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Two weeks have passed since I traveled to Virginia to debate at Patrick Henry College. I think it is about time to give you an account of what happened!

First, the back-story… I was contacted a few months ago by Chris at Patrick Henry College. Chris was the President of the Wilberforce Society at PHC. He had read a few of my essays on LCC about government and marriage, and felt that I would be a good candidate for a debate to be held at PHC between a libertarian and a conservative regarding government regulation of marriage. I was a bit skeptical at first; I even wondered if I was being “set up” for a takedown. Indeed, why select me of all people? I am not a big name guy, I do not have a huge reputation. But Chris was immensely kind, well-spoken, and transparent about everything. He said that they specifically wanted me because I do not adhere to the perfect “party line” of promoting state-regulated gay marriage, but rather challenge the entire institution of the government itself and its power to regulate marriage. He said that this was the conversation he found most compelling and wanted to bring me in to talk about it.

At that point, I tentatively accepted but we had some issues nailing down a date – and things just continued to get crazier for both of us. Thankfully, we were able to come to an agreement and we set everything in motion. My debate opponent was to be Dr. Allan Carlson of the Howard Center For Family, Religion, and Society. Thus, on November 16th, I took an early flight to Washington, D.C. Besides the ritual groping I always seem to earn at the airport, it was a nice flight. Chris and I had lunch together and discussed politics, education, and our mutual faith. In fact, he was so excited about the event that he could not help but interrogate me about what I was intending to say in the debate. So, I had a warm-up Q&A session before the main show.

The debate was a fairly standard format – but since this was my first time doing a serious formal debate, nothing was standard for me and it shows! The resolution for the debate read, “Resolved: That the government should define marriage as between one man and one woman.” Dr. Carlson and I were both given 15 minutes for an opening statement with him (the affirmative) starting, followed by rebuttals of 5 and 6 minutes for each of us, and Dr. Carlson receiving an opportunity for a counter-rebuttal of 1 minute. Then, we were to have a 30 minute Q&A from the audience.

My remarks were centered around three central points:

  1. Government definition of marriage is unnecessary. This is my “historical” point. Marriage did quite well for millennia without any government help or definition.
  2. Federal Government definition of marriage, in particular, is unconstitutional. This is my “Appeal to the American in You” point. Constitutional conservatives, on their own terms, do not have the grounds for demanding the Federal Government step in and define marriage.
  3. The power to define marriage is a power that no government should have. This is my “ethical” point. A government powerful enough to define things the way you like is also powerful enough to take all your definitions away. Moreover, it becomes precedent for all kinds of terrible positive law.

Following these points, I presented a positive case for what the Church in particular can do to support marriage and fundamental liberty without appealing to the government to take action at all.

The video, shown below, is 75 minutes long, so if you want to watch everything at once be sure to set aside a bit of time for it! I will warn you ahead of time that I did have some rough spots, but overall I think it was a good learning experience for all.

Video streaming by Ustream

(Permanent link to the Ustream page, in case the embedding doesn’t work at some point.)

A few post-mortem thoughts…

I probably researched what Dr. Carlson has written on marriage more than he did of my own writings. I basically outflanked him with his own material. I felt that his rebuttal was fairly weak and did not truly answer some of my fundamental objections to the conservative position. Despite some of my own foul-ups in my discussion, I thought the Q&A was pretty spectacular, albeit I really need to become better versed in common law traditions so I can talk more intelligently on specifics!

In the end, it was clear that Dr. Carlson had much trust in government power, and, on the other hand, I had absolutely zero trust in it. Let the conservatives and libertarians take heed. I like Dr. Carlson and have a lot of respect for his work, but I do believe he has too much faith in government.

One last thing you do not see in the video is the “afterward” of the debate. At the conclusion, I had a large number of students immediately come to the front desiring to continue the conversation. I spent over an hour and a half talking with students about libertarianism, theology, marriage, culture, and policy. From what I could tell, Dr. Carlson did not quite garner the same kind of after-debate audience. It somewhat reminded me of the end of the second Keynes-Hayek Rap Video, and certainly suggests that the intellectual tide of these young people is turning toward liberty. Or, at the very least, they are very curious!

So what did you think? Let me know in the comments.
<br /><a href=”” style=”padding: 2px 0px 4px; width: 400px; background: #ffffff; display: block; color: #000000; font-weight: normal; font-size: 10px; text-decoration: underline; text-align: center;” target=”_blank”>Video streaming by Ustream</a>

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I will be participating in a debate this Saturday at 7:00 pm EST (November 16, 2013) at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia. The debate is hosted by the Wilberforce Society, and the topic is “Government and Marriage.” More specifically, should the government define marriage to be between one man and one woman? I’ll be defending the negative — that government should not have that power. It should be a really fun event. My fellow debater will be Dr. Allan Carlson of the Howard Center For Family, Religion, and Society. I am confident that we will all be able to learn from each other.

If you’re in the area, feel free to join us (I think it is open to the public). The debate will be held in the Student Lounge of the Barbara Hodel Center, located at 10 Patrick Henry Circle, Purcellville, VA 20132.

I am uncertain at this point if the debate will be recorded and/or streamed live, but stay tuned to this post and I will update with additional details as they come.

Lastly, please pray that I can present the best case for why we cannot trust the government to be any better a steward or regulator of “marriage” than they are a steward of our economy, health, or security. As always, thank you for your support of the efforts of!

UPDATE: I am told that the event will be live-streamed, click here at 7pm EST on November 16 to watch. Hopefully the recording will be made available following the event…

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Nate asks:

Many Christian conservatives disapprove of Christian libertarians because most libertarians support getting the government’s nose out of issues related to sex (such as prostitution and homosexuality). How does a Christian who accepts libertarianism respond to that?

This issue has been addressed on LCC in a few places, including the FAQ – make sure to check those out. However, let’s take this opportunity to make an important point about morality and the use of force.

Everything a libertarian thinks a government should do (or not do) flows out of our understanding of property rights. First, you own yourself, insofar as other human beings do not have better claim to it (God obviously becomes the final arbiter in this regression, but this is beside the point for now). As such, you have the right to use your body however you choose, so long as you do not initiate force against others either physically or through fraud.

It generally is reasonable to most people that if someone else is doing something of which you disapprove but is not aggressive in nature, then you do not have the right to initiate force to stop him. This clearly follows from the non-aggression principle stated above. However, many of these same people think that it’s alright to use the government to stop activity of which they disapprove. All it takes is a new law.

In contrast, libertarians say that this is an illegitimate use of force. If I, as an individual, do not have the right to force people to stop action X (because action X is not aggressive in nature), then neither does a group of people, and neither does a government. Governments do not have the right to regulate non-aggressive behavior.

So the first question is, why should the above principles change when it comes to sex? I disapprove of prostitution as much as the next fellow, but at least prostitution is consensual as opposed to a government that sustains itself on institutionalized violence. We don’t think that a government should get involved in family affairs, why then would we ever want them involved in monitoring bedroom activity?

Instead of using our time and energy to get the government to prohibit activity like prostitution, or drugs, or pornography, or drinking, or whatever, which invariably leads to black markets and escalation of violence and a police state, why not instead build up the Kingdom of God through the church?

Have a question you’d like to ask? Submit yours here.

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Happy Fifth Anniversary to Us!

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They said it was impossible. They said we were crazy. They said it wasn’t “normal”…

Okay, nobody actually said that. Except that we were weird. Nothing new there.

But today is our FIFTH anniversary! Just thought you should know. That’s all… :-D





And still ridiculously happy!

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Thoughts on Homeschooling

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Recently, Sweden has made a lot of noise about banning homeschooling. It isn’t set in stone yet, and in fact the Swedish Association for Home Education is asking for help from the international community to combat this legislation, but it doesn’t look good. Thankfully, in the United States one of our greatest freedoms is to have the choice of how to teach our children. Sure, we pay a high price, namely we are still taxed for public schools, but the freedom to homeschool should be fought for tooth-and-nail at every level of our wretched government.

Homeschooling has garnered a lot of attention of late, even making it into the student newspaper at UT-Austin. Unfortunately, the writer of said article didn’t do his homework at all and criticized us homeschoolers without cause. It turns out that the most recent nationwide study indicates that homeschoolers consistently score 37 percentage points above national average on standardized testing. How’s that for academic excellence?

But academic excellence is not the only reason to exit the public school system. As Gary North so aptly put in his fantastic article, Who Will Inherit Your Money When You Die?, our greatest concern about the future of our wealth shouldn’t be the inheritance tax, but the public schools. Who cares who gets your money when you die when your children have been turned into servants of the State.

Government officials, unlike parents, understand that the secret of inheriting enormous wealth is to persuade the heirs to spend the money your way, not the deceased’s way. The money is merely capital. The crucial factor is the will.

Human will.

This is why, in every nation, the government requires attendance at schools. It then taxes people to fund these schools. The handful of schools that it does not fund it regulates. The schools that it does not regulate are so few in number that the government ignores them.

This strategy was spelled out in detail by the scholar who is sometimes called the father of American central planning: Lester Frank Ward. His 1883 book, Dynamic Sociology, presented the program. First, destroy all private education. Second, force parents to send their children to tax-funded schools. Third, filter out all objectionable ideas in the textbooks and classrooms.

If you haven’t read North’s article yet, you need to. Don’t tithe your children to the State.

We often hear people mistakenly criticize the homeschool movement for lacking what they call “social skills.” This is a ridiculous assertion that can be trashed any number of ways, but I think this has been answered best by my friend Ryan McMaken, who said recently on a private forum (quoted with permission):

“Thousands of years of human civilization illustrate that successful societies integrate children into adult society. That is, they don’t warehouse thousands of teens and children with other teens and children.  You learn manners and socialization skills by associating with people who have them: namely, adults. Hanging out constantly with other children teaches you only how to behave like a barbaric child. This is why civilized people build education and training around apprenticeships, home schooling, and other systems that involve close association between adults and children.”

Need I say more about “social skills”? I shouldn’t have to, but let me go one step more. If you’re concerned that homeschooling will inhibit your children socially, compare the suicide statistics of homeschoolers versus public schooled kids.

Now don’t get me wrong, some of my best friends and some of my dearest relatives are public school teachers. They are the type of people that I would want to hire for a great private school. But as it is with many government organizations, the problem is systemic in nature. It doesn’t matter if you have a couple of great people involved, because the system itself cannot be successful. In fact, it will even drag down private schooling (and homeschooling!) by crowding out competition, reducing the quality and increasing the cost of these other educational ventures. This is exactly what Murray Rothbard predicted in his essay Education: Free and Compulsory. The only solution, then, is the abolition of the system. Imagine how much better off we would all be, private schoolers and homeschoolers alike, if the public school system did not sap all the resources for their classrooms…

But as it is, homeschoolers right now are beating the State, and for the Christian libertarian this is an opportunity that should not be missed. If you haven’t already, join us and promote liberty by getting out of a system designed to corrupt your children.

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