Category Archives: Polemics

The Libertarian Impulse

Libertarianism always struck me as a sort of stop-gap, allowing the children of old-style conservatives to say “I really do support liberty!” to their parents while fully embracing the most radically liberal beliefs that their far-left college friends already held.

In that theme, here’s an article that appeared in The Libertarian Republic today. Matt Walsh, a popular conservative speaker and blogger, has been very hard on the pornography industry lately and many of his supporters have pushed back. Here, we see a “libertarian Christian” defending the “freedom” to watch pornography and engage in sexual debauchery:

I would remind those who agree with Walsh that even if their motives are pure, to advocate for the government to pass laws regulating the sexual behavior of consenting adults is both an assault on individual liberty and, yes, I would even say not supported biblically.

The first part of the article boils down to this:

Christians who desire to use the government as a political weapon to enforce what they see as moral on everybody else, whether they like it or not.

This is the most common position I see regarding morality and government today. “You can’t legislate morality”. It works as a bumper sticker, but it has a severe flaw.

Every single law is moral in nature. Every law presumes a certain ethical worldview. The question is not “should we impose our morality on other people?” but “whose morality will win”? The author does not see this. Likely, he has never even considered this. He seems to think there is such a thing as a neutral government, as if a government which permits an enormous pornography industry that pressures the rest of society with huge sums of money is “neutral”.

A laughably naive view of ethics and politics aside, the really bizarre stuff comes later, when this “libertarian Christian” tries to use the Bible to argue that we ought to have tons of pornography:

However, to suggest that government must regulate pornographic films would be antithetical to the biblical teaching on free will, which is foundational to the Christian faith. Need I remind Christians in Genesis, according to the creation story, God told Adam and Eve “not to eat of the fruit of the tree, or they would die.” He didn’t build a wall around the tree with angels to guard it. Without free will, that would make God nothing more than an eternal tyrant.

If this “libertarian Christian” had continued reading, he’d find, a few books later, this same God whom he claims would be an “eternal tyrant” for establishing moral prescriptions… establishing moral prescriptions. And lots of them. Here is just part of  Leviticus 18:

“‘No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations. I am the Lord.

“‘Do not dishonor your father by having sexual relations with your mother. She is your mother; do not have relations with her.

“‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father.

“‘Do not have sexual relations with your sister, either your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether she was born in the same home or elsewhere.

“‘Do not have sexual relations with your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter; that would dishonor you.

“‘Do not have sexual relations with the daughter of your father’s wife, born to your father; she is your sister.

“‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s sister; she is your father’s close relative.

“‘Do not have sexual relations with your mother’s sister, because she is your mother’s close relative.

“‘Do not dishonor your father’s brother by approaching his wife to have sexual relations; she is your aunt.

“‘Do not have sexual relations with your daughter-in-law. She is your son’s wife; do not have relations with her.

“‘Do not have sexual relations with your brother’s wife; that would dishonor your brother.

“‘Do not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter. Do not have sexual relations with either her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter; they are her close relatives. That is wickedness.

“‘Do not take your wife’s sister as a rival wife and have sexual relations with her while your wife is living.

“‘Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period.

“‘Do not have sexual relations with your neighbor’s wife and defile yourself with her.

“‘Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.

“‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.

Given the author’s view on the opening chapters of Genesis, God is indeed an eternal tyrant. But we really didn’t even need to leave Genesis 1-3 to see the profoundly poor quality of his interpretation. God may not have “put up a wall”, but He did condemn mankind for the act. If this isn’t a perfect example of a law being broken, I don’t know what would qualify.

The author of the article goes on:

I am inclined to agree with Austin Petersen’s comment on the subject when he tweeted, “Calls by conservatives to ban pornography is a tacit admission that their churches have failed.” I will tell you from first-hand experience that too many churches in America today don’t talk about sex in a healthy manner – if they even talk about it at all. They don’t teach a truly biblical view of sex, that it is a beautiful thing created by God to be shared between a husband and wife. You will likely hear a list of commands about why premarital sex is sinful, and that’s as far as it goes.

This is a tired slogan that ought to be left behind. It may have been applicable 50-100 years ago, but not today. American churches go far, far, far beyond teaching a “truly Biblical view of sex”. American churches are rampant with sexual sin, with divorce and extra or pre-marital sex being very common. But not only is his description of the scenario perfectly incorrect, he also doesn’t seem to understand that finding two related phenomenon (the cultural decline into rampant pornography use and the church’s sexual sin that he doesn’t even acknowledge) does not allow the discoverer to assign causation in any way he wants. I suspect it is more likely that the culture is deeply infecting the church, not that the church has “failed” to teach a truly Biblical view of sex. Considering feminism and the sexual revolution both have polluted our churches and seminaries for decades (even those labelled “conservative”), this seems to be the correct explanation.

Instead of trying to ban everything that Scripture teaches is sinful, why not be the Church of Jesus Christ? Why not try to walk out the faith He demonstrated instead of trying to turn our Constitutional Republic into a theocracy?

Another common slogan. “Why do you Christians want to turn our country into a theocracy?” I see it from Christians as often as from secularists, but both seem to totally misunderstand what a theocracy is. England and many other European countries have national churches. None of them (save the Vatican) is a theocracy. A theocracy does not mean that the overwhelming moral view of a religious population is used to help determine the laws of a country. It means a country run by clergy. There is no country on earth that exists without some moral framework guiding its legislation and jurisprudence. But in the radically secular post-Christian West, only post-Christian morality gets to claim the sacred label of neutral, even if it is a false one.

If we have learned anything from Prohibition, it’s that banning porn would do nothing except effectively serve to make the problem worse.

This is a common libertarian retort to any ban on anything whatsoever. There was a falsehood behind prohibition that does not apply here. Drinking alcohol is not intrinsically evil. But pornographic material and its consumption is. In the same way adultery is evil intrinsically. In the same way that murder is evil intrinsically.

Banning intrinsically evil behaviors, whether the behavior totally disappears or not, is the duty of good government.

It’s here that the true nature of libertarianism as just another variant of radical secular liberalism becomes apparent. Traditionally (that is, going all the way from Socrates through the start of the French Revolution), good government was considered to be a government which made it easy for citizens to be good. Even the American founders understood this. They did not establish a Republic so that the naturally good citizens could do naturally good things. They established a Republic to minimize the damage that the naturally evil citizens would do when running the country.

Starting with the French Revolution and its proto-Progressive radicals, this view shifted. Libertarians inherit this same rotten foundation. They presume that good government is good when run by citizens because citizens are good. Best to let citizens have as much influence as possible because that means more goodness can be flexed. This is perfectly backwards. And it helps explain why a professed Christian is defending rampant sexual sin that makes Romans 1 look like a prophecy about America.

I fight for freedom for all people. Even the individuals whose decisions I disagree with most. Because that is the only time it truly matters or requires any courage.

One last presumption here worth noting. The author seems to think, in the tradition of the radical left, that “freedom” means “getting to do what I want”. The American founders, to whom libertarians pretend to swear allegiance, did not see freedom this way. Freedom, and rights in particular, are fundamentally related to what is Right (hence the overlapping terminology). Right implies a standard. An ethical standard in this case. Rights, therefore, are those privileges, values, and duties that we have by virtue of being human which enable us to live Rightly. To do good.

To say that the mass creation and use of pornography is a “right” is no more or less obviously false than saying that abortion is a “right” or that child abuse is a “right”. The “libertarian Christian” author should set down his false libertarian view that a man cannot commit a crime if he himself is the victim and adopt a Christian view. But he won’t, because his primary commitment is not to Christian ethics, but to secularism. And he cannot serve two masters.

Let people be free. Remember, the same government that can tell people who they can’t and can’t engage in consensual sex with could also control every other area of our personal lives. I assure you, legal porn will not plunge America into hell, but a tyrannical government will.

The New Testament never once suggests that a tyrannical government will plunge any nation into hell. The early Christians dealt with tyrannical governments often, but knew they could not last. But the New Testament makes it very clear that rampant sexual sin sends nations straight to hell. I referenced Romans 1 earlier. It’s worth reading in its entirety if you doubt this.

This “libertarian Christian” defends rampant pornography, adultery, sodomy, and every other “consensual” sexual act as fundamental human rights, and considers any restriction on them to be far worse than the acts themselves. I suspect many “conservative Christians” hold the same views.

Is it any wonder that the Left wins so many battles? Their opposition considers opposition to genuine evil to be far worse than the evil itself.

Should the Government Recognize Marriage?

A while back in a comment section on another blog, I got into a debate with several other people about the role government ought to play in recognizing marriages. I argued that the government must be involved and was told by others that this was varying degrees of stupid, ignorant, or dangerous. The thrust was that “marriage worked fine before the state got involved” and therefore, the state ought to back off. It was “fantasy” to expect the state to honor and enforce any aspect of marriage, and I was a fool for defending the idea.

Although it might be fashionably libertarian to argue against state interaction with marriage, I don’t think anyone can reasonably defend that case. I think illustrating the situation will help, but first, some explanation.

In the West, there is a strong but recent tradition of radical individualism that sees every individual person as the fundamental unit of the society they live in. The French Revolution gave us the first taste of this, with disastrous consequences. Western tradition has a much longer-lived, deeper, and more attested view of society, however, which views the fundamental unit as the family. Instead of viewing a man, his wife, and their three children (for example) primarily as five equal individuals, this deeper tradition sees one family with a father, a mother, and children. All five are individuals, but not primarily. This is most obvious when it comes to young children, who are fully dependent on their mother and father just to survive each day. To see each person in the family as an interchangeable fundamental unit is laughable.

I think this view of family as fundamental is not just a part of Western civilization, but one of its axioms. I’d go further and say that this is fundamental to civilization itself, but I have not studied the East to the same degree or with the same interest, so I’ll hold back for now.

Marriage is the fundamental relationship within a family because marriage, by nature, bonds a father to a mother, and both a mother and father to their children.

There are two ways that the government can interact with marriage. It can either respect marriage or it can disregard marriage. In the former, the government treats the family as the fundamental unit, and outside of criminal justice, tries to deal with families instead of individuals whenever and wherever possible. The marriage relationship binds the family together, granting legitimacy to the children and – perhaps most importantly – giving the father rights over his own children.

In the latter, the government doesn’t recognize marriage at all, and simply ignores it. It treats all members of the family as atoms.

Here are two diagrams of the models. The irony here is that the people attacking government recognition of marriage are against no-fault divorce, which is exactly what the government ought to embrace if it disregards marriage. But the important thing here is that if you don’t like the government getting involved in your intimate relationships, you are making a grave mistake by inviting the government to ignore marriage relationships. It may sound like the best way to keep the government out of your marriage, but it’s quite the opposite. You all but invite them into your home:


Government involvement with internal family affairs when the government respects marriage.


Government involvement with internal family affairs when the government disrespects marriage.