More on Ron Paul
Paul’s libertarianism is also a genuine concern among paleoconservatives and Christians such as my blogging cohort at Backwater Report, Bret McAtee, who is legitimately concerned that Paul is more ideological libertarian than Christian.
I myself am something of a recovering libertarian and have a suspicion that many, perhaps most, libertarians have political convictions grounded in anti-Christian presuppositions about the nature of man and sin. Thus, I too share genuine and real concern regarding zealous libertarians. Do they confess with their mouths and lives that Jesus is Lord, or do they enthrone man?
Nevertheless, libertarianism is not inherently inconsistent with a concern for Christian governance. Many libertarians, including I believe Dr. Paul, argue for smaller and more decentralized government because of a right understanding of original sin, and a fear that the unchecked state will serve as an instrument in the hands of the wicked wielded for the purpose of destroying church and family.
In discussing the meaning of theocracy, R. J. Rushdoony wrote: "Few things are more commonly misunderstood than the nature and meaning of theocracy. It is commonly assumed to be a dictatorial rule by self-appointed men who claim to rule for God. In reality, theocracy in Biblical law is the closest thing to a radical libertarianism that can be had." In short, theocracy is the re-establishment of self-government under God, with the family as the central governing institution rather than the distant imperial regime.
Obviously Ron Paul is not a theocrat in the Greg Bahnsen mould, but his worldview is not at all incompatible with a consistent Christian worldview. He himself is a faithful and practicing Protestant, and has been married to the same woman for fifty years. Paul and his wife have also been faithful to the culture mandate, having been blessed with five children and seventeen grandchildren.
Interestingly, he has also managed to gain the support of dispensational writers such as Chuck Baldwin and Laurence Vance along with the endorsement of theonomists like Gary North and Chris Ortiz. North in fact worked in Paul's congressional office in the 1970's. Vigorous pro-life conservatives such as Pat Buchanan are also springing to Paul's defense.
Not only has Paul garnered the support of many rock-ribbed Christians, he also makes the druggie, grifter, and low-life set of the libertarian movement uncomfortable. In The New Republic, Michael Crowley explains why: "But libertarians are a fractious bunch, and some hardcore activists have mixed feelings about the man now carrying their banner. For instance, libertarian purists generally support a laissez-faire government attitude toward abortion and gay marriage, as well as 'open border' immigration policies and unfettered free trade. Yet Paul opposes gay marriage, believes states should outlaw abortion, decries high immigration rates, and criticizes free trade agreements--though mainly on constitutional grounds."
Dr. Paul is a fierce critic of abortion. As a specialist in obstetrics/gynecology, he has delivered more than 4,000 babies. In 2005, he introduced legislation legislation that for federal purposes defined "human life...to exist from conception." The bill, H.R. 776, would also have removed the Supreme Court's jurisdiction over abortion, nullifying the Roe v Wade decision, and pulled the plug on funding for abortion providers.
If you doubt Paul's pro-life bonafides, read his comments from the House floor discussing the partial-birth abortion ban:
Whether a civilized society treats human life with dignity or contempt determines the outcome of that civilization. Reaffirming the importance of the sanctity of life is crucial for the continuation of a civilized society. There is already strong evidence that we are indeed on the slippery slope toward euthanasia and human experimentation. Although the real problem lies within the hearts and minds of the people, the legal problems of protecting life stem from the ill-advised Roe v. Wade ruling, a ruling that constitutionally should never have occurred.
The best solution, of course, is not now available to us. That would be a Supreme Court that recognizes that for all criminal laws, the several states retain jurisdiction. Something that Congress can do is remove the issue from the jurisdiction of the lower federal courts, so that states can deal with the problems surrounding abortion, thus helping to reverse some of the impact of Roe v. Wade.
Unfortunately, H.R. 760 takes a different approach, one that is not only constitutionally flawed, but flawed in principle, as well. Though I will vote to ban the horrible partial-birth abortion procedure, I fear that the language used in this bill does not further the pro-life cause, but rather cements fallacious principles into both our culture and legal system.
For example, 14G in the "Findings" section of this bill states, "...such a prohibition [upon the partial-birth abortion procedure] will draw a bright line that clearly distinguishes abortion and infanticide..." The question I pose in response is this: Is not the fact that life begins at conception the main tenet advanced by the pro-life community? By stating that we draw a "bright line" between abortion and infanticide, I fear that we simply reinforce the dangerous idea underlying Roe v. Wade, which is the belief that we as human beings can determine which members of the human family are "expendable," and which are not.
Given his belief that human life begins at conception, Dr. Paul would surely oppose the gross violation of human dignity inherent in embryonic stem-cell research.
Paul also believes in the necessity of a vibrant and active church that zealously guards its prerogatives against the encroaching state. What GOP bigwig, or for that matter who in the increasingly ridiculous Constitution Party, would make this argument:
The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers. On the contrary, our Founders’ political views were strongly informed by their religious beliefs. Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government’s hostility to religion. The establishment clause of the First Amendment was simply intended to forbid the creation of an official state church like the Church of England, not to drive religion out of public life.
The Founding Fathers envisioned a robustly Christian yet religiously tolerant America, with churches serving as vital institutions that would eclipse the state in importance. Throughout our nation’s history, churches have done what no government can ever do, namely teach morality and civility. Moral and civil individuals are largely governed by their own sense of right and wrong, and hence have little need for external government. This is the real reason the collectivist Left hates religion: Churches as institutions compete with the state for the people’s allegiance, and many devout people put their faith in God before their faith in the state. Knowing this, the secularists wage an ongoing war against religion, chipping away bit by bit at our nation’s Christian heritage. Christmas itself may soon be a casualty of that war.
It is true that the application of unconstrained libertarian theory leads to social chaos, rootless individualism and, somewhat paradoxically, statism via the destruction of institutions that mediate between the individual and the state.
Ron Paul is neither an anarchist nor a libertine, but a constitutionalist and Christian, and in God's common grace he grasps by-and-large the necessity of a Biblical social order. Is he perfect? Well, no. But politics is often the art of the possible, and in this election cycle to the extent that we will serve as salt and light to a dying world in the political process, Paul's candidacy is by far the best option.