Libertarian Letters

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Apparently People Want to Discuss Libertarianism

It seems that in secular libertarianism that one’s rights and freedoms are decoupled from one’s responsibilities. For any particular freedom is had in order to fulfill a specific responsibility. And that such responsibilities are set by the purpose of a person. So we should be at the point that our primary purpose as image bearers of YHWH result in our knowing what responsibilities we should have (as guided and stated by Scripture). And if I could be bold, there is no right that does not have a responsibility before YHWH and the purpose He made us with.


Tandre, yes. But this is why a society has to be in covenant with God. If an individual is not assuming his rightful responsibilities the way he ought, and then gets arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, he still ought to receive due process. But this is only possible is the general populace is assuming their responsibilities.

Re: When Liberty Gets Leprosy “Okay, with all that granted, and with nobody wanting to do any of that, do you love your country? […] Christians have a duty to love their families, to love their people, and to love their nation.” Were the Christians of Ephesus meant to love Rome? Certainly they were to honor the Emperor and to pray for those in authority over them. But, were they to love the Empire ruling their people and country as if the whole Empire were their people, their country? In the vast, multinational empire that has inherited the name “USA,” I can honor Trump and pray for Pelosi. But, the USA is not a nation in any sense but the most contemporary and colloquial. As a deracinated Millennial, I don’t know which of a half-dozen provinces of the Empire is my country. I can point to a family out to first cousins, but who are my people? Apart from the image of God and a temporary accident of geography, what have I in common with the thousands who surround me in this city? I’m sure they’re wonderful people, but we have neither common heritage, nor worldview, nor even language in many cases. The only people I can point to as my people are the Church, but the Church, as the Church, is not a country or a nation. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man.” I am not the only rootless one in this American Empire. This rootlessness is behind the draw to Libertarianism. How can a man love a country when he has never been and doesn’t even know the way? The Libertarian believes his nation is an abstraction because he has not ever met them, only fellow subjects of an empire keen to maintain the subjects’ atomization. But, Libertarianism is unsatisfying. It lacks that center, that “chest.” Among libertarians unwilling to fill, or tired of filling, that center with sex and drugs, there has become something of a pipeline to the alternative right. The alt-right is, in large part, a rebellion against the atomization brought on by Globalism and Empire. Alt-righters are looking for their people, for the nation which nature tells them they should love, and the alt-right will tell them who their nation is and/or who took it from them. The move from Libertarian to Conservative is not plausible. Conservatives are just the Left 10 years ago, holding yesteryear’s defeats as sacred principle. As a group or a movement, whether through fecklessness or cowardice, they have failed to conserve even the women’s restroom, much less any plausible notion of an American nation. The 5th Commandment requires me to love my nation. Who is my nation, brother, that I might love them?


David, yes. I would say so. We should love our nation, and I think the ancient Christians—not without natural affection—loved their peoples as well. We sometimes trip over this because of a confusion of a nation with the rule of a nation. But it makes sense to say that you love your country, but fear your government. Two examples: the Jews were in a free-fall apostasy, one that would culminate in the destruction of Jerusalem, and yet Paul loved them more than he loved himself. He ardently wished he could be cut off from Christ if that would help them (Rom. 9:3). And I even detect a note of civic pride in his comment about Tarsus: “But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people” (Acts 21:39). He did not come from a contemptible town. So this is the center of my critique. Libertarians do not love America the way Paul loved the Jews. And they should.

Doug, Looks like you’re getting some Christian Libertarians all riled up: link. I’d be very interested in seeing a dialogue with them. Thanks.


Jared, thanks.

RE: Libertarian Lure Agreeing that libertarians are quick to throw off corrupt government, and fail to see the wisdom of having proper governmental institutions in place, it is helpful to recognize the proper role of civil government, which I assert has been lost over the generations. “The people create their governments primarily to serve one supreme purpose: to ‘secure’ the safety and enjoyment of their God-given, unalienable rights. To make and keep them secure is government’s primary function and chief reason for existence, according to the philosophy proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence.” I affirm my affection for this very strongly. If the principle difference between Libertarians and Conservatives is the recognition that civil government can and should have a proper role in society, then count me a conservative who affirms the principle. My reservation with labeling myself a conservative is the Dabney screed that “…This [Northern conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything….” If my patriotism or belief in the principles that once made America unique (Negative Rights bringing forth responsible citizenship by not imposing on the Negative Rights of another) is the qualifier, then count me in. What I think libertarian-ism does well/gets right is that because they are such a marginalized political group, outside the corruption of the two-party system, they have effectively communicated how taxation is theft, the self-ownership property rights of personhood and the Rights that spring properly there from, various corruptions, etc (Ron Paul being a solid example). But they do fall short regarding the ultimate standard of Justice that we find in the Godhead. Conservative Republicans seem incapable of criticizing the system/government because they claim to be an essential cog inside it, and would be indicting themselves. Have you watched “The Swamp?” If people only knew the depth of the depravity as they bite their nails and drive people to vote during the “Most Important Election in American History!”, the voter turnout may hit single digits. As it is, Trump only got about 30% of the national registered vote. At what point does that number invalidate the results of the election? Indeed Liberty has caught Leprosy and the question is how to proceed. Parents are not above correction, but when they hold all the levers of power, it is difficult to convince them to consider self-correction, particularly when they aren’t upholding the principles of their forefathers. When the leper insists that they are clean and pure as the wind-driven snow, only defiance and quarantine remain viable options, lest the infection devour us all.


Ron, a basic conservative principle is a rejection of ideology (in the sense of fierce partisan loyalties). This would include a rejection of ideological commitment to Conservative, Inc. But—keeping well shy of idolatry—we ought to be loyal to those affiliations assigned by God. I mean family, tribe, location, etc. And whenever we are, that results in conservatism. When we are loyal to “conservatism,” the erosion has begun.

I’ve never been able to understand why Christian Libertarians (which I view to be a bastardization of Libertarianism) have thought it a good thing to link up with pure-bred Libertarians who, by definition see man as the ultimate measure. True Libertarianism is much worse than the Democrat party, for at least the Democrats have a historical meta-narrative as a part of their ideological framework (even though they currently despise it). Libertarianism is purely emotive, irrational and existential in nature. If embraced by a society, there would be no matrix to unify the diversity (you know, e pluribus unum?) and that society would disintegrate.


Trey, thanks.

Re: When Liberty Gets Leprosy: The Libertarian Lure You’ve put into words why I stopped calling myself a libertarian several years ago. Another reason (hinted at in your article) is that Christian libertarians are awfully shy to affirm what Paul affirms of Caesar in Romans 13 without so many caveats as to become meaningless. Many address what Romans 13 doesn’t mean (blind obedience to government in all circumstances), but rarely (if ever) attempted to positively exegete what that text does mean. With that in mind, I do have a question related to conservatism and the American Revolution. Since conservatism seems to be (by definition) anti-revolutionary, does that mean that the Loyalists were the conservatives back then? Or is there a proverbial line-in-the-sand over which conservatives can support a revolution (but perhaps moderate it)? What would be the conservative position in Colonial America from roughly 1765 to 1783?


Zak, here you go.

Regarding “When Liberty Gets Leprosy: The Libertarian Lure.” Thanks to Doug Wilson for a good cautionary article. Well qualified and argued. Christians who like Libertarianism should take heed. It is a movement full of libertines and idolaters. Here is my counter-caution to Christians who like Conservatism. Conservatism tends to conserve what Liberalism established 50 years ago. (Well, in truth, it’s narrowing down to something more like 18 month intervals). I think this is because Conservatives, in the words of Gary North, generally don’t realize that “you can’t beat something with nothing.” Politics is truly a cult to the mass of Conservatives these days. Libertarian’s relative political disengagement, because they’ve realized they can do more good for their country by starting businesses than by joining the hate parade, is praiseworthy and non-cultish by comparison. Faithfulness is a good thing, so kudos to anyone who might say “I’m a (for example) Burkean Conservative and I won’t give up the label.” That’s worthy of emulation. But there is a lot in a Name. There’s not a huge amount of biblical resonance with the word “Conservative.” Aside from not backsliding, the literary arc of the Bible is transformation into glory. Not conserving a whole lot. Quite a bit being left behind actually. (The SJWs counterfeit this biblical theme pretty cleverly with their rip-offs and abuses of MLKs “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”). The Israelite’s conservatism resembled our American version—ignorance of what God hath said and a studied attempt to Conserve whatever the regnant nearby Paganism had established. But “Liberty” . . . there’s a really good word. The Bible is full of it, even if your typical Libertarian doesn’t understand what that means. Why, even the Old Testament is full of liberty, of which your typical Conservative Marcionite is ignorant. How many Conservatives do you think would cheer Roy Moore’s Ten Commandments statue but recoil in horror if we actually decided to criminalize what God criminalizes, and de-criminalize what he never criminalized? Precious few. There’s plenty to like about Libertarianism and if you need a label, it’s just as good a one to resuscitate as Conservatism. I think the real dividing line is between people who are heart-struck by 1st Samuel 8, and those who wrinkle their nose and turn the page. It turns out that in order to love your country you really do need to call your kings locusts. If they’re going to get the glory which the Bible talks about, they’re going to have to do the Psalm 2 thing. Regards


Farmer (may I call you Farm?), thanks. See my response to Ron above.

Some Marriage Trouble

I recently read your post titled “On a Wife Deciding to Leave Her Husband” and spent a great deal of time scouring your articles on marriage for some help with my present circumstances. My husband of nearly five years habitually uses pornography. He has been in counseling with an elder of our church for three years, and his father is our pastor. The people counseling him acknowledge that this is a problem, but say that keeping him in counseling is the only biblical course of action because he is repentant. I have met with my father-in-law (who is also my pastor) to discuss my concerns and I have attended sessions with my husband, but I am truly wondering whether these are my only courses of action. We have two children, and I am concerned that this sin will never be mortified because the men dealing with my husband are going easy on him. I sincerely desire to honor the Lord, and I am not bitter or resentful toward my husband, but am concerned about his salvation and that the elders of my church are not protecting me and my children from the devastating effects of my husband’s sin. What can I do? I know that I am not your congregant, and that I must be submissive to the elders of my church; I would gladly accept your correction or your advice, or both, if necessary. Thank you for your faithful, fruitful ministry. In Christ,


L, that is a tough circumstance, and I am very sorry. But before saying too much, I would want to know a great deal more about it. Does your husband bust himself, or is he caught? Is there something in the father/son dynamic that is contributing to the problem? When you say “habitually,” do you mean daily failures, weekly failures, or monthly? What is the nature of the porn? How dark? How long has he been getting counsel, and has there been any progress since it started? Depending on the answers to such questions, you might request that your husband get counseling from outside your congregation—from a sister church, or from counseling ministry that specializes in this kind of thing. It does seem that the current set-up has some conflicts of interest built in.

Everybody’s a Critic

Re: MARY MAGDALENE In your response to Peggy, is it possible that you meant Luke 8:2 (instead of 8:3)?


Okay, okay. That’s possible.

Is this sentence correct: “The woman wearing hoop earrings does want anybody to think she is a Latina”? Or should there be a not between does and want?


Well, then. You caught me.

Sexual Asymmetry

Yes. The sexual relationship between men and women is asymmetric, and while that’s not a Greater/Lesser relationship, it’s not equal either, which is why humans (especially 2018 humans) try to remake it to their liking. Here’s where we are today: Al and Betty wound up in bed together this morning after a night at a wild party. If Al was so drunk that he can’t remember the events, and he’d never have had sex with Betty were he sober, this is a humorous story he’ll tell his friends with a wry shake of his head. If Betty were the drunk one, this will be a traumatic memory and probably legally considered rape. And you know what, I’m okay with that, because I recognize that asymmetry, along with the biblical foundations that societies have built on it. Modern society wants to get rid of the foundations, but keep the asymmetric protections that derive from it.


Thomas, this is exactly right. But they can’t have it both ways, and it frustrates them that they can’t. And the more they demand that women harden themselves to this kind of thing, the more fragile they get.

Cultural Approbation, Not Appropriation

I appreciate your thoughts regarding cultural appropriation. The false virtue signaling by liberal westerners of this cultural “appropriation” is indeed laughable and such a clearly selective outrage. I have yet to find anyone express similar indignation at the Japanese for decorating their department stores for Christmas, Japanese brides wearing traditional Western wedding dresses, or Japanese businessmen wearing neckties. Nor have I seen anyone express outrage against Middle Eastern Arabs importing cultural things—restaurants like Bennigan’s, Waffle House, or Big Texas Barbeque; Arab businessmen in Western business suits, or Middle Eastern airline attendants in clearly Western inspired uniforms. Basically, the logic is simple: If one tells an American he ought to keep dressing like an American, and to refrain from appropriating Arab, Asian, or other cultural styles, then that one is socially enlightened, just and virtuous. If one tells an Arab or an Asian he ought to keep dressing like an Arab or Asian, and to refrain from appropriating Western cultural styles, then that one is clearly an unhinged racist.


Daniel, precisely so.

Re: “Like a Donkey Eating a Thistle”

Their pained grin is the giveaway ;)


John, that explains that.