Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Libertarian Perspective on Romans 13

Romans 13 is often used as an appeal for Christians not to resist government. "Reformed Libertarian" C. Jay Engel has written an interesting and thoughtful post on that particular passage. Here's an excerpt:
There are four overall points that can be gathered in this passage.

1. God is sovereign and he has a plan. He can use evil to achieve the ends that he has ordained before the foundations of time. In the original context: God exists over Nero.

2. In our gospel-oriented ministry, we are not seeking to overthrow the government. When Paul wrote this he understood that it might have reached Nero's hands. It was wise of him to make sure Nero understood that there was no Christian movement to take over. All governments from the dawn of time until today, are jealous governments, always scared that someone will steal the throne. In the original context: Nero, we are not aiming for your throne.

3. Government has a mandate to submit to the higher law of God by only punishing the wicked and not the good. Anything beyond that is abuse of power. Therefore, as the absolute libertarians would advocate, it is wrong for the government to forbid the spontaneous arising of other governments. There is no mandate in scripture telling the government that it must have a monopoly on governing services. In the original context: Nero, you have a purpose; submit to it.

4. Turn the other cheek. We must practice daily Christian character. In the original context: Apply my lessons [in Romans 12] to even the government.

To conclude, from a libertarian standpoint, it is important to note that a governing entity is the means by which God has decided to carry out justice. This in no way should be assumed to be a defense of the morality of the State itself. This passage can only be assumed to be a defense of the existence of an entity that practices the pursuance of justice. God has given law. Man has rights to his life and his property because God has entrusted him with those things. And what God has given, man cannot take away. This is the law Justice consists of protecting these rights, this law. This is the only role of a governing institution.
Read the full article here.

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