Note: The publication of the following article on my website does not constitute an endorsement of "corporatism." JP
Casting the Stone
Jesus Christ walked me from atheist libertarianism to Christian libertarianism.
This essay is [my defense to] the claims made by some of my Christian brethren that I, as a Christian, should not be libertarian, as if “Christian libertarian” is an oxymoron. Because I have been challenged, I offer here a stronger defense of my political philosophy than Christian Democrats or Christian Republicans can offer for theirs.
I spent well over ten of my fifteen libertarian years describing myself as a philosophical agnostic and practicing atheist (www.theism.net/authors/zjordan/docs_files/birth_files/02birth.htm). I kept company primarily with fellow nonbelievers and supported atheist organizations via occasional memberships, literature purchases and demonstrations. My Website (www.theism.net/authors/zjordan), where I defend the faith against skeptics’ attacks, describes my religious conversion. Coming to know that Jesus Christ is Lord proved a long, hard intellectual battle. Believing that to embrace Christ I would have to abandon the libertarian (http://www.lp.org/issues/) philosophy (libertarians agree with liberals on personal liberties, with conservatives on free enterprise), I resisted Him. My dissent from atheism began on political grounds (www.theism.net/authors/zjordan/docs_files/afn_files/01afn.htm); ultimately, it harmonized there.
I determined that my atheist organizations imposed their own (non-theistic) brand of religious tyranny of politically-correct “liberal-left” politics (the opposite extreme of the politically-incorrect “religious-right” politics I then and now fear). Both are extreme political positions. With my newly acquired non-double-standard perspective, I re-examined Jesus Christ and experienced joyful surprise at what I saw (not Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson). No, I saw a man (perhaps a God) sharing the real-world, day-to-day struggles with society’s lower strata. This man, or God, did not advocate jails for ministering to “sinners.” As this libertarian read Jesus’ words, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her" (John 8:7); "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?" (Matthew 7:3); and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39), He quickly gained my respect. Simultaneously, the resurrection story offered its own surprises (www.theism.net/authors/zjordan/debates_files/locks.htm).
Both theistic and non-theistic religious activists tend to assert, “There is no such thing,” as the term that applies to them. Both groups will brand the other “extremist,” even “fanatical.” Sadly, each is often correct. For example, liberal “lefties” demand that taxpayer-funded, government-run public schools ban all prayer and teach evolution theory as fact. Meanwhile, religious “fundies” demand that taxpayer-funded, government-run public schools mandate school prayer and teach creation theory as fact. Why does neither side of the left-right religious spectrum support teaching both theories of human origin? Why does neither support voluntary prayer? The answer: Both are extremist. Personally, I oppose government schools, period (http://www.sepschool.org/).
The Founders of this nation embraced many Christian ideals, yet steadfastly opposed a national church (www.theism.net/authors/zjordan/docs_files/saint_files/chaps/one/congress.htm). They encouraged Americans to remain a moral, God-fearing people of their own accord. Nevertheless, Americans remained free to believe no God existed and to live amoral, irreligious (however defined) lives. The Common Law restricted everyone from victimizing another person in the pursuit of happiness.
With Jesus Christ at my side, I earnestly questioned my Christian brethren about their support for legislating Christian values onto non-Christians (i.e., “Christian-Right” politics). I asked that they show me where Jesus Christ ever commanded, suggested, implied, or even hinted at utilizing governmental entities to advance His name or the Father’s will, or where He ever commanded us to monitor the behavior of people outside the body of Christ. I always received one, two, or all three standard replies:
1.”We need a moral standard.”
2. “In [Religious Tyrant inserts selected Old testament verse here], it says…”
3. “No one is an island unto himself. If they harm only themselves, they still affect society as a whole.”
Item 1: Warrants immediate dismissal. We already have a “moral” standard: L-I-B-E-R-T-Y. God granted this liberty to Adam and Eve. Everyone has a God-given, constitutionally-protected right to bite from the same apple of sin as Adam and Eve.
The well-meaning advocate of religious-right politics generally sees him/herself as the sagacious, anointed person who can draw out the details of biblical morality and select the leaders who can best legislate it. They would cast the first stone?
Item 2: Clearly, Old Testament law applied to believers. New Testament events set the stage for reaching out to Gentiles. If an advocate of religious-right legislation cites Old Testament law to support such tyranny, we then must ask for yet another sagacious, anointed advocate to determine where Old Testament law stops. Do we then begin stoning persons who work on the Sabbath? Click http://www.lamblion.com/prophecy/Jews-Israel/Jews-08.html for enlightenment regarding Old Testament law.
Item 3: Remains a feeble attempt to cling to tyranny by stretching the imagination beyond biblical guidance. “Although drug users,” say advocates of religious-right politics, “seemingly harm only themselves, others pay for their medical care through insurance premiums and/or taxation.” They say the same for homosexuals who contract AIDS. Then should we not outlaw red meat, donuts, and fast food? Folks, I meant to be humorous, but health advocates have indeed lobbied for a “fat-tax” (http://www.theism.net/authors/zjordan/docs_files/stone_files/fat_tax.txt). Another common argument made by advocates of religious-right politics is that prostitutes often spread a “gift that keeps on giving.” Do prostitutes not require condoms? How do prostitutes in the state of Nevada feel about that claim, considering health officials regularly examine them? Even law-abiding citizens perform legal acts that produce victim-causing effects (e.g., producing automobile exhaust en route to ingesting McLard-laden-atherosclerosis-inducing burgers, bungee-jumping, jet-skiing, or a McHillary host of other activities). In fact, in de-legalizing practices that might produce victims, they should advocate outlawing churches, considering pedophiles have emerged from some pulpits. Again, where do we draw the line? Why the double standard? Do we outlaw everything or honor “liberty and justice for all,” then prosecute criminals if, when, and where they emerge? Try this Jay Carper gem on for size: http://libertarian.faithweb.com/articles/cars.html regarding gun control.
Let us assume it is valid to de-legalize activities due to potential evils. Consider the drug war. This argument presupposes the liberal-media-induced fallacy that drug “user” is synonymous with drug “addict.” It is not. Most “druggies” are occasional, casual users who affect no one. Nonetheless, drug use has risen dramatically (www.dpf.org, http://www.lp.org/issues/relegalize.html, and http://www.e-democracy.org/mn-politics-archive/9608/0252.html) since the federal government launched the “War on Drugs.” Should we not then halt the war to minimize tax/insurance expenses by having fewer Americans addicted to drugs? Granted, a correlation does not a causation make; however, a correlation is necessary to demonstrate causation. Drug addiction should be treated for what it is: a medical illness and/or sin. A visit to http://www.lindesmith.org/library/focal1.html about addicts treated as patients and given prescriptions for their drugs will offer a sobering reading about the programs’ results in reduction of crime and the increase of recovery. Prohibitionists of the early 1900s used the same arguments that today’s prohibitionists use to justify the war on drugs. Prohibition failed then as it is failing now. Indeed, history repeats itself.
Advocates of religious-right politics present a case that, when structuring America’s legal system, the Framers (John Witherspoon, John Locke, and William Blackstone), influenced by the writings and philosophy of Presbyterian minister Samuel Rutherford, frequently used the Bible as their primary reference source. They infer the Framers set biblical law at the base of the Constitution. They agree with liberty-loving Christians that man is inherently evil, so his power must be limited. Therefore, I contend the Framers based our legal system on Christian principles by limiting the citizenry’s ability to deprive minorities of rights (i.e., no raw democracy) and restricting government’s ability to enact tyrannical legislation (i.e., constitutional republic). Considering, "for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), we certainly need a guideline other than sin to determine when behavior is criminal. If sin were the guideline, every citizen would be in jail every day. Advocates of religious-right politics may claim that mine is merely an interpretation of the Framers’ intent. Let us consult someone who was there, Thomas Jefferson:
Our rulers can have no authority over natural rights, only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted. We are answerable for them to our God. The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. - Thomas Jefferson [emphasis added]
Source: THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN CONSTITUTIONAL or COMMON LAW. 1995, Howard Fisher The Message Company, Sante Fe, NM (p. 45)
Crimes require a victim. Where there is no victim, there is no crime, although there may be sin. One who adhered to every Judeo-Christian law imaginable would still sin. If Witherspoon, Locke, Blackstone and Rutherford ‘s biblical base for American law reflects Christ’s divinity, they are accurate; Christ will lead us through. Let us trust His example. Many religionists will claim the previous Jefferson quotation is taken out of context. The Danbury Baptists wrote Jefferson for fear Baptists would be denied their right to worship as their denomination deemed fit. Jefferson assured them that they, as well as any other religious sect, remained free to worship and practice their faith. A “wall of separation” protected them from governmental intrusion. Now, an excerpt from the letter (a letter current-day Christian Right activists conveniently leave archived) of the Danbury Baptists to Jefferson:
Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty; that Religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals, that no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious opinions, that the legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor." (Underline theirs, bold italics mine)
Source: Dave Barton of Wallbuilders.com
Jefferson proved himself a Godsend to fundamentalists. Today, fundamentalists often perceive him as a thorn in their sides. To listen to most fundamentalists I know today (and I am a fundamentalist), an onlooker could think they have always supported the victimless-crimes ideal. The Christian Right and its supporters could learn a great deal from their Baptist ancestors who merely wanted freedom to worship.
The New Testament makes it clear we are sinners living among sinners. Though we are free (constitutionally: inalienable rights, biblically: free will) to live apart from God, we Christians choose to follow and serve Christ in a world that does not. We yield our lives to Christ to live in us and radiate to others. One example of living the faith and walking the “walk” will speak abundantly louder than ten man-made laws on the books. If one is not free to live apart from God, then living a life in God’s order merely to appease a penal code is worthless. I believe God’s Son will speak and lead the way for the lost through us, His followers—not Congress.
Once Christians accept the godly concept of free will (with its unpleasantness), they can accept libertarianism as biblically sound. In fact, they will find “demopublicanry” biblically unsound. The libertarian philosophy is the only philosophy in which I have witnessed Christian and atheistic harmony in keeping with America’s Founders’ intentions. Atheists enjoy freedom of non-theistic religion (http://church.freethought.org/, http://www.infidels.org/org/aha/ceremonies/); Christians enjoy freedom of theistic religion, enabling Jesus’ light to shine to the others. To believe that government can effectively legislate religiosity is to believe that:
- Congress is more powerful than God’s Holy Spirit working in the lives of the body of Christ
- God may have designed free will, but it is faulty
- Jesus may have rejected the political power Satan offered Him, but political might is how to advance the Father’s will.
“We generally don’t love ourselves at gunpoint.”
Indeed, libertarianism works. It works with Christianity, Judaism, Atheism, and all other religions. And it works well. For a better understanding of libertarianism and Christianity review:
Who is owner of the universe, our lives, our bodies and our property? Psalm 24:1; I Corinthians 6:19-20
Should we invest our resources in guns, badges and jails to arrest prostitutes? Is that what Paul meant? Romans 12:19-21
Who is owner in earthly matters? Acts 5:4
Will laws allow practices Christians reject in their lives? 1 Corinthians 6:12, Titus 2:11-12
What are Jesus’ commandments that cannot be done by force or coercion? Matt. 22:37-40
What about judging people outside the body of Christ? I Corinthians 5:12, 13; 1 Thessalonians 4:11
Freedom? Revelation 22:17
Prodigal Son parable Luke 15: 11-32
If you have New Testament verse claiming otherwise, please forward it to me at: jordanDELETETHIS(AT)theism.net.
For a complete understanding of how libertarianism is Christian, obtain a copy of Virgil Swearingen’s, Discovering Self-Government, A Bible Based Study Guide and its companion book, Libertarianism In One Lesson by David Bergland. Both are available from The Advocates For Self-Government, 1202 N. Tennessee St., Suite 202, Cartersville, GA 30120, or call: 770-386-8372, 800-932-1776, e-mail: [email protected], or visit: http://www.self-gov.org
Unfortunately, pseudo-science and Secular Humanism have convinced much of the country that a fetus is something other than human; therefore, abortion is considered ethical. Similarly, pre-1900s pseudo-science deemed black persons private property, and 1900s-Nazism deemed Jewish persons non-human. The "pro-choice" plank of The Libertarian Party could be easily restricted to an individual candidate’s platform if Christians embracing libertarianism entered the party and defended the fetus’ personhood. Indeed, even the Libertarian Party has acknowledged the validity of the pro-life libertarian position. [See Libertarianism In One Lesson, Eighth Edition, available from the Advocates for Self-Government (http://www.self-gov.org/)]
In the party’s defense, both sides agree with the basic libertarian principle that no one should be forced to subsidize, by taxation or any other means, abortions. Considering the number of tax-funded (directly or indirectly) abortions each year, even "pro-choice" libertarians would abort more abortionists than any “republicrat” has even paid lip service to doing. Are Christians concerned with promises or net results? The pro-life libertarian group, Libertarians for Life (founded by self-described atheist, Doris Gordon), is grounded on "pre-political" and "philosophical" footing, dispelling the myths of "false science." They can be contacted for further information at: 13424 Hathaway Drive, Wheaton, MD 20906, 301-460-4141, web: http://www.L4L.org. Also, consider Dr. Mary Ruwart’s short answer: http://www.self-gov.org/ruwart/q0116.html.
The Christian Left
The left side of the political spectrum is not limited to non-believers. Many well-meaning liberal Christians enlist government to further Christ’s command to care for others (e.g., government housing, welfare, food stamps). However, the challenge remains: Where did Christ ever command us to force our neighbors into Good Samaritanism? It simply will not be found in Christ’s New Testament. Indeed, it is we, His followers, who are to care for our neighbors, not shirk that responsibility onto non-Christians. In practice the “Great Society” programs backfired. In 1969, America’s poverty level enjoyed a decline of 12.1% from 30% in 1950. By 1981 it had risen to 14%. The programs, by birthing a poverty-class citizenry, actually created more of the very thing it promised to abolish, just like the drug war, which liberal Christians tend to support along with the conservative Christians. Not only does government fail at effectively legislating religiosity, it actually produces more of the evil its proponents hope to abolish. For more information, review http://www.lp.org/issues/welfare.html.
By claiming victimless-crime sin should not be illegal is not to condone or encourage such behavior; it is to claim that jails are no solution. I do not present that a Christian libertarian society will abolish all sickness and evil. However, neither have religious-right nor liberal-left politics. Democrats and republicans tantalize voters with Utopia, whereas libertarians acknowledge it is not an option. Perhaps you disagree with the libertarian philosophy on a particular issue. Even best friends, business partners, and happily married couples disagree on details, though they bond on shared values. Indeed, Christians can bond with libertarians not only without compromising their desire to follow Christ, but to fulfill His example. Before accusing me of using the Bible to advance a political agenda, think again. I have merely promoted a philosophy of freedom and liberty, and demonstrated that it better harmonizes with Christ’s example and teachings than alternative philosophies. Should you embrace that philosophy, a political home beckons you.
Libertarianism offers Christians the best way to achieve their objectives. Christ teaches freedom. Granting government power to advance our goals means granting government power to stymie them. Government-mandated school prayer exemplifies the adverse results of granting government the authority to legislate religious matters. Americans granted government the power to legislate whether school prayer was permissible and approved the courts’ decisions to mandate school prayer. Now government uses that power to ban school prayer. Non-theists, too, should hesitate to grant government such power; power used to ban school prayer can also be used to mandate it. Perhaps Americans should revisit their view of government’s role in religious matters. Indeed, theists and non-theists should revisit the libertarian philosophy, for everyone should be left free to choose whether to follow Christ or not. Many advocates of governmental authorities carrying out goodwill tend to think that they are keeping politics and religion separate. However, would you take it upon yourself to barge into a prostitute’s home then lock her in a basement until she sees her evil ways? If not, why then would you hire persons wearing badges, and carrying guns to do it for you?
Christian libertarianism extends far beyond differing political ideologies. Non-believers scrutinize our activism. Religious-right politics frighten non-believers (e.g., G. Zeineldé Jordan of yesteryear); liberal-left politics invite them in. Our obedience to Christ’s guidance will attract them to Him. Religious-right politics should frighten even believers, considering it crucified our Lord. I would sooner rejoin forces with the atheists (despite their own historical horrors) long enough to wrest witches from the stake than support “Christian” tyranny.
Argue down Christ’s example and teachings if you must. Then, my brethren, cast the first stone.
G. Zeineldé Jordan, Se.