“ This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots…will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves…” ( 1 Samuel 8:11-18).
When most libertarians hear the word “Christian,” many automatically associate us “Jesus freaks” as being of sanctimonious, moral majoritarians seeking to use the law to force Christian ethics on all of humanity. Indeed, the bulk of liberty lovers are probably are under the impression that there are no libertarian Christians. They can’t conceive of Christians holding any anti-government sentiments like the ones expressed in the Bible (1 Samuel, as excerpted above) when God warns Israel what will happen when He gives them the king they demand. While these descriptions of Christians held by the majority of libertarians might be true of most Christians, they are not true of all. Christian libertarians exist, and I believe we have not only a truer understanding of the faith but also a stronger commitment to its core values than most of its followers. Libertarianism and Christianity are significantly more harmonious than any other combination of the faith and a political philosophy, because Christianity is founded on the principles of voluntaryism, and libertarianism best accomplishes its goals.
Conservative Christians seem to always be in favor of legislating morality. Most Christians will usually give one of two explanations for this. One of these fallacious explanations is that if one wants something legalized or to remain that way, then one must personally approve of it. This justification is of course ridiculous. If we carried out this idea consistently, then Christians would have to be in favor of legislating the whole Bible into law. Indeed, if we did so and all sin was made illegal, then everyone would be in jail! The second and most frightening explanation that a Christian will give is that they do not like to see some particular action and just want to make it illegal. This has been said many times about homosexuality, among other things. This coercive nature of many Christians has caused libertarians to have very negative opinions of them. However, there are no New Testament examples of force being used to gain converts or to control the actions of non-Christians. So, the problem is not with the Christian faith itself, but with the way many Christians have chosen to carry it out.
Many people of faith tend to forget that while on this earth, God did not make obedience to Him mandatory. He gave humanity free will to choose whether to do good or evil. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had a choice as to whether or not they would obey God. Obviously, there were consequences to the choice they made, just as there are consequences to our actions today, but the choice was there. Did Jesus ever order his disciples to grab people and forcibly dunk them in the waters of baptism? Absolutely not. God does not force anyone to serve Him coercively. So, if humans try to legislate Christian morals upon others, are they not presuming to do more than God? Are they not trying to take away the choice that was given to humanity by God? Indeed, there are two fundamental pillars of Christianity. The first of these is to imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 4:16), and the second is the share the gospel of Jesus with others (Matthew 28:18-20). Using force to either bring people to the Christian faith or to make the world “look” more Christian is in violation of the faith’s principles and completely ineffective. If Christians were actually imitating Christ, they would not be using force.
So what is the real Christian solution to accomplishing the two important pillars of Christianity? The solution works very well within the libertarian philosophy in both its voluntary and academic nature. There are numerous examples of Jesus interacting with various groups of people. Every time Jesus was questioned either by his disciples or different sects of the Jews, he always gave a reasoned and persuasive answer. If Christians are to imitate, Christ, should this not also be their approach? Trying to force Christian morals onto others not only is in violation of the image of Christ, but it is also detrimental to the second pillar of spreading the gospel. It gives non-Christians very strong, negative opinions and closed minds towards the faith. Many atheists are not just apathetic when it comes to Christians but have a forceful detestation for it. This hatred for Christianity makes sense after a lifetime of Christian morals being forced on others through law. In a free, libertarian society this hatred might not exist. Christians should draw from the Bible to accomplish the evangelism of the faith. In Colossians 4:6, it says “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer every man,” and 1 Corinthians 9:19 it says, “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more…” These verses seem to encourage persuasion and reason, the voluntary techniques fundamental to libertarianism.
Libertarians are fully justified in harboring some resentment towards many individual Christians, as they should toward any person that attempts to take away their rights and freedoms. This resentment, however, should not extend to the Christian faith itself. Christianity is a voluntary commitment that a person makes, and nowhere in the Bible are Christians encouraged to legislate their morals. They are, however, encouraged to convert as many as possible, and this seems easiest to accomplish in a free and libertarian society. All libertarians, even atheists, should make note of the harmony of liberty and Christianity so that they come to have some level of respect for libertarians who follow the faith and will pause before making snide comments about believers. Lastly, there are a lot of Christians out there, and if they be can convinced that libertarianism works best with their faith, then our ideology may discover an vast untapped pool of potential converts (pun intended).