change the Law. A sin is a sin is a sin. He did, however, change how we deal with the Law. The “game” is very much different, in my opinion; that is the central tenet of the Sermon on the Mount and, really, Jesus’ entire message. It is precisely because of this New Covenant, that effectively states the Covenant that came before is null (except for those pieces that Christ reaffirmed, such as loving God and one’s neighbor for example), is why the Jews rejected Him. They clung to earthly authority and power, when Jesus’ message dismissed such vain notions as unimportant to God going forward. Obedience on pain of immediate, divinely delivered death gave way to disobedience being forgiven through faith in the Lamb of God. Yes, the “game” is very much different.

 

  1. “But you can use it to, say, keep thieves out of your cities and keep child molesters from patrolling your neighborhoods. You can also use it to defend your borders and regulate markets. You can use it to rally troops for war or build religious sites.”

 

I agree that you can use government violence to address thieves, molesters, and in self-defense. This is in keeping with protecting individual rights, and I never disputed these points as part of a minarchy establishment. I disagree that government violence is appropriate to regulate markets (beyond fraud, thievery, extortion, etc.) and to build religious sites. These are inappropriate applications of force (as the means must be forcefully confiscated to do so). Government is appropriate in defending one’s right to build a religious site by their own justly obtained means, but not to do so outright (and that is clearly unconstitutional at any rate, beyond just philosophical discussions).

 

  1. “We’re free to disagree about our interpretation, but from what I see, he did no such thing. Yes, we are supposed to forgive, and agree with our enemies quickly, etc… but at the same time, the law is still in force. I don’t know exactly which passage you are referring to in Galatians, but I do know that Romans 6:15 says that just because we are forgiven for our disobedience it does not excuse us from obedience. How then can adhering to God’s law cause offense to God? It is what he commanded us to do, it is the law Jesus kept, it is the law that we are to keep when we are forgiven by grace.”

 

Agreed about interpretational differences. I already discussed some of this above. I do not deny the Law is still in force, and did not say so. I only said how we are expected to react/deal with the Law, specifically as it relates to how we treat others, is different now (also as discussed above). But the Law is trumped by faith; that is the essence of forgiveness. A murderer, though justly punished by man, is still a Law-breaker but nonetheless eligible for Heaven according to God’s, and only God’s, judgment if his faith warrants it by God’s own assessment. If memory serves, Jesus promised that one of the thieves he was crucified beside would see Heaven based on his inspirational and spontaneous wash of real faith. I do not disagree that forgiveness does not equate to excusal, but again we are talking about the difference between personal choices and relationships with God, and what the libertarian says a government can and should justly do and not do. Some further examples of how the Old Law is not in-line with the New Covenant, unless rearrifmed (and not all parts were), follow.

 

Galatians 5 (NIV):

 

5 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

 

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

Galatians 6:

 

6 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

 

Cumulatively, I believe this dismisses taking punishment of the Law into our own hands as applicable any longer under the New Covenant. To reiterate, because it seems to get lost in the shuffle, I present this only to draw distinctions between what we are supposed to do ourselves versus what is appropriate for us to do to others (through government, as the contextually relevant example).

 

  1. ” So in the last breath, you argued that we are not supposed to keep the law, and now you are arguing that we are? Charity has been clearly delineated in the Old Testament. The method whereby the rich are to help the poor and the poor to petition the rich are laid out in crystal clarity. I disagree with the methods liberals espouse because it is non-Biblical and a violation of the most basic commandments. You disagree because why? Because it conflicts with the central morality of Libertarianism: Don’t interfere.”

 

Please do not suppose to answer for me; if you have a question, simply ask and I will try my best to answer/clarify for understanding. You have misunderstood my point in this passage, but I think I have already addressed the “why” to this point: it boils down fundamentally to a use of violence and when it is justified. Again, Old Testament Law does not matter any longer by my interpretation unless reaffirmed under the New Covenant by Christ (some were, some were not) – this is why He was sent to teach as well instead of just being sent as a sacrifice. Tax collectors were held in considerably low regard in the New Testament (e.g., Matthew 5:46, 9:10, 11:19, 18:17, 21:31-32), specifically called out by name in the same breath as general sinners, pagans, and prostitutes. Really the only direct discussion of taxation, as a policy, in the New Testament discusses its inherent unfairness during Jesus’ time, a point that I and other libertarians embrace today. We understand you cannot have even a minarchist government without a revenue stream sufficient to support it, we simply wish to reduce it as a side effect of reducing the overall scope and footprint of government, and additionally make it fair along the way. Romans 13 does speak of taxation as being righteous, as an extension of government itself being righteous under God. Context here is everything, however, as Paul was instructing Roman Christians to not rebel against the pagan Roman rule in the name of Christ, not necessarily endorsing a broad blueprint of Christian governance (on this point, if we disagree that is understandable but nonetheless an important distinction between our respective beliefs).

 

  1. “You don’t know any atheist libertarians then? Because it’s all I hear from libertarians who are atheist. They want to get rid of that pesky religion that keeps interfering with their plans to make minimal government.”

 

In point of fact, I do not. And even if I did, that would not be substantively relevant to the discussion at hand really. I am certainly not trying to eliminate God from culture or history (that is a mission of others, sadly). I am simply advocating following the Constitution as written or changing it in accordance with the prescribed procedures (hopefully for a more reduced scope). It is true that I, and libertarians generally, reject a theocracy, but that is clearly unconstitutional outright so I did not think we were discussing that as a realistic option. I would not support this in the same way I do not support some’s claims to being the one and only “true” church of Christ, though – no man on Earth can righteously claim a monopoly understanding of God’s will or Christ’s message, nor is any man better than I in the eyes of God. My relationship with God is my own, and I choose to pursue it through Christ, not through a mortal middle man (particularly one from the government who is here to help, as the old joke goes). This is why I reject such notions, though to be fair I am still unsure if this was an actual point of contention…

 

  1. “Note that a plain reading of the Declaration says it is God who tells men to make governments to secure the rights that God gave them.”

 

I do not dispute this; indeed, I already acknowledged individual rights as being God-given, those that man cannot justly infringe or take away. Again, you are straw manning my position (or simply misunderstanding; we may just be talking past each other).

 

  1. ” Do you admit that Christ set those bounds for government, or do you think human reason sets those bounds? This is a very important question and shows whether you are a Christian first or something else first.”

 

Seriously, I am not interested in taking your test to determine if I am good enough in God’s eyes, according to you. If I am “a Christian first or something else first” is between God and I alone, and in any event contributes nothing to the substance of the discussion. This is suspiciously close to a “no true Scotsman” fallacy

 

  1. “It is inclusive, until the pesky morality starts peeking its head in and saying, “Wait a minute. This law would maximize the freedom of the people to do certain things, but are those the *right* things that government should allow people to do?” Minimum government is not the goal of the conservative. It is an effect, true, but not the goal. Small government is better than what we have today, but government can be too small as well.”

 

I suppose I agree with this to a point. Again, I think I have addressed this multiple times that I do not espouse a lack of government or a government that neglects to protect its people, their property, or their right to pursue happiness (non-violently and in a way that does not infringe another’s rights to the same). But again, I will disagree with government that seeks to enforce different people’s ideas of right and wrong in victimless behaviors and choices. The only “right” thing in this context from a libertarian perspective is limiting the use of violence to just circumstances. Libertarians do not seek to enforce a certain morality code on others (unless real harm is being done). To forcefully seek to implement God’s will on Earth is awfully presumptive I would say.

 

  1. “So you admit my argument is moot because… no one has tried libertarianism? That was my point.”

 

Uhm, no. I think that one just right on past. We are starting to get into fallacy after fallacy, which is eroding the substantive discussion and exchange of ideas…

 

  1. “Regarding whether any Christians have tried government by Christian law: Yes, yes they have, and you don’t have to look very hard on the European continent to see it.”

 

I did not say that at all.

 

  1. “Which Christian has ever claimed to be like Christ? That is not the point of Christianity. Christianity admits that we are all flawed.

 

What libertarian has ever claimed a perfect society? Also, not the point of libertarianism. The point is whether or not the substantive elements are worth trying, not the outcome, whatever it may be. I am pretty sure there is much discussion in the New Testament about the worthiness of striving for Godliness…

 

  1. “We owe Western Civilization to all of the people who tried to rule as a Christian should rule, whether that was Charlemagne, the later emperors of Rome, the various Popes, or the kings and governors of the nations of Europe. I accept their flaws and their victories as contributing factors to my current status. As a people, we were pretty screwed up, but so was everyone else, and in balance, we turned out OK.”

 

Sure, I do not disagree. But it presupposes that the “OK” outcome could only have come about exactly as it did, which is of course another fallacy (fallacy of the single cause, circular cause and consequence). Those civilizations sprang forth from previous ones that were not Christian (or Israel for that matter), so of course they could have looked back and lobbied to return to pagan ways, with all their flaws and victories, because they turned out “OK.”

 

  1. “So have we tried rule by Christianity? Yes, and it worked exceptionally well. We beat the Middle East, the Far East, and all the islands everywhere else. No culture can compare to ours, and now our culture is infiltrating every corner of the globe.”

 

Here we are just at an impasse. I see no nobility or appropriateness to spreading the word of Christ via fire and sword as these institutions did. That makes us no different than modern caliphates. Legitimate defense is one thing, espousing this sort of institutional imperialism and related practices is another.

 

  1. “So, Libertarian says, ‘Government is good, except ours.'”

 

No. Not even close to what I said.

 

  1. “It seems also there is a fatal flaw in Libertarianism. There is the paradox that if you accept all freedoms, then you accept the freedom to limit freedom. Obviously, that leads to contradictions, which is my point. The ultimate end goal of minimum interference or securing rights for right’s sake is that exact contradiction. Who gets to define which rights are worth defending and which are not?”

 

I did not say we except all freedoms, another straw man. The people define these rights, and have already done so via ratification of the treaty between the States (i.e., the Constitution).

 

  1. ‘This is where you are wrong: “Liberty is the end unto itself for the institution of the United States as a nation.’ Liberty was not the intended consequence of the American government. It is a means to the end, but it is not the end. Read the preamble. It never says that the point of government is to secure liberty, it says that the point is to secure the *blessings* of liberty. We were not formed as a nation to protect liberty alone, but to ensure that we would be able to enjoy the fruits that liberty brings”

 

This is flat-out incorrect. The Declaration of Independence is the treaty that established the United States as a collective nation. In the Declaration, the purpose for this institution is clearly defined: to secure the unalienable rights we are entitled to. The word “blessing(s)” appears nowhere in that document. The Constitution does not establish the United States as a nation – the States under an entirely different government before the Constitution was written/ratified (as you mentioned; this is also why our national birthdate is 4 July 1776 vice 17 September 1789). The Constitution, since it does not create the nation, does not legally establish why it was created; the Constitution codifies how it will function, and why the federal government only exists, not the Union itself, which is an entirely different charter. Given that law enforcement is not subsequently delegated to the federal government in this treaty, the “blessings” point is not relevant.

 

  1. “Did our Founding Fathers form the United States because they wanted to make sure people had access to harmful drugs, to prostitution, to homosexual marriages, and to all manner of perversions and filthy behavior? NO! To them, these things were not indications of freedom, but indications of subjection, namely, being subject to the powers of darkness, namely sin. There are no blessings you get from prostitution and other moral vices. They wanted no part in that, and they didn’t want to secure that for their children.”

 

You understand these are assertions that you cannot possibly prove, right? I get where your point of view on this is (I think), but referencing the Founders as evidentiary backing for you argument, rather than simply stating this as your opinion, does not mean much because you cannot possibly know what they intended beyond what is explicitly written (and I can provide numerous historical examples of debauched behavior on the part of notable Founders – no judgment, just a statement of fact). Besides, it still comes down to the point I already made about federal republicanism; these behaviors are irrelevant from a federal government standpoint because the States chose not to delegate general law enforcement duties to the federal institution.

 

  1. “Again, who defines the rights people are entitled to and government must protect? What should be the punishment for people who abuse their freedom, when it doesn’t directly infringe on someone else’s? The Bible dictates death to the adulterer, for instance. Why would the Bible say that? Do you trust the Bible’s morality or do you trust the libertarian morality, where sexual relationships outside of marriage are no evil because there is no harm and we should just ignore it if we have a religious objection to it?”

 

Asked and answered. Again, you confuse my objection to government overreach with endorsement of certain behaviors.

 

Christ clearly did not espouse death for adultery, incidentally (John 8:1-11).

 

  1. “I see you are being more explicit and brave now, putting God’s laws and morality below the libertarian.”

 

So much for constructive discourse, I guess. Why is this necessary, honestly? Does it somehow give you a sense that you are righteous or morally superior? I mean, every time I try and engage in a thoughtful discussion with you, you initiate completely unnecessary personal barbs and attacks. I certainly did not do any of this nonsense to you; I simply provided substantive (even if you disagree) counterpoints to your own argument – nothing personal injected. If you do not wish to have such a discussion, then just say so (or block my comments) and I will happily receive the message and move along. But I thought you were looking for open and honest intellectual discussion; it looks more to me like you just want to fight with people.

 

  1. “The reason why we are having a debate today is because there are a lot of people who don’t believe that we should be a Christian nation anymore, yourself included.”

 

That is your assertion, though it is untrue. The difference here is that I do not believe a good people must follow Christ, and thusly be a “Christian nation,” on pain of violent retribution from the state. This can be a Christian nation through spreading his message in a nonviolent way, without the aid of government, just as it was in Christ’s day. If Christianity relies on the government to obtain/sustain, then all is lost long before this debate ever mattered.

 

  1. “‘What they believed is irrelevant.’ All of the work and thought they put into trying to form a nation that would have freedom and maintain it through the ages is being thrown away here. Here you stand, acting as if you know more than they knew, or they were somehow beneath you. What gives you the perspective they didn’t have? What makes you a superior theologian or philosopher?”

 

Honestly, this is not even worth addressing. I am not sure you could more thoroughly miss the point I made. I could ask you (or theoretically, them) the same question about authoritative qualifications, but that would just continue the digression from the point already presented.

 

  1. “God did grant us the ability to break his laws, true, and he also gave us a commandment to punish certain violations of those laws. Never did he excuse even the smallest violation of the law. All sins will be accounted for. If we do not embrace Christ, then we will be damned by our own sins.”

 

No dispute now or previous.

 

  1. “To suppose that you somehow understand the Bible better than your ancestors… that is true pride and audacity. “Pride cometh before the fall.” What an apt description for our generation!”

 

I did not claim to understand the Bible any better than anyone; another straw man. I only claim to understand it as best I can, within this mind, body, and soul. I present direct evidence where I can to support a point. But it is true I do not defer to my ancestors or anyone else for that matter to think for me. God gave me a brain that separates me from animals on this Earth and I intend to honor this gift by using it. Assuming our ancestors were right about everything simply because they chose a certain path is a textbook appeal to antiquity fallacy. If that is sinful pride, then I suppose I am guilty but I tend to think God wants us to think for ourselves, lest His gift go unappreciated.

 

  1. “It bears everything with reality. As the world reels in sin and error, I am not going to stand idly by and say government should not do things government should do, or government should do things it should not. I am going to use God’s morality as my own. I am going to spend the time and effort it takes to appreciate our ancestors rather than suppose that because I was born in a later century than them I know better.”

 

Ahh… you were speaking metaphorically here. I thought you meant that, because of the straw man assertions of anarchy commonly levied against libertarianism, you assumed libertarians are fine with people’s houses literally burning down because of an absence of fire fighters (which is not true, but that is a digression).

 

  1. ” I haven’t seen any place where you’ve disagreed with my assertion of the central morality of Libertarianism: Let people do what they want. As long as it doesn’t directly affect me, it’s none of my business. “Live and let live” as they say. You’ve tried to contort Christianity to conform with Libertarianism, I am sure, but you have not rejected the definition I gave of it.”

 

I never disagreed with the “live and let live” part; I disagreed primarily with the anarchism implication, and along the way have disagreed with some Biblical reasoning you have provided for certain positions. I did disagree that “live and let live” was the only good or moral that libertarians espouse generally, and the implication that this went beyond solely government behavior. I think you have changed your summation stance a little bit from what was originally presented, but that is to be expected somewhat when getting into such lengthy details in written fashion. I am sure I did to some degree as well. It is difficult to stay focused on a concise, original point this far down the rabbit hole.

 

I have addressed all of those aforementioned points sufficiently to at least make my case, however. I make no empirical claim to being right, just that I support my positions with substantive arguments. It is in the eye of the beholder who is right (or if some other, slightly or altogether different perspective is correct). I will bother you no more.

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