Thomas Lucente: Jesus was more libertarian than statist

First Posted: 12/26/2013

As you might imagine, I receive quite a bit of correspondence in this job. It used to be largely through the Postal Service or hand delivered. Today, it is, of course, mostly email or messages through other social media services.

Last week, I received an old-fashioned letter through the mail from a reader. I won’t say who it is from, but he has written before and his arguments are refreshingly thoughtful and well-articulated, unlike the vast majority of remarks opposing my views. Most people, unfortunately, will simply tell me I am wrong without any counterargument or even facts to back up their statements and then proceed to utter some foul remark concerning my mother or some other hateful comment.

Alas, that is the state of public discourse in 21st century America.

But I digress.

In the letter I received the author tried to make two points that I hear argued quite often by the left, which is why I bring it up here. First, that the U.S. Constitution is outdated and that Jesus of Nazareth would embrace the welfare state.

To be fair, his letter was largely concerning the first point and simply hinted at the second point. However, the left in 2013 has truly adopted the notion that somehow Jesus’ teachings advocated the forced redistribution of wealth by the state. I find the use of a religious argument to make a secular political point kind of tasteless and irrelevant. But the left does so because it is devoid of real ideas and clinging to a godly imprimatur on its communistic, anti-liberty views makes leftists feel as though they have the higher moral ground.

Of course, it simply is not true. Once again, the left confuses voluntarism with force.

In other words, Jesus said YOU should feed the poor. He did not say the STATE should steal from people and feed the poor.

It is not a small difference by any means. It is the difference between living in a free society and living in a tyrannical one. In a free society, YOU decide what to do with the fruits of your labor. In a tyrannical society, the STATE decides what to do with the fruits of your labor.

Jesus certainly did not advocate the use of force. As I recall, he even refused to permit force to be used to protect him from the Roman soldiers (or the Temple guards of the Sanhedrin, depending on which Gospel account you choose to believe) who came to arrest him in the Garden of Gethsemane, knowing full well he was likely to be executed. The only time he used anything close to force was in the Cleansing of the Temple narrative when he expelled the money changers from the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

To say that he would advocate the taking of money from one person by force to give to another is a perversion of what he taught. At no time did Jesus ever advocate for laws to promote morality or increase charity.

In fact, one could argue that Jesus had a very strong libertarian outlook when it came to government.

As for the Constitution being outdated and inapplicable to modern life, that is pure nonsense.

The beauty of the Constitution is its brevity. It could fit on an index card. It is accessible to every American who can read. And, most importantly, it outlines a free society in very simple and broad terms.

It is, in essence, timeless. Just as Jesus’ teachings, 2,000 years later, are still applicable today.

The Constitution created a society where the central government is very limited to specific enumerated powers. Nobody has yet proffered a legitimate argument that the central government needs some power that was not allocated to it by the Constitution two centuries ago.

The debate is really very simple and has existed since the founding the Republic. America really is a dichotomy of those who wish to live free and those who wish to live in an ordered, centrally controlled society. Unfortunately, the latter still, after all these decades, does not understand that you can’t help the poor by enslaving everyone to the power of the state.

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