Libertarianism. If you listen to some people, they will tell you that word, libertarianism, means selfishness and callousness, that it signifies a shallow and childish ideology that cannot address the complex problems of the complex world in which we live. Only liberal ideas, conservative ideas, progressive ideas, et cetera, can address the real and complex problems of the world. And of course, so they claim, libertarianism therefore cannot be considered compatible with the moral teachings of Christianity. Their solution? Have government do something, and by do something they mean make their moral preferences into laws. This makes them, in my opinion, equivalent to the depiction of the Pharisees seen in the Gospels of the New Testament. Continue reading
Archive for the Religion Category
I think I got an actual suggestion of a post on another blog. A pair of posts actually. It is an odd suggestion for this blog, but I am going to take it as a suggestion anyway. I would not have chosen these posts or their topic, but what the heckity darn? Why not? Stretching things a little never hurts. Unless you pull or overextend a muscle. That hurts. Anyway… Where was I? Oh yes… For the Tuesday, August 27, 2013, entry in Project August the topic is… Continue reading
Okay, boys and girls, it is time I wrote a Christmas post. And just so there is no confusion, I state here at the outset that I am going to talk about this from a Christian perspective. If that irritates you, now is your chance to scramble off to some other holiday post on some other blog. For those of you still with me, let us proceed. Continue reading
Yes, I know that some stupid and poorly made video has been used as a lame excuse for a lot of people in the Middle East who are rioting and killing people. What has been the response of the President of the United States, land of the Bill of Rights? To essentially apologize for the video and to insist that “those who love freedom for themselves must ask how much they are willing to tolerate freedom for others.” And yet, he is still a serious contender for re-election. WTF? Continue reading
I am about to offend some liberals probably. Fair warning.
When I see the news about the debate over the Obama care law mandating that religious organizations are required to offer contraception coverage in their health care plans, I do not see liberals caring about people. I see liberals demanding government enforced adherence to an orthodox ideology.
I am going to offend liberals further by quoting from a David Harsanyi article (the one that inspired this post) at reason.com.
At some point, contraception was transformed from a — and I hope my Catholic friends will excuse the wording — godsend to those wanting to avoid unwanted pregnancy to a “public health” concern to a moral societal imperative that must be mandated, lest we abandon our daughters, science, decency, “choice” and freedom.
How does coercion become “choice”? I ran across a headline on the website of the left-wing think tank ThinkProgress that illustrates the awkward logic of this assertion: “Missouri Legislature Approves Bill Allowing Employers To Deny Access To Birth Control.”
So far as I know, no one but a pharmacist can actually deny someone access to birth control. Religious employers saying “we will not pay for it” does not bar the employee from access to birth control. An employer not buying you a car does not deny you access to automobiles. An employer not buying you shoes does not deny you access to shoes.
But there is this notion that somehow not having Catholic organizations pay for contraception is denying women access to contraception. Somehow we are to protect women by taking a legitimate and reasonable choice away from other people. This sort of liberal authoritarian paternalism is just as bad as the conservative kind that seeks to protect people by preventing gay marriage. And it stems just as much from orthodoxy.
I am not against contraception. I am in favor of women having it available. What I do not favor is forcing religious organizations opposed to it to pay for it.
And just to so you know, those programs where the government hands out money to religious organizations, I am opposed to that. I believe separation of church and state is a good idea.
After a lot of blather in the news media the past few days about Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks on gay marriage (don’t lesbians want to get married too?), President Obama has now officially said “it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”
What took him so long?
Of course, he and I still disagree some on this matter. Obama still believes the states should be able to pass laws about homosexual marriage, and I think the government should just get out of the marriage business altogether. No more government interference in marriage licensing would solve the problem because then marriage would be a private contract between two individuals and thus their sexual orientation would mostly be legally irrelevant.
“But you’re a Christian,” I can guess some of you are saying, “how can you be in favor of gay marriage?” I am in favor of the government not imposing religious values. I am in favor of treating others they way I want to be treated. Yes, I know the Bible says homosexual acts are sins. It also says “But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:32 NKJV) Yet divorced people get married again all the time. I don’t see anyone arguing that should be made illegal.
Marriage is a commitment between two people (or more if you want allow polygamy, but that is another discussion), and I am not greater than those two people. So why should I want their marriage to be against the law simply because their sexual behavior is a sin in my theology? Some people would consider kinky sex between heterosexual individuals to also be a sin. Shall we pass laws against marriage between heterosexuals who use something besides the missionary position? I hope not.
I cannot and do not support laws against homosexual marriage. And I think it would actually be immoral if I did.
A lot of people try to use the Bible as an excuse for promoting authoritarian policy in government. Moralists from the left and right promote their political agenda to control other people because it is supposedly what the Bible tells us to do. As you might guess, I have a problem with that. Not because I do not believe in the Bible, but because I do. Many people argue that we need government to feed the poor or tax the wealthy or protect marriage or keep prostitution illegal or any number of other things because the Bible in some way says we should. I do not agree.
What sort of government did God establish for Israel in the Old Testament? Was it one with a strong, central government that planned and controlled people’s lives? No, it was not. It was largely decentralized. When Israel demanded to have a king, God gave them a warning against it, and still they wanted a king. Getting one did not make them better in the long run.
Jesus taught that to be great and even to be a leader, is to be a servant first. One of several places in the Gospels where Jesus answers His disciples arguments about who among them would be the greatest, is Luke 22:24-27.
Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. 25 And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ 26 But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. 27 For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves. (NKJV)
Back then, rulers and leaders often gave themselves titles like ‘benefactor’ as a way of promoting the idea their leadership and control was necessary for the nation. Today politicians do the same kind of thing. They proclaim themselves champions of the people and insist their political ideas are the only way to help people. Jesus contrasts those who want to be in control, i.e. those who would sit at the table and command the servants, with those who serve. Jesus mentions those who exercise authoritarian control and then tells His disciples, “But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.”
Keep this in mind when you look as Jesus’ admonitions to help those in need. Did Jesus teach that we are to tax (i.e. forcibly take money from) other people to feed the poor? No. He told individuals to give of themselves. Of whom was Jesus most critical? The Pharisees because they served their own interest in power and had made Jewish laws into a tool of oppression and control.
For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (NKJV)
Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, 2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. 4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. 6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ (NKJV)
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (NKJV)
These are just a few examples of Jesus’ about the Pharisees. And there is one often overlooked passage I would like to add to this discussion.
When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?”
25 He said, “Yes.”
And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?”
26 Peter said to Him, “From strangers.”
Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free.”
My point is that while many people try to use the Bible to justify their support for various political policies they want to be enshrined in law, they are wrong. I believe Jesus makes clear that morality is about individuals making moral choices as individuals, not about forcing other people to obey laws.
If you want the government to have more of your money, then your responsibility is not to demand higher taxes, but to give your money to the government.
If you want to help the poor, then your responsibility is not to see that other people pay for a government run program, but for you to help the poor.
If you want more wealthy people contributing to programs that aid the poor and needy, then your responsibility is not to demand the government take more of the money from the wealthy, but to convince the wealthy to voluntarily give their money to help the poor and needy.
Your responsibility is not to use authority to take by force, which is what taxation does. You responsibility is to serve. Not to have the government make other people serve. Rather, for you to serve.
Yes, I know. No individual can do it alone. No one is arguing otherwise. No one is saying you cannot or should not get people to help you. What I am saying is that voluntary cooperation is moral and coerced action is not. There is no morality in paying taxes to help those in need because I have not made a choice to give or to help, only to obey the law.
Lead not by ordering people to submit and comply, but by you engaging in the act of serving. If you want to see good done, then do it.
So when political leaders speak of making other people “pay their fair share” because we have an obligation to help the poor, the sick and the needy, they have missed the point. And when political leaders have opportunity to give more and they refuse to do so, it calls into question their fitness to lead.