Ask The Evangelical Libertarian Abortion: After 45 Years, Is It Libertarian?

Ask The Evangelical Libertarian Abortion: After 45 Years, Is It Libertarian?

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Today is the 45th Anniversary of the landmark court decision known as Roe vs Wade. It allowed abortion to become a legal practice in the United States. With that in mind, I thought it would be a good day to answer the question, “What is the Evangelical Libertarian’s position on abortion?”

Abortion is a clear case of aggression. It is a violent act against the most defenseless of persons. The hallmark of libertarian thought is the Non-Aggression Principle. Children, within the womb or without, have all the natural rights of life and liberty afforded to other moral persons. “You shall not murder” is the bedrock of human society, and any society that abandons it will soon devolve into violence. If in-utero children can be dispensed with because of inconvenience or financial strain, then the next persons to be placed on the list will be those born with special needs and the infirm among us.  Iceland has already nearly eradicated Down Syndrome through abortion, believing that it would be better if those children were spared existence. This type God complex has no real limits, only temporary social taboos that eventually fall to corrupt and inconsistent reasoning. We often think of Jewish persons being gassed to death in Nazi Germany, but so were those with special needs, and the infirm. The difference between aborting unwanted children for reasons determined by the mother, and murdering unwanted people for reasons determined by society, is a difference only in degree, not in principle. Humans have many liberties, this however, is not one of them.

The Libertarian thinker Murray Rothbard, who had many good things to say in regards to property rights and economic principles, was incredibly wrong on this point. He treated the child, who made no moral choice, as the aggressor, and the mother’s womb as her private property. The child in his understanding was an invader. This is why we need a biblical filter for Libertarianism, and human freedom in general. His view of abortion is monstrous and should not be looked to as a standard for Libertarians.

A child in-utero makes no moral choice. She is not an aggressor, but a neutral party that was brought into being through the procreative sexual act. Now the government has no right to tell the mother how to use her sexuality, this is the Church’s role. She is to be convinced through truth and encouraged to surrender her sexuality for the good of others voluntarily. The government does have a right to see that human contracts and covenants, like marriage for instance, are enforced. They can place civil fines and punishments for violations and should expect full cooperation from the community to aid in enforcement of those rulings. But once the truth (guarding sexuality for marriage and family) is ignored by the mother and procreation has occurred, a new and separate life has been created, altogether distinct from the life of the mother. Women possess no special “right” to murder for convenience, or any other reason that maybe put forward. It is her body, but the violent act is being committed against another person, her unborn child. They are separate persons, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Which brings us to the difficult question. What about conception by sexual assault? All previous principles apply. Whether the life came into being voluntarily or involuntarily, it still exists separately from the life of the mother. The child feels pain, responds to stimulus, has a beating heart and brain function within days of conception. She is a miracle of miracles. Adoption should be the choice of just societies. We should recognize the innocence and goodness of the life, separate from both its sources, as it is truly separate from them. Difficult as that may be to apply in principle for women who have undergone terrible and traumatic experiences. Obviously to cherish and nourish these unfortunate mothers is paramount as well. Providing comfort and aid, giving to them the space and resources for healing are equally important. But murdering an innocent life will not heal their soul, but will most likely only deepen the moral wound. Often abortion alone causes a psychological crisis in the mother. When combined with rape or incest, it becomes part of a complex and compound moral wounding that can bring a woman to the edge of her sanity, and affect her mental state for the rest of her life. Abortion is the murder of a child. It is not good for the mother, leaves a trail of mental illness in its wake, and is therefore bad for society as a whole.

Abortion runs contrary to the virtues of generosity and self-sacrifice that are the hallmarks of free peoples that intend on remaining free. Without the protecting and cherishing of life, the most basic of protections necessary for human civilization, nothing lasting, or in fact even worth building, can be built. Murder is not a liberty, but an act of aggression, and therefore abortion should fall outside of the bounds of an authentic expression of libertarianism.

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Ask The Evangelical Libertarian: What Is An Evangelical Libertarian Anyway?

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First we must define what a Libertarian is?

A Libertarian is someone who believes that coercion and/or violence cannot be the basis of a political compact, business, or personal relationship. This is called the Non-Aggression Principle. For the rest of this article, we will just refer to it as NAP. The NAP in business and personal practice means that we should keep our word. If we enter into a contract together to perform certain tasks for one another in exchange for a set price, then both of us should keep our word… our contract. Government, which most Libertarians accept as needed in limited ways, therefore exists to make sure that contracts are enforced. If one does not keep their word, then they are liable to civil suits, fines, and judgments as a means to rectify the broken contract. Libertarians that believe in limited government are called “Limited-Statist Libertarians.” They believe that one submits oneself voluntarily to a government, and that in fact all good government is voluntary in nature. The Founding Fathers were, for the most part, “Limited-Statist Libertarians”, and the Constitution of the United States is a document written to secure the rights of man by forming a very limited state, or government. The Founding Fathers believed, for the most part, that the role of the Federal Government should be very small, and the liberty of the individual should be very large.

What does a Christian Libertarian believe and why the designation Evangelical Libertarian?

A Christian Libertarian then is one whose understanding of the NAP is informed by nature and Scripture.

Psalm 19:1-3

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. 

A Christian Libertarian believes as all Christians believe, that there are two books of revelation, nature AND Scripture. While standard Libertarians of all varieties lean heavily on natural law theory in regards to discerning ethics and crime, Christian Libertarians filter their understanding of natural law through God’s Special Revelation to human beings in the Bible. As an Evangelical Libertarian then I am just more specific in what I believe concerning the nature of Scripture. I believe the Bible is inerrant, infallible, and all sufficient, providing everything that I need to understand, giving me sure a foundation for what I should believe, and how I should live in and interpret the world that I inhabit.

Not all professed Christians place the Bible on such a pedestal. This understanding of Libertarianism brings me close to paleo-Conservatism on many fronts. But, in my opinion, the conservative moniker has been so tarnished by neoconservatives that I can never wear that badge again. The modern Republican party is made up of as many aggressive statists as the modern Democratic Party. The difference being that Republicans make some attempt to hide their real plans and Democrats do not. Generally, when neoconservatives do use the term smaller government, what they really mean is slower rate of growth. So I choose to place myself among Libertarians, since they are at least not public liars, and make some attempt to be honest about their views.

Another name I will often use to describe myself is, “Limited-statist Libertarian”, as used previously in this article. Meaning that I believe that there is a very limited sphere in which the state should operate. Ludwig Von Mises and Fredrich Hayek, the two most brilliant economists of the twentieth century, are claimed by both paleo-conservatives and right leaning libertarians as heroes. The reason that they are claimed by both camps is because they were economic libertarians but tended to be social conservatives. Both believed the state had a limited role to play in public life. They were not “anarcho-capitalists”, who believed in a state-less world without borders, that is made up of unfettered individuals, and absolute free markets. I often state in my blogs the distaste I have for Utopianism. Anarcho-capitalism and libertinism are Utopian ideals, pure fiction in my estimation, and I do not dabble in fiction. The world is as it is, and so we must meet it as it is, not as we wish it to be. The three questions I ask myself often are,

  1. What is the proper sphere of the State?
  2. What is the proper sphere of the Church?
  3. How can human liberty be properly maximized in the individual in order to benefit human flourishing economically, culturally, and spiritually?

Look for my new weekly segment, “Ask The Evangelical Libertarian“, that will be posted on Thursday evenings for your reading pleasure, where I will provide a liberty oriented view of major topics from a Christian perspective.

Blessings!

 

 

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