I have a few newer Facebook friends and one of them who is also a Christian Libertarian remarked that is seemed to be Christian and Libertarian seemed to be a rare thing. It is a rare thing but I would probably assert that the Libertarian concept of the Non-Aggression Principle and the foundational teachings of Jesus Christ are very much in sync with each other. In fact I would say much of the Bible supports the idea of NAP even during the time of Moses. Some would look at the wars Israel found themselves in particularly the initial conquest of Canaan and say maybe not so much but even that campaign was more about taking back from others what had been taken from them after God’s promise to them through Abraham had been ignored by the Canaanites. Moving forward though you don’t see Israel being a conquest oriented culture past just keeping what they were promised and responding to the aggression of other tribes and groups.
The Law of Moses itself is very much about protection and restitution of property to the victim of the crime. It does not really deal with a subject unless there is a victim to be given justice or restitution for a wrong that was committed against them. It does not even deal with victimless crimes unless there is someone who is being aggressively attacked and sometimes that person is God himself. In any case God does not even force his own Law on his people. If they follow it, He will bless them. If not, He will curse them and let their enemies triumph. He is their king and will defend them from aggression provided they are living according to his principles. It is a covenant of trust on both sides not a coercive contract.
In the teachings of Christ the NAP is very much present. Give you coat to one who takes your cloak, try to come to terms with your adversary before you get to court, love you enemies and do good to them that hate you are just some examples along with others. Jesus however does not maintain an attitude of pacifism as some would think. His overthrow of the tables and money changers in the temple indicates a defense of the sanctity of the temple before God and the rights of Gentiles to worship. He also is portrayed as an aggressive king at the end who conquers the world but in the name of peace and freedom in a last battle against evil.
It is Jesus and my study of how he deals with people who actually began to cause me to warm up to the NAP. Jesus never forces anyone to be moral. He avoids power but at the same time does not seem to fear it. He is very conscious to use his power for good and yet there are times where it is clearly demonstrated that he could use it for destructive purposes (The cursing of the fig tree for example). In all his one on one dealings with people, he never forces anyone to follow him or follow his teachings, he simply lays out reality for them and lets them decide what to do. Jesus respects free-will, self-determination and self-ownership. He confronts the reality of the situation but leaves the power of changing it into the hands of the person he is talking to. The ‘go and sin no more’ is often followed by silence in which the person who has been told this has to act themselves. Jesus never coercively acts to make anyone follow him and on a couple of occasions simply encourages people to leave if they have their doubts.
Probably the one time that Jesus does not even defend his own right to self-determination is the cross. But even this is more about acting in the preservation of others’ free will and self-determination. In a sense, Jesus gives up his own right to be a self-determining individual to free others from spiritual slavery to sin. In so doing he is still using the NAP but is acting in response to the destructive force of sin and evil. The Cross is not a passive action but one that frees people so they are free to serve Christ without the chains and slavery of sin. It is a defense of others with the final aim of freeing them from the power of slavery of sin. The tomb also becomes his final battle to free people from the power of the grave and death. Jesus lives the NAP and it might be said he is the best historical example of someone who did it a religious context.
Libertarians understand probably better than most what the state is. The state is power and has been responsible for some of the most heinous acts of depravity and evil ever perpetrated on human beings. The power of the state is force. Backing all laws in a country is the this force which is ultimately based in guns, prison bars, handcuffs and fines. Make no mistake you either obey because you respect the law or you fear it. Libertarians understand this and in order to preserve self-determination we work hard to promote the idea of limited government so the force of government is used only to defend the self-determination of everyone. The idea is that people obey less from fear and more from respect of not only the law but others.
Romans 13 tells us to respect the authorities over us but it is also interesting that the person who wrote that passage the Apostle Paul also uses his rights as a citizen of Rome to circumvent certain things to propagate the gospel. In our country the authority ultimately rests, theoretically. with the people. It is this authority that must ultimately be respected by all. It is ultimately the people who are given the sword in the case of Romans 13 and it is they who appoint those who will wield it. However, the rights of people are clearly the main thrust of this government and one thing that is often overlooked is that one of the six reason thee US Constitution was established was to secure and defend the blessings of liberty. It was formed to protect self-determination. Whenever the government undercuts self-determination it is violating the Constitution which gives it its power to act in the first place.
Some people ask then are we not supposed to prevent people from doing harm to themselves? I have to say this is the most difficult question to answer as I am sure people are talking suicide or curbing destructive behavior. I can only say that God did not try to prevent Judas from hanging himself nor did Jesus prevent the rich young ruler from walking away sorrowfully or the woman caught in adultery from the possibility of returning to her sin. He was compassionate toward them but in the end they still had to make a choice. I may know what would be better for a person but I have no right to force it upon them any more than thy would have the right to force their feelings of what they think is best on me.
This is why I too oppose laws against other things most conservative fundamentalist Christians find odd. I think prostitution should be legalized for the sake of protecting the self-determination of the prostitute from her violent Johns and pimps. I feel that it is coercive to point the gun of government at the head of a person who want to smoke a joint or cigarette and tell them to stop. Why? I respect their self-determination because I want mine to be respected. I don’t use the gun of government to force morality on others and fight for that end. While I render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s I understand that certain taxation is a justified form of theft and work within my power as one of The People, to end it. I dislike and oppose the draft. I think if your country is truly a place of freedom and self-determination then people will line up around the block to defend it.
Ultimately from a preaching the gospel point of view I have an advantage because of the NAP. I am not trying to coerce people to follow a moral code or hold a gun at the head of anyone in order to make them become Christian. I am trying to get people to understand the Christian message and persuade them that it would be in their best interests to follow it of their own freewill. This is the NAP and it is in my mind fully compatible with the life, ministry and teachings of Jesus Christ.