Friday, May 21, 2010

Why this Christian became a Libertarian

When I took my ballot last month for the primary, I became a Libertarian. I had been a Republican since I became old enough to vote thirty-nine years ago, and for about a third of that, I was a Republican activist.

In the last few years, I concluded that the GOP is not interested in the same principles that we are. So why are we settling for the "lesser of two evils?" Isn't the lesser of two evils still evil? I see settling for the lesser of two evils as a failure of character. If you believe in the Libertarian philosophy, then become a Libertarian and help Libertarian candidates get elected! If you settle for less, that's what you'll get.

In deference to my friends in the Constitution Party, I did seriously consider joining it. The reason I did not do so was the contradiction I perceived between that party's fidelity to the U.S. Constitution (which is beyond question), and its desire to use government to promote Christian morality. In my opinion, the Founders intended that persons of sound morality should govern a secular system.

I have heard some arguments that the Libertarian Party is "amoral." I do not believe this, and neither should you. It is true that Libertarians favor repealing many of the laws governing the use of drugs in this country, particularly marijuana -- which is an effective pain killer denied to many cancer patients who desperately need it. It is true that Libertarians are tolerant of homosexuals. The issue in these and other cases, however, is not morality. The issue is, what is the appropriate role of government?

Government's role is to protect us from fraud and external force. What you do with (or to) your body is your business and that of the health care professionals you trust.

Further, government has absolutely no business dealing with spiritual issues. This is why we speak of a separation between church and state. Christians say that homosexuality is a sin because it tends to separate the individual from God -- but so do many other things in life: love of money, obesity, laziness, anxiety, and many other sins.

As Martin Luther wrote nearly 500 years ago (in "On Temporal Authority"), in matters of the spirit, the church must persuade. The only thing government does well is to use force. That is why we favor limited government -- so that its force is controlled and directed only where necessary.

One of the sins for which Christians are collectively guilty is the expectation that government will do the Church's work for it; for example, by harsh legislation against drug use, and by attempting to govern the relationships of homosexuals. The result is that the church has lost its evangelical fire and most of its credibility as an institution. Many of us have lost the spiritual benefits of charity because we choose to pay high taxes, rather than to give of our own money to help others.

And then we wonder why we seem to live in a spiritual wilderness...

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