Are “libertarian” and “libertine” the same?
Can Christians decide not to behave sinfully, expect others in their churches and families to behave righteously, while at the same time expecting those outside the church to sin? Can we oppose sin in our own lives while avoiding the use of our governments to force others to behave righteously?
Proper government should:
1. Protect people from each other.
2. Promote the general welfare (as opposed to the welfare of specific individuals at the expense of others).
3. NOT attempt to protect people from themselves.
1. The Bible is the inerrant word of God.
2. Humans are fallen, naturally selfish, like to tell each other what to do, but don’t like being told what to do. And that’s the good ones.
3. The goal of Christians is primarily to glorify God – and the #1 way we do this is to LOVE – love God, others, and ourselves in a humble, selfless way. One significant reason we exist on Earth is to bear witness to God’s glory and love to those who do not believe in Him as our part of bringing others to Him.
4. There are a number of activities God says are sinful (wrong, falling short of His design for us). These include sex outside the marriage of a man and woman, taking drugs for pleasure, getting drunk, gluttony, stealing, murdering, and taking His Name in vain.
5. Proper government is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense of their lives, freedom & property. (see Bastiat’s “The Law” for details)
Wrong activities are only the governments’ business if the people engaging have harmed or are threatening to harm someone else. Gov’t exists to protect us from each other, not ourselves. Romans 13 speaks of government using the sword to punish evil-doers, but then calls the government “God’s avenger”. This could mean government is God-ordained to avenge people who have been wronged by others, since we are not supposed to take our own revenge. Or it could mean that (as we see in Romans 8) that God uses evil governments for good despite themselves.
Having the government force people to act right is counterproductive to our goal as Christians, which is to glorify God by loving – partially by encouraging people to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. If people are being forced to act like Christians, that will be counterproductive to that effort. They may think they are behaving well enough to qualify as Christians, having their own depravity hidden from them. Romans 8 makes it very clear that it is impossible for non-Christians to please God anyway. They need faith, not forced outward obedience.
Christians are supposed to exercise self-control, not government control.
Paul makes this explicitly clear in 1Cor 5:9-13: “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler–not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges.”
Taken to its logical extreme, theocratic philosophy of helping people live healthy (smoking bans, etc) and righteously must conclude in total state control similar to what we read in 1984 (you have to get up & do your calisthenics in front of the TV, etc)
Also, there is legitimate debate among Christians on what is right. For example, Heb 10:25 says we are supposed to go to church. Taken to its extreme, a theocrat might require people to attend church, and my involvement in a home-church might land me on the wrong side of the law. This is obviously an extreme case, but it IS the logical conclusion of that philosophy of government.
To sum up, right behavior is between people and God – not the government. And the problem with non-Christians is not their lack of right behavior anyway, but rather their lack of faith in God. Government should only step in when people harm or endanger each other.
Now, if and when Jesus returns to rule this Earth … at that point I will definitely be a theocrat.
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”
– C. S. Lewis