Libertarian Outpost

The good folks at Evangelical Outpost might or might not have fairly good handle on Christianity, but their understanding of libertarianism obviously leaves something to be desired.

To those who don't fully understand it, freedom can be a rather scary thing. Perhaps that's why so many have tried over the millennia to do away with it. Free people are unpredictable, and some people just can't stand unpredictability.

Regarding EO's understanding of Christianity, much of their hang-up seems to revolve around the curious idea of "original sin". The idea is a rather odd one, presuming as it does that we're all born sinners instead of innocent. (Even the esteemed Vox Day seems to have fallen into this trap.) Libertarians, on the other hand, would tend to believe that people are basically decent, if a bit self-centered.

We would contend, of course, that there is no conflict between true libertarianism and true Christianity. God created man in His own image. Is God a sinner? Because of Adam's transgression, man has been cut off from the direct presence of God and must rely on God's revealed word to find his way in this life and to become "perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect". There is nothing in libertarianism that would conflict with this.

The Grandmaster of all Grandmasters showed a libertarian bent when He commanded His followers to "do unto others as ye would have them do unto you". Isn't this what libertarianism is all about? If there is a paradox in libertarianism, it is that libertarians want to improve society by leaving others alone. "Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the world will be clean", advised Goethe. What the statists and the religionists seem to miss is that there is nothing good about forced righteousness. And it matters not one whit whether that "righteousness" is keeping the Sabbath "holy" thru blue laws or preventing a "hostile work environment" thru "sexual harassment" policies.

Man cannot be saved in ignorance, nor can he be saved in slavery. God gave us free will in order to test us. Those who choose righteousness and live by faith in Christ will be exalted. Those who choose wickedness will be punished. How can those whose choices are made for them earn a reward?

There is a natural resistance to force. Martin Luther recognized this when he said "What can only be taught by the rod and with blows will not lead to much good; they will not remain pious any longer than the rod is behind them." Human beings resent being repressed -- by anyone. And they are quick to rebel against the yoke of oppression. It must be an innate instinct to strive for freedom, even for people who have gone their whole lives without it. Witness the Peaceful Revolution of 1989/90.

It certainly seems to us that the proper role of government is limited to those things that individuals cannot do for themselves. Righteousness is a personal matter, and ought not to be interfered with by the state. Unfortunately, the utopianists among us -- both of the right and the left -- seem to think that they can live your life better than you can. Left to their own devices, people will often make foolish -- or even evil -- choices. But... IT IS THEIR CHOICE TO MAKE!

We find it paradoxical to the point of idiocy that the government will use the threat of inordinate sanctions for minor interpersonal transgressions and yet at the same time step in to protect people from their own folly. How many people's lives have been ruined because of something they said or did that someone else took offense at? And yet, that same government will step in and demand that an employer hire an unqualified worker.

Foremost among all others, Christians should be demanding that the government leave us all alone to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling". We have no problem with people acting in their own self-interest, so long as no one else is deprived of the right to life, liberty, or property by force or by fraud. We take issue with those conservative "Christians" who seek to use the police power of the state to enforce their brand of morality, when they themselves are often guilty of worse immorality. They're quick to demand that their employees give a fair day's labor for a day's wage, but how often do they give a fair day's wage for a day's labor?

Our lives are governed by very simple natural laws, and most of our troubles in this world are caused by our attempts to circumvent those laws. All too often, those attempts involve government intervention. As P. J. O'Rourke put it, there is only one basic human right: the right to do as you damn well please. And with it, he says, comes the only basic human obligation: the obligation to take the consequences.

What libertarians seek to do is remove government from the equation -- or at least keep government from making things worse. If you choose to smoke, for example, that's your right. Of course, you have no right to inflict your poison on others. Nor do you have the right to demand that the government take money from others in order to ameliorate the consequences of your folly. If others choose -- out of the goodness of their hearts -- to come to your aid, that's their right. And they earn a reward by doing so. But it should be their free choice. And that's what libertarianism is all about -- choosing freely and living with the consequences.


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