Whenever I write on things like liberty and taxes, it is easy for some to try to stuff me into the wrong box. And upon my making this objection, some might expect me to go on to say that I hate labels. But actually I love labels, which are the precondition of all honest discourse. Con artists hate labels.
But the label should be accurate. I am no anarchist, and I actually am in favor of both liberty and taxes. I’m against parodies of either, and because these parodies are currently dominating the landscape, they are the problem which must be addressed.
The parody of liberty is found in the libertarian image of the fornicating pot smoker – but you can get high and get laid in a 6′ x 8′ prison cell. There is one who defiantly cries out that he wants more liberty – so that he can enslave himself ever more tightly in chains he has forged himself. But no tyrant has ever been successfully resisted by cluster of lotus eaters, however big the cluster might be. Virtuous people cannot be kept as slaves, and an effete and self indulgent people are made for slavery. It is their native habitat.
But the parody of taxes is the idea that general and indiscriminate confiscation is somehow in accordance with the rule of law. People who are subject to such treatment are not a free people, but rather are a huddled band of prisoners on the after deck of the pirate ship. In case you were wondering, that’s you right now.
To attack the parodies, to attack the distortions, is not the same thing as attacking the true pattern, of which parodies are the caricatures. To defy tyrants is not the same thing as despising the king, and those people who are so myopic as to be unable to tell the difference are actually a central problem in all of this. But what we are after is a virtuous citizenry, not a ganglion of lickspittles.
What we need is liberty under law. Law is not the antithesis of liberty, but rather precondition of it. God’s law is the law of liberty. If you won’t live the way God calls you to live, you are living in slavery.
Herod was a limousine liberal, and his onerous tax policies had to be dialed back several times by the imperial government. Complaints about his fiscal policies flowed regularly to Rome, and the response of Augustus was eventually to call for a census and taxation of the entire populace. Judas Galilaeus responded by organizing a tax revolt, which then morphed into a plain old revolt, which was summarily crushed by Rome.
By way of contrast to this Judas, his contemporary Joseph did not join the rebels, but rather decided to file. This is why Jesus was born in Bethlehem – that is where the Imperial office required the Davidsons to be registered. Joseph, a righteous man, did not join in with a tax revolt against the regime of oppressive taxation, when there was in fact such a revolt that could have been joined.
There were two sets of scoundrels in the story. There were the establishment scandals, and there was the Grand Maccabean True Republic of Israel Trailer Park scoundrels. Presented with this choice, righteous and wise men stay with the devil they know, as Joseph did.
So if we want restoration of the republic, the only possible way this can happen is through reformation in the church. When God is worshiped, and the gospel of Christ crucified is proclaimed, people are liberated from their sins. Sin is the place where the tyrant’s hook always goes in. It is the only place where his hook can get in. We are currently governed despotically because we are a sinful people who can be governed in no other way.
When freedom from sin happens, this results in the foundation of all free government, which is self-government. Freedom from sin is that which makes it possible for such freedom to work its way out into the three other governments established by God.
On the foundation of self government, we find three other governments created by God in Scripture. They are family government, church government, and civil government. When people are set free from sin as individuals, then they marry and bring up children in that same liberty. When they are converted from iniquity, they seek out other saints converted from iniquity, and they worship God together. This is the church.
And it is at that place when the stage is set for liberty to flourish in the civil realm. Until then, you can save your energy for sweeping water uphill.
But if I believe this, then why do I write about it so much? Do you think this is centuries off? I do this because all of this is governed by the Word, and when the Word decides to move, He can move fast.