Parable of the Two Sons


When I wrote about the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard last week, I mentioned that Christ’s teachings are remarkably consistent with libertarian philosophy.  That has been on my mind over the past few days so now I can’t help but point it out when I see libertarianism themes in the gospel.  The passage I’m writing about is a short one, “The Parable of the Two Sons”, Matthew 21:28-32.

The story starts out with a man who has two sons.  He tells the first to go work in the vineyard.  The son replies that he will not work go to work, but later regrets it and eventually ends up doing his work in the vineyard.  The man tells the same thing to his second son.  The second son answered, “I will, sir.” but he never did the work.

Jesus asks the crowd gathered around which son did the will of his father.  They all answer that the first did. The point Jesus is making here is that it is not good enough to say you are a believer, but not actually do the work. It would be better to find Christ later in life and actually act like a Christian.  We see this all the time today when people talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.  However, I really like Jesus’ response to the crowd saying the first son did the father’s will.

Jesus tries to shock the crowd.  He tries to think of the type of person who the Jews of his time would think have no shot getting into heaven and says, “Truly I say to you, the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of the righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him.”  That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of the state!

As often it is the case, I think the message of this passage can shared across many themes, not just as it relates to Christianity.  Rollo wrote a post a few days ago about keeping your statist friends.  It is important to remember that most of us weren’t always libertarian or voluntaryists.  We’re all people, we’re all morally equal, and, prima facie,  should be treated with respect.  If a tax collector can find the true message of Christ, then it’s possible he can give up his belief in the state.  In fact, I’d say it’s necessary.

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