By Robert J. Bentley
On this beautiful Easter Sunday, I sit around wondering, was Jesus a Libertarian? The teachings of Christ have a profound impact on our world and country. Jesus was all about the voluntary. He despised the coercive authority of the state. He understood the impossibility of trying to force or tax a human being into heaven.
There is quite the intersection between Christ and libertarianism. Libertarianism is a political theory which deals with the use of force – violence – in social life. And libertarians understand that the state is an institution of organized violence. This truth was as apparent to Jesus back in his time as it is to libertarians today.
Here are four examples from the scriptures to make the connection between Jesus and Libertarianism.
Luke 4: 5-7, where Jesus rejects the devil’s temptation:
“THEN THE DEVIL LED HIM UP AND SHOWED HIM IN AN INSTANT ALL THE KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD. AND THE DEVIL SAID TO HIM: ‘TO YOU I WILL GIVE THEIR GLORY AND ALL THIS AUTHORITY; FOR IT HAS BEEN GIVEN OVER TO ME, AND I WILL GIVE IT TO ANYONE I PLEASE. IF YOU, THEN, WILL WORSHIP ME, IT WILL BE ALL YOURS.”
The state is a vehicle where the devil can achieve his goals.
From Mathew 20: 25-28. In this passage we get an idea how Jesus felt about the authority of the State:
“YOU KNOW THAT THE RULERS OF THE GENTILES LORD IT OVER THEM, AND THEIR GREAT ONES ARE TYRANTS OVER THEM. IT WILL NOT BE SO AMONG YOU; BUT WHOEVER WISHES TO BE GREAT AMONG YOU MUST BE YOUR SERVANT, AND WHOEVER WISHES TO BE FIRST AMONG YOU MUST BE YOUR SLAVE; JUST AS THE SON OF MAN CAME NOT TO BE SERVED BUT TO SERVE, AND TO GIVE HIS LIFE A RANSOM FOR MANY.”
The next two passages are related to the issue of taxation. One of the pinnacle elements of Libertarianism centers around the idea of taxation.
From Matthew 22: 15-22:
“THEN THE PHARISEES WENT AND PLOTTED TO ENTRAP HIM IN WHAT HE SAID. SO THEY SENT THEIR DISCIPLES TO HIM, ALONG WITH THE HERODIANS, SAYING, ‘TEACHER, WE KNOW THAT YOU ARE SINCERE, AND TEACH THE WAY OF GOD IN ACCORDANCE WITH TRUTH, AND SHOW DEFERENCE TO NO ONE; FOR YOU DO NOT REGARD PEOPLE WITH PARTIALITY. TELL US, THEN, WHAT YOU THINK. IS IT LAWFUL TO PAY TAXES TO THE EMPEROR, OR NOT?’ BUT JESUS, AWARE OF THEIR MALICE, SAID, ‘WHY ARE YOU PUTTING ME TO THE TEST, YOU HYPOCRITES? SHOW ME THE COIN USED FOR THE TAX.’ AND THEY BROUGHT HIM A DENARIUS. THEN HE SAID TO THEM, ‘WHOSE HEAD IS THIS, AND WHOSE TITLE?’ THEY ANSWERED, ‘THE EMPEROR’S.’ THEN HE SAID TO THEM, ‘GIVE THEREFORE TO THE EMPEROR THE THINGS THAT ARE THE EMPEROR’S, AND TO GOD THE THINGS THAT ARE GOD’S.’ WHEN THEY HEARD THIS, THEY WERE AMAZED; AND THEY LEFT HIM AND WENT AWAY.”
From Matthew 17: 24-27:
“WHEN THEY REACHED CAPERNAUM, THE COLLECTORS OF THE TEMPLE TAXICAME TO PETER AND SAID, ‘DOES YOUR TEACHER NOT PAY THE TEMPLE TAX?’ HE SAID, ‘YES, HE DOES.’ AND WHEN HE CAME HOME, JESUS SPOKE OF IT FIRST, ASKING, ‘WHAT DO YOU THINK, SIMON? FROM WHOM DO KINGS OF THE EARTH TAKE TOLL OR TRIBUTE? FROM THEIR CHILDREN OR FROM OTHERS?’ WHEN PETER SAID, ‘FROM OTHERS,’ JESUS SAID TO HIM, ‘THEN THE CHILDREN ARE FREE. HOWEVER, SO THAT WE DO NOT GIVE OFFENSE TO THEM, GO TO THE SEA AND CAST A HOOK; TAKE THE FIRST FISH THAT COMES UP; AND WHEN YOU OPEN ITS MOUTH, YOU WILL FIND A COIN; TAKE THAT AND GIVE IT TO THEM FOR YOU AND ME.”
Jesus’ viewpoint on the state is quite clear. Throughout his life, he fought back against tyrannical powers that be in the government. Eventually, his life was taken by the authority of the state. Jesus’ teachings are littered with the ideas of freedom and charity, the same things that Libertarians preach every day.