web analytics

Jul 29

Christianity and Libertarians, the Republic, and the Consent of the Governed

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed Declaration of Independence


The last few months I’ve seen some strident statements of opposition against libertarians by conservatives.  I’m on several email lists where I’m seeing such commentary and of course its on the web, as in this example.  I personally didn’t detect a huge uptick in libertarian sentiment, but alright.  I describe myself as a ‘constitutional libertarian’ and in explaining why I hope that I can shed light on what I believe are the true reasons for a rise in libertarianism- among Christians in particular.  I can’t speak for them all, of course, but I think I recognize in some of their commentary some of my own thinking.

So, to begin with, let me make two important observations.  First of all, when one thinks ‘libertarian’ one might immediately think licentious.   However, the two are not identical terms.  This leads to the second observation, the direction by which one arrives at libertarianism greatly impacts the flavor of that libertarianism.  There can be no question that there are a great mass of individuals, who calling themselves libertarians, really are just people who wish to engage in whatever depravity that they want, with no one to tell them otherwise or worse- stop them.  By my observation, the people coming from this direction are really your typical atheist secular humanist progressive who is perfectly happy to foist as much government as people can bear onto themselves and others- in the form of nationalized health care, eg- just so long as they can have sex with whatever and whomever they want and smoke whatever happens to come across their path.


However, someone coming at ‘libertarianism’ from the other direction, say, from a Christian perspective and a conservative, is not looking for a reason to misbehave.  This is why I led off with the John Adams quote.  ‘Moral and religious people’ will continue to be ‘moral and religious’ whatever freedoms or restrictions are placed on them by the government.  I might say:  “Libertarianism was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the [government] of any other.”  There are any number of forms of government that can work with a ‘moral and religious people.’  For an amoral or immoral or anti-moral or non-religious or anti-religious people, no kind of government is going to work for the long haul.

So, this leads to another important observation which I think is critical in fueling the push towards Christian conservatives leaning libertarian:  it is clear that the form of government we have at present is chock full of the secular humanists, progressives, etc, etc.  They didn’t elect themselves.  They were voted in by a mass of Americans who saw no harm in that worldview, or worse, didn’t even think it was relevant.  Once elected, folks like this appointed other like minded individuals, and these folks tend to stay on in government in one way or another, no matter who is in the White House.  In short, John Adams didn’t mean only that the populace needed to be ‘moral and religious’ but also those in the government.  In his day as in ours, the latter draws from the former;  therein lies our current predicament.

Unfortunately, this is as often true of our Republican representatives as the liberal ones.

But I said that I was a ‘Constitutional-libertarian.’  Aren’t the Republicans supposed to be gangbusters about the Constitution?  Why shouldn’t I just be a Republican?

As it happens, there are two basic kinds of Republicans.  There are the ‘limited government’ sort, who believe that the government shouldn’t go further (or very far from) what is laid out in the Constitution.  If I could count on Republicans to carry that out consistently, I might be one today.  But there is another kind of Republican.  This one we often dismiss as a RINO, or a Republican in Name Only, but in point of fact, this person also abides by the Constitution.   No, really.

Let’s take an example:  Mitt Romney.  Here is a man who is a man who put Massachusetts under the thumb of Romney-Care, a close precursor to Obama-Care.  His justification for why this was an ok thing for a Republican governor to do?   Many claim that Obama-Care is unconstitutional but Romney-Care gets a pass, and Romney defends it.  Why?

the judge clearly explained that Mitt Romney’s health care did not violate Federal or State constitutional principle because a state can regulate health care on the basis of a state’s police power. Link

And strictly speaking, the judge is correct.  Romney is correct.  Under the auspices of the state, one has all sorts of flexibility in heaping on layers and layers of government.  So, Romney is able to walk around taking the name of Republican- rightly- because he acted within the parameters of his state’s and the federal Constitution.   Do you see the missing ingredient?

A Republican like Romney doesn’t really buy into the whole ‘limited government’ thing.  If a particular measure or activity is not specifically precluded from the Constitution (as interpreted by the Supreme Court), they don’t see anything really wrong with it.  Why, they’re perfectly happy to go along with it, provided it is done so ‘responsibly,’ that is, it doesn’t put us into huge amounts of debt.

Take away the Constitutional part, and I’m sure that loads of Republicans could go along with ObamaCare- they may have to, since they’re also willing to accept the premise that the Constitution means whatever the Supreme Court says it means.

Thus, I don’t feel like merely calling myself a Constitutionalist is sufficient.  I add the ‘libertarian’ modifier in order to make clear the principle that I believe was shared by the founders.  They believed that people ought to be free and the government at all levels ought to mind its own dang business by and large but if there was an extremely compelling reason for the majority to inflict its will on the minority, there would at least be a process that would protect the minority’s rights.   Certainly, times change, and new circumstances manifest that weren’t dreamed of by the framers, but they built into the Constitution a way to handle such things that makes a great deal of sense to me today- not that anyone these days actually uses those mechanisms.  They’re just as likely to ram it through to the Supreme Court, bypassing the legislative branch altogether, ala Roe vs. Wade.

We are now so far away from the Constitution- including at the hands of Republicans- that it is hard to see how we can make our way back.  I think this is what people are seeing.  Christian conservatives are coming to this conclusion, if they haven’t already.  The ‘limited government’ Republicans sell them down the river all day long and the pool of available freedoms grows shallower every day.  Where does one turn?  Self-preservation.

A very common criticism of ‘libertarianism’ is that it essentially reduces to, “And everyone did as they saw fit.”  Judges 21:25.  This passage notes that this was in the days when Israel had no king.  The implication of this line of argument is that apparently ‘government’ is the great plan of God- there must have been something awfully wrong with the anarchists in ancient Judea!  There was!  They were not ‘moral and religious’!

Those who argue in this fashion forget two extremely critical points:  1., the people in Israel during the time of the Judges were living under a system of governance that was established by God.  It was not anarchy at all, but theocracy.  Everyone did as they saw fit, but they ought to have done as God saw fit.  Judging from the very loose human governance imposed by God on the Israelites at the time, one may guess that God didn’t think as highly of the need for ‘big’ government.   But there is a second point to add to this one:  2., when finally the Israelites demanded a King, God was really, really, really, really, really, really mad.

But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel;  so he prayed to the LORD.  And the LORD told him:  ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you;  it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.'” 1 Samuel 8

Now, this is interesting to me, because many of those seeking the continuation of the Republic, only on purer, ‘limited government’ lines, view the Libertarian casting off of the constraints of the Republic, as a violation of God’s plan for government (and one can see why, see Romans 13), but one might imagine the passage reading, “When they said to them, ‘Give us a president to lead us.’ … it is not you they have rejected, but me they have rejected as their president.'”  To the point:  government is never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever- and I mean NEVER- to be deemed as God’s replacement on earth.  A steward, perhaps, but never a replacement.

Now, I have said all that to say this.

Let us say we do go back to the pure foundations of the Republic.  We cite Romans 13 and similar passages as all the more reason to dispense with notions of ‘anarchy’ (for that is what many think when they hear ‘libertarianism’) and attempt to reinvigorate the values of the founding fathers and the Constitution they erected.  What then do we find when we begin such a process?  This passage in the Declaration of Independence:

 We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Has anyone given any thought to the first section I bolded?  One of the values of our founders was that the government derives their just powers from the ‘consent of the governed.’  Does this jibe with Romans 13 which says that God has established all authorities?  So, Governments have their just powers from the consent of God, not the governed.  No?  In the book of Judges, did God rule through the judges by the ‘consent of the governed’?  When the monarchy was established, was this by the ‘consent of the governed’?  Quite the opposite!  (see 1 Samuel 8:10-18) And the second section I bolded raises issues that need little elaboration.

Now, as it happens, I am inclined to believe that it is possible to reconcile these statements from the Declaration of Independence with Biblical principles.  Indeed, it is because I take them very seriously that I feel like I need to add the modifier ‘libertarian’ to my self-label.

Do you know why libertarians from the right are ostensibly on the rise?  It is simply because of this:  on a grand level, individual by individual, moment by moment, imperceptibly, but definitely, people are removing their consent from this present government.

They are doing this unconsciously.  It isn’t a deliberate decision.  It is a movement along a spectrum, and I don’t even think that they themselves know what they are doing.  But they are doing it.  Confusing the matter, they aren’t alone.  There are people of many diverse political and worldview stripes that likewise have decided (for different reasons, I’m sure) that they don’t like direction the ‘Republic’ has taken.

Now, as for those coming to Libertarianism from the left, I don’t think we need to dwell on them.  Nor should we conflate them with those who come to it from the right, for those that do are (I think) an entirely different animal, even if some of the positions look similar.

Say what you want about those coming from the left, but rather than chastising ‘libertarians’ coming from the right, we should be willing to recognize that they are merely exercising their rights as laid out by the framers.  They have read the writing on the wall, engraved deeper and deeper each time a new Congress enters session.  They are slowly and deliberately withdrawing their consent to be ruled by this corrupt and invasive political system.  By saying they are ‘libertarian’ they are only protecting themselves, essentially advocating for a position that says, “It looks like both sides are going to screw with me, rob me of my rights and fleece me of my wealth.   I don’t trust the lot of them to act morally or with religious virtue;  indeed, I expect the opposite.  Perhaps I can insulate myself and my family from their overreach by urging them to leave me the heck alone in these areas…”

No one is disputing that this would only ‘work’ if lived out by those with a working moral compass.  Likewise, the Republic.   The difference is that there is no chance that the Republic can be restored.  The clutching at libertarianism is a stop-gap position before the consent is fully and finally withdrawn (many decades from now, I expect) and the second section of the Declaration of Independence that I bolded above becomes the next, natural step.

In the meantime, we may wish to take the positions of ‘Christian’ ‘libertarians’ seriously and acknowledge that they have legitimate grievances.  Indeed, it may be that the ‘Christian Libertarian’ is exactly the same as your standard genuine limited government Christian conservative Constitutionalist- the only difference being in outlook.  The latter believes a restoration to our founding principles is desirable and possible, while the former also believes that a return to our founding principles is desirable… but as for possible?  Not so much.

 

Share

20 comments

Skip to comment form

    • jr on July 30, 2011 at 7:39 am

    I like John Adams too!!!!

    Here are some quotes, enjoy!!!!!

    As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?
    — John Adams, letter to FA Van der Kamp, December 27, 1816

    We should begin by setting conscience free. When all men of all religions … shall enjoy equal liberty, property, and an equal chance for honors and power … we may expect that improvements will be made in the human character and the state of society.
    — John Adams, letter to Dr. Price, April 8, 1785

    I do not like the reappearance of the Jesuits…. Shall we not have regular swarms of them here, in as many disguises as only a king of the gipsies can assume, dressed as printers, publishers, writers and schoolmasters? If ever there was a body of men who merited damnation on earth and in Hell, it is this society of Loyola’s. Nevertheless, we are compelled by our system of religious toleration to offer them an asylum.
    — John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, May 5, 1816

    Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.
    — John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” (1787-88)

    Thomas Jefferson was founding father too!!!!

    Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.
    — Thomas Jefferson, to Danbury Baptists, 1802

    • End Bringer on July 30, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Sadly for your Jefferson quote, he was writing that to a religious group where the “wall” was only to seperate the government as noted in his quote of the 1st amendment addressess “their Legislature” rather than “the People”. Oddly 3 days after he wrote that he attended church service in the largest congregation at the time, that was held on government property – the House Chambers of the US Capital Building. Guess he didn’t have that much of a problem with religious practice after all.

    So where does this insight into context, put your quote mining at exactly?

    • JR on July 31, 2011 at 4:34 am

    Cite your source.

    It is well documented that Jefferson was deist, not a Christian.

    The quote about separating church and state stands on it’s own.

    Again, my quotes all have sources to verify it. You need to do the same.

    . “Guess he didn’t have that much of a problem with religious practice after all”

    Why don’t you do two thing:

    1. Attack the other four quotes.

    2. Explain what you think the Jefferson quote means.

    I think you have no idea what Jefferson was saying there, but I want to give you the opportunity to explain yourself.

    I wonder why you are so silent about the other quotes? Did you not like the other ones?

    In order to deliver compelling evidence. One needs to provide evidence, then have the ability to verify it in some way. See how you accept those quotes because there is a way for you to verify them. That is what makes evidence compelling. You may disagree, but at least you accept the evidence. I have set the goal post for myself way back.

    At this time, I want to say thank you. For a while you just attacked me personally. Now, you at least attack what I write, so thank you.

    • JR on July 31, 2011 at 5:57 am

    On a separate note:

    Tony,

    I just found and read the thread between you and stathei. That was not really my point.

    My original point is you generalize atheists as one group. That is simply not true. You use it in the context that one would use a racial slur. In one of your recent blog posts found here:
    http://sntjohnny.com/front/time-to-crack-down-on-the-christian-fundamentalists/1526.html/comment-page-1#comment-36464
    You agree with me. Clearly, you don’t think Christians should be grouped by it’s lowest common denominator. I just ask the same.

    I have more than enough evidence to reject the bible: thus, reject Christianity. I don’t need to have a debated with A’s and B’s equal C’s. The bible is contradictory in of it’s self. I think you know that on some level because you seem to stay away from the bible when debating. If you consider the bible the absolute word of god. You would use it as evidence, and dare people to show it’s inconsistencies. Possibly a place where you have taken a beating in the past? Really, I was jesting about evidence because I know you could provide none. That is why you flipped out.

    This is the basis of blind faith. That is what makes religion so dangerous. When you set the goal post so close you can’t miss. One gets the justification for any level of violence and oppression. The antithesis of libertarian philosophy my friend.

    You may hate me (atheists in general), I do not hate you. I do think your blind faith is a danger to the world. That is why I fight this futile fight. I stand against the this plague of the mind, blind faith. ~A candle in the dark.

    Your Friend,
    JR

    • End Bringer on July 31, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    “It is well documented that Jefferson was deist, not a Christian.”

    Cite your source where I say “He was a Christian.” or the equivalent thereof.

    Obviously you won’t find it, as my post indicated Jefferson was religious, which deism falls under. And had little actual problem with expressing his religious views in matters of government and on government property.

    “The quote about separating church and state stands on it’s own.”

    You can’t even read and understand your own quotes. As anyone remotely literate would notice the one to be “seperated” was “their Legislature”. Yeah, you saw “seperation of church and state” and latched on to that (and only that), but when reading the WHOLE quote and looking at who Jefferson was writing to and his acts in life, you find the conclusion to be the exact opposite of what you’re trying to advocate.

    “Again, my quotes all have sources to verify it. You need to do the same.”

    My source is the exact same quote you used. What’s more to verify?

    “I think you have no idea what Jefferson was saying there, but I want to give you the opportunity to explain yourself.”

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

    • JR on July 31, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    End Bringer,
    Cite your source….

    With respect to the Jefferson quote:
    The opposite conclusion?
    the letter is here lazy:
    http://candst.tripod.com/tnppage/baptist.htm

    here is a portion:
    Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious

    liberty–that religion is at all times and places a matter

    between God and individuals–that no man ought to suffer in name,

    person, or effects on account of his religious opinions–that the

    legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to

    punish the man who works ill to his neighbors; But, sir, our

    constitution of government is not specific. Our ancient charter

    together with the law made coincident therewith, were adopted as

    the basis of our government, at the time of our revolution; and

    such had been our laws and usages, and such still are; that

    religion is considered as the first object of legislation; and

    therefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of

    the state) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable

    rights; and these favors we receive at the expense of such

    degrading acknowledgements as are inconsistent with the rights of

    freemen. It is not to be wondered at therefore; if those who seek

    after power and gain under the pretense of government and

    religion should reproach their fellow men–should reproach their

    order magistrate, as a enemy of religion, law, and good order,

    because he will not, dare not, assume the prerogatives of Jehovah

    and make laws to govern the kingdom of Christ.

    You are wrong.

    Their legislature????

    what would the legislature be separate from retard.

    Separate from religion to provide religious liberty you idiot.

    P.S. the whole quote would be the letter included…..retard

    • End Bringer on July 31, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    “…that the legitimate power of civil government extends no further than topunish the man who works ill to his neighbors…”

    “…and gain under the pretense of government and religion should reproach their fellow men…”

    It’s these specifc points that disprove you.

    “Their legislature????

    what would the legislature be separate from retard.

    Separate from religion to provide religious liberty you idiot.

    P.S. the whole quote would be the letter included…..retard”

    Bwahahaha! I just love being called names by a person who can’t understand basic reading skills. Hilarious!

    Read the quote:

    “…which declared that THEIR LEGISLATURE should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.”

    Emphasis mine. Now perhaps you can tell me who the “Legislature” was and what it means when Jefferson says the “Legislature” should follow the 1st amendment and why he addressed THEM instead of the citizenry or church. Me being such a “retard”, and such. 😉

    I want you to say it JR. It will please me.

    • jr on July 31, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    So, endbringer, you agree with me.

    Unfortunately, instead of saying you agree, you start by attacking a point with nonsense…

    (\Guess he didn’t have that much of a problem with religious practice after all. So where does this insight into context, put your quote mining at exactly?’)

    …ignore everything else I said – including requests to cite and support…then highlight a portion of my original quote that underlines my point, as if it somehow proves what?! That you agree with me! YAY!

    You allude a point, but do not state it clearly and do not back it up. Your arguments lack clarity and reason.

    In your emphasis of this particular quote, it appears you agree.

    Perhaps you would like to select one of the remaining four quotes so you can agree with me on it as well?

    Or maybe we can move on to the Bible and start quoting from it? I’m sure we can find some common ground there!

    • Timaahy on August 4, 2011 at 4:36 am

    By my observation, the people coming from this direction are really your typical atheist secular humanist progressive

    I’m not so sure on that… the commentariat at Pharyngula, for example, is vehemently against libertarians.

    • Anthony on August 31, 2011 at 8:53 am
      Author

    Tim, my statement only refers to those who have arrived at libertarianism. I do not say that secular humanist progressives will be libertarians. I’m referring to a group of libertarians who are licentious, and I am observing that these ones tend to emerge from the atheist camp. Obviously, quite a few atheists remain in the secular humanist progressive camp- and just as obviously, then, they are not libertarians! 😉

    • Timaahy on August 31, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Ah yes… my bad.

  1. You write:
    Has anyone given any thought to the first section I bolded? One of the values of our founders was that the government derives their just powers from the ‘consent of the governed.’ Does this jibe with Romans 13 which says that God has established all authorities? So, Governments have their just powers from the consent of God, not the governed. No? In the book of Judges, did God rule through the judges by the ‘consent of the governed’? When the monarchy was established, was this by the ‘consent of the governed’? Quite the opposite! (see 1 Samuel 8:10-18) And the second section I bolded raises issues that need little elaboration.”

    My thought here is that God establishes the ends or purpose (i.e., jurisdiction) of civil government. That jurisdiction exists irrespective of the consent of the governed. The people cannot reduce or enlarge it. It preexists. The consent of the governed comes into play in connection with the decision of the people to have a particular government, or not; and to establish its powers so that the civil government they so established is empowered to exercuise God’s prexisting jurisdiction–the security of those rights which God gives to all men.
    Its like the family. Its authority was established at creation. Every family that comes into existence by the consent of a man and woman therafter cannot redine family or its purpose. Families do not spring from antiquity. They are created by consent.

    God establishes civil government’s jurisdiction. He does not establish particular civil governments, Israel excluded, but even there, Israel’s predefined government was established or at least ratified by consent of the people. Ex 19:8

    • Anthony on September 3, 2011 at 8:55 am
      Author

    I just saw that JR called EB a ‘retard’ here.

    That is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. This is your last warning, JR.

    • JR on September 3, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Anthony,

    The guy above your last post provided a clear, concise, and accurate criticism of your post.

    What did you respond?

    Nothing.

    I learned a while ago that you have no interest in an intellectual debate. If you did, you would respond to this guy. You won’t because he backed his opinions with evidence.

    With respect to your fine literary skills:

    Most people don’t understand you Anthony, because you are a terrible writer.

    You don’t define terms.

    You stray to and from the point of the post.

    You write in language that is vague.

    You want evidence? Feel free to ask.

    You should just block stathei and I Because really what’s the point here? To increase traffic to your blog?

    From your faith statement:

    “We believe that the Scriptures consist of the Old and New Testaments and that they are inspired and they are in their original autographs without error.”

    Then this statement later from the thread of your blog post “a gentle warning”:

    “See above about relevancy. I have no desire to argue bible inerrancy with an atheist. The only thing worth arguing about is the thing that would actually save your soul, and basically that is merely the death and resurrection of Jesus as a real fact of history. And you can know many real facts of history even if the documents that tell us about them are flawed.”

    Your admission here is that the bible is flawed. You are so self contradictory it’s absurd. Oh yeah, this is the part were you write, “you don’t understand, I wasn’t talking about the bible,” even though we were talking about the bible.

    I will take this as my final chance EB, oh sorry, I mean Anthony.

    Retard: slow something down: to slow or delay the progress of something

    I think that accurately sums it up. Maybe you should look up retard using the search function in your browser.

    Finally, from you

    the Scriptures ought to be interpreted as they were intended to be interpreted. If literal, then interpret it literally. If metaphorically, then interpret it metaphorically.

    Thats just funny

    GO UGA BULLDOGS!!!!!!

    • Anthony on September 3, 2011 at 6:46 pm
      Author

    Uh, the guy wasn’t criticizing my post. He was providing a nicely thought out reaction that I happen to agree with, and is consistent with my post. You seem to have failed to notice my paragraph immediately after the one the gentleman quoted:

    Now, as it happens, I am inclined to believe that it is possible to reconcile these statements from the Declaration of Independence with Biblical principles. Indeed, it is because I take them very seriously that I feel like I need to add the modifier ‘libertarian’ to my self-label.

    So…. how is it a criticism of my post if I too believe the passages I referenced can be reconciled with the notion of the ‘consent of the governed.’ Naturally, if he thinks it is a criticism, he is welcome to set the record straight on that. I was actually on my way to this thread to respond to him when I saw that you had been extremely out of line.

    I notice that you do not apologize for your misconduct and felt instead the need to lash out against me. It doesn’t change the fact that you misbehaved, badly. And you have now added to it. So there you go.

    • Anthony on September 3, 2011 at 7:14 pm
      Author

    Kerry-

    I suppose you noticed that when you submitted your post, it didn’t show up. I found it in my spam filter of all places. I don’t know why.

    Regarding your comment, I’m inclined to agree with your approach. I would present it differently, but I suspect you might be with me on this, too.

    We tend to think of a hierarchy of authority flowing from God ala Romans 13 as looking like this:

    God
    Civil Government
    Individuals

    However, I think the real hierarchy is much different, and looks like this:

    God
    Families
    Civil Government

    The family is established in early Genesis and the pattern is repeated throughout the Scriptures (that pattern being, ‘the two will become one flesh’) in Malachi, by Jesus, and by Paul. In other words, it never goes away and is never abolished or ‘fulfilled.’ The family remains to this day as God’s established model for how people are to be organized.

    And I would submit that it is not merely the case that the civil government takes its authority from the ‘consent of the governed’ but rather that is from the ‘consent of the families.’ And I would add to that, even, by arguing that the government’s authority is no more than the authority of those families, delegated to the government for exercising on behalf of the assembly of families. And those who have the authority to delegate to others certain powers and duties have the power to take those powers and duties back.

    Would you agree with this?

  2. Chronologically God defined the authority of individuals, then families, then civil government, then the church. While he created this and that person, he did not create this or that family since they come into existence only when a specific man and a specific woman covenant together. Families may try to redefine themselves or undertake authority not given, but this is simply to observe the extent of its illegitimacy. Nor did God create this or that civil government since they are only legitimately made when a specific people agree together to do so. A specific civil government may try to undertake authority not given or redefine its purpose, but again this conduct only defines its rejection of the people’s consent on the one hand and God’s purpose on the other.

    It is popular to say God established this or that civil government, but it is not correct since He only defined the model or form or jurisdiction if you will, and then the people make it happen by consent. So we have to recognize that the people do not have unlimited consent to increase the jurisdiction of their civil government beyond what God has pre-defined, but likewise the civil government has no divine right to exist absent the consent of the people.

    I think we are close here.

    I was curious, however, to learn what motivated you to do this piece. I find two distinct and erroneous reactions from Christians when I say I am politically a libertarian. First, “I sympathize with the libertarians because they see the importance of individual liberty, but they can’t win so we must vote Republican.” The second is “How can you affiliate with those dope smoking libertine anarchist?” The first group loves big government as long as its controlled by Republicans. The second loves big and virtually unlimited government because they believe God actually created the government and any sustained criticism of it is a criticism against God himself.

    • Anthony on September 8, 2011 at 10:43 pm
      Author

    Hi Kerry, thanks for your follow up. First of all, to your question about why I was motivated to do the piece, as I said in the article (near the beginning), I have been receiving a fair bit of emails and seen more than a few columns by conservatives decrying libertarianism. I remember, for example, a very pointed column by Ann Coulter (is there any other kind by her?) against Ron Paul. Not that I’m a Ron Paul fan, but I don’t think that those Christians associating themselves with the label ‘libertarian’ deserve to be waved off so easily. This piece was an attempt to explain why I use the label.

    To your points.

    First of all, I think we are definitely very close. God is a God of order, as the Scriptures say. Chronology isn’t always the decisive factor, but the Scriptures themselves put a lot of weight on Adam being created first, then Eve, (and then the order in which they fell), and then the family. I believe there is a metaphysical reality reflected in this that we are only barely cognizant of today. The Scriptures, which rely on that reality, do not tell us all the details. It would be nice if they did!

    But I think you did expose an oversight or improper emphasis on my part. In my defense of the family I should have also defended the individual, like this:

    God
    Individuals
    Families
    Civil Government

    But even this probably won’t satisfactorily summarize it. (For brevity’s sake I’ll save why I say that for a later time). I think the main point of the progression is that the authority flows downward through these channels in God ordained fashion. So, as you said, there are limits to how the civil government can exert authority within God’s plan for the civil government. The civil government cannot dismember the institution of family, and it cannot usurp the functions that always and only remain with the family. Similarly, the family cannot obliterate the individual, or usurp the functions that always and only remain with the family. Eg, the civil government’s job is not to raise any child in the faith- that’s the family’s job; but a father cannot merely stamp his faith upon his children… they will have to come into their own trust relationship with God.

    In saying all this, does it still seem like we are close?

    I do have a hesitation about your explanation, though. You appeal to marriage as a consent-driven enterprise and make the parallel that the civil government is the same way. I’m not so sure we can make that parallel, especially in light of the fact that arranged marriages were so common in the Old Testament and remain so in some cultures today (eg, in India). Far from being a travesty, arranged marriages often work out pretty well. Conversely, our romantic ‘consent-driven’ model for marriage has created all sorts of problems; naturally, if you marry for ‘love’ and the ‘love’ goes away, the marriage ought to dissolve. There seems to be some other principles in play according to the Scriptures that allow for families to (properly?) work with each other to create new families. If that is the case with families, might it also be the case with government? It is not necessarily an obliteration of ‘consent’ but it seems to beg for some kind of nuance.

    What do you think?

    • Anthony on September 8, 2011 at 10:46 pm
      Author

    Oh, and not only is it the case that the civil government cannot usurp the proper roles and place of the family, it cannot go even further than that and assert itself over individuals more than it is permitted, either. This in a nutshell is what I think would drive a ‘Christian libertarianism.’ It remains to be fleshed out from that, however, precisely what those things really are. I imagine we agree on that, too.

  3. Thanks for the follow up.
    As to consent in marriage, it may have been or currently is arranged, but this is the practice, not necessiarly the rule. I think the rule has to be “for this cause a man shall leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife.” This puts a dent in parents arranging the marriage of their son over his objections. I think it also follows that no arranged marriage against the will or consent of the woman can arise in such a context because if the mans side of the deal cannot be arranged for him againt his consent, neither can the womans. An arranged marriage needs two parties.

    But if I reverse that and say marriages are arranged and consent may not be necessary, then can I also state that civil government may be arranged and consent may not be necessary? Who is doping the arrangement of my government? Its either me or the government itself. I don’t think I can end up there if my best example is Israel giving consent to God’s proposed government of the Hebrews, or if that is not the model, then the universal maxim that no man should be governend without his consent (no slavery individually or collectively).

    You have the last word. Thanks for responding.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.