Category Archives: Politics

Romans 13: A more accurate interpretation.

Freedom loving Christians are always called out by evangelicals to be in contempt of scripture, Romans 13: 1-7 being the passage referenced. Classically the evangelical community has interpreted this passage to mean that the structure of government and the leader have been hand picked by God and need to be obeyed and respected as such. Looking at history or even at our recent and current presidents this can not be an accurate interpretation of this collection of verses. If you take extreme examples such as Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, or even the milder examples like the US government, and apply this classic interpretation, Romans 13 would be contradictory of the rest of scripture as these governments committed heinous crimes. So if this interpretation is wrong, then how should we read this?

I will present my interpretation using the ESV translation.

Romans 13:1a – Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.

Right of the bat we need to ask one basic question. Who are the governing authorities? As I am located in the US the governing authorities are those that are operating within the constraints of the constitution. Any power the government claims beyond what is allowed to them by the constitution is unlawful and therefore not recognized by God.

Romans 13:1b – For there is no authority except from God.

God is the ultimate and perfect authority. No earthly authority can claim to have power that defies God’s law nor claim unlawful power. We already covered what unlawful power is.

Romans 13:1c – Those that exist have been instituted by God.

It is true that God instituted a way for humans to manage themselves and deal with transgressions, this has taken the form of government in most places. God has handed down the authority to punish wrong doing to us. He made us the governing authorities. He left the choice of how with institute this power up to us. He did not set up modern day governments nor did he put specific people in power, we have done that. Personally I believe this authority was meant to take the form of the Non-Aggression Principle. I believe this is the case because of the context of Romans 13. The passage under scrutiny is sandwiched by passages about love. The Non-Aggression Principle allows for the most love, while formal government allows for the least.

Romans 13:2a – Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed.

Remember, God gave the governing authorities, us, limited power. The power to punish transgressions. Resisting that is resisting what God has appointed.

Romans 13:2b – Those who resist will incur judgement.

If the authority is legitimate it is punishing a trespass against another person, sin. You will be held to account for your sins one way or another.

Romans 13:3-5 – For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no dear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of the conscience.

Here is what I mentioned earlier, the purpose of government. To punish the wrongdoer. Or to manage transgressions. I think this is where a lot of the confusion comes in as to the power government is allowed. Wrong doing has been misinterpreted to include personal, or as I would say, moral sins. I do not believe this is the case. Wrong doing here references a grievance committed against another person. Moral sins are between you and God. To support this theory let us look at the authority we in the US are subject to, the form we set up with the power given to us. We established earlier that this authority is the constitution. The constitution does not permit the federal government to enforce moral behavior.

Romans 13:6-7 – For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom they are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Money is required for a government to function. Taxes are how governments get money. If we are going to exercise the authority given to us to punish wrong doing through a form of government then taxes come along with that.

I believe this to be a more accurate interpretation as when history is taken into account Romans 13 remains inline with the rest of scripture. From this interpretation we are also given an understanding as to the limits God has placed on governments. This is something Dietrich Bonhoeffer realized when he said, and I am paraphrasing, that the Church’s job is to keep government in check.


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Foreign Policy, Patriotic?

What do you define patriotism as? An important question as not being so will soon get you placed in a FEMA camp, at least that is what some say. Common opinion, which is bred by government propaganda, would tell us that patriotism is blind nationalism. If that is the case I want no part in it as blind nationalism puts you in support of our foreign policy, which is  purely despicable. I would like to challenge this definition of patriotism. I submit that supporting our foreign policy is about as unpatriotic as you can get. Killing thousands of our young men and women in unconstitutional wars being fought for questionable reasons does not sound beneficial for our country.

Isolationism, there is a patriotic foreign policy.

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You can never have a revolution in order to establish a democracy. You must have a democracy in order to have a revolution. -G.K. Chesterton

This quote, like most quotes from our dear friend Gilbert, holds a hidden truth. One that is becoming increasingly important in this modern day political climate. With the growth of the warring mindsets of freedom and fascism, discussion of revolution has increased. Being on the side of freedom I will support a revolution if that is what it takes to bring this country back to its roots. But violent revolution does not look at the long term results, as Chesterton points out. Even though I would replace democracy in this context with a more suiting word, the sentiment remains. The fruits of a revolution do not last. Revolution by nature consists of opposing viewpoints battling over which shall hold power, creating a greater animosity in the losing side. Democracy, or rather a mutual agreement, leaves all parties more or less happy with the results. Which one do you think will last longer?

Take the US for example. This country, one founded upon freedom, was created through revolution. Look where we are now. We are losing our freedoms at an increasing rate. The basic building blocks of this country have been demolished by legislation and executive order. We have not lasted.

Sometimes revolution is what it take to get immediate results, but it is not the best route. Now, with the Ron Paul R’love’ution movement we have a chance at a democratic approach to rebuilding our country.


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A Challenge to Anarchism

Through discussions concerning political philosophy I have encountered various challenges to Anarchism—the most valid concerning, as it calls into question the ethics and morality of Anarchism, the nature of man. Classically, this issue has been addressed as a simple dichotomy; is man inherently good or evil? The question is inadequate, as it is possible to arrive at more that two opposing starting assumptions. If both the opponent and proponent of Anarchism can agree that man is inherently evil, and still disagree on how human nature will play out in the societal construct of Anarchism, we need to go a step further. Operating with the assumption that man is evil, the next question must address what man will do with the evil inside him, or in the context of a society, how would the majority choose to act? Would the populace rather live peaceful lives or, as Alfred Pennyworth said in The Dark Knight, “Just want to watch the world burn?”

How a political philosophy deals with morality and ethics tends to be the standard by which we judge forms of government. “Moral Law,” as defined by a dear friend of mine, is the “perfect standard of morality known only by God, who judges the heart.” Ethics (which we will refer to as “Natural Law”) is, as said friend defines, “that portion of Moral Law which can be fully understood and enforced by mankind.”

Opponents of Anarchism argue that laws concerning ethics and, at times, morality need to be set in place and enforced by a governing body. Following the logical train of thought, they have answered the defining question in the manner of Alfred. Those who hold Anarchism in high esteem, such as myself, would go the opposite route. I believe that, generally, men want to live a peaceful life of non-aggression, making a government unnecessary.

Non-Aggression is a key point in this discussion. It is generally accepted among Libertarians that the Principle of Non-Aggression would reign as the implied law of the land and lay an ethical framework for all interactions. Non-Aggression is a simple principle reminiscent of the golden rule. It put’s things in terms of property rights, stating that you have ownership of your material possessions as well as your life and body. You are allowed to do whatever you wish with your property provided that you do not infringe on someone else’s right to do the same. Doing so relinquishes your property rights to the extent of your trespass. To put it in defined terms, what you do with your own property would fall under the jurisdiction of Moral Law, enforceable only by God himself—a place where many Evangelicals would part ways with me. When another’s property is involved, the action would be considered under Natural Law. The specifics of enforcement of Natural Law in an Anarchist state is open for interpretation. Some circles say that the individual must enforce Natural Law on his own, which could be deemed as revenge for simplicity’s sake. Others prefer a more communal approach. I think both have their place.

A a real world example of Anarchism at work can be drawn from the Frontier West. In Tom Woods’ book, 33 Questions About American History You’re Not Supposed to Ask, he explains how we grow up learning, primarily from Hollywood, that the “Wild West” was a violent place with murderers and bank robbers running rampant. Woods lets us know we have been misinformed.

“Even in the absence of government, the old West was far less violent than most American Cities today. Frontiersmen developed private mechanisms to enforce the law and define property rights.” -Tom Woods

Citing historians Richard Shenkman, Robert Dykstra and Larry Schweikart, Woods dissolves the fantasy of the “Wild West.” He appeals to research from Shenkman and Dykstra to dispel the idea that homicides were common.

“Many more people have died in Hollywood Westerns than ever died on the real Frontier, in the real Dodge City, for example, there were just five killings in 1878, the most homicidal year in the little town’s Frontier history: scarcely enough to sustain a typical two-hour movie.” -Richard Shenkman

Dysktra took a look at five of the major cattle towns finding only forty-five reported homicides from 1870-1885. He also makes the interesting note that in the supposed wild town of Abilene there were no reported killings until a sort of police was formed.

Shweikart compared the number of bank robberies in the Frontier West to modern day Dayton, Ohio, where is a professor at the University of Dayton. He concluded that, from 1859 to 1900, the entire “Wild West”, there were fewer than a dozen bank robberies in the whole Frontier. There are more bank robberies in a single year in Dayton.

It is important to dissolve the idea of the “Wild West” because, as Woods says, “in the absence of government,” or in a form of Anarchism, there was order—which gives weight to the saying “government breeds violence.” It would seem that those who resided in the Frontier West valued peace, and attained a relatively high level of harmony by wearing guns on their hips and maintaining a high respect for Natural Law. This is partially why Libertarians today believe the Second Amendment is as invaluable as the people thought it to be at the time of the Constitution did.

The debate between Anarchism and Statism, like most, comes down to starting assumptions. The Nature of Man has ended up in the center of this dispute, which is unfortunate because there will never be a unanimous decision concerning it. Man, in his foolishness, continues to brew evidence supporting both sides. But the question must still be asked. What is Man’s Nature?

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Hot Topic: Abortion

Abortion is a moral choice, unfortunately its morality is relative. Personally I am pro-life, but that is only because my starting assumptions are different from those of a pro-choice person. You see, if you take this issue back to the start of the thought process, you no longer have a much of a moral decision to make. As someone of the pro-life thought mentality I believe that person-hood starts at conception. This contrasts with a person of the pro-choice variety who submit to the idea that life starts either later in the pregnancy or at birth.

You see, I am pro-life because my starting beliefs give me no choice but to consider abortion as murder*, and committing such an act would violate that baby’s property right over their body, id est the right to life. The pro-choice line of thought allows people a moral decision. Since they consider the baby/fetus as not a person, it has no rights and therefore carrying out an abortion is not murder.

Now while I do not agree with the pro-choice beliefs about what constitutes life and/or person-hood, I can understand why abortion is seemingly okay when following that belief system. And this is why I hold to what I have stated many a time before. Stop arguing the act of abortion, it will get you nowhere rather, argue what is going to make a difference, the starting assumptions that allow abortion to be an option.

*Rape-babies and babies that put the mothers life in danger are a little more complicated. Babies that put the mothers life in danger I can agree with aborting them, as they are a threat to the mothers right to life and are therefore committing an act of aggression against that woman. Rape-babies although indirectly also commit an act of aggression against the woman as they can cause severe mental problems (not that abortion does not as well). In this situation, although I will never suggest it, I can understand and am fine with aborting the baby.

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The transition to a libertarian friendly government, or perchance an anarchist society. How? That is the question that there seems to be no clear answer to. This is a question that I myself do not have a perfect answer to, but I shall try my best to share my opinions of at least some parts of the process.

First and foremost we must not forget our main goal. Whether that is a minarchist society or an anarchist society, that must always be what we strive for. We absolutely can not make it our purpose to achieve the compromise. This sacrifices our ideals and potentially some ground gained for the little bit of liberty assured by these compromises. G.K. Chesterton said it best:

“This definite ideal is a far more urgent and practical matter in our existing English trouble than any immediate plans or proposals. For the present chaos is due to a sort of general oblivion of all that men were originally aiming at. No man demands what he desires; each man demands what he fancies he can get. Soon people forget what the man really wanted first; and after a successful and vigorous political life, he forgets it himself.”

This is not to say that we can not accept the compromises that come our way, as long as we do not begin to seek these compromises.

What we must focus on is ridding ourselves of this nanny state that has come to be. Each year our government finds another area of our lives to stick their hands into, placing restrictions on what we can do to our person. Through this process the nanny state has effectively destroyed the desire as well as the ability of the people to make their own moral decisions. This poses a problem for those of us who dream of liberty. The effect of the nanny state has brought us to a place where there would be mass disorder if this change was made over night, we have been forced into a place where we need to slowly eradicate the control in our lives unless we want to bring about an age of chaos. Even in this situation we must reach for the ideal, to see the state no longer direct our moral decisions.  And in doing this perchance we will see the slow release of control by those in power.

I regard the existence of the nanny state as the crucial point in our quest for a libertarian society. Once this is conquered the rest of the change can be brought about with much less pain.


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The Church Needs to Step it up – Welfare/Charity

Definition time. When I say Church with a capital C, I am referring to the people who make up the body of christ, when I say church with a lowercase c I am talking about the building or a specific church. State refers to a governing body, I use to talk about the federal government.

I am writing specifically to the Church in the United States. Why is the church being outperformed when it comes to charity or lending a hand to those in need? Why have we let our government take over what should be our responsibility? Is it not our duty to lift the downtrodden out of the dust? It is not our job to help our neighbors who are in need? Should it not be our desire to give of ourselves so that others may be blessed? If we were doing our job there would be no need for these welfare programs the state has put in place. Now is the time to step it up and take on our responsibility. Now is the time to be what we were called to be, a light in a dark place, an imitation of Christ.

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