I flirted with being a libertarian a number of years ago. After all, I definitely agreed with many of their policies. Two stand out: first, their commitment to the free market and limited government; second, their belief that government should not be in charge of education.
I still agree with those policies. Over the years, though, I began to see more clearly that libertarianism and Christianity part company at a more fundamental level. Now, I realize that there are different types of people who use the libertarian label, and some do not go the whole route, but for the sake of clarification of argument, I will deal with those who are thoroughgoing libertarians, consistent from beginning to end.
One of the most basic differences I see is that libertarians take the word “liberty” and make it into a small “god.” They do the same with “choice.” For them, the focus of everything in life is whether they are free to choose whatever they want without undue interference.
I believe in liberty also. I like choice. Yet I have a foundation for those words that comes first from a Biblical worldview. That worldview informs me that liberty is not an absolute. There is also a corresponding accountability for how I use that liberty. I have to answer to God. Yes, I do have choices, but not all choices are equal. Salvation is a matter of the will, to be sure. It cannot be forced. Still, there are choices that are clearly sinful, and I’m told to avoid them.
A thorough libertarian doesn’t like to be told what to do, either by government or by God. True libertarians don’t think they can influence anyone in what we call moral choices. You want an abortion? Well, that’s your choice, and no one should be able to stop you. Government oversteps its boundaries if it attempts to limit that “choice.” What’s left out of the equation, of course, is the choice of the unborn child. The child apparently has no say in whether he or she can enter this world and live life.
Libertarians say the government should “stay out of the bedroom,” which is code for allowing any type of sexual activity. Prostitution is a matter of choice. People should have the liberty to partake of that activity without any repercussions. Sex limited to marriage? Surely you jest! That denies people the “liberty” to have sex anytime they “choose.”
Homosexuality is wrong? Sinful? You’re just trying to impose your morals on others, claim the consistent libertarians. Homosexuals should be free not only to carry out their behavior, but they can be ‘in your face” publicly, displaying their “orientation” no matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel. And who says that marriage should be restricted to one man and one woman? That’s not real liberty, they claim.
All of this came to mind as I watched certain excerpts from the CPAC gathering last week. This is supposed to be a crowd of conservatives intent on restoring the foundations of this nation. Yet when one individual began to chastize the organizers for allowing a homosexual group to participate, he was booed off the stage. Now, his tactics weren’t the best, and he was rather “in your face” with his comments as well. Yet the reaction revealed something disturbing. This crowd is becoming more open to accepting the homosexual lifestyle as a normal part of society. [For a fuller treatment of what actually took place at CPAC on this issue, go to Accuracy in Media’s explanation found here. You may be surprised at what created the public controversy.]
This is libertarianism in full bloom. Many of the participants at CPAC were of that stripe. Are we really going to believe that America’s founders thought moral deviance was everyone’s right? Can you even begin to imagine Washington, Adams, Jay, or any other founder you might name, being pleased that our society has normalized blatantly sinful actions?
I’m so out of step. I’m trying to turn back the clock. Well, why not? If a previous age had it right, why should we not want to turn back? Or do we believe that history is a neverending scene of progress, that every new development is what is supposed to be?
That’s hardly the Christian view. The Old Testament prophets were instruments of God for the express purpose of turning back the clock—back to God’s standards.
Modern American conservatism will seal its own fate if it becomes just a faint echo of traditional morals based on Biblical truth. It will become no better than the society it claims it wants to redeem. How can there be redemption without first understanding sin and repentance?
I am a Christian, not a libertarian. American conservatism, if it wishes to succeed, must become more Christian and less libertarian.