The Ten Commandments: A Necessary Rebuke of Secular Libertarianism Part 5
by Pastor Cary Gordon
Part 5 of a 6 Part Series
In modern times, institutionalized theft has many titles: Communism, Statism, Fascism, Socialism, Marxism, Totalitarianism, Globalism, etc. For these reasons (and many more), the second table of Mosaic law places the issue of private property as the fourth priority of civil government (and not the first). Once civil government is charged with a responsibility to preserve and protect its own foundation of family government, the fourth commandment declares, “Thou shalt not steal” (see Exodus 20:15).
The final two commandments, “Thou shalt not lie” and “Thou shalt not covet”, are similarly situated as those previously mentioned (see Exodus 20:16-17). These final issues of dishonesty and jealousy are sinful proclivities that will criminally jeopardize the acquisition and maintenance of private property in all civilizations. The logic of their position in the flow of the commandments becomes clear when one considers that adultery cannot be committed without some degree of both lying and covetousness, yet it would be possible to engage in some form of simple dishonesty or jealousy without committing adultery. The cases of the second table of the law rise and fall together, and with them the civilizations that choose to obey or ignore God’s unchanging law.
Ironically, the secular Libertarian philosophy vocally protests institutionalized theft, (heavy taxation) which is merely the symptom of familial failures. They refuse to give permission for civil government to fulfill its obligations to God’s law by protecting and preserving the family government. By doing so, the secular Libertarian guarantees an eventual loss of private property rights, all while insisting that protection of private property is the loftiest purpose of civil government. As libertarian Robespierre perished beneath his beloved guillotine, American libertarians will lose property rights for refusal to defend biblical marriage.
The Absence of Law
Stemming from the influence of Bastiat’s writings (as well as other enlightenment authors), the modern twist of plumb-line Libertarianism’s view of limited government is sometimes referred to as the “absence of law theory.” According to this theory, the fewer laws that exist the better off we will all be as a society. How true this theory is until one discovers that the absence of law theory of limited government is indiscriminately applied to both good and bad laws, alike. “Every law is ‘good’ in someone’s opinion, and every law is ‘bad’ in the opinion of someone else! So get rid of them all!” This argument is offered as the justification for an appeal to what is errantly called “fairness.”
The problem, of course, is that this approach to the absence of law theory assumes the non-existence of absolute truth (or pretends to honor only one truth as absolute – private property). Pretending that truth is “relative” as a justification for deleting both good and bad law is intolerable when you consider such immutable natural truths demonstrated by gravity, mathematics, physics, procreation, the precision by which the planets orbit the sun, and many others that remind us of absolute truth’s existence. (And who could forget death and taxes?) Is liberty enhanced by denying the existence of absolute truth? No, it cannot be. Without truth, there is no justice. Without justice, liberty cannot be defined, defended, and preserved. Ironically, Bastiat recognized this fact when he wrote, “Law is organized justice.”[i]
Some self-described Christian Libertarians (who are understandably embarrassed by the atheistic appeal of their own politics) are careful to point out that they do personally accept natural law theory as their premise and supposedly do not filter all their political decisions through the single issue of private property. This disclaimer, however, is nearly always met with a startling paradox. For example, one “Christian Libertarian” (a high-level deputy campaign manager) once responded to my objections by writing, “I’m a Libertarian, but I believe that my rights come from God, not man. I just don't believe that it is my right to legislate morality. If Christ gives me free will, how can I do any less to my fellow man? My job is to convince through examples and proof, not try to make another fit a prescribed mode of behavior.”
In other words, this Christian Libertarian filtered all his political decisions through the single lens of private property, just like his atheist counterparts. He had convinced himself, in a very muddled sort of way, that as long as he was willing to verbally admit his private belief in divine natural law, it was okay to completely ignore the implications of the existence of those laws down at the court house or when a legislature was in session. His paradigm is tantamount to proclaiming, “I believe in free speech; I just don’t think it is right to say so out loud!”
I responded to the logical fallacy with, “It would help move our conversation along if you would be able to explain to me which of the final six of the Ten Commandments you believe to be inappropriate for civil enforcement.” (For the record, I’ve never met anyone who could give me a rational explanation for how they believed codifying the second table of Mosaic law would produce “tyranny.” Probably because it’s impossible to offer a rational excuse. Despite the intensity of hedonism in America today, thinking persons still struggle to attempt to claim cheating on a spouse as “freedom” without being embarrassed with themselves for saying so. Stupid people…(and they do exist) not so much.)
Libertarianism, as a movement, is often right about many superficial issues. This explains why a small number of dedicated Christians have joined its ranks. But most have not. Those who have not have many reasons to be skeptical, not the least of which is the vitriolic hatred for Christ routinely experienced by Christians at the hand of the ugly atheistic and anarchist contingencies commonly found among the self-described “libertarian” ranks.
Yes, we self-described Christian conservatives understand and nearly always wholeheartedly agree that private property is extremely important! Yes, we peer backwards with perfect hindsight and agree that America should not have used the CIA to empower the Iranian Shah Pahlavi in 1953 via “Operation Ajax!” However, Libertarianism is fundamentally wrong, because its base rationale falls short of Divine reality.
As a consequence, Libertarianism inadvertently undermines the fraternity of man, and overemphasizes rugged individualism (at the expense of the natural family, despite the truth demonstrated by nature that a newborn individual cannot survive without exterior parental assistance). As we would expect, Libertarianism further refuses to protect and preserve the natural institution of family, because it does not really acknowledge natural law. Libertarianism, by any stripe, must of necessity promote secularism (which Jesus condemned more than once (think “Herodians”).
All government (church, self, family, local, county, state and federal) should be viewed through the lens of natural law [the laws of Nature and Nature’s God]. This is particularly true of America. It says so in our organic law, the Declaration of Independence. I pose a loaded question: “How does the Libertarian ‘absence of good law’ theory work within the confines of family government?”
As a father of four (at the time of this writing, my youngest daughter, Rachael, celebrates her first birthday), I observed that the “laws of nature and nature’s God” determined the bed-time for my children. My job as a parent was to recognize when they became visibly grumpy and lethargic. I subsequently “codified” those observations and now “enforce” them every night. Does that make me a “tyrant”, forcing my will upon innocent children? Or does it make me a servant and steward of the gift of God that is a child?
I further observed that it took a male and a female genitalia (one man and one woman) to create that child. My job as a citizen was to recognize this institution as one lawfully determined outside the boundaries of human authority; therefore, it [marriage] was subsequently “codified” and should be “prescribed” and “protected” across all nations of the globe. Does this political agenda make me a “tyrant”, forcing my will upon unwilling fetish-fanatics? Or does that make me a servant and steward of the gift of God that is marriage (an optimum arrangement produced by natural law that is necessary in order to create and rear children)? The answer is all too obvious to those whose souls have not been conscripted by depravity.