Was Jesus A Libertarian?

By R. Brownell

Like many millions of followers around the world, I will be observing the day in which my messiah was tortured and crucified for twelve hours, and then will celebrate with joy the anniversary of his resurrection on Easter Sunday.  The purpose of this heart to heart between you and me in this moment is not to preach, there are enough people who do it in ways I cannot and won’t, and then there are those who preach until they’re blue in the face. Please relax, grab a drink to calm your nerves if you must (if you’re an atheist, maybe two drinks), and allow me the opportunity to discuss why I believe libertarians of all walks of life should reflect and internalize the messages of Jesus of Nazareth on this Easter Sunday.

To some like me, he is the Son of God, while others see him as an important moral philosopher, a prophet, or a rabbi.  What cannot be argued is that his teachings and message impacted a drastic change in the course of mankind in ways no other human has ever done. While some may have qualms with Christians or religion as a whole, it is rare to find an individual who disagrees with such things as love, compassion, charity, and respect (unless you’re communist, a member of PETA, or part of that death cult the Islamic State, ). Tom Mullen, a contributor for LewRockwell.com, made an argument in which he claimed that Jesus Christ was the world’s first, and greatest, libertarian.  After all, the Romans didn’t simply kill him because he was a good guy healing cripples and making people rise from the dead; but because his message threatened the status quo of the Pharisee courts and Roman authority, who ended up sentencing Jesus to death.

History shows that in early civilizations that laws, philosophy, and cryptic religions throughout time, were creating an environment where people were familiarizing themselves with an understanding that it wasn’t right to hurt people and take their stuff; an overall basic and wise principle.  The difference between the teachings of Jesus and that of others during his time was that this Jew, this carpenter from a small town, was living and preaching principles that some libertarians fail to follow through on.

Jesus saw past race, ethnicity, gender, and social class. The Son of Man treated all people with dignity and respect, after all, his closest group of friends consisted of tax collectors (a flaw of mine is that I refuse to befriend an IRS agent as long as I live), prostitutes, fishermen, the homeless, sick, and even a high ranking Roman Centurion who believed in Christ’s divinity. In a world of ethnic conflict in Africa and the middle east, tensions building once again in Europe, and a resurging race debate in the United States, it’s important to remember that one of the most powerful men in history wasn’t richer or drastically different from most of us today.  Jesus growing up was no different from anyone else growing up in his day either, he was just an average carpenter who saw his purpose in life and set out on it.

How often do we see hashtag activists and social media warriors complaining about big issues and spouting off solutions, yet fail to do anything about it? Every libertarian knows that if there is something worth fighting for, action must be taken, and even though we can always dredge onward alone, enlisting the help of others who may be different from you can only help in your message. We must remember that being an inclusive philosophy means dropping the “holier than thou” attitude many libertarians have, a mindset which creates infighting within the movement, and pushes away people who want to come our way.  During his travels, Jesus prevented the stoning of a woman, telling the crowd that whoever has never sinned before could throw the first stone; needless to say, that woman lived.  Not all libertarians act or think alike, but the liberty movement is more important than finding purists and excluding those that fall short of perfect expectations.

Most importantly, Jesus was the living embodiment of the Non-Aggression Principle,  the single idea in which not only Christianity, but libertarianism itself is based on; after all, one of the most controversial things Jesus ever said was “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”. The concept of radical peace, that love conquered all, was all he ever wanted us to know. Simply looking at the chain of peacemakers he influenced and inspired from the last 150 years is impressive enough alone (if you want to ignore the billions of Christians in the world), since Martin Luther King Jr. studied Gandhi, who studied Thoreau, who studied the New Testament.

I can go on all day about this topic, and dollars to donuts says a theological and philosophical debate could rage on for centuries. I am not ashamed to say I am a Christian, nor do I intend on trying to convince people who aren’t worth my time about my worldview.  As men and women of peace and tolerance though, use this Easter Sunday as an opportunity to ask yourself how you can spread not simply the message of liberty, but of love.  It’s a tough commitment, as a Christian before all other things, I can admit to my own shortcomings on this matter, but as the story of mankind has shown us time and time again, the right things are worth the hard work and challenges in the end.

The question of even greater importance is to ask what you are willing to sacrifice when your ideals are put to the test: are you willing to suffer and sacrifice as Jesus and his followers did in order to spread the message of peace, love, and liberty? Could you see yourself martyred like Dietrich Bonhoeffer? Gunned down like MLK? Simply for saying what needed to be said in the face of tyranny when all those around you stand quiet? Or will you stay home and yell at the TV while allowing injustice to continue unopposed in the world? You must decide, and Easter Sunday is a great opportunity to reassess that very question.

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