What is the defining principle of Libertarianism? No, it is not approving of homosexuality and pot smoking, despite what many believe. The defining principle of Libertarianism is the “non-aggression principle.” Simply stated, this principle means that we Libertarians do not believe that an individual should ever be forced through either violence or the threat of violence to do a thing. We believe individuals are created free, and the only way a society can be organized morally is through voluntary associations, not forced ones. When we say we believe individuals should be free from violence or the threat of violence, we include freedom from State violence as well. Wear your seat belt, or we’ll forcibly remove your financial property (fine you), is violence. Pay us a portion of your financial property (taxes), or we will send the police to arrest you, is a violent threat. Don’t sell raw milk to other individuals in a private transaction, or we’ll send a swarm of government agents (which may include an FDA SWAT Team), is violence. We believe that all violence, except that done to repel an aggressor, is wrong, and beneath the dignity of mankind. And guess what? God agrees with us.
There are two great commandments found in Scripture. The first and greatest is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is like it, you shall love you neighbor as your self.” (Matthew 22:37-40) How does the Bible define loving your neighbor? The best answer to this question is found in the second table of the Law of God, where we are instructed in our duties to our fellow man.
- Honor your father and your mother
- You shall not kill
- You shall not commit adultery
- You shall not steal
- You shall not bear false witness
- You shall not covet
First, when we look at the fifth commandment, we do see implied respect for those in governing authority. I am a limited statist Libertarian, which means I see a role for the state to play, but it is a very small role. We should honor those in authority over us. I want to expand on this more fully, but I will wait to do so in another article. It’s important that Christians Libertarians learn to integrate Libertarian theory with the presence of governing Biblical authorities. It will suffice for me to say at this point, that the huge, regulatory, all encompassing state we currently live in, is not the “servant of God,” described in Romans 13 as, “an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” Governments do not create right and wrong. Someone who is a “wrongdoer”, is someone who has violated a moral law, hence they have murdered, broken up a home, stolen, defrauded, or conspired to do those things. The State doesn’t have the power to make up morality, and wherever the State violates or goes beyond the bounds of natural Law (moral law) its authority evaporates, then and there, in the eyes of Almighty God.
What about the rest of the commands in the second table of the Law? Notice there is something very distinct about them. What do they all prohibit? They all prohibit aggression and violence. You shall not kill. Don’t do anything to violate the sacred possession of a person’s body. Mankind possesses life, that which animates the body, it is a precious gift from God, and it shall not be taken.
You shall not commit adultery. Sexuality is also a gift from God, but we are not to use and manipulate one another for pleasure’s sake. Don’t damage families by stealing the affections of a mate. Adultery extends to fornication, and fornication is sex outside of sacred covenant. In other words, sons and daughters (unmarried) are not to try and sexually manipulate one another. Adultery and fornication are violent acts against the family, which is the basic building block of any society. So much poverty and violence are the result of adultery and sexual license. Prisons are filled with fatherless children, who are now men, with fatherless children themselves.
You shall not steal. God is in favor of private property. How can there be a prohibition against theft, unless there is the prior existence of the right of ownership? Once a man has mixed his labor with the natural resources found in the world, those resources, and the medium of exchange (money) gained from the sale of his labor, or the resources he creates with his labor, are his alone, no one else has a right to them. You shall not use violence or manipulation to remove a man’s property, it is his, and it is sacred and inviolable.
You shall not lie. You cannot aggress against someone to defraud, or to slander their character. A person’s integrity is also a sacred and inviolable possession. “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches”, and we shall not do any thing with our words to detract from a person’s good name and reputation.
Finally, we shall not covet. Restated, we shall not even nurse a desire in our heart to take what belongs to another. Whether we are the State, a private institution, or an individual, the Law of God is the perfect Law of Liberty (James 1:25). In order to obey it and love others, we must leave them alone. That includes the State. The State has no more right to violence and threats of violence than any other institution or individual. The only Biblically moral society, will be a Libertarian one, based on the principle of non-aggression, a non-aggression that is rooted firmly, as we have seen, in the Law of God.
The Evangelical Libertarian