For some time now, I’ve been wanting to write a post about what is wrong with Libertarianism from a Biblical worldview.
First of all, it would be helpful for you to see visually, a basic graph revealing the current political spectrum.
Most Christians who call themselves “Christian Libertarians” don’t really know much about the roots or true ideology of the Libertarian political philosophy. They like the idea of small government, reduced taxes, gun rights, property rights and a free-market economy. So far, so good. I’m right there with them.
The problem is in the inherent presuppositions embedded within the Libertarian worldview. One of the foundational beliefs of Libertarianism is the idea that “Anyone should be allowed to do anything they want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.” Ever heard that? That is a Libertarian conception of Freedom and Liberty. That is NOT, however, a Christian view of Liberty and Freedom. That is a view of moral bondage.
For example, Thomas Jefferson said:
“A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.“ Thomas Jefferson (1801)“
“It is not the business of government to make men virtuous or religious, or to preserve the fool from the consequences of his own folly. Government should be repressive no further than is necessary to secure liberty by protecting the equal rights of each from aggression on the part of others, and the moment governmental prohibitions extend beyond this line they are in danger of defeating the very ends they are intended to serve.” Henry George
The Biblical definition of the role of government is found in 1 Peter 2:13-14:
“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. “
The civil government, according to Scripture is supposed to “punish those who do wrong and commend those who do right.” How do you determine what is right or wrong in a certain society or civilization?
You really only have a few options:
- The majority of people in a society determine it for themselves for that time and place. (Cultural Relativism)
- It is determined by the ruling elite (Monarchy, Republic, Oligarchy, etc.)
- There is a higher moral law to which all people are accountable.
This is where Libertarianism falls short. Ayn Rand and other Libertarians have tried to create a moral order called Objectivism. It teaches that you can have a moral law, without a Moral Law-Giver (i.e. God). Libertarianism and Objectivism (concepts that are joined at the hip) are both deeply rooted in Secular Humanism and the Epistemology of human reason alone being sufficient to determine Ethics.
Despite their protests to the contrary, a pure Libertarian can never truly say that anything is Objectively right or wrong.
This is why Ron Paul (whose worldview is Libertarian) will not say that homosexuality is a sin:
Any political philosophy that does not begin with Theism (a belief in a personal God) as THE FOUNDATION of all Law, will end up eventually in the ditches of Totalitarianism or Anarchy. It is important to view the political spectrum depicted above as a circle. Without the restraining influence of Biblical morality in our culture, Libertarianism quickly turns into Anarchy, which then quickly leads all the way back to Totalitarianism. Anarchy is not sustainable for any society, and only order and structural rule can hold it together.
There are only two forces that can keep a society from plunging itself off into the abyss of Egoistic Hedonism (the ethical theory — promoted by Libertarianism — that achieving one’s own happiness is the proper goal of all conduct) and Anarchy:
- The rule of a Totalitarian regime (whether internal — as in an oppressive dictator — or external — as in IslamoFascism)
- Individual Self-Government
The Christian concept is NOT Libertarianism (nor is it Theocracy). The Christian concept is Individual Self-Government. You may say, “But that sounds like what Libertarians want! The ability to govern themselves.” Yes, but the difference is, they have cut off the source of all Objective Moral Ethics (i.e. God).
There is a quote that is often attributed to James Madison (and equally disputed), that I think sums up this idea quite well:
“We have staked the whole future of American civilization not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments.”
In the Libertarian view, Abortion, Drugs, Prostitution, Illicit Sex (including Homosexuality), Pornography and Suicide are all morally acceptable. They have, within their Epistemological system, no mechanism for denouncing these actions. A culture who embraces these things will NOT last long. These are the steps to Anarchy (and ultimately to Tyranny, the very thing Libertarians are hoping to escape!).
The only real solution is that people’s hearts must be changed, by the Holy Spirit, through the hearing of the Word of God as it is faithfully proclaimed by the True Confessing Church. Yes, people should be given political freedom and liberty, but without Ethics that are based in the Fear of the Lord, that “freedom” will quickly dissolve into Anarchy and Hedonism (as we are observing in rampant expansion in our culture).
Libertarianism cannot provide the Utopian dream of the good life because it is disconnected from the only source of all Good, which is God alone. Libertarianism (which is not rooted in Christian thought, but rather in the anti-Christian Enlightenment) could only work for a Christian society, that is guided by the Fear of the Lord. That is not our current cultural situation.
Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure than they have it now, They may change their Rulers and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty. They will only exchange Tyrants and Tyrannies.
Letter from John Adams to Zabdiel Adams (21 June 1776)
“(W)e have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.“ — John Adams, (11 October 1798)
As Bible-believing Christians, we will agree with classical Libertarians incidentally, or coincidentally, but we do not do so epistemologically. We run on parallel tracks, but we have neither the same starting point, nor the same final destination in terms of our goals. We both want liberty, but for vastly different reasons.
“Both Libertarians and Christians seek liberty but liberty is inextricably joined with law. Libertarians are not enamored with law.” — Al Cronkite
As Christians, we need do not abandon God’s law, but instead we seek to have it written on our hearts.
“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:16, ESV)
My goal here is not to tell you which political candidates to vote for (or not to vote for). I am also not directing these statements toward any particular political candidate(s), but rather at the entire philosophy as a whole. My goal is to help you to understand these issues from a Biblical Worldview.
Israel Wayne is an Author and Conference Speaker and the Director of Family Renewal, LLC. He is also the Site Editor for www.ChristianWorldview.net
Great column. Several months ago, I came to the conclusion that one cannot be a consistent Christian (one who believes in the Fall and that each person is born a sinner) and be a consistent libertarian.
Right you are, Daniel. I have become very disconcerted with many very orthodox Christians jumping on the libertarian bandwagon similar to what happened in the 80’s with the Conservative movement. Both seem to suffer from the mistaken notion that those things which look like biblical Christianity are.
Not that a Ron Paul would not be better than Obama or many Republicans. Only that the outer shell of biblical conformity in many areas will get our nation and culture no further than would going back to the 1950’s. Having a form of godliness gets no applause or blessing from God.
Christians, if they want to support conservatives or libertarians, must open their eyes. They must not forgo declaring that unless the Lord builds the house, it is in vain.
Re: “Several months ago, I came to the conclusion that one cannot be a consistent Christian (one who believes in the Fall and that each person is born a sinner) and be a consistent libertarian.”
I have had more than a few anarchists describe how they simply took libertarianism to its logical conclusion.
Certainly, the period described in the Bible as “everyone did what was right in their own eyes” was NOT meant to be emulated, and its the same with the antediluvian.
“It is impossible to read the history of the petty republics of Greece and Italy without feeling sensations of horror and disgust at the distractions with which they were continually agitated, and at the rapid succession of revolutions by which they were kept in a state of perpetual vibration between the extremes of tyranny and anarchy . . . great improvement . . . were either not known at all, or imperfectly known to the ancients.” ~Alexander Hamilton The Federalist Papers Federalist No. 9 November 21, 1787
A thoughtful column. HOWEVER: keep in mind “Conservative” covers a broad and often irreconcilable spectrum. This is why we further divide it to “Social Conservative” and “Fiscal Conservative”.
In the same way a person can be “Personally Libertarian” ie: Abortion, Drugs, Prostitution, Illicit Sex (including Homosexuality), Pornography and Suicide are all morally acceptable or a person can be “Politically Libertarian”: ie believe these things are not morally acceptable, but also believe that at least some of them are outside of the jurisdiction of the government.
I recognize I may have invented those terms, but there is an important distinction there that must be recognized.
True. Good point to make. And I think that is what most Christian Libertarians are (Politically Libertarian). My point is that you can’t even have categories such as “Morally Acceptable” from the Libertarian side, you can only get that from the Christian side. And Ethics DO matter. Even in politics.
In the New Testament, while the principle of “Liberty” is regularly upheld, “Licentiousness” (a good parallel to “Moral or Personal Libertarianism”) is thoroughly condemned, and biblical Christians must do likewise. However, we should condemn this error with the gospel, not with the sword.
This is consistent with your Jefferson and George quotes, and incidentally with “Political Libertarianism”.
Ron Paul is a Christian, with Christian morals, and while he is wrong in failing to call homosexuality a sin, he is much more of a “Political Libertarian” than a “Moral or Personal Libertarian”.
I would never call myself or want to be called a libertarian, but I would much rather our government lean towards “Political Libertarianism” than towards “Christian Fascism” (or whatever you might want to call a society where biblical morals were enforced with the sword).
I look forward eagerly to God’s totalitarian rule on earth (when the Righteous Judge WILL enforce biblical morals with the sword), but that sort of responsibility and authority is not safe in the hands of mortals.
The reason is simple: eventually I will be a victim of Christian Fascism’s fires, as have been many godly martyrs in “Christian” nations.
For the record, I’m not advocating Christian Fascism.
Nathaniel, you said you don’t want a society where biblical morals are enforced with the sword. But that is exactly what God said governments are for – to enforce morals with the sword.
Practically speaking, any law that is enforced by government is a moral law – it makes a statement of right (obeying the law) and wrong (disobeying the law). Therefore, our issue should not be whether government is enforcing a moral law system. The issue is WHOSE moral law system is being enforced? The biblical principles given by the Creator God, or principles devised by fallen humans?
What? Where does God say morals are to be enforced by the sword? Didn’t Jesus say “my Kingdom is not of this world” in John 18:36?
“Repent [or think differently], the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” – Mat 3:2
Morality cannot be legislated. Or else a nation “have a form of godliness rejecting the power that could make the godly.” (2 Timothy 3:5)
The Kingdom of God does NOT operate in FEAR but of Love. Human Kingdoms operate in FEAR, and can only ‘restrain evil’! (2 Thessalonians 2:7)
Think Differently! Renew your mind in Truth! You know not liberty but slavery, thus seek to enslave those, as you feel yourself, need to be to be kept from evil.
God will not judge nations on it’s laws, but of the true intents of their hearts of their people.
You can’t make a law to stop people from lusting in their hearts or hating their brother or enemy. Yet judgement will come on those things the same way as adultery or murder themselves.
The Federal Government needs to be kept as limited as possible so States regain their rightful constitutional sovereignty.
Or are we going to make abortion another Civil War to compromise the constitution yet again?!
Do we want sinners to know Christ and desire to be righteous, or do we want sinners to legalistically do what is righteous and ‘look saved?’
‘Looking saved’ only deceives them thinking they are.
So think differently! Repent, for the Kingdoms of this world will be consumed by the Kingdom of our LORD (Rev 11:15).
Your a citizen of Heaven before a citizen of this earth.
The crux of the author’s error (which is extensive) is in that the author confuses Libertarianism (a political philosophy) as being a worldview. Libertinism (basically hedonism) is worldview, libertarianism is not. Political philosophy deals with how, and in what circumstances, force ought to be used (or threatened to be used) against your fellow man. Libertarianism, therefore, being a mere political philosophy and not a worldview, only deals with the question of when physical force should be used. Its central and only premise is that it is morally wrong to initiate force against someone who has not first used force themselves. It does not deal with questions such as, “is prostitution morally wrong?” Or for that matter, “is gluttony or unforgiveness morally wrong?” These questions are beyond the scope of libertarianism because, like economic theory or some other field of study which is limited in scope, libertarianism is not a philosophy of life, it is only a philosophy regarding the role of government.
Furthermore, it is completely inaccurate to state that libertarianism (which is only a political philosophy) and Objectivism (which IS a worldview) are “joined at the hip”. Objectivism was founded by Ayn Rand, who herself frequently wrote articles attacking libertarians. While it is true that Objectivism contains within it a political component that is compatible with libertarianism, the reverse cannot be said to be true: libertarianism in no way implies an atheistic or humanistic worldview.
To underscore the fact that you have confused a political philosophy for a worldview, consider the Amish. Nobody would accuse the Amish of being “hedonistic” or “humanist” in any form or fashion. But politically speaking, the Amish are not only libertarian, they are actually anarchists, believing that the use of force (even for defensive or punitive purposes) is always wrong.
I seriously suggest you revisit the definition of libertarianism and consider the distinction between a political philosophy and an overarching worldview. One’s views regarding the proper role of government (that is, the proper use of force) do not in any way imply their view as to the morality of other acts.
Brady wrote: “Libertarianism, therefore, being a mere political philosophy and not a worldview, only deals with the question of when physical force should be used. Its central and only premise is that it is morally wrong to initiate force against someone who has not first used force themselves.”
That is still a MORAL issue. Epistemologically, Libertarianism has no foundation for making ANY objective moral judgments. Libertarian Ethics are derived from sheer fiat. Pragmatism and/or Relativism is no basis for Ethics (which is the basis of Law).
Sorry, Mr. Wayne, but you seem to again have missed the point. For one, I believe you mean to speak of things having an Ontological (the study of being) basis, not an Epistemological (the study of knowledge) one.
Libertarianism cannot have a foundation for “making ANY objective moral judgments” because as a political philosophy, it is a derivative system, not a fundamental one. Libertarianism itself depends on a prior ethical foundation, especially to determine what constitutes violence, and what constitutes initiation.
“Libertarian Ethics” are derived from whatever ethical system that the Libertarianism rests upon. You seem rightly concerned that most (though not all) Libertarian ethical foundations are non- if not outright anti-Christian.
I believe that you would be better served to fight against the Humanism (Man as God) and Deism (Man becoming as God) that all the world bases its ethics (including politics) upon, or at the least, pick politically-based systems more clearly dependent upon non-Theistic (God as God) assertions, such as socialism.
Re: “I seriously suggest you revisit the definition of libertarianism and consider the distinction between a political philosophy and an overarching worldview. One’s views regarding the proper role of government (that is, the proper use of force) do not in any way imply their view as to the morality of other acts.”
Re: distinction between a political philosophy and an overarching worldview.
q: Are not philosophies of anything, whether it be politics, science, ethics, education, etc not grounded in an overarching worldview, of which, it may be correctly said, they are an expression of it?
Re: “One’s views regarding the proper role of government (that is, the proper use of force) do not in any way imply their view as to the morality of other acts.”
So, does it mean that it is immoral for a community to stop an immoral act as agreed upon by all the community save one, but that it it is moral for that one to impose their morality on the entire community?
BTW: how do you know the “use of force” philosophy you describe is correct?
Brady that was a fantastic reply…I as a libertarian believe that the government’s job is to protect individual rights (so I am opposed to abortion), but those other issues I support being legal because those who practice them aren’t hurting others by doing them…that doesn’t mean I condone them on a moral or philosophical level, but I don’t think the government should ban them.
Very well written article, and quite thoughtful. But… here’s why I’m still a Libertarian:
Libertarianism is based on the idea that men are inharently sinful.
Thus the idea that “Absolute power corrputs absolutely.”
In the quote by Thomas Jefferson, the phrase “shall restrain men from injuring one another,” suggests that the unwarrented injury of another human is wrong. Thus there ARE some rights and wrongs in the Libertarian’s book. Libertarians are NOT amoral.
Your own list of the three sources for moral values were:
1. The majority of people in a society determine it for themselves for that time and place.
2. It is determined by the ruling elite (Monarchy, Republic, Oligarchy, etc.)
3. There is a higher moral law to which all people are accountable.
The first method is often dubbed Popular Sovergnity by the law books, and what it basically boils down to is “Pop Morals”; whatever the people think is right and wrong. You voiced your concern with this method (and rightly so) saying that human reason alone is insuffecent to detirmine Ethics.
But let’s look at the alternatives:
Numebr three was God’s law. This was quite practical in the days of Moses and the Judges when God spoke directly out of heaven to his people. But in our day we are left with God’s perfect law, finished and complete in the Bible.
In our modern day, the interpritation of God’s law is quite necessary. Somehow we have to apply God’s law to to our modern day. Thus the quandry between your moral source 1 and 2. Do we have one man try and interprit God’s law? Or all the people? Many people are less likely to be wrong than one man. Even if one man were right one time, he will either be corrupted by his power, or be replaced by another man, and quite possibally a wicked man.
History has proved that time and again that no matter how “Christian” a governor is, he will either be corrupted by the vast power sitting in his lap, or he will be replaced by another who is not half so godly.
Think of the Kings of Isreal. Or the Kings and Queens of England.
A government cannot dictate private morals from the top down. It cannot and it should not.
Thus the governmental ideal that if a citizian is not hurting another then he should be let alone. Any time a government goes beyond that, it will become corrupt. It’s historically proven fact.
That is why I believe in a minimalist government. Because the less we have sinful people making our laws (or interpriting God’s laws) the better.
It’s not a question of should a Government dictate morals, it’s a question of HOW MUCH morals should the government dactate. To acheve the best balance between keeping an orderly socity, and protecting against tyriny, our Founding Fathers set up bounds in our governmental system. A libertarian simply believes in sticking to the bounds of the Constitution.
For me it boils down to this: You want to change our culture? Go out and wittness! No government will ever be able to change a culture for the better. That can only be done by God. Even if homosexuality WERE illegal, people would still do it! Why? Because they’re sinful. The only way to bring our country to a moral state is to spread the word of Jesus Christ to everyone we meet and THAT and only that can bring the moral light of God’s word to every corner of our culture. Even our Government.
I agree with you in your last paragraph. At least we share the same remedy.
Here is where I think we disagree. When I’m addressing Libertarianism, I’m addressing the Classic Objectivist version of it, not the Christian Libertarian view (or whatever we want to call that).
The Secular Humanist version of this (which is the classic view that came out of Enlightenment thinking) is Utopian and DISREGARD the depravity of man. It starts with the viewpoint that man is essentially GOOD and that if left alone, society will be at it’s best. It is only the tyranny of the leaders that that is the problem, not the tyranny of the masses.
In other words, if the people are left alone, that is best for society (because the people will do what is good and right). Not so. We have the French Revolution to teach us that Libertarianism apart from Christ doesn’t work! It ends up in bloodshed and revolution (anarchy that has to be put down in Tyranny).
So, I understand your viewpoint if I look at Libertarianism as applied in a Christian fashion, to a Christian society, but not when it comes to applying it to people who have no moral framework (which is what we are preparing to do if Libertarianism is applied in our current socio-political climate).
So we agree I think in essence, but you are applying a Christian worldview to your Libertarianism. Remember when I said in the essay that the Libertarian approach can ONLY work under those conditions?
You say, “A government cannot dictate private morals from the top down. It cannot and it should not.”
God’s Word says the government is to praise the good and punish evil.
How is the magistrate to understand what is good and what is wrong? The only right place is God’s Word. The magistrate does not “dictate private morals” but that does not mean they are not to advocate for God’s ethical standards nor legislate against those things God says are wrong. A case in point would be homosexuality. That is a “private” sin (well, maybe not in SF). God called for the death penalty in Israel’s day. According to you, He was wrong for requiring the magistrate to do so.
I, like you, Mr. Baldridge, am a Libertarian. However, I would caution against saying that “Libertarianism is based on the idea that men are inharently sinful.[sic]” It is not. Indeed, Libertarianism is not based on any broader philosophical statement than that the initiation of force is wrong. You and I may or may not base our view that the initiation of force is wrong on the premise that men are sinful. I know many Libertarians who indeed hold this view, and this is why they concur with the Non-Aggression Principle of Libertarianism. But nothing about the descriptive term “Libertarianism” defines the broader moral philosophy of the individual libertarian. It does not give account for WHY someone chooses the Non-Aggression Principle. It merely describes that they do.
Mr. Wayne’s error consist of the fact that he supposes that the fact that Libertarianism, as a definition, does not bundle with it a broader philosophy, means that Libertarianism necessarily rejects any broader philosophy. Were that true, then someone who subscribes to Libertarianism would therefore have to reject all other categories of philosophy – theology, metaphysics, epistemology, even the sciences, etc. This would, of course, be absurd. Libertarianism is merely a description of one’s view as to the role of government – it is utterly silent with respect to one’s broader philosophy. It is this broader philosophy which gives account for why the individual has chosen to be a Libertarian.
Israel Wayne has done an important work noting that Libertarian’s do not hold to a Biblical worldview of morality or the law. Libertarians are licentious, libertine and their political views will only lead to moral anarchy. God is a God of order and while we do not have a theocracy, we do have a nation founded upon Biblical laws to restrain those who would prey upon the weak and vulnerable. “Love justice, seek mercy”.
Chuck, please see my replies. It is a complete misconception to believe that Libertarianism – a classification of political views only – implies licentiousness or any other such thing which lies well outside the scope of the definition of Libertarianism. Indeed, the very founders of this nation (as this article itself implies through its quotations) were themselves Libertarian in their political philosophy. Do not confuse a *political* philosophy with an overall philosophy of life.
To set the record straight, libertarianism and conservatism are diametrically opposed to Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand. It is a common mistake to associate Ayn Rand with libertarianism, which she emphatically rejected. For easy reference, visit http://www.AynRandLexicon.com and look up, e.g., morality, libertarianism, conservatism, capitalism and a host of others.
You seem to be confused as to definitions, which is why I recommended reviewing the definition of libertarianism. You don’t seem to understand that definitions for terms such as Libertarianism are limited in scope. Libertarianism does not supply a foundation for its sole premise (the Non-Aggression Principle), nor does it supply an epistemology, for the reason that it is descriptive in this regard, not prescriptive. Epistemology is the stuff of worldviews. Libertarianism, once again, is not a worldview, it is a description of one’s view as it pertains to government/the use of force only.
Libertarianism does not supply a basis for the Non-Aggression Principle because that is not its function as a descriptive label. It does not supply one for the same reasons that the term “vegetarianism” does not supply a justification for an individual’s choice not to eat meat. Vegetarianism merely describes the fact that the person has chosen not to eat meat. As I’m sure you well know, vegetarians have a wide array of reasons for being vegetarians. Some do it for religious or ethical reasons, some do it for dietary reasons, etc. But these reasons are not part of the descriptive definition of vegetarianism. Similar is true for libertarianism. Many people arrive at the Libertarian Non-Aggression Principle by means of secular or humanistic reasoning. However, most of the libertarians I know arrive at the Non-Aggression Principle by way of Christian ethics. You see, it is possible to hold this principle for both atheistic, as well as theistic, reasons. Which is why term libertarianism itself does not prescribe the means by which you arrived at libertarianism, but rather only describes what you believe with regard to politics once you have.
Now there is one other flavor of libertarianism called “utilitarian” or “consequentialist” libertarianism. This is pragmatic libertarianism (and I personally don’t even consider it true libertarianism) that does not make any moral statements whatsoever, but rather only says that government should do “whatever works best”. Most libertarians you will meet, however, and this would include our Founding Fathers, were Deontological Libertarians, or “Natural Law” Libertarians. This is in reference to the Non-Aggression Principle, which most libertarians arrive at by way of some other worldview that stipulates that there is a universal morality (Natural Law, or God’s Law). It is important to note once again, however, that the origin of “Natural Law” or “God’s Law” is part of the person’s worldview, and not part of the definition of libertarianism.
Thus it is entirely incorrect to state that libertarianism necessarily entails a humanistic worldview. As I believe I already demonstrated, Amish are beyond libertarian, they are anarchist, but this again obviously does not in any way imply they are atheistic. Applying your current logic, you would say that since anarchism asserts what it asserts without theological basis (since theology is beyond the scope of the definition of anarchism), then those who are anarchist must necessarily reject theism. Indeed, the Amish are quite theistic, and believe in pacifism specifically because of their interpretation of Jesus’ teachings. This pacifism, when applied politically, is anarchism. In similar manner, many Christians believe Jesus taught that you should not initiate force against your fellow man (but did not condemn all force), and therefore this ethic, when applied to politics, is known as Deontological Libertarianism (or more commonly, just Libertarianism).
Ironically, you are making the same error Ayn Rand made when she roundly condemned Libertarianism for almost the exact same reason you do. She argued that since Libertarianism did not supply an epistemology and a worldview bundled with it, it was a hollow philosophy that should be discarded. What she missed was that Libertarianism is not a philosophy at all, in and of itself, but merely a description of the *political* aspects of one’s philosophy, whatever that may be. Which is why people accurately label Ayn Rand a libertarian, even though she loathed the term, because she did indeed believe, for her own reasons, in the Non-Aggression Principle of Deontological Libertarianism. I suspect you may be in a very similar situation to hers. You seem to believe in “self-government” which you refuse to call “libertarianism” simply because you are insisting stubbornly, and incorrectly, just as Ayn Rand did, that the term “libertarianism” mean more than it was ever intended to mean.
I’ll provide one more example: Capitalism. Capitalism, again, is a “philosophy” of limited scope. It is not, in itself (and despite Ayn Rand’s attempts to the contrary), a complete philosophy or worldview. It is merely a description of a certain kind of economic system. To be a Capitalist does imply that you accept the premises of Capitalism as being true, and yet Capitalism supplies no epistemological basis for its claims. And this is once again because Capitalism, as a term, is not prescriptive, but descriptive. There are Christians who believe in Capitalism, and there are atheists who believe in Capitalism. How they arrived at the economic view of Capitalism is not part of the definition of Capitalism. Nor is how one arrives at the Non-Aggression Principle part of the definition of Libertarianism. It would be absurd to say that Capitalism is Godless merely because God is not part of the definition. Yet that is precisely the error you are committing when referring to Libertarianism.
You raise some good points here that I don’t want to answer right now because I don’t have time, but I agree that I’ve honed in on one aspect of Libertarianism and there are others that don’t fit nicely into my critique.
Do you have a blog? You are a good thinker.
Thank you. I do have a blog which I update rather infrequently here:
Israel, thank you for doing the research and taking the time to share this valuable information with us. I’ve studied a small bit about libertarianism and I’ve read Ron Paul’s book, and your explanation helps me better understand why he says what he does and what the implications are of someone who holds the presuppositions of libertarianism. I agree with you and with our Founding Fathers that the keys to our liberty include God, Christianity, moral virtue, and “self-government.” Sadly, most Americans today lack any notion of self-government and the practice thereof because of decades of conditioning in public schools where they were indoctrinated in socialism, secular humanism, compartmentalism, moral relativism, legal positivism, evolution, and an erroneous concept of “freedom,” “democracy,” and history. Without the foundation of God & Christianity and true moral virtue, all working within the framework and boundaries of self-government, it is impossible for us to have a true Republic of liberty and it is impossible for the Constitution to govern our ever expanding government and abuse of power. The Founding Fathers clearly understood this, and as you shared in several excellent quotes, they knew this “great American experiment” was totally conditional upon these four KEY necessary elements. America needs to repent and return to God, to its Christian heritage and roots, to moral absolutes and virtue, and to each individual and family unit practicing self-government, which can only be accomplished when we allow God’s Spirit, God’s Word, and Biblical principles to govern us from within. If we continue to reject God and His ways, we will increasingly be governed by the external force of a powerful government. It is our choice: God and Biblical principles of virtue and self-government OR tyrannical government and the end of a bayonet.
Amen! to Josiah’s comment.
And Israel, thanks for the posting. It was very informative.
Israel Wayne is clearly advocating for Dominionism… we’d all be one big happy family if we bowed down to the “universal dictator” (God)!
Unclear as to which Christian god… so many denominations out there! (You’d think for an omniscient god he’d write a better “good book”)
The secular United States Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” CLEARLY LIBERTARIAN THINKING!
Anarchy doesn’t necessarily equate to Mob Rule… anarchy is living in a state of no government. “If men were angels, we’d have no need for government!” Clearly, angels are commonly seen as ANARCHISTIC beings, although they choose to follow a dictator (God or Satan).
Anarchy without a moral compass in regards to others is Mob Rule.
As an atheist, I believe firmly in “No gods, no masters!” I have no need in mythology to guide my morals, as they come as a NATURAL consequence of seeking happiness… a condition our Founding Fathers explicitly wrote about in the Declaration of Independence!
You wrote: “Israel Wayne is clearly advocating for Dominionism… we’d all be one big happy family if we bowed down to the “universal dictator” (God)!”
I am not advocating for Dominionism here on this earth.
However, Romans 14:11-12 says:
“For it is written,
“AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME,
AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.”
So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.”
Philippians 2:9-11 “God highly exalted Jesus, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
This is probably one of the worst articles I have read in a long time. It was shared with me on facebook, so I will post here, the response I posted on facebook.
“Libertarianism and Objectivism (concepts that are joined at the hip)”
Pretty much nonsense. In this regard there are two major branches of libertarianism, one that is consequentialist libertarianism (Jeff Miron, for example) and what you might call rights-based libertarianism (more like Ayn Rand’s objectivism). A person can be a libertarian and be part of either camp, though, most people who consider themselves libertarian, will always argue the case with both in mind.
“Objectivism (concepts that are joined at the hip) are both deeply rooted in Secular Humanism and the Epistemology of human reason alone being sufficient to determine Ethics.”
I should point out that believing morality comes from God, for example, is just one form of “moral objectivism”, it just doesn’t happen to be Ayn Rand’s particular branch. Also, most “secular humanists” these days are moral relativists or subjectivists, the implication that the two, objectivism and secular humanism, are closely intertwined in the sense the author portays, is false.
In your comments here, you have blurred the line between civil society and government society. ex: just because Christians behaved a certain way in Acts, doesn’t mean that those behaviors should be forced onto others by government. That road leads to theocracy. The Christian groups that formed in the new testament part of civil society and not government society.
“Without the restraining influence of Biblical morality in our culture, Libertarianism quickly turns into Anarchy, which then quickly leads all the way back to Totalitarianism. Anarchy is not sustainable for any society, and only order and structural rule can hold it together.”
By culture, what exactly does the author mean? Since he is making a critique of libertarianism (which has nothing against Christianity in civil society) he must mean government. And let us see, pretty much the closest thing to a libertarian society that has ever existed was America at it’s founding… did that decay into anarchy? Also, is lack of government anarchy? No, anarchy opposes any institutions whether government or part of civil society. Much of his article seems to be based on his misunderstanding of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, which doesn’t encapsulate libertarianism at all.
“In the Libertarian view, Abortion, Drugs, Prostitution, Illicit Sex (including Homosexuality), Pornography and Suicide are all morally acceptable.”
Completely false again. Besides abortion, most libertarians think these are issues civil society (like churches) needs to take care of, though. Few libertarians, if any, believe abortion or prostitution is morally acceptable, just that government shouldn’t be regulating actions which are voluntary by all parties involved (abortion being the exception, libertarians are split on abortion). And this makes sense because “It is not the business of government to make men virtuous or religious, or to preserve the fool from the consequences of his own folly. Government should be repressive no further than is necessary to secure liberty by protecting the equal rights of each from aggression on the part of others”
And why did he quote Thomas Jefferson and Henry George and then go on to not comment on those quotes at all. They sort of refute his article (in some sense) and are essentially equivalent to “Anyone should be allowed to do anything they want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.”
“The ability to govern themselves.” Yes, but the difference is, they have cut off the source of all Objective Moral Ethics (i.e. God).”
As I pointed out, most Christians are a subset of moral objectivists.
The other thing I will say is where is the bounding or limiting principle? Prostitution is morally wrong, but so is gluttony. He provides no limiting principle (like the non-agression principle) that would help judge if some sort of government moral regulation should be enacted or not. Why not force people to eat only healthy portions of food? Why not try to regulate the thought crime of lust? Well, basically because it is easier to look down your nose at a prostitute or drug user, since that is the most common reason people separate the these immoral actions.
I thank all of you for your posts and comments, but I am left confused by all the “isms”. I am not well informed in these philosophies of men and so for that I apologize that I cannot carry on a hearty argument.
But, as I was reading the posts, I simply wondered what Jesus would have to say, if He was asked to participate.
Wisdom comes from only two sources, God or the devil. Obviously, these sources oppose each other. God clearly tells us that if we lack wisdom to ask Him and He will give it to us. And part of that wisdom includes asking God what He is doing and what He wants us to do. In addition to studying His written Word to receive a personal rhema, we must also hear from Him in these last days to know our assignments and to discern the spirits that are operating in this world.
We’ve all read the end of the Book, we already won, the devil has already been defeated by Christ at the Cross. Making the right choices are critical now, before we ultimately stand before Jesus where trying to justify any vain philosophies won’t fly.
The Church is waking up from Her sleep and She will walk in the victory that Christ won at Calvary, no matter what it looks like in the world system (which will collapse). Just studying (under the guidance of the Holy Spirit) the history of the nation of Israel reveals the secrets that we need to know about the collapse of kingdoms under evil leadership.
Our assignment is to bring the Kingdom of God to earth (“Let Your Kingdom come, let Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven”) and participate with the Holy Spirit as He moves to empower God’s people to walk in victory over the demonic spirits, in every area of life, including political leadership.
The only reason that evil reigns is because righteous people do nothing. There are thousands of testimonies throughout history and today of God’s people standing up, recognizing their authority over the devil and his cohorts, declaring the Word of God and taking over communities, cities, and even nations. the battle is intensifying, that is certain. God is drawing the line in the sand.
Remember, gentlemen, we do not wrestle with flesh and blood…fight the right enemy, not each other.
Excellent article! I have long wanted to express to my Christian friends who are flirting with Libertarianism that its foundation is not the same as Bible believing Christians. Mr. Wayne has explained this wonderfully and I am much indebted to his wisdom and courage in writing this article. Thank you.
I’ve read through this article and most of the comments, and I still very much agree with the article. Here’s why:
Libertarianism is built upon the non-aggression principle, yes? So we should be free to do anything we want so long as it doesn’t hurt someone?
Okay… here is an example. Say I am the owner of a restaurant. An African American man comes in looking for a job. I am free to do whatever I want so long as it doesn’t hurt him, right? So I refuse to give him a job simply because he is black. Is that an act of aggression?
I’m going to assume your answer is yes: it is an act of aggression because I am judging him for something he can’t control (the color of his skin) and causing him harm because he can’t get a job.
Okay, so say I am the owner of a private Christian school, and the same scenario happens. I don’t want to hire him onto the church staff because he is black. Also an act of aggression? Probably so.
Now say that, as the owner of the same school, a homosexual comes and asks me for a job. Here there may be some disagreement. Some might say that homosexuality is a choice, while others might say that it is something that one can’t control. So is it an act of aggression not to hire him, or not? What if the same scenario happened and it was a porn star asking for a job? That could arguably be more of a choice, yes?
When does it stop becoming an act of aggression against the applicant and start becoming an act of aggression against my own beliefs and rights to control my business? Whose rights have the trump card? If the rights to control my business have the trump card, then I can refuse anyone I like for any reason I want, including the color of their skin. There goes a lot of the progress of the civil rights movement over the last 50 years. Or if the right to non-discrimination for any reason (or certain reasons) is the trump card, then I may be forced to hire someone who lives in violation to my religious beliefs. There goes my religious freedom.
Point being: Who determines what is and is not an “act of aggression”? I submit to you that it returns to the three choices mentioned in the article: either it is determined by the majority of people, or it is determined by a ruler, or it is determined by a higher standard.
In another example, perhaps more poignant to Christians, is abortion an act of aggression or not? Some libertarians say yes. Some libertarians say no, presumably holding that it is rather an act of aggression for the government to force her to carry her child to term. Do we fall under choice #1 on this one, and let society determine whether abortion is right or wrong, or do we take choice #3 and hold to the higher truth that all human life is sacred and ought to be protected?
Ron Paul and a lot of libertarians believe that human life is sacred. But because of his political philosophy of libertarianism, Paul believes it is up to the people to determine whether they will or will not make that choice. Many Christians hold that Paul simply believes that this is a states rights issue and not a federal issue. That sounds like a fair argument, but then there is the 14th Amendment, which upholds the right of every US citizen to equal protection under the law and the right not to be deprived of life without due process of law. Oh, but Ron Paul believes that because of the 10th Amendment, this does not apply to the states. Well, if the 14th Amendment does not apply to the states, does that mean that a state can deny African Americans equal protection under the law? There goes civil rights again…
Regarding your question of whether or not discriminatory hiring practices are “aggression”. While you strangely assume that we Libertarians would answer “yes”, you are mistaken. The answer is a resounding no. Aggression means the initiation of physical force, or the threat thereof. Failure to hire someone for a job does not in any way entail the threat or use of physical force. While it may be irrational and morally wrong to discriminate based on race, it should be legally permitted, lest we begin telling people how they are permitted to think. If society at large doesn’t like the hiring practices of a particular business, they can vote with their dollars by choosing to do business elsewhere. This leaves people free to follow their conscience, both as consumers, as well as business owners.
Don’t think, however, that allowing this legally would undo the progress of the civil rights movement. Much of the discrimination that took place in the South was actually a result of state and local ordinances – initiations of force by the government, forcing people to segregate. Remember Rosa Parks? The “back of the bus” policy was a government ordinance which had gone ignored by the bus companies for a long time because it was bad for business. When the government began cracking down on enforcement, the bus companies had to comply. But the natural tendency in a free market and a free society is against such discrimination.
Regarding abortion and Ron Paul, I’m not sure where you’re getting your false information. Ron Paul does not believe it is up to each individual to choose whether to have an abortion or not. Ron Paul believes abortion is murder, and therefore isn’t a legitimate “choice” for ANYONE to make. Murder, as it happens, is something handled by the States under our Constitution. Roe v. Wade changed that by making it a nation-wide rule that anyone could have an abortion anywhere anytime. By undoing Roe v. Wade, we would return to how it was before, where States punished abortion as murder.
Would there be some states that wouldn’t? Probably. Could an argument be made under the 14th Amendment here? Possibly. However, we don’t need a Federal regulatory or criminal code regarding abortion nation-wide, because that would usurp our federal system. If the solution on every issue was simply to impose everything top-down from the highest, most centralized level possible, then why stop at the Federal government? Why not pass a UN resolution that governs every human on planet Earth? The answer is because at some point, government on a high, centralized level becomes tyrannical by mere virtue of its scope. This is why everything that can be handled on a lower level ought to be.
I beg to differ on your view that a “free society” naturally gravitates away from prejudice and discrimination. I live in the South, and there is still a lot of bigotry down here, despite the civil rights movement. I think racial prejudice would be much more alive and well today if it had not been for the US government stepping in to provoke the states. I highly doubt the Southern states would have ever ratified the 13th Amendment (prohibiting slavery) if it had not been for the Civil War. (Not that this necessarily justifies the Civil War, but that is another story.) Slaves could not simply move to another state or vote to change their representatives if they didn’t like the form of government. So while it is possible today for blacks to do so, it took some top-down force to make it happen.
As for Ron Paul’s view of abortion, I realize that he personally believes that abortion is murder. However, he believes it is not the place of the federal government to enforce his definition of where life begins (and hence what constitutes “murder”) on the States. He has introduced legislation saying effectively, “Life begins at conception, and the States have the right to protect that life.” I think that is a great start. However, there is nothing that says, “Congress shall have the authority to enforce their definition of life upon the States.” So each State can choose to accept the federal govt’s definition of “life” or not.
I, like Ron Paul, believe that abortion is murder, AND that the states should have jurisdiction over murder laws. HOWEVER, I disagree with him in that I believe the US govt should have the authority to enforce Paul’s definition of life — the definition created by a Higher Standard.
But not all libertarians believe in that Higher Standard, and thus many libertarians do not believe that abortion is wrong. On the contrary, they believe that each woman has the right to do what she wants with her own body, and (I presume) an act of government which prevents her from having the right to an abortion would be considered an act of aggression.
So again, I ask you… who gets to define what constitutes “aggression”? Society at large? Or a Higher Authority? Should society at large be able to determine all morals? Perhaps some would think this would lead to some sort of utopia, but I think differently. I believe that man is inherently sinful, so a society that embraces moral relativism will naturally lead downward, not upward. I think the second-to-last quote from Adams above is all too accurate: a society which rejects religion and a higher standard of morality is inevitably headed AWAY from liberty, not toward it.
p.s. I thought of another example in which I wonder how “aggression” would be defined. I am a landlord, and one of my tenants is consistently unable/unwilling to pay her rent. She is not initiating any sort of physical force against me, but her non-payment is highly damaging to my personal finances and my family’s well-being. Do I have the right to evict her? If so, what if she refuses to leave, and I have to have a policeman to physically force her out into the street (or at least pose the threat of force)? Would I then be accused of violating the non-aggression principle, since I am the one who initiates physical force? If physical force (or the threat thereof) is the only thing punishable, how would this scenario be resolved?
I am not making this up, by the way. Thankfully, we were able to get a payment out of her before we literally had to throw her out into the street. But if she had not had the payment, we sadly would have had to do so, simply because we cannot afford to run a charity house and still support our own family.
You say she is not initiating any sort of physical force against you. However, you also explained how she is initiating physical force against you. By refusing to pay, she is posing a threat to your personal property, by damaging your personal finances and your family’s well-being. From a libertarian viewpoint, you are the victim in this situation, and as the victim, you have the right to defend yourself by evicting her. If she is still refusing to leave, even after the eviction, you have every right to call the police and have them defend your property. Though true, libertarianism does promote a non-aggression principle, it also advocates self-defense. An eviction on someone refusing to pay for something on agreement, even the contacting of police as an aid, is not in itself a threat of physical force. It is merely an individual defending his or her own property.
“Both Libertarians and Christians seek liberty but liberty is inextricably joined with law. Libertarians are not enamored with law.”
Your central “spectrum” is already intrinsically flawed, as is this entire post.
What it says in the bible has nothing to do with our laws. So leave your God out of it.
The US is not a fundamentalist theocracy. There is specifically a clause in the constitution declaring no religious test (Article VI section 3)
The country was created by laws based on reason during the age of reason, no matter what fundamentalists do to try to distort that history will never change this fact.
The government has no right to decide a moral code for us from on high as if they were a citadel of angels. Any crimes that you might deem as “immoral” are actually based on logical consistency. Whereas everyone might think theft is immoral, the reason why it’s illegal is because it deprives another human of their right to property. This is logical consistency, do you understand the difference?
“Judge not, lest ye be judged”
Goverment officials have the authority to judge? No, sir. That is reserved for God alone!
Good afternoon Ghost / etc
Re: “Judge not, lest ye be judged” Government officials have the authority to judge? No, sir. That is reserved for God alone!
Let me ask you this first: you quoted the Bible. Do you accept the Bible as authoritative in such things as you discussed, or did you just look for a verse that seemed to agree with what you already believed.
In other words, are you doing Biblical exegesis or eisegesis. The first is “read out of” and the latter, “read in to.”
I disagree on this. I am a libertarian, and a very serious Christian. I am against abortion, homosexuality, and any other immoral practice.
Libertarianism is not anarchism. You are correct in stating that societies who embrace immoral activities always decline. However I think you failed to mention how its impossible for governments to enforce morals.
Homosexuality will exist whether or not you give them the right to marry. If you legalize traditional marriage, then this will cause homosexuals to gain some sympathy from many people who see them as struggling for equality. If you take the government OUT of ordaining marriages, and you DO NOT recognize even conventional marriages, then the homosexuals will be seen for what they are, just a group of perverted sex fiends dancing around the streets in their underwear. Suddenly you will see public perception of them decline considerably.
When government enforces morals, although with good intentions, it has negative effects. The average person has Christian morals by default. Its the activist groups striving for equality [because of the government recognizing one group over another] that creates headlines. Its these headlines that are hurting our moral society. In order to get rid of the headlines, take religion out of government. Enforce violent crimes such as assault, murder, abortion. And non-violent crimes such as vandalism, and theft.
This will not lead to anarchy, this will lead to peace and prosperity. Government gets in the way. Government has become a secular force, where secularism is their RELIGION. According to big liberal government, we must not pray in their schools, even though Christianity might be the religion of the students praying. That would be fine if the state would give us a voucher to let us have our Christian children educated how we see fit as parents, AND BE ABLE TO SEND OUR KIDS TO A BIBLE BASED SCHOOL. This is also a libertarian idea, secularism SHOULD NOT be enforced on Christians just because it is politically correct.
I pray that God opens your heart, and allows you to see the flaws that are in your current view. If you continue forward with you current views, you will have you Christian views regulated in public places such as work, school, ect. Don’t fall into the trap, open your eyes, open your heart. God bless.
2 Peter 2:14 says the role of government is:
1. To punish evildoers.
2. To promote (protect) those who do good.
You need to line your worldview up with Scripture, not what sounds good.
Regarding school vouchers, here are two articles explaining why Vouchers are a bad idea:
I think the passage Israel Wayne means to cite is 1 Peter 2:14, not 2 Peter 2:14. Here’s what it says in my New American Standard edition (I’m quoting 2:13 and 2:15 too because it can only be properly understood IN CONTEXT): 13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.
When you take a look at 1 Peter 2:14 IN CONTEXT, it is clear that the “him” who sent the governors is the king, not God. These verses say NOTHING AT ALL about the proper or God-given role of government. They simply tell us to submit to government authority whenever and wherever there is such an authority (there may be legitimate debate over whether there might be exceptions to this, like when the government calls upon us to do something sinful, at least when the sin is blasphemy or a harm to another person, rather than a harm to oneself).
God makes abundantly clear that He thinks our desire to be ruled by mortal men rather than by Him alone is a mistake Recall His reaction to Israel’s demands for a King in the OT!
We can only ever serve one master, and the right master is God, not the state. NT Scripture is mostly silent on government, telling us to basically obey and pay taxes. There is no CORRECT, GOD-SANCTIONED role for government spoken of anywhere. Earthly government by mortal men is a symptom of rebellion and a sure indicator of brokenness.
So why be a libertarian if you’re a Christian? In light of the disparaging view God has of our attempts at establishing earthly government authorities, and in light of the fact that government concentrates coercive power in the hands of a few broken individuals who have very much more of it than they’d ever have without the state apparatus (yes, even in a democracy it does this!), IF we are to have a government at all, we ought to minimize its size. We ought to keep it as small as we possibly can without giving up on the basic institutions that enable informed economic transactions and freedom from violence against one anothers’ person and property, and freedom of conscience.*
*I admit that the details of “without giving up on basic institutions that enable… etc….”, that this part of what I’ve said is not supported by the forgoing argument and would require additional argument of its own.
Finally: I read each and every word and was rewarded by a definitive explanation toward the end: To wit: We live in a fallen society. Let’s be clear. No human institution or ideology or philosophy can measure up to God’s rule and yes Christianity is not a democracy in a broad sense. It does provide great freedom and creativity but on a strict level it is theocratic. This is obviously the right way. Think about it! Mankind is fallen, or rebellious. How, then could he rule himself? He can’t and here is the crux of the whole matter. Humankind needs God. Humankind can’t be god no matter how hard he tries!! Of course he wants to be and there lies the problem. All of the ‘solutions’ listed above pose the various attempts, not to find a good and perfect Government but attempts to be our own God. What is needed is our capitulation, not our continued efforts to rebel against our creator. We need to quit struggling and let him be himself in our lives. The Bible ‘allows’ human Government because there must be limits to humankind’s selfish and misguided efforts. This is not the ideal. It is simply God’s permissive will. ( see his acceptance of Israel’s desire for Kings.) Now, finally; Even the Government that God permissively allows must be based on His principles and laws. To say otherwise is to throw us back on our own resources again which are doomed to failure. Of course we don’t like this because, again, we want to Be God but there it is. No escaping the obvious. God could force himself on us and insist that we obey Him but he doesn’t want unwilling slaves, he wants willing participants in his awesome plans. Lastly, some governments and philosophies bring us closer to God and some lead us further away. The brutal dictator will crush people and make it very difficult to see spiritual things. A democracy will free people up in many cases to observe God’s creation and his loving nature. You get the idea. All of this is really fairly simple. Let’s quit trying to compare apples and oranges and cut to the chase. What say you?
I too disagree. Being libertarian, I can tell you one thing, not one person can be an archetype. There are differing beliefs, just as there are in the other parts of the political spectrum. Conservative and liberal refer to the economic freedom spectrum while up and down refer to personal freedom spectrum. Looking at our forefathers, they were conservative libertarians. They were deeply religious and came to the conclusion of conservatism libertarianism. They based the constitution on conservative libertarian principles, and meant it to protect life, liberty, and property.
And I disagree that the government should legislate morality, it never helps raise morality, at all. Prohibition didn’t slow down alcohol consumption and ended up creating the mafia. Legislation only makes people who haven’t hurt anybody, besides themselves, into criminals, and they will still hurt themselves. Banning homosexuality won’t lower the amount of homosexual activity. That won’t make any difference. Laws don’t and can’t change people, but people can change laws. So if you ban something, it will become legal again when people vote for it to be or when they vote out the people that voted it in in the first place. And making people your enemy won’t bring them to Christ. Part of the reason I am a libertarian is that I believe that free will gives more meaning to good choices. I use my free will to serve Christ and Libertarianism gives a better platform than theocracy. In fact theocracy drives out people, when people are given a choice, they are much less confrontational than when they are forced, choice lets them think where as they will shut you out if you try to rule them.
Another reason I am libertarian is that government should always be small. Adding powers and you risk who might get it. Today someone bans abortion, tomorrow someone bans religion. In other words, if you try to take away someone’s rights, they might take away yours, all it takes is majority in this country. And you can’t take it by violence, they will only take it back by more violence and violence would only beget more violence, all so gay people can’t get married.
I do think abortion is not only wrong, but murder. I do not think people need to be made criminals for it though, because people have been desensitised to what it is and do not truly know what they are doing. Criminalisation would only lead to people doing it underground and that could prove risky and definitely not healthy. I think that if we fix all of our country’s problems, the problem will slow immensely. Also defunding abortions would help. Help people get kids into good homes would help. Don’t punish somebody for putting their kids up for adoption, it only makes them want abortion more
Also forgot to mention war. Liberals and conservatives have decided it is okay to send people’s kids off to a war for oil. Liberals think they are spreading democracy, when they should be spreading a constitutional republic so people won’t have their rights voted away in a few years. Conservatives are nation building. Let me tell you, you don’t build nations by blowing them up. We have bases in so many countries, and we try to police so much, if things go on much longer we will have another world war with us the central target. Not even our own citizens are safe from our government’s war endeavours. They recently decided that it was okay to lock up people without any sort of trial. No due process. Due process is how you find out if somebody is guilty or innocent and without it they are circumventing the constitution which recognizes we have a right to due process. Libertarians don’t like war. We are okay with defending ourselves, but we don’t like forcing bombs on people for purposes of nation building or spreading democracy. Let them choose it themselves.
I have to agree with you here. That approach to “Nation-Building” is patently un-Biblical.
I agree with much of what you say here, but this is bad logic:
In order to be consistent, if it is truly murder, then you would need to legalize ALL murder, for the same reason you site here. People’s perception of what they are doing is not relevant in a criminal situation. As an aside, most people are confused as to the ethics of the matter because it is legal (tacit approval).
I have accepted libertarianism as a political philosophy only. For me, it is not a moral philosophy. Thus, I believe things like pornography, drug abuse, same-sex intercourse, suicide, and prostitution are immoral, but I do not believe they should be illegal. I am not convinced that if something is immoral then it should be illegal. Neither did the founders, which is why they allowed people the freedom to be atheists even though it is immoral to deny God.
Could you provide some examples of behavior you believe is immoral but do not believe should be illegal, or do you believe all immoral behavior should be illegal?
I do not believe that all immoral behavior should be illegal. Certainly we should not have penal laws against coveting, being lazy or calling someone derogatory names. However, the question regarding which behaviors to legalize, and which ones not to, becomes rather subjective if your remove an Objective standard for morality. Without and Objective standard for morality, then you can’t truly say that anything is immoral, you can only say that you don’t like it, or that it isn’t expedient for society (in a Pragmatic sense).
My problem with Libertarianism is that it seeks to “liberate” people from any objective standard of right and wrong.
I’m sure that you would have a problem with legalizing consensual adult/child sex relationships, child porn, or abortions. If so, you are making a moral judgment, are you not? It’s a skinny edge here.
My point, is, as a Christian, I have an Ethic with which to declare some things truly, Objectively morally wrong. A Classic Libertarian does not have that ability within their framework.
I can’t speak for all libertarians, but my understanding of libertarianism is that it is a political philosophy, not a moral philosophy. I believe in an objective standard of morality, but do not believe that government should penalize people simply for not adhering to it. I think you are equating libertarianism with objectivism or relativism.
These labels aside, I am glad you do not support criminalizing a behavior simply because it is immoral.
Trying to determine what should be morally legal and illegal becomes a game of cherry picking the bible which is wrong. If someone is harming others government can punish them but the victim should forgive them. We can’t legislate individual morality my brothers in Christ. God will be the ultimate judge over us. You need not concern with putting lost people who committed crimes against themselves in jail.
Libertarianism is a political philosophy and not a religion. Statism (worship of the State) and militarism (worship of the military) – the current neoconservatism that has plagued our country over the last few years – is a hybrid of both. The worship of the State is idolatry.
This article is wrong on so many levels. You deliberately mischaracterized Ron Paul, just like the media does to people – which is the same thing as lying.
God is the only judge of man. You cannot regulate morality with the State. Obviously the law is necessary to stop those who are a violent threat to society from committing crimes. However, regulations against homosexuality, drugs, etc are fruitless. God gave us free will, let people live how they want and let them face their judgement when it comes.
Please, excuse my English.
I find the political spectrum graph to be very questionable.
Summary of what I motivate clearly below: Anarchy is more appropriately labelled a left-wing ideology and fascism, a right-wing ideology.
Regarding anarchy – it is commonly considered a left-wing ideology .
Fascists have in general opposed being associated with any section of the left-right political spectrum, according to .
Fascists oppose conservatism, liberalism, socialism, communism, and social democracy .
Though it promotes private enterprise, private property, nationalism, the rule of the superior, and the purging of inferior in society. Embraces social conservatism, and the opposing of egalitarianism. These are not generally considered left-wing themes, but right-wing themes.
So, that’s the ideology. Now, if you look at the implementations of fascism.
Generally, when people think of fascist regimes, they most prominently do think of Mussolini’s Italy, Spain during the Franco era, and National Socialism in Nazi Germany to different extents, correct?
Let’s break it down:
Franco: Only adopted some trappings of fascism. Not really fascism, because fascists seek to transform society, and his rule is considered conservative and traditional. Embracement of Nationalism, Catholicism, anti-Freemasonry and anti-Communism. Franco came to power embracing principles of far-right Falange movement. Defended stability of the conservative Alcalá-Zamora government. Suppression of communists, anarchists and liberal democrats.
Mussolini & Italian Fascism: Although he started as a socialist, he later founded Italian Fascism, an ideology which includes elements of corporatism, nationalism and anti-communism. His first ruling government was a right-wing coalition. But Mussolini thought that fascism’s position on the political was not of relevance. He said:
“Fascism, sitting on the right, could also have sat on the mountain of the center …”
Despite this, Italian Fascists described Italian fascism as a right-wing ideology in the political programme The Doctrine of Fascism.
Hitler and National Socialism in Nazi Germany: A form of fascism. NSDAP was founded from the far-right völkisch nationalist movement. Nationalism, Anti-big business, anti-capitalist, anti-communist. Later, in the 1930s, the anti-big business, anti-capitalist political strategies were downplayed to gain the support of industries, and more focus was put on anti-Marxism and anti-Semitism. Oppression against Jews, homosexuals and blacks. Embraced socialism, and Hitler attacked both right-wing and left-wing politics in Mein Kampf. Despite this, the majority of scholars consider Nazism a far-right form politics .
What is the reason for using graphics that goes against common perceptions by labelling Fascism as a left-wing ideology and Anarchy as a right-wing ideology?
People usually put Anarchism at the most far-left, and fascism at the most far-right. Look at this example:
Or this European political spectrum:
 Adam Kuper, Jessica Kuper. The Social Science Encyclopedia, Volume I, A-K, 3rd ed. (Routledge, 2004) pp. 349.
 Roger Griffin. Fascism. Oxford, England, UK: Oxford University Press, 1995. Pp. 8, 307.
 Aristotle A. Kallis. The fascism reader. New York, New York, USA: Routledge, 2003. Pp. 71
 Brooks, Frank H. (1994). The Individualist Anarchists: An Anthology of Liberty (1881–1908). Transaction Publishers. p. xi. ISBN 1-56000-132-1.
 Joseph Kahn (2000). “Anarchism, the Creed That Won’t Stay Dead; The Spread of World Capitalism Resurrects a Long-Dormant Movement”. The New York Times (5 August).Colin Moynihan (2007). “Book Fair Unites Anarchists. In Spirit, Anyway”. New York Times (16 April).
 Fritzsche, Peter. 1998. Germans into Nazis. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press; Eatwell, Roger, Fascism, A History, Viking/Penguin, 1996, pp. xvii–xxiv, 21, 26–31, 114–140, 352. Griffin, Roger. 2000. “Revolution from the Right: Fascism,” chapter in David Parker (ed.) Revolutions and the Revolutionary Tradition in the West 1560–1991, Routledge, London.
I’m a Christian and libertarian for the most part. Jesus did not use force to get other people to do what he wanted them to do. As Christians we are supposed to discourage behaviors not enforce them with guns and threats of violence and prison. If we were to have a government that threw us in jail every time we sinned then EVERYBODY would be in jail. You say throw the drug addicts in jail while you have committed sin yourself but get off free. I’m not proposing anarchy by any means because our government should punish others that have harmed others. But is someone who smoke weed causing any harm to anyone else? A lot less than an angry drunk for sure.
Now for the gay marriage issue. I believe in a traditional marriage which involves a man woman and God! Nowhere in the bible does it say you have to get a marriage license from the government. If you don’t believe a license is necessary then government force can’t really stop gay marriage. The only thing stopping them is economic incentives and tax cuts. Those should not be important to Christians.
Ultimately Government is here to serve us and protect us from harm from others. God gave us free will and if someone wants to do drugs without fear of getting thrown in jail then they should be able to. However I do think we should help these people, but prison isn’t going to make it better for them. I personally do not do any of those things, but I’m not going to hold a gun to someone and tell them to stop. That isn’t very loving
First I must admit that I haven’t read through all the responses to this article.
Then I would like to make two comments.
1 I contend that the conservative is actually in the center and we need to add anarchist to the far right end of this graph. The text of this article even suggests that this is so. I find it objectionable that the folks on the left have so successfully managed to re-label us as being on the right or even worse ” right wing” and many of us conservatives accept this new label. I feel that the conservatives are for the most part still in the same place we have been all along and this re labeling that the liberals like to do has been a very effective tactic. They tend to use this re labeling tactic at least throughout recent history to both malign their detractors and also to repackage their (same old) ideologies to indoctrinate a fresh group of unaware and gullible supporters. The ideology is the same as it always was. Every time the general public starts to get wise to it they just give it a snazzy new package and fresh label. IE: Communism, socialism, liberalism, progressivism. What it has always been is rebellion. Man wants to sin and doesn’t want to be told that he is sinful. It just spirals out from this basic truth. Also for the administrators of this cult it is control that they want.
2 The other thing that I see is that the difference between the words “ethics” and “morals” is not well defined in this article. At least not as I understand them. I could be wrong but I understand that Ethics are principals that can change with the environment. The social environment for instance. Morals cannot change. Morals are static. Ethics are reactive. Gods laws are static. That is why morality is often based on biblical law. The word ethics can just as easily be used to describe how a person conducts business. Business ethics can change drastically as the business environment changes. Morals do not change. They are the standard that many ethics can be based on but they don’t change.
How can you say that it is Christian to have a government that FORCES PEOPLE AT GUNPOINT to follow your morals? How can you be a Christian if you are FORCED to be one? God gave us free will. The Libertarian view is not anti-Christian; it just believes that the government needs to stay out of religion. If you want to see a true Libertarian society that is also Christian look at the Amish.
This is exactly the problem I have with social conservatives– it’s not enough that they believe something. It terrifies and angers them that there is someone else out there who believes anything else. But the fact is that other beliefs exist out there is not really a threat to you or your beliefs. It is only threatening to you if your faith is weak.
Vices are vices because they are SELF-PUNISHING. That is, if you are a drug abuser, YOU suffer. If you are slothful, you will suffer. If you are a glutton you will get fat. The government does not need to step in and add punishment when the vice contains the punishment. If you are a Christian you believe that the sinful and unsaved will go to hell. Fine. The punishment is there. Why force people into prison if they are already going to be punished?
libertarianism and anarchism are not exclusive to the left or right .a lot of anarchist see themselves as left wing for instance you can have anarchist communism and libertarian socialism which are far left systems with little to no government at all.
the left-right spectrum has nothing to do with how big a government is.
Re: “the left-right spectrum has nothing to do with how big a government is.”
Could you elaborate on that?
This article should be called “What’s wrong with Objectivism?” Objectivism is something I find completely incompatible with the Bible but Objectivism is not Libertarianism and Any Rand was critical of libertarians. Libertarians vary greatly in how they base their views. The best basis I see for a free libertarian society is the recognition of God-given natural rights. Believe it or not, government is not a necessity for an orderly society. The first societies were stateless and stateless societies still exist today. All societies have laws and moral codes but not all societies have human rulers.
RE: “The best basis I see for a free libertarian society is the recognition of God-given natural rights. Believe it or not, government is not a necessity for an orderly society.”
If all that is true, then I have a couple of questions:
1. Why did God institute Government if there was a better way?
2. What about criminals…isn’t the precise definition of a criminal someone who does and will NOT voluntarily respect those rights in others…which is the whole point?
3. Are you a voluntaryist?
Most people understand civil libertarians to be minarchists, not anarchists. A minarchist recognizes man’s depravity (explicitly or implicitly), as evidenced by the rejection of the anarcho-capitalist ideal of competing, non-geographic security contractors. That is, they recognize that, without an arbiter of last resort, private security contracts will ultimately result in tyranny by an abusive contractor who gathers a large enough user base, and chooses to use that power for evil. Thus, most libertarians, by admission of this inevitability, recognize the depravity of man and believe that it is a legitimate role of CIVIL government to adjudicate disputes as the arbiter of last resort, according to established principles, and to enforce laws that protect citizens from assault, theft, breach of contract, and fraud. This is clearly “punishing those that do wrong and commending those that do right.”
The extent of this legitimate role of government (to punish evildoers), and the foundation of the principles for adjudication obviously need further explanation. The question has multidimensional applications – personal liberty, economic liberty, etc. Thus the political spectrum may be more accurately illustrated on multiple axes, rather than the single-dimensional line chart you show. For example, a quadrant chart could be created on Cartesian coordinates with a left/right scale of economic liberty on the horizontal abscissa, and similar authoritarian/libertarian scale of personal liberty on the vertical ordinate. Even this 2D representation is a simplification, and I could easily envision a third dimension on polar worldviews, for example. The resulting permutations could be described and we could better argue about which one doesn’t have inherent moral contradictions. In any case, separating the ideologies into multiple categories lends itself to deeper discussion of extremes in the individual dimensions. The broad brush of the left/right paradigm is used to prey on fears and polarize (divide and conquor) the citizenry by the partizan power elites. This is something we should denounce and avoid.
You mention civil government and self-government, but there is more – family government, and church government. Were the civil government constrained to the minarchist ideals in the dimension of social law, the benefits of God’s principles would become readily apparent in families and churches that ruled well. The term civil libertarian does not necessarily imply a rejection of God’s law, rather it is simply a descriptor for defining authority roles in the negative sense. That is to say, a civil-libertarian is anti-authoritarian in certain senses – meaning that they believe in limited civil government. However, the role of the church, family, and/or self-government is not implicated in the term. Libertarian is simply the opposite of authoritarian, and the term simply needs essential modifiers to describe the extent of that application of limitations (or anti-authoritarianism). You would agree that the state should be libertarian with regard to imposing religion on subjects, I would assume. Note that God himself argued against an authoritarian government in ancient Israel, and for a libertarian state where the church government, furnished with voluntary contributions at a flat rate, ruled many aspects that the civil government would ultimately take over (in Israel and the US).
In conclusion, I don’t believe the term “libertarian” itself is a problem. It begs for clarification, but that clarification includes the topics we need to be discussing. Every term has baggage, and using the term “libertarian” with essential modifiers opens doors to explain the application in multiple dimensions, and how each dimension is ultimately informed by the created order – the law of nature and of nature’s God. Libertarians recognize that the problem of government punishing evil comes when the government, as arbiter of last resort, ultimately must adjudicate disputes involving themselves. A good king would work, but a bad king reigns for a long time. The US tried to overcome this with separation of powers, but the system of pluraity wins (every vote not counting in the final analysis) has failed us, and the government taking over social services has failed us. As predicted by Duverger’s law, we have only two competing powers (parties), rather than three separate branches with a triplicate balance of power. The branches represent the interests of these two parties, not the people, as evidenced by the floor rules that ensure that only the agenda of the majority party will see a vote. Most of our individual interests with regard to representation are “killed in committee.” This shadow system of party interest was not intended by the founders. They recognized its development too late to implement safeguards, although they then issued dire warnings. A solution would be an alternate vote, but a collapse will need to happen first, because it would be a bi-partisan vote in favor of the current system that favors the existence and entrenches the power of two major parties. In fact, it would never see the floor for a vote because there is a protectionist laws and rules in place that protect the represented parties (red and blue). Make no mistake about it. We have no individual representation. We may be able to influence one of the major parties as a group, but that is not the system that was intended. Nonetheless, every system works as perfectly as it was designed. Another evidence of our system being outmoded is the fact that the supreme court only hears 80 of 10,000 appeals each year. Is that justice? Regardless of the standard used as a basis of adjudication, that is absolute injustice. The system is broken. We need to start talking about ideals in various categories – the modifiers and necessary descriptors of the libertarianism that God endorses. This American Republic is not the last form of government this land will see. It was an experiment. It may last 100 more years, but the decline is measurable. A solution might be competing non-geographic state and local law applied on a voluntary subscription basis under a severely restricted federal framework. The best of both worlds – an arbiter of last resort, and a federal system with laws that are even more portable than the initial design. But there will need to be safeguards to ensure that a moral system is in place, not just a procedural system that can be used for good or evil. Or at least to allow laws based on religious principles (as was the original intent of the confederation, considering that some of the original 13 had official state religions).
There are several problems with what you have to say in your essay.
Not every sin can be criminalized. For example, You can sue your spouse in divorce court for adultery, but not for lust, per se. Adultery and lust are both sins, but adultery is both a moral (personal conduct) error and a breach of ethics (interpersonal responsibilities). Our legal system is designed to adjudicate ethical disputes between two or more parties. It is not designed, nor should it be designed, to impose standards that are strictly moral in nature that God himself leaves to the individual’s free will.
It is not the government’s role to play God, especially in attempting to do something that God chooses not to do: usurp our free will and force us to live in moral perfection. Theocratic tyranny would be a greater evil than anything that it allegedly would resolve.
The United States was founded in opposition to the idea that Kings ruled by divine right. Fortunately, those who insisted on the “Divine Right of Kings” lost the debate and gave us the Federal Republic that we enjoy. You are trying to restore an idea that is antithetical to our founding principles.
Finally, Ayn Rand rejected the Libertarian label. “Objectivism,” as she described it, was the set of her own idiosyncratic ideas, which some libertarians may borrow from, but it is not accurate to conflate Randian Objectivism and Libertarianism as you do.
I think the Madison quote explains it quite clearly, our Constitution was set up to govern a Christian nation. That is the current problem our current system of law has. Most conservatives are trying to save these laws in order to save a Christian nation. But for the past 40 years liberals and Democrats, those with non-religious or atheist beliefs, are doing everything they can to tear all that down. Most are using the Constitution itself to justify these new laws.
Once progressives convinced the majority of American citizens that “separation of church and state” was a Constitutional principle, it was easy. Although it does sound like a reasonable creed, thats not what they are actually fighting for. A full separation of CHRISTIAN VALUES from our current laws is the actual goal. That is completely different. Of course the church should be separate as the church is a religious body made of of human beings that are not elected by the people. But Christian values are incorruptible in that they are what they are.
But Im afraid none of this really matters anymore. We have already passed the point of no return to the good ole days of being a Christian nation. Lawyers, greed and the breakdown of the family have reached such horrible levels of failure of morality that we are probably going to have to go through hell before we get to heaven. At this point holding onto your faith, staying true to the word and standing by your principles in your personal relationship with God is all we can do. I think the next 50 years we are all going to experience what it was to be Paul or any of the other founders of the Christian faith.
Christians will be tested like we havent been in the last 200 years like we will be in the next 50. God never said it was going to be easy, and testing our faith is just a part of this life. Lets stick together as often as we can to weather the storms that will be….we are going to need it.
I think Kings in the bible is the best political science class around. This helped. God bless you.
Israel, I commend you in your effort to try to understand and explain libertarianism, but you are working from very flawed resources and definitions. This article is full of straw men. If you read more material from FEE and the Mises Institute, you would have a better understanding of what libertarianism is. Also, John Cobin wrote an excellent book on this called ‘Bible and Government.’ And on strictly economic matters, E. Calvin Beisner wrote another excellent book called ‘Prosperity & Poverty.’ I recommend you read both.
It was Mark Edward Lender’s article ‘Born Again: The Resurgence of American Prohibition’ that showed my the hypocrisy of my conservatism, and finally convinced me of the truth of the libertarian position.
Working strictly from Romans 13, and other passages, I find it impossible to come to any other position than Christian libertarianism, without forcing opinions on the text. One example: 1 Samuel 8 is a list of things God hates. And Rom. 13 is the origin of the ‘enumerated powers’ view, which was incorporated into the U.S. Constitution. By this, government is given authority to do certain things, as is also true of the Constitution. Anything more is forbidden to them.
Lastly, your article contains equivocation, namely, the word ‘wrong.’ The purpose of government is to punish those who commit CRIMES, or in other words, violate someone else’s rights. We need to consult the whole OT to define what government is to punish. Prostitution is not one of these things. Neither is substance abuse, or the selling of substances. But this is where the Christian pragmatist – or ‘Christian’ humanist – pipes up. If the gov’t doesn’t punish the prostitute or druggie, society will suffer. That is how some impose their humanistic philosophy on the Scriptures. You don’t get that reasoning from Scripture. That is just humanism. Paul warned us to avoid vain philosophy, but it is very popular in the church today, and specifically pragmatism. The command to punish the ‘evildoer’ is not a warrant to punish prostitutes. It is a command to punish those who force themselves on their neighbor, or who steal, or vandalize, or don’t restore property, etc.