Over at our much beloved Big Hollywood last week, filmmaker Leigh Scott had some thoughtful and entertaining comments on Kick-Ass, a movie he liked and which I haven’t seen. He says it’s a libertarian film and, as a side note, goes on to discuss what he feels are the differences between libertarian conservatives and Christian conservatives:
“A very conservative, religious friend once asked me to explain my views. He was stumped that we agreed on almost everything. But, when a lot of the social issues came up, I kinda shuffled my feet and looked to the ground. I summarized it this way: He and I could spend all day Saturday agreeing about taxes, the role of government, and foreign policy, yet, on Sunday, he would be in church and I would be nursing a hangover.
Libertarians are the party boys and girls of the conservative movement.”
Now there’s not only some truth to this but it’s a pretty common point of view. And yet, speaking in a broader sense, I disagree. I believe libertarianism is – or at least should be – the Christian approach. When Jesus said all that stuff about judge not lest ye be judged, and don’t take the speck from your neighbor’s eye when you should be dealing with the two-by-four stuck in your own, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t just messing with us.
I also think he meant something very specific. He did not – could not – have meant that we can’t make moral judgments, can’t say, hey, taking your kids to the park is good – telling them to blow themselves up to kill Jews, not so much. Of course we can. What we can’t judge, as I see it, is another person’s state of grace, his standing with God. (CS Lewis has some terrific stuff about this in The Great Divorce.) Our moral decisions about ourselves can be spiritual. Our moral decisions about other people can only be practical.
I try very hard to live by my lights (informed by my understanding of gospel teaching). You want to argue about my ideas with me over a drink, I’m happy to oblige. But I don’t want you to interfere with me as long as I do no harm and, conversely, I don’t want to force anyone to do or love or live as I see fit. All I do ask is that you don’t try to make me pay my children’s inheritance to clean up the results of your moral choices. Pay for them yourself.
There’s an idea going around that being a libertarian means not only not forcing your spiritual views on others but actually having no spiritual views at all. I would say it’s my strongly held spiritual beliefs – and my desire to protect them from your interference – that make me want to leave you to yours. I’m a Christian Libertarian.