Libertarianism and Christianity

This is an excerpt from our article The Bible and Government.
We have noticed many conservative Christians these days claiming to hold to a libertarian political philosophy. Libertarianism is the idea that government should allow complete freedom, except in the case when one person directly harms another. While this often sounds appealing to Christians, we see a dangerous clash of worldviews in trying to mix Christianity with libertarianism. We think that “Christian libertarians” have been unwittingly duped into adopting a philosophy that has much in common with liberal secularists--and is contrary to the Bible at key points. One appealing thing about libertarianism is that it espouses that the state has been given too much authority. However, we will argue that libertarianism and Christianity really do not mix like some think. Among the problems are these:
Their worldview is determined by a secular philosophy rather than a biblical worldview. Even Christians frequently quote Ayn Rand for support of their theory. The fact that Rand was an ardent atheist and hater of Christianity should give considerable pause. Another libertarian stalwart was Ludwig von Mises, who was agnostic. While libertarianism is not exclusively atheistic or agnostic, a Christian that walks into that sphere is giving the devil a foothold, against which there is a strong commandment from Scripture (Ephesians 4:27).
Libertarianism is ultimately arbitrary. It is an attempt to define morality without God. But as Dostoevsky said, "If there is no God, everything is permitted." Any view of government not based on an unchangeable objective standard (the Bible!) is subject to be altered at the whims of political power brokers. Christianity, on the other hand, is not arbitrary. Our website is dedicated to demonstrating through reason and evidence that Christianity is objectively true.
Any philosophy (whether Jean-Paul Sartre's Existentialism, Darwin's Evolution, or Ayn Rand's Objectivism) that has a non-theistic foundation ultimately bumps into the problem of nihilism. This means, ultimately, no basis for meaning and purpose for life. (We come from nowhere, we go to nowhere, but somehow life in between has meaning?)
Despite attempts to meld biblical Christianity with this political philosophy, libertarianism inevitably interferes with the individual Christian's reliance on his faith as the sole lens from which to see the world, moving him away from a biblical worldview. Libertarianism, at its core, is a non-religious philosophy. This thinking is a dangerous diversion for the Christian and can be insidiously damaging to his or her faith, indeed to the Christian's soul. That libertarianism is divisive to the Christian's worldview is evident when, as we have noticed is often the case, "libertarian Christians" howl louder when someone attacks their libertarianism than when someone attacks their Christianity! This curious reaction seems to reveal their true allegiance.
Libertarians often define "harm to another person" too broadly. Morality should be defined solely by the Bible. For example, while libertarians may support laws against abortion (many libertarians actually support abortion), they usually side with liberals who are against laws that define marriage as between one man and one woman. They think that mutual consent of sexual perversion does not fall within the definition of hurting someone. On this issue, libertarianism is the weak point that has allowed the secularists to break the barrier Christianity has held against cultural destruction. Libertarian/liberal thinking on homosexuality is naive. Homosexuality is devastating to those involved and to society at large. "Mutal consent" is a post-modern illusion that does not change the fact that people are hurt when immorality occurs. The Bible says, "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil." (Isaiah 5:20-21) See our article Gay Rights.

We should remember that the law is a teacher. Before the Civil War, when slavery was legal, many Christians believed that slavery was OK and even biblical! After the Civil War, Christians abandoned that dangerous notion. I believe there is a parallel with gay marriage. Making gay marriage legal drives some Christians to think that it is OK--and even biblical.

Libertarians fail to appreciate the huge positive influence Christianity has had on America. America's success is not based on libertarianism, but on Christianity. See our article The Impact of Christianity. We should not confuse true biblical Christianity with the modern distorted, liberal, or half-baked versions of Christianity. While Jesus was a not a political figure per se, there is no need to search for a political theory outside of Christian thought. We are commanded to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ--not just certain thoughts. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Libertarian Christians usually think that Christians can segregate their faith--relegating their faith to their private lives. This is falling for the secularist mentality! It's a trap that marginalizes Christianity just like secularists want! Secularists say, "Sure. You can have your faith. Just leave it over there in the corner of society somewhere and don't bother anyone else with your stupid ideas." Falling for this has numerous negative consequences, including giving the impression to potential converts to Christianity that our faith is not universally applicable, that it is only one of many possible worldviews, and Christianity is only a crutch for weak individuals. Jesus' was given "all authority on heaven and earth" (Matthew 28:18)--not just some authority. This notion--that the Christian faith can be marginalized from society--is directly responsible for the decline of Christianity in America. The inclination to segregate one's faith so as not to "impose" our values on others smacks of "true for me but not for you." It is amazing that any Christian would buy into this post-modern relativism. Further, attempting to segregate our faith is dishonoring to God: God is god of ALL or He is not God AT ALL. (Psalm 24:1)
Our COMPASSION as Christians demands that we institute biblical values in society. What other basis for a successful and compassionate society could possibly be better than the Bible?! Who are you going to go with: Ayn Rand,  Ludwig von Mises, or Jesus? Jesus allowed no human partner; we are either with Him 100% or we are against Him. (Matthew 12:30)
We cannot miss the similarities between libertarianism and liberalism. While libertarians claim to be opponents of liberalism, it is not accidental that they have the same root word. There is an insidious mix of thought between libertarianism and liberalism. Both have certain political goals in common, such as utopian anti-war sentiment and pro gay rights. While there are versions of libertarianism that claim compatibility with Christian theism, something classic libertarianism has in common liberalism is that both are often at war with, or marginalize, God. Liberalism, when taken to its logical conclusion, leads to life without God--socialism, communism, humanism, and other non-theistic worldviews. Liberalism in any form, if properly understood, results in devastating results for a society--even harming those it was intended to help. See our article The Dirty Little Secret of Liberalism.

Christians, make no mistake about this: The homosexual marriage movement is not about freedom. It is about banishing Christianity from the culture. To say that "the state has no authority to sanction marriage" is simply abdicating the role Christianity should play in the culture. Remember, Jesus has authority over all things, not just the church and not just individuals.

Libertarianism is at its core a selfish worldview. The mantra of libertarianism is individualism. This is distinctly different from biblical Christianity. Christianity subjugates the self to God, and to other people (Matthew 22:34-39). In contrast, classic libertarianism and liberalism alike are opposed to, or have no need for, a moral authority above the individual self.
Libertarian Christians have, amazingly, adopted other concepts and the language of liberal secularists. They say to other Christians, "We don't want a theocracy." This charge is a red herring. Theocracy is when the church, as an institution, has all political power, including administering civil law. Biblical Christians want no such thing. We support the separation of church and state, properly understood. And we certainly do not want Old Testament civil and ceremonial laws instituted in society. Such laws were repealed in the New Testament (Acts 10:12-15; Colossians 2:11-16; Romans 14:17).
While civil and ceremonial laws were repealed in the New Testament, moral law stands forever. Biblical moral law is applicable to everybody whether they believe it or not. Judicious application of biblical moral law to civil law is infinitely compassionate and positive for society. The idea that "you cannot legislate morality" is also an idea adopted from liberal secularism. It is a false idea. Virtually every law is a put in place based on someone's idea of morality.
Anarchism is a branch of libertarianism. See Libertarianism.
There are strong biblical commands for Christians to influence society, including civil government. See the list at the bottom of our Bible and Government article.
Christianity does not bring bondage; it brings freedom. The truth sets you free (John 8:32)! The more Christian principles are put in society, the more true freedom we have. America's Founding Fathers noted this passage to support their cause of freedom: "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." (2 Corinthians 3:17). Our message to Christians and non-Christians alike is this: If you want both true freedom, vigouous capitalism, and a compassionate society--the answer is biblical Christianity WITHOUT COMPROMISE AND WITHOUT BEING WATERED DOWN BY OTHER WORLDVIEWS.
For insight into the clash between libertarianism and Christianity check out Ayn Rand Hated C. S. Lewis.
For more on Bible and Government see our complete article Bible and Government and our blog Biblical Capitalism.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. (Psalms 9:17; 33:12)
Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. (Psalm 127:1)
Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)

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