The fantastic economist, Robert Murphy, recently wrote an article titled How Do You Reconcile Your Christianity and Libertarianism? Within it he takes on the impossible task of reconciling the worship of a child killing (Genesis 5:32-10:1), anti-woman (1 Corinthians 14:34- 35), unscientific (Genesis 1:6), vengeful (Nahum 1:2-8), homophobic (Leviticus 20:13), deceitful (1 Kings 22:23), and tyrannical god while embracing a rational, individualistic, and peaceful philosophy.
Robert starts off the article I realize why atheist libertarians, who argue on Facebook with statist Christians, would walk away thinking that the two frameworks are incompatible. But for me, they are so naturally complementary that its hard for me to understand where the confusion comes in. I think the main thing going on is that (in my humble opinion, of course) many loud Christians are being inconsistent with their stated core doctrines, and many loud libertarians are doing the same.
I think its important to talk about the core doctrines of the bible so we have some frame of reference. The issue is there are very few consistent core doctrines in the whole damned book.
God says to love your neighbor (Leviticus 19:18) and then tells Moses to kill his neighbors who are men, women, and children and leave the little virgins to do with whatever you like (1 Samuel 15:3).
God says he loves you so much that hell sacrifice his son because of a weird loophole that he created (John 3:16), but before that hell flood the entire world and drown men, women, and children (Genesis 5:32-10:1). Its too bad he didnt think of doing that first, but we shouldnt question it because hes perfect.
God says to not take a slave (Is. 58:6), and also orders people to take slaves (Joel 3:8).
Hell, its not even clear whether or not we should pray in public (1 Kings 8:22) (Matt. 6:5, 6).
Whats fascinating is that those are just a couple of the thousands of contradictions within this divinely inspired book that must be followed exactly according to many believers.
The response to these contradictions, evil actions done by Yahweh, and the gross injustices permeating through every page of the Old Testament is that Jesus cast those aside because god thought my bad, guys. The problem with that argument is that the bible doesnt state that.
For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; (Matthew 5:18-19 RSV) buy levitra canada
It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid. (Luke 16:17 NAB)
Once thats brought up, the other response will be that the biblical teachings are not meant to be taken literally. Well, that liberal pandering doesnt quite jive with the teachings of Jesus:
Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God. (2 Peter 20-21 NAB)
So now that we got that pesky logical deduction of the irrational, unethical, and contradictory nature of the beloved bible, lets move on to the rest of Roberts article.
If you take the Sermon on the Mount literally, it is quite difficult to see how you could support a violent State institution.
Not exactly. The Beatitudes make improvable promises of external prizes to those who are being screwed over in the here and now. It essentially amounts to, Look guys, I know the world sucks. I also know that I have the power to actually make your worthless lives awesome. I could probably even tell you about the germ theory of disease, new farming techniques, show you how electricity works, stop killing kids with malaria, give you antibiotics, or hell, just stop all sickness. But, Im not going to. Instead, Im going to give you a magical prize when youre dead that youll never be able to test. Plus, those other assholes who you dont like will be punished in the afterlife. Isnt god awesome?!
He also says murder is wrong while claiming the Old Testaments justifications of murder and slavery is still right. He tells men to rip out their eyes if they lustfully look at a woman. Jesus also claims that men who marry divorced women are adulterers. He does all these things, but most people just remember the nice love your neighbor line.
What I find fascinating is that you should love your neighbor, but if god commands it you should kill him. Love your neighbor because if hes bad hell burn in hell for eternity. Love your neighbor, but if he marries a divorced woman he should be judged. Love your neighbor, but if you think theyre sexy rip out your eye. Not exactly the kind of love Im a fan of.
Robert continues Yes, Romans 13 admittedly sounds like it is incompatible with Rothbardian libertarianism. But then again, it sounds like it is incompatible with denouncing Hitler, Stalin, or Saddam Hussein.
Bob, youre making this too easy for me. I completely agree with you.
The Christian ultimately cares about peoples souls, not their worldly status. I think thats why Paul did the shocking thing of telling slaves to obey their masters, and telling masters to treat their slaves kindly, as opposed to trying to abolish slavery with his pen. His point was to bring the freedom of the gospel to everyone, in all stations in life. Paul himself was filled with joy as he sat in chains.
Thats one way to justify it, and Id agree if obeying your slave master wasnt repeated ad nauseam throughout the entire bible (Joel 3:8). And also if said passages didnt play a part in the historical justification of chattel slavery in this country and elsewhere. Yes, Moses fought his master but thats because Jews are special people who must kill people when directed by the Lord. In reward, they get to keep little virgin slave girls after killing their parents (1 Samuel 15:3).
Even extreme libertarianism recognizes the importance of law enforcement, though I predict that in modern society it would become very peaceful, very quickly. The Bible certainly teaches Christians to aid the poor, orphans, and widows. Most evangelical Christians understand that this does not automatically mean that the State should run all of these initiatives. So, by the same token, if the Bible teaches people to respect property rights, and even (though here I think it gets trickier) says that civil authorities must wield the sword to punish criminals, it doesnt follow that the State should run this initiative.
As has been made abundantly clear by this article, biblical law is in no way libertarian. From killing gays (Leviticus 20:13), to killing people for working on the Sabbath (Exodus 31:15), to killing whole families for believing in the wrong god (1 Samuel 15:3), to killing people for wearing the wrong clothes (Leviticus 19:19), biblical law is the worst form of tyranny possible.
Sorry Bob, theres just no way to make these two opposite worldviews compatible without ignoring nearly all the bible and rationalizing the rest. The golden rule is compatible with libertarianism but it is not the summation of Christian beliefs or else there would be no reason to adopt a particular religious stance since that is covered by the non-aggression principle. Because Christianity comes from a specific book, the tenets and historical practices derived from that book must be taken into consideration. According to the bible god owns you, and according to the state the government owns you. Both act in opposition to reason, evidence, and individual autonomy. Both are tyrannical and humans will not be free until they are both cast aside.