By Paul Cook
A side effect of living in the Bible Belt my entire life is that I believed that if you were a Christian, it was given that politically, you were a Republican. That’s not such a bad thing to believe. It’s not that inaccurate. I didn’t meet my first non-republican Christian till I was 19. So it was a pretty safe assumption.
When I started studying Political Science in college, my views starting to shift drastically, I started leaning neither right nor left. At that time, I didn’t really know what Libertarianism was. All of my professors were staunch liberals (Shocker). You were either Liberal or you were wrong. I remember sitting in my Poli Sci class as my fellow students talked of how terrible republicans were and how Obama would “change” everything (This was during the fall of 08, so no one knew the dumpster fire he would turn into). I had no idea, while sitting in that class, that the annoyance of having everyone’s solution to every political issue be more regulations and government intervention, would shape my future political beliefs so much.
It was easy for my once conservative view points to slowly, over several years, drift into a brand of “Conservatarianism” so to speak. Once I learned more about Libertarians, I wanted to jump ship. I wanted to say “Screw you, GOP!” and just leap. But something was holding me back. How could I be a Christian, and not a conservative? I knew Democratic Christians existed, but they were seen as either old timey “JFK Democrats” or as new age hipster Christians. Neither view point yielded any positivity in main stream Christian circles. Especially in my area. To be transparent, I was almost too scared to admit that I didn’t fall under the stereotypical Christian political umbrella. But I had an epiphany of sorts. I realized two things that kept me from being a Republican or a Democrat.
First, as a Christian, I cannot expect the government to legislate morality. Not a single bill will ever change someone’s heart. That’s Jesus’ job. Not mine. Not the government’s. Legislating morality is a common practice whenever you have an R behind your name and you live in Washington.
Christians as a whole are the reason this not only happens, but is why it is so common. Forcing people to act according to your own beliefs is not only ineffective, it is un-American. Although some of our founding fathers were Christian, they made sure to allow others to be whatever they wanted. That is what we are founded on. As Christians, we should not make people to do what we believe as right, via force.
In the same way that many times the strictest parents produce the wildest offspring, morality by force will produce rebellion and resentment. God never wanted people to be forced to obey Him. If that was the case, free will would not be a thing, and we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. It is downright impossible to show people the love of God by forcing them to not sin. That’s not how that works.
Think of it as the “Don’t look down” predicament. If someone tells you not to, you’re going to look down. If you tell people they can’t do something that you deem as immoral, or men with guns will come take them away, then they are just going to want to do it even more. Not to mention it distorts and twists people’s views of God. He becomes someone who just wants people to not have fun. Not someone who loves them.
By legislating morality, you’re distorting the image of God. Telling people they cannot do something due to our religious beliefs goes farther than just being against the values our country was founded on. It tells people that we, along with Christ, are focusing on their sin, and not them as a person. You will never change a single heart or mind by legislating the Gospel. God wants people’s hearts out of love. Not fear. Fear will only go so far before it transforms into rebellion.
Second, it’s not the government’s job to do what Jesus told us to do; help the needy. This, along with a few other things, is what kept me from being a “Left-Christian”. The idea that we’re doing God’s work by supporting government welfare is ludicrous. You paying your involuntary taxes, is not doing a good deed. You’re not helping the poor by doing something that you have no choice over.
Jesus was not a socialist. Jesus did not tell his disciples to have the Romans feed the hungry. He told them to. You cannot require Uncle Sam to take money from the rich and give to the poor and think you’re doing God’s work. He doesn’t want you to take money from one group of people by force and give it to another. That’s not Christianity. That’s theft.
The reason I believe that the only political belief system that works with Christianity is libertarianism is simple; you cannot give a job that Christ gave to us over to the government, and you cannot take something that only Jesus can do and expect the government to do it. Libertarianism is the only world view that allows for people to make their own choices and to be truly free. One of the first things God did was give humanity free will. I believe that Freedom and Liberty are close to God’s heart. And Libertarians are the group that wants that the most. For everyone. Not just Americans. And that is why I am a libertarian.