Thursday, October 7, 2010

I'd Rather Be Libertarian

What is the role of government? It's not there to regulate what you eat, drink, smoke, chew, ingest, or sniff. It's not there to feed the poor, take care of the sick and the elderly, pay for college tuition or retirement, insure your mortgage, or regulate air traffic. It's not there to provide jobs, monitor the weather, issue marriage licenses or driver' licenses, manipulate interest rates, take care of "national" parks, or educate our children.

Frankly, the problem we are having now is about jurisdiction. The family, the church, and the government each have different jurisdictions, and every time we get jurisdiction mixed up, we end up with a mess: social security, welfare, medicaid, the Fed, public education, and drug wars, to name a few.

So, Biblically speaking, what are the jurisdictions of each? The family is charged with child-rearing, provision for its own poor, elderly, and infirm, wealth-building, and dominion-taking. (Gen. 1:28, Deut 8:18, Eph 6:1-3, I Tim 5:8) The church is charged with spreading the Gospel, preaching the Word, administering the sacraments, administering church discipline, and feeding the poor. (Matt 28:16-20, Matt. 18, I Cor. 5, I Tim. 4:13-15) The government is charged with bearing the sword and punishing evil-doers. (Romans 13) When these entities cross their jurisdictions, we get trouble.

What trips up most of us believers is that we think it is the government's job to legislate morality. It is not; that is the church's job and then just among its members. It is not for the government to tell me how to treat my temple. That is for the church (the true church, of course, which is founded on the written Word of God). When we cross the line from harming ourselves to harming other people, then it becomes the jurisdiction of the government.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 18 (and Paul follows it up in I Cor. 5) how to handle one of our own who is morally failing. So, if a sheep is an addict, we don't want the police to show up and haul him off to jail. Instead, we begin the process of restoration/reconciliation. At every step, the goal is to reign in the wayward brother and bring him to a state of repentance over his sin of addiction. Note, however, that the final step is handled by the church government, not by individuals. Again, we must work with Biblical jurisdictions. But if a brother murders someone, that is the time for the government to come in and bear the sword. Even if the brother repents, he must pay for his crime. And a just government will make sure that he does.

So why am I a fan of the Libertarian Party? The Republican Party has become too much like the Democratic Party. Once upon a time, the GOP was the party of small government and fiscal responsibility. But their Patriot Act demonstrates their willingness to become as intrusive as the Democrats would like; and their spending at the end of the Bush administration demonstrates they are as fiscally irresponsible as the Dems. Runaway inflation, anyone? As for the Constitution Party, I have a problem with the theonomic views of many in that party.

The Libertarian Party is the only one that understands jurisdiction. But I'll settle for a Ron Paul Republican.


  1. Just curious, when you say that the Constitution Party would like the church to do the job of the government, what specifically do you mean? Perhaps an example would clarify.

  2. Don't get me wrong. The Constitution Party has a basically solid platform, and I agree with 90% of it.
    Specifically speaking to jurisdiction, though, is their stance on drug abuse. While they want to limit unwarranted search and seizures for drug-related problems, the implication is there will be warranted search and seizures in this area. That's a huge liberty issue. Go ahead and punish people who commit crimes while under the influence. But for a government, rather than a church,to monitor how we treat our temples blurs the lines of jurisdiction. Prohibition was unconstitutional; laws against drunk driving, though, are not. But when in power, will the CP then decide all education must be Christian education? Will they determine that a private landowner can't build a mosque on his own property? The USA is not a Christian nation; the Church is.

    Less specifically to the actual party platform, however, is the fact that theonomy is big among many Constitution Party members. I can't say that is true of them all; but it's certainly true of some. And that's a concern regarding liberty, as well. Declaring that God is king and His law applies to the whole population was right for the Old Testament nation of Israel, where God set aside a physical, geographical people to be His physical,geographical nation. But on this side of the Cross, when the Church is invisible and scattered across all peoples, nations, tribes, and tongues, we can only enforce His standards among His people. We can't make people submit to the Lordship of Christ. John Calvin made a terrific theologian and pastor. But he was a poor politician. The same man who was the defender of liberty of conscience burned Servetus at the stake for not believing the "right" thing! That's what the theonomists remind me of. To be fair, I know I am painting all Constitution Party members with the same broad brush. Just as there are Bill Maher libertarians who just want freedom to justify their hedonism and Ron Paul libertarians who want small government and liberty of conscience, there are probably different flavors of CP members, as well.

  3. Now I think I'm more confused. Your example is that the CP would give the church's jurisdiction to the government in their stand regarding "how we treat our temples", but my question was in what way would the CP be advocating that the church take over the government's jurisdiction (i.e. bearing the sword and punishing evil-doers, to use your words).

    By the way, have you actually read the party platforms of the Libertarian Party as compared to the Constitution Party? I think you may be misunderstanding the CP's stand on drugs and education. The education part of the two platforms is actually almost identical. As for the drug stuff, the CP platform merely says that the government has the right to protect our borders against drug traffic, as long as they don't violate the individual's right to be free from unlawful search and seizure. The Libertarians, on the other hand, sound like they might favor doing away with all drug laws altogether.

    Also, I am quite concerned with the Libertarian's stand on abortion. If it is the jurisdiction of the government to punish evil-doers, it is certainly within its jurisdiction to legislate against abortion, which is most certainly evil.

  4. Right. LP wants to do away with drug laws. And I'm all for it.

    Right. LP platform is disturbingly weak on abortion. But that is not to say that candidates themselves are weak. Take them one at a time, and you can get one like Ron Paul.

    Right. I got it backwards. I don't think CP wants church to do the work of govt. I think CP wants govt to do the work of church. That's not from the platform per se, but from the theonomic views of some of the movers and shakers behind the party. But God's law was entrusted to believers for believers. Period.

  5. I always take every candidate one at a time. That is why I have no party affiliation. I have voted for Ron Paul on multiple occasions - he used to be my congressman when we lived in South Texas. I've even met him in person. But in a conversation about the differences between parties, you have to go by the party platform, because no one candidate will ever fit everything in the platform. And that is true no matter which party you are talking about (CP, LP, or otherwise). Not that it matters, but I think Ron Paul currently calls himself a Republican, not a Libertarian.

    I am surprised that you would say that God's Law does not apply to non-believers. "Thou shalt not kill" and "thou shalt not steal" are God's Laws. They are the ONLY ground we can claim in opposition to abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, etc. Without God's Law, man creates his own relativistic opinion of right and wrong, making it suddenly okay to kill Grandma just because the cost of her health care is "draining the system", or to kill an unborn child just because the mother would rather not be inconvenienced with a baby right now. How can a government bear the sword and punish evil-doers if there is no clear, immutable definition of what is evil in the first place (i.e. God's Law)?

    My apologies for co-opting your blog topic - if you'd rather not get into all this, just don't post my comment. I won't be offended.

  6. All excellent points, Keri! I like people who think critically, friend. :)

    Yes, Ron Paul is Republican, but it was my understanding he is such because it's too hard to survive as a third-party candidate. That may be about to change...