In the midst of the raging battles between big and small government advocates, libertarianism has increasingly garnered more attention and support. The face of libertarianism is Ron Paul, who has brought increased publicity for libertarian principles by virtue of his presidential run and his Republican primary debate performances. To his credit, Ron Paul is not jumping on a new bandwagon. He has been advocating libertarian principles for decades. Libertarianism also receives positive publicity from certain Fox News TV hosts (e.g. Judge Napolitano, Eric Bolling, et al). Many conservatives and Christians, deeply troubled by the continuous increase of the size of government by both Democrats and Republicans have gravitated to a third way -- libertarianism. Democrats have long been big government advocates. Republicans have followed suit, while usually campaigning on small government rhetoric. Republicans generally preach small government talk in order to get conservative votes, but once in office, they have shown no interest in shrinking the size of government. It is very hard to take away anyone’s government goodies, and any president who does so will be crucified. The real argument between many Democrats and Republicans is over which agenda the big government will impose, not whether the government will be big or not. Enter libertarians. They see the hypocrisy in the Republican party and they are criticizing Republicans, as well as Democrats, for big government practices. For those weary of the two party system, this is refreshing, and many are wondering whether libertarianism in the answer.
What is libertarianism? It can be hard to define, because there is a wide spectrum amongst modern day libertarians. At one end of the spectrum are anarchists, who want no government at all. Along the spectrum the other way are those who want various levels of government. Some merely want us to follow the Constitution and abide by the limitation of powers outlined there. Arguments erupt over how much government we should have and what sorts of things government should be involved in. What libertarians all hold in common is the deep conviction that the government has become way too big.
There is much to applaud in libertarianism, but there is a fundamental flaw inherent in all the forms of it. Namely, libertarianism does not understand the purpose of government as defined by God. God is the creator of government. He knows the purpose of it. He understands why there is a need for government, and He has established it. According to Romans 13, the purpose of government is to punish evildoers and be a cause of fear to anyone thinking of doing evil things.
"Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor." (Rom. 13:1-7)
This is not the apostle Paul's opinion. This is the Word of God. God established all governing authorities. Rulers are a cause for fear for evil behavior. If you do what is evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword for nothing. This is a reference to capital punishment. Government is "an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil." We pay taxes to government so that there will be an established force to repress and punish evil. In other words, we have to have government because we are depraved. If society were filled with good, moral, law-abiding citizens who just wanted to mind their own business and do what was right, government would be unnecessary. But we know all too well from personal experience that society is not filled with such people. There are evildoers and they must be punished by the government. Take away the government, take away the sword, and you will have real chaos and pandemonium. What to do when a government becomes so corrupt that it ceases to perform its God-given function is a subject too complex to address here. Suppose a new government formed from within the U.S. That government would be responsible to establish laws. Those laws would be based on some moral code of right and wrong (preferably the Bible’s code). The government would then be responsible to wield the sword and punish those who break the established laws.
We often hear people say that you cannot legislate morality. In truth, that is exactly what a government must do. Every law is based on some standard of morality. The law against murder is moral. The laws against stealing are moral. The law against kidnapping is moral. The law against perjury is moral. The law against incest is moral. The law against polygamy is moral. The law against pedophilia is moral. There should be laws against homosexuality, as there were until very recently. Laws against homosexuality would be moral in nature. It is nonsense to suggest that morality cannot or should not be legislated. When God gave the ten commandments – ten laws – He was legislating morality!
The problem with somet libertarians is that they don’t want anything legislated. They just want everyone to be left alone to do what is right in his or her own eyes. They do not understand the depravity of man and the chaos and lawlessness that would prevail. Some more reasonable libertarians understand the need for some government, but they nonetheless take liberal stances on issues like gay marriage and pot smoking. They tout the Constitution and remind everyone that the Constitution did not address these issues. Of course, homosexuality and pot smoking were not big issues in the 1700s. The framers can be excused for not foreseeing every evil perversion that would come down the pike. The very fact that we have amendments to the Constitution is an acknowledgement that the Constitution was not sufficient to address every issue America would face throughout its existence.
The fact of the matter is that homosexuality is an evil perversion in God’s eyes. Governments have to decide whether to follow God’s revealed morality or invent their own. If they want to invent their own, good luck with that! That nation will not last long. The libertarian is living in a dream world if he thinks any nation will survive that defiantly refuses to “legislate morality” or rejects God’s morality in favor of its own.
John Adams, our second president, said, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
As America becomes less religious and more immoral, the Constitution becomes increasingly inadequate. The Constitution is a fantastic document for a self-governing moral people. But we are no longer such a people. We are lawless and immoral. Therefore, more amendments and laws are required to restrain us. Libertarians do not seem to understand this.