Libertarianism & Christianity Part III: Government Is Not Your God

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The very first commandment that God gave us through Moses was, “You shall have no other Gods before me.” Right after telling the Israelites that they are not to worship other Gods, He instructs them to “make no idols.”

As believers, we know that idolatry can take many forms. One does not have to bow to Baal, Ra, or Zeus to commit this particular sin. Indeed, in modern America, we have a pantheon of thousands of Gods to worship. Money, fame, material possessions, celebrities, and politicians are but a few examples of those we choose to idolize.

When considering whether Christianity is compatible with libertarianism, it makes sense to look at this question through the lens of the first two commandments. We must realize that, in many ways, America’s government has grown so large that it has become a godlike figure in the national psyche. What is troubling about this reality is that the majority of the populace prostrate themselves before this deity without even comprehending that they have replaced the God of the Bible with the god of the state.

We often point out this tendency among people on the far left, who tend to view the state as the solution to all problems. Indeed, this is a prime – and overt – example of people worshipping the government, placing it in the undeserved position of God.

Unfortunately, this worshipful tendency manifests on the right as well. When it comes to this issue, all of us have fallen short in one way or another. The underlying problem arises when we choose to rely on the state to solve a societal ill rather than addressing it as a community in Christ.

So far, I have written two pieces regarding libertarianism and Christianity. You can read them here and here. But in the latest, I addressed several areas in which we have abdicated the responsibility God gave us by trusting the government to deal with it instead. These issues demonstrate how strongly we depend on the state to solve our problems.

Take prostitution, for example. In the latest piece, I argued that this practice, while immoral, should not be illegal. The government should not have the authority to use force to prevent people from engaging in this type of consensual activity. However, this does not mean that we do not have a responsibility to address the matter as a community. Believing something should not be illegal is not the same as supporting it.

Moreover, the government has proven ineffective at addressing the problems that arise from the sex work industry, while private entities are more likely to be successful. To put it simply, if Christians want to put an end to prostitution, they must do the work to help people escape that lifestyle instead of sending men with guns and badges to throw them into cages. This is precisely what the ministry was intended to accomplish.

Indeed, there are plenty of ministries across the country whose role is to support those trapped in the sex industry. They offer a variety of programs and assistance to make it easier for former prostitutes to find other ways of living. What if more energy were put into bolstering the efforts of Christian ministries and other community institutions to address the root causes that lead to prostitution and to uplift those who become caught up in the industry? Would this not be far more effective than simply locking them up?

The same holds true for the drug issue. Imprisoning people for drug offenses does very little to decrease the abuse of narcotics. As it turns out, sending men with guns and badges to throw people into cages isn’t the most effective way to help someone break their addiction. Sure, there have been people who turned their lives around after spending time behind bars. But, in general, these people typically end up doing drugs in prison or going back to it after being released.

Again, a community-based solution is far more effective when it comes to helping people break the bondage that comes with drug addiction. There are many Christian ministries that provide the support needed to overcome these issues, and their methods do not involve locking people up. Instead, these people use the Word of God and show the love that Jesus showed when he walked the earth, which is a far more powerful avenue than expecting the state to handle the problem.

This principle applies to every aspect of society. Note what Jesus tells the people in Matthew 25:35-40:

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Note that Christ did not say they lobbied the government to give him something to eat, drink, live, and wear. He said the people did these things.

John the Baptist said something similar in Luke 3:10-11:

“What should we do then?” the crowd asked.

John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

Did John suggest that the crowd ask the Roman government to provide food and clothing to the poor? Of course not. He told the people to do it.

The same holds true today.

Of course, this is not to say governments or other types of ruling authorities don’t have a place. But their only function should be to protect our rights and prevent bad people from violating them. It is not the state’s place to solve prostitution, drug addiction, or address other societal ills. Indeed, giving this much power to the government tends to lead to horrific ends.

The problem with the federal government being the leviathan that it is today is that it has tricked so many of us into believing it is the entity responsible for addressing our problems. It has caused us to forget the fact that God tells you and I to rise up and deal with the ills of society with the empowering of the Holy Spirit. In the end, Jesus tells us that we are the salt of the earth, not the state.


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