Every week, someone asks me what it means to be a Christian Libertarian. Almost as often, I hear from Republicans disgusted with their party’s abandonment of its purported principles of small government, social conservatism and adherence to the Constitution, who are nevertheless afraid of switching their allegiance to the godless Libertarians.
It has been said that a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged. In like manner, a libertarian is a conservative who’s been mugged by the government. There is no criminal gang or collection of scam artists who perpetrate even a small fraction of the crimes that the federal government commits and abets – from the forgeries and inflationary confiscations of the U.S. Treasury to the cowardly corruption of the judiciary, from the extra-Constitutional executive orders of the president to the treasonous signings-away of national sovereignty by Congress.
One need not be an atheist or a devotee of Shub-Niggurath to oppose these things. Indeed, I suspect the problem many Christians and conservative Republicans have with making the leap to Libertarianism is that they still see a connection between the concepts of legality and morality. But there is no inherent relationship between the two; indeed, it is becoming increasingly obvious that it is not possible to honor both in many aspects of American life.
“It’s the law!” is not a moral argument. It is an argument based on the threat of force. Yesterday the law required one to return an escaped slave to his owner; tomorrow it will require one to have an implanted Social Security number when one simply wants to buy Cheerios at the supermarket. The law is not only “an ass,” but in a secular society, its moral neutrality is the best for which one can hope. And the law is impossible to obey, even for the most servile citizen – no one truly knows the laws because no one reads them, not even the politicians who pass them!
Then there are those conservatives who simply do not have a real commitment to individual freedom. They believe that government power is like a light switch, to be switched on to enforce policies they favor – such as banning private development on scenic lands – but switched off in the case of policies they do not. This is optimistic lunacy, since the argument for limited government does not rest upon the notion that the government always does undesirable things, but on the idea that if it can, it eventually will.
The same government that has the power to ban a private house on the beach also has the power to sell the beach to Wal-Mart or build a nuclear power plant on it. Since the Founding Fathers understood that a Marcus Aurelius was always followed by a Commodus, they tried to construct a system that would prevent either. Good central government, even when it exists, is a short-lived beast.
And Libertarianism is not inherently godless. In fact, it is the only political philosophy that is truly in accordance with Christianity. The Christian religion posits an all-powerful God who nevertheless permits humanity to turn its back on Him. This shows an extreme respect for free will and for the very sort of individual choice that is banned by Democrats and Republicans alike as they attempt to enforce their will upon the people through the power of government.
The basic principle of Libertarianism is not anarchic. There are real limits. My free will ends where yours begins. Neither the community nor I have any claim whatsoever on your property or your life, and a libertarian legal system would be structured around that principle. Do not be misled by the false “pro-choice” rhetoric of the infanticidal abortionettes; when one individual decides the fate of another, it is nothing more than the ancient law of tooth and claw. Still, their very terminology is the homage vice pays to virtue.
And what of the Christian element? Christianity is integral to the philosophy, as without the spiritual core of its demand for free will responsibility, libertarianism has a tendency to devolve into simple utilitarianism, which eventually leads to the very collectivism it was conceived to oppose. The occasional perversions of princes of the various churches notwithstanding, Christianity is timeless and so provides the inexhaustible spring of moral refreshment that is necessary to any political ideology that hopes to resist corruption over time.
To love Jesus Christ and individual freedom; that is what it means to be a Christian Libertarian.