The majority of people today believe that the government has a definite place in our lives. And the majority of people also have a belief in the existence of God. Whether these people are Catholic, Baptist, Muslim, Jewish, or some sort of non-denominational faith, there are basic themes that these religions all share. The one I want to discuss now is the idea of free will and its relationship with the state.
In the Christian philosophy, since we are all created by God, anything given to us by God is a gift from Him. In other words, He grants us a privilege.
So what is a privilege?
A privilege is something given to person A by person B independent of any obligation person B has to person A. This means that at any point the privilege can justly be revoked for whatever reason and the only entity that is entitled to give, change, or remove the privilege in any way is the source of it (person A).
For example, let’s say that Bob and Sam are friends. Bob is a nice guy and out of the goodness of his own heart, pays for Sam’s lunch every Friday. One Friday, Bob doesn’t buy Sam lunch. Sam might not be happy that he has to buy his own lunch today, but it cannot be denied that Bob is within his rights to make this choice.
Now a third friend, Ted, is included in this example. Does Ted have the right to tell Bob whether or not he can pay for Sam’s lunch? Does Ted have the right to tell Bob how much money he can spend on Sam’s lunch?
The answer to both questions is obviously no. It’s Bob’s money that we’re talking about—not Ted’s or Sam’s. The lunch, or the money for the lunch, is a gift and there’s no obligation on Bob’s part for it. He only does it because he wants to.
Let’s get back to God and free will. Since God is our creator (and so by extension, the giver of our free will), there’s really no way for us to say that God owes us anything. If God is the source of the privilege of free will, then He is also the only entity that has the just authority to take it away or change it.
How does this relate to the message of liberty? At the center of the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP) is the concept of free will. In its most popular definition, the NAP is a guideline for living peacefully and states that it is generally wrong to use violence or the threat of violence against peaceful individuals. In other words, individuals have the prima facie right to live free from harmful coercion. Coercion is making someone act in a way that is against their will, so it is easily seen that an act of coercion is an act that restricts their liberty, i.e. free will.
So based on the NAP, we see that it is wrong to restrict the free will of another individual.
The issue is that while most people, Christian or otherwise, will agree with this statement, a myriad of excuses will be made to contradict it in order to justify intrusions by government. For most people, the means of coercion is justified by the end of a better society. We’ve all heard the reasons ad nauseam: “If we don’t have government, who is going to protect the poor?” The idea that the state holds a necessary role in holding the fabric of our society together is a deeply held belief and it is one that is monumentally difficult to change. For the Christian statist who is honestly searching for truth, you are never going to convince him on the spot that government is a hindrance to the progression of society.
What you need to do is plant the seed that shows the absurdity of their contradictory beliefs. This is one of the reasons that I believe what I do today. I juxtaposed each view I held and noticed the disharmony among them. Being a Christian who believes in truth, I knew that something was wrong. It took awhile for my views to change to what they are now and how they continue to form, but it was that original seed that started it.
If liberty is to be restricted by the state for whatever reason, it is to say that the state has the right to limit free will. If an entity has the right to give or deny something given our previous definition of a gift or privilege, then that entity would also have to be the source of it. This would mean that the state is the source of free will. This is the only way you can justly advocate for the state to limit free will—it has to be conceded that it is the source.
But we previously stated that Christians believe that God is the source of free will. Well, there is only one way to logically justify that the state is the source of free will and that God is also the source of free will. The conclusion would have to be that the state is God.
If the Christian is being honest about finding truth, he has a decision to make. Does he worship God or does he worship the state?
I chose to worship God.