The Third (and Only?) Option: Libertarians

As November 8th approaches, more and more Americans throw their hands into the air and lament that they must choose the lesser of two evils in this cycle’s presidential election. Whatever their reasons are, they find the candidates for the country’s two leading parties to be less than satisfactory, and they cannot in good conscience vote for either one.

And so onto the scene steps Gary Johnson and the Libertarian party, the third largest party and the only contender capable of taking on either side. People put their hands back down at their sides and begin to relax. They might even smile—finally, another option.

dont-tread-on-me-meaning

Of course, third parties are not original to this election. George Wallace and Ross Perot have led some of the most successful third party campaigns in American history—yet even they had little success. Many rightly blame the failures of third parties to a winner-take-all system in which people are not proportionally represented as well as to exclusion of third parties in debates and voter access.

In spite of these setbacks, third parties are often viewed as much-needed improvements for the present system, and this year could potentially be the year we see one succeed. The popularity of anything outside of the bipartisan system is largely garnered from its success overseas (namely Europe) and the promise of more options, having a platform that more closely resembles one’s own. (Of course it should be mentioned that many would argue that third parties, while giving increased options, decrease the incentive for compromise between parties.) 

Having said all that, I want to say just a few more words about the Libertarian Party in particular. I too think we need a third party, but the Libertarian party is not it. Sure Libertarians have a lot going for them—they are intellectually honest; they are strong advocates of the free market; they are non-interventionists. Yet all of their assets are rooted in what some would consider their greatest virtue: a desire for personal freedom and choice. And it is this foundation which must be labeled as thoroughly non-Christian. To be sure, there are elements of goodness to be found, but an ethic completely consumed with individuality and a desire for personal happiness does not open itself up to the self-sacrifice necessary for biblical compassion. The Christian religion is one of death to self in order to bring life to the world; it demands that we be responsible for one another. Perhaps the practicality of its platform is able to prop-up the Libertarian Party above its opponents, and the lesser of three evils it may be, but have no illusions, it is still not the righteous choice.

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  1. Thanks for posting this! I am also thankful for better choices this election which can be found in a third party. Like you, the Libertarian party more closely resembles my beliefs.

    I must strongly disagree (very strongly!) that the desire for personal freedom and choice is non-Christian. If you would like me to explain more, I gladly will, but it would take many words. The ability for personal freedom and choice is one of the greatest characteristics and foundations of Christianity. I would even argue that those things are more Christian than any other organized religion in our world. I would sum it up like this: Christianity and everything about it is completely VOLUNTARY. Of course, there are consequences to every belief and action ~~and there are eternal consequences to unbelief and disobedience~~ , but it is God’s nature to give every person freedom and choice. It is against His nature to force anything on anyone.

    I should also share that I agree with you that the pursuit of personal happiness is opposed to Christianity and God’s nature, but that is just a bad choice and an abuse to personal freedom.

    I agree with you that the Libertarian party is not a perfect party for Christians, but I do believe it is a righteous choice. That will be true with each and every political party the world has ever seen and will ever see. I believe the Libertarian party’s quality that most falls short is in hard-core Libertarians who are dangerously close to Anarchists. And anarchy (a complete lack of government) is very non-Christian and in opposition to God.

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    • Thanks for the response Andrew–I think you make an excellent counter argument to what I was saying and definitely point out some of the spots where I was a little too hyperbolic! I like your statement, “I agree with you that the Libertarian party is not a perfect party for Christians, but I do believe it is a righteous choice,” insinuating that a party that is not perfectly aligned with the Christian ethic can still be acceptable.

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    • Andrew,
      I would like an explanation on why desire for freedom and choice lines up with Christian beliefs. It seems that scripture as a whole, and specifically the New Testament, show that Christians are to put self behind God and fellow man. Sure, you should have the right to choose, but that does not mean that government should tolerate all choices.
      I would rather argue that freedom and choice are not a great characteristic if they are used in the wrong way. They do create a relationship with God, but sometimes that relationship goes bad if we choose not to follow. The Libertarian Party and Gary Johnson are taking freedom to the extreme where the only rule is that there are no rules that violate freedom. Look at the commands God gave mankind? Did they say, “Do whatever you want”? No, God gave us the choice to do whatever we want, but made it clear that some choices were wrong.
      It does no good to use organized religion as an example for 2 reasons 1) It is man attempt to and will always have flaws when God is left out. 2) Whatever you use to take its place (In this example: A new religion based on personal freedoms) will have the same downfall.
      No one is forcing anyone to obey the laws set by God or man. God cannot exist in a spiritual sense with those who are not in him. If this belief system of the right to personal freedoms is to be consistent, then you cannot punish anyone for doing what they deem as a right to total and complete freedom. All rules go out the window.
      As a whole, I do not think the party is unrighteous, but there are many issues they side on that are unchristian. The same goes for the other two parties.
      I also do not get how the absence of government is non-Christian. That’s what God’s people had until they chose to have a King. I think you are saying that not following those who rule over you is non-Christian. I agree with that.

      That’s all I have to say about that

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      • Thanks for asking for more from me. I will certainly deliver! And I look forward to more from you if you feel like continuing this healthy conversation. 🙂

        You said, “Sure, you should have the right to choose, but that does not mean that government should tolerate all choices.”

        I totally agree with that. It’s the right to choose that I’m focusing on. The government has given us the right to choose [a great many things], but that same government will not tolerate all choices. In the same way, God has given mankind the right to choose. And He will certainly not tolerate all choices!

        Though I am comparing government to God here, the comparison has some contrasts. The government restricts the right to choose in various ways. For example, if I wanted to buy a grenade launcher, I don’t have the freedom to just pick one up. Also, the government punishes people in a speedy manner (see 4th amendment). However, God does not restrict us in any way in sinning. If someone wants to murder, to fornicate, to steal, God’s doesn’t create circumstances that restrict the person from doing that. (Thankfully, God does always provide ways of escape from sin.) Also, God doesn’t punish people in a speedy manner. He may have done that a few times in the OT, but God’s patience is great and his vengeance tends to wait. That is certainly not true of the government. In short, not only does God grant 100% freedom of choice, but His tolerance of bad choices is very slow because of God’s patience. In other words, if one thinks we are free in America, then we are FAR MORE free as Christians to make whatever choices we want. Therefore, the freedom of choice is a genuine characteristic of Christianity.

        You said, “It seems that scripture as a whole, and specifically the New Testament, show that Christians are to put self behind God and fellow man.”

        So true. Does God require us to be selfless and put to death our selfishness? Absolutely. And for each selfish person who does not submit to God, God will eventually punish such people. But while God can give us His power to accomplish that, God does not force us into anything. As the government forces us into things like Selective Service, God does nothing and gives us complete freedom of choice. And if we choose a life of selflessness, then God’s power will enable us to go even further. But if we choose a life of selfishness, life will become more difficult as we are going against the grain of what we were created to be.

        You said, “I would rather argue that freedom and choice are not a great characteristic if they are used in the wrong way.”

        I disagree. Just because something (like freedom of choice) is abused, that doesn’t make freedom of choice a bad thing. Just because a soul chooses to be an atheist, that doesn’t mean that all souls are godless.

        You said, “The Libertarian Party and Gary Johnson are taking freedom to the extreme where the only rule is that there are no rules that violate freedom.”

        Yes, I think there is some truth to that. I think that is true for a lot of Libertarians. For many Libertarians, I believe they are too close to anarchy. As Christians, I believe we should promote the freedom of choice—without exception. But this is why God has arranged governments: a system where men can make laws that seem right to them to enforce secular moral standards. However, as Christians, we should promote a moral standard that transcends government—God’s standard of morality. And we should leave the punishments of God’s standards to Him, and leave the punishments of secular standards to the government.

        You said, “Look at the commands God gave mankind? Did they say, “Do whatever you want”? No, God gave us the choice to do whatever we want, but made it clear that some choices were wrong.

        I love how you said this and completely agree. My point is that we do have the choice to do whatever we want! But even though that is true, God doesn’t want us to do the things we want but the things He wants.

        You said, “If this belief system of the right to personal freedoms is to be consistent, then you cannot punish anyone for doing what they deem as a right to total and complete freedom.”

        Great argument! It may sound inconsistent or counter-productive, but I agree with what you said. Why do I believe that man should not punish anyone? Because that is part of God’s commands. Just one paragraph before talking about how secular governments punish, Paul wrote:
        “Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord. But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.” Rom 12:19-21

        Side note. Elsewhere, Paul wrote that we should condemn and punish those within the church, but we should not even condemn those who are outside. See 1Cor 5:12-13. ———-
        You said, “As a whole, I do not think the party is unrighteous, but there are many issues they side on that are unchristian. The same goes for the other two parties.”

        I totally agree. I feel that there are more good things about the Libertarian Party than the other two also. I would much rather be a part of the Constitution party than the Libertarian party, but my conscience feels it can do more good supporting the Libertarian party right now—mostly because of our two-party system.

        IN CONCLUSION, I hope my explanations are clear. I’m afraid that I rambled quite a bit.

        LASTLY, I want to share a couple quotes from the early Christians regarding freedom of religion—which I believe is connected with freedom of choice. They believed it was wrong to force anyone to do anything against their will when it came to religion. I believe they would say the same about the freedom of choice… but including that they said that freedom of choice leaves every person without excuse when they appear before God because God requires faith and obedience.

        “It is a fundamental human right, a privilege of nature, that every man should worship according to his own convictions. One man’s religion neither harms nor helps another man. It is certainly no part of religion to compel religion [on anyone]. Free will, and not force, should lead us.” Tertullian; AD 212; ANF, vol 3, page 105.

        “Religion is to be defended—not by putting to death—but by dying. Not by cruelty, but by patient endurance. Not by guilt, but by good faith. For the former belongs to evil, but the latter to the good…. For if you wish to defend religion by bloodshed, tortures, and guilt, it will no longer be defended. Rather, it will be polluted and profaned. For nothing is so much a matter of free will as religion…. We do not require that anyone should be compelled to worship our God, whether he is willing or unwilling…. Nor are we angry if anyone does not worship Him.” Lactantius; AD 310; ANF, vol 7, page 157-158.

        Blessings and so forth!

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      • Andrew, Just one follow up to the comment on the matter of freedom of choice being a good/bad characteristic. I wouldn’t say that is necessarily a good or bad thing. I believe you are right that just because it is abused doesn’t make it wrong. But it also needs to be used in a good manner to make it good. Otherwise it is just the state of how things exist.

        Good scripture references. Definitely has me thinking about new stuff regarding imposing Christian beliefs in government. The bad news is… I still don’t know who to vote for, lol

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