Libertarianism Comes Home to Roost

Are you a card-carrying member of the Republican party? The Democratic party? The Libertarian party? The answer to this question doesn't just determine what you think the government should do. Your personal political thoughts also impact your home life as well. This is because both of them are governed. 

Libertarianism gets a lot of things right. Our federal government sticks its nose in a lot of things it has no business in. But my concern is that in the end, Libertarianism promotes the idea that governing is a necessary evil. In other words, in an ideal world, we wouldn't need government, but if we have to have it, it ought to only pass laws that are absolutely necessary, ignoring everything else.

But government is not a necessary evil. Rather, it is necessary, but it is not evil. The command to create government is implicit in the pre-fall command to Adam, to be fruitful, and multiply and rule the earth and subdue it. That work could not have been done before the fall without government any more than it could after the fall. Furthermore, Paul makes it abundantly clear in Romans that government is good and established by God.

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. (Romans 13:1-4)

So what does this have to do with your home? The arguments for libertarianism at the governmental level come home to roost at the family level as well. A libertarian will generally speaking not want to make rules in his own home for the same reasons as he doesn't at the state or federal level. The less I make rules the less my sons and daughters will sin. And if I pass rules, it's going to make all sorts of work for me, fighting their desire to sin. And I won't be able to enforce the rules anyway, since I will be away from the home many times. And even when I'm at home, I can't be in their bedroom all the time. And besides, outlawing things will just make my children do them in secret, where I can't help them if they get hurt. Making rules will just push my children away from me and make them less safe.

But just as it is unloving for those who desire sodomy to not have laws against it, it is also unloving to our sons and daughters, who desire to get their own way all the time, to not have rules against that in the home.

Comments

Two Questions

I am left with two questions after reading your full article. First, do you really believe that the central tenant of Libertarianism is "government is a necessary evil"? Or do you believe that this is a sub-principle of that belief system which has become unduly exaggerated? (For example, like how baptism has been exaggerated in some denominations of Christendom) Second, I am troubled by the open-ended connotations of your argument. If government is good, and that is the one basis for dismissing a purportedly anti-government governing philosophy, then it would stand that whichever philosophy is the most pro-government, represents the best option for developing the family. Argue as you will about its various executions of this over-riding principle, but the Democratic party (or since we are only talking about the bare philosophy and not its actual practice) Democrat-ism/Liberalism is by far the most in favour of growing and installing government. Somehow I doubt that this was your implication... but as it stands, your argument does imply it. And so I was wondering, do you feel like there are more dimensions at play than just governance when determining how a system of POLITICAL philosophy applies to the inner workings of a family?

Thanks for the good questions, Sam.

It is my understanding that "government is a necessary evil" is a central part of Libertarianism today in the USA. I have done very little research to back that up, but I just tried to read some more. Minarchism is the term for the branch of Libertarianism that believes that (see here: http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_libertarianism.html ). According to this quiz (http://quizfarm.com/quizzes/new/Brainpolice/what-kind-of-libertarian-are... ), "The contemporary libertarian movement in America is dominantly minarchist..." Certainly that doesn't mean that it is a central tenet of the political theorists who came up with Libertarianism. But nevertheless, in my observation, it is central to Libertarianism in the USA today.

As to your last question, certainly, there are many other dimensions at play in the home. I hardly addressed the concept of sphere sovereignty at all. I simply mentioned that the federal government has its nose in a lot of things it shouldn't. That's my way of saying that it is stepping outside its proper sphere. Libertarianism happens to agree with me about needing to limit the federal government, but they don't actually properly understand sphere sovereignty if they believe that government is a necessary evil. Still, I hoped that one line about the government's nose would make clear that I don't think the big-government Democrats (or big-government Republicans for that matter) have it right.

As for your statement that I imply the most pro-government political philosophy will be best for the home, that simply doesn't follow. I showed how Libertarianism is unbiblical in one of its presuppositions. I then explained how that same unbiblical presupposition will also impact another area of life. We can't think that our political philosophy somehow stays only in the realm of politics. Our presuppositions must always have practical consequences elsewhere.

Saying that government is good doesn't actually imply that it ought to be big. It simply points out that any philosophy which denies that is going to be problematic for Christians. I could write similar pieces on some of the core assumptions in the Democratic or Republican parties that will also have very negative consequences in the home, and that Christians ought not to subscribe to. What do you think, should I make this piece into a series?

By the way, this is only tangentially related to voting. It's actually about being aware that what we believe about politics directly affects our homes.

I'm sympathetic to the idea that big government is not good....

...especially since it seems to get more corrupt as it grows. Yet when we read this about the Messiah:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of [his] government and peace [there shall be] no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. - Isaiah 9:6-7 KJV

...our typical reaction is to shudder: "Oh no, not more government!" Which is wrong. We should long for that day, and work toward it.

Similarly to how many of us love forest glades and look down on the urban cityscape, which lessens our hunger for heaven which will be a city; similarly, I say, we take a low view of the increase of government, but is this not bad practice for embracing the joyous truth that "of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end"?

I wonder if what we should look for (and work toward) rather than smaller government and less city, is godly government and a righteous city.

Actually being the wrong kind

Actually being the wrong kind of forest-minded has a worse effect than that of lessening our hunger for heaven which will be a city" -- we ARE the city, and each of us living stones. Surely we don't want the heavenly Jerusalem to be torn down, do we?

"And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband." - Revelation 21:2 NASB

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