Since the opening of the new Christian Libertarian FAQ last week, I have already received a number of interesting questions. Here are the latest inquiries from readers, and since some of them did not leave an email address (naughty, naughty!) it seems more than appropriate to post them directly on the blog as well:
Q1: When Paul wrote Romans 13, the government was distasteful to our 21 century sensibilities for sure. Yet Paul commands believers to honor the rulers, even calling them “servants of God.” Coupled with Peter’s instructions to honor them, pray for them, etc., this shows that God has a role for government. Is it possible to determine if Paul personally prefers a small or large government? If God has a purpose for government should Christians be advocating it’s disappearing?
A: The problem with saying that Romans 13 proves there is “a role for government” is that it is conflating government being within God’s plan with government being sanctioned and declared inherently moral by God. When one considers the numerous negative references to the State in the Bible, such as Matthew 4, 1 Samuel 7, Genesis 11, and the book of Revelation, one cannot but admit that the State is, at core, rooted in rebellion against God. So while it is impossible to speak directly for Paul, it seems to me that the State itself is the problem and not merely the size. In conclusions, a Christian can admit that the State is not outside of God’s plan, and yet still advocate for it’s abolition as the greatest oppressor of the innocent in history.
Q2: What in the Bible suggests that followers of Jesus should subscribe to the ideas of libertarianism?
It would be incorrect to say outright “God/Jesus is a libertarian,” but what I find very compelling in Scripture is that Christian ethics and libertarian ethics end up being very similar. Other instances: (1) The Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12 is very similar to the non-aggression principle. (2) Scripture is consistently skeptical toward power concentrated into the hands of rulers (cf. 1 Samuel 7). (3) The “Kingdom of God” is never characterized with the aggression of the State. Can you think of any more?
But besides Scripture, libertarianism has more or less emerged from the Western tradition, which is tied very strongly to historical Christianity. It’s ideological predecessor, classical liberalism, was primarily promoted by Christians in its infancy. So, we have an interesting historical argument as well supporting libertarianism from a Christian perspective.
Q3. What in the Bible suggests that followers of Jesus should not subscribe to the ideas of statism?
Besides all the positive reasons that support libertarianism, one of the greatest rejoinders to statism I know of is Matthew 20:25-28, where Jesus says: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant… just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Q4. Where does LibertarianChristians.com make a distinction between resistance to unjust Government action and the directive to “submit himself to the governing authorities”? (Romans 13, NIV)
The position of LibertarianChristians.com is that Romans 13 is about prudence in action toward governmental intrusion in life. While civil disobedience is not immoral and certainly is great to do in certain cases, one must be very careful in executing such measures. For instance, my first responsibility is the caretaking of my family, and then serving the church. I will not do things that bring unreasonable risk upon them. Frequently enough there are better ways of making a difference. But most of all, LibertarianChristians.com does not and will never advocate violence as the answer to our problems.
Would you like to add anything to these answers? Comment below. Or if you like, ask your own question today!