The Christian worldview is a belief system that provides structure and relevance to every area of a person’s life. The structure rests on a foundation comprised of God and the objective morality that is a part of God’s eternal natural. The Christian believes in God and this moral framework. Further, the Christian relies on the Bible as the revealed word of God to humans. Based on Christian (or biblical) views of morality and right living, we know that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom; worship of false god’s is evil; things like pornography, abortion, prostitution, and drug addiction are self-destructive sins.
Where, in the Christian worldview, does the idea of liberty fit in? Is it important at all? The topic of this post addresses where, if at all, do we find the Non Aggression Principle (NAP) in the Bible. After all, aren’t Libertarians (Capital “L” Libertarians are members of the Libertarian Party in the United States) thought of as pro abortion, prostitution, legalization of drugs, etc.? If Libertarians are pro liberty, as their name suggests, then aren’t the Bible and liberty at odds?
In the current liberty movement are many atheists and non Christians. In fact, a tremendously influential writer and philosopher who has moved many towards the cause of liberty and the struggle against State overreach is Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand (1905-1982) was a strident atheist. Not only did she believe adamantly that there was no God and no risen Christ, she believed that one of the ultimate evils in the world is people trying to be altruistic or self-sacrificing. To her, one of the (or maybe the) greatest good in the world is selfishness.
There are, in the Libertarian Party, many who argue that abortion is fine and should be legal. There are many in the Libertarian Party who go farther than just saying “prostitution should be legal” but think there’s nothing really wrong with it. Same for pornography, drug use, abortion, and other clearly immoral sins. Of course, for an atheist, with no transcendent God whose existence enables an objective moral basis to reality, there is little ground to argue that anything is good or bad. Good and evil have little meaning other than personal preference.
Where in all this mix do Liberty and Christianity meet? The easiest place to start is the Ten Commandments. I will limit my comments here to two, although more could be discussed at greater length: (a) Do not steal and (b) Do not murder.
Any cogent Christian philosophy recognizes the essential Oneness and Unchangeableness of God’s nature spanning from the Old Testament through to the New Testament. In other words, the moral principles found in the Old Testament remain just as fundamental to reality now after the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as they did before. In other words, God’s word for humankind today still remains: (a) Do not steal and (b) Do not murder.
Do not take from another that which is his, and do not kill another person. Theft and murder are the primary acts of aggression. As defined in the previous post: Aggression is the initiation of force against another.
When we are told “do not steal” we are not being told “do not take a thing away from another person.” Instead, we are told “do not wrongfully take things from another.” You cannot take what is not yours away from another person and acquire it of yourself. That is theft. So if you aggress against me and take my watch, the command that I “do not steal” does not bar me from getting my watch back away from you. If you try to kill me, you are trying to murder me, and that is forbidden by the commandment. I am not murdering you if, in an effort to save my own life, I take yours.
In other words, the commands “Do not steal” and “Do not murder” encapsulate the Non Aggression Principle.
This is important because many Conservative Christian Republicans pooh-pooh the NAP. That’s just secular Libertarian mumbo-jumbo, they say. Not so. The pro-liberty movement may be filled with non-Christians, but Christians ought to be strong proponents of Liberty. Principles of liberty, particularly the centerpiece, the Non Aggression Principle, is actually a practical outworking and application of fundamental morality taught by the Bible in the ten commandments.