When I first heard the term Christian Libertarian, it sounded like an oxymoron. Libertarians essentially are fiscally conservative and socially liberal, which rejects the two primary classes of traditional Christian political thought. Libertarians disagree with the conservative notion that the state can legislate morality. They also disagree with the liberal idea that the state can fulfill the Bible’s mandate to support those in poverty. It is possible, and I would argue Biblical, for Christians to advocate for holistic freedom; we do not have to choose between economic and social freedom.
As a Christian who also identifies as a Libertarian, I do not believe it is the government’s duty to impose traditional or Biblical values upon society. Rather, government’s role is to protect us from each other. If someone acts in a way that imposes on my personal freedom, the government has a legitimate reason to become involved. For example, actions such as murder, theft, rape and assault must be outlawed. In a sense, the government should pass laws in a way that honors the “Golden Rule.”
However, more problems arise when the government begins to impose moral values onto society. As a Christian, I am working toward living out the commands of the Bible in my personal life and how I interact in my community. That does not mean that a powerful central government should come in and impose Biblical values on society. Humans are inherently sinful, including those trying to impose rules on others. Thus, what deems them responsible for or capable of carrying out the Bible’s message on a societal level? Doesn’t the Bible command us to focus on the log in our own eye rather than the splinter in our neighbor’s? We are all free individuals, and for those of us who consider ourselves to be Christians, we need to embody God’s word for ourselves, not rely on a government to tell us how to live it out.
I also believe that economic freedom is essential to our well-being. In fact, the free market is the only system that empowers people to rise out of poverty. The government’s attempts to help the poor have been largely ineffective. According to Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute, the government has spent nearly $15 trillion since President Lyndon B. Johnson waged his War on Poverty in 1964. This year alone, between federal, state and local governments, we have spent nearly $1 trillion, Tanner said. Where has this gotten us? The poverty rate has remained roughly the same.
Of course, I do not advocate the abolishment of welfare. It plays a critical role in helping people stay afloat during desperate times. But we must re-examine our means of fighting poverty at large. The Bible repeatedly calls us to help the poor and the oppressed, and we are not doing our duty as Christians if we force people in need to rely on a broken system. That is not offering freedom. We must band together as a church and support the people in our community, our country and our world. Stepping up to serve those in need and empowering people to pull themselves out of poverty through the power of the free market is the only effective way of abolishing poverty and allowing everyone to live truly free.
Contact Lindsey Hubbart at firstname.lastname@example.org