Matters of Opinion: Should We Give Up on Government?
Christians are flirting with libertarianism, but it is not a biblical option.
March 2, 1998
Like many Americans these days, John Stagliano loves his country but hates his government. The entrepreneur and self-made millionaire views government as a necessary evil at best and, at worst, a restrictive and regulatory nightmare intent on usurping his personal and economic liberties.
Stagliano's antipathy is directed not only at the current Congress or administration, but at government itself. He is a major, outspoken contributor to the Cato Institute, an influential libertarian think tank. Groups like Cato have moved political debate away from discussions of good government versus bad government. Their presumption is that government, by definition, is bad. So the debate becomes big government versus small government.
G. K. Chesterton said, "The poor object to being governed badly, while the rich object to being governed at all." This is especially true of rich people like Stagliano, who makes his fortune in an industry that is particularly prone to government "interference": pornography. Stagliano produces and directs hard-core sex videos. His company, Evil Angel Video, is one of the leading players in America's $8-billion-a-year trade in sexually explicit material.
Perhaps it is not surprising that libertarianism is an attractive philosophy for a millionaire pornographer. What is surprising is the extent to which libertarian ideas have begun to influence politically active Christians, especially evangelicals.
We evangelicals are experiencing an adolescent growth spurt in our political engagement and thinking. Still heady with the zeal of newfound political activism, we haven't yet demonstrated the patience or discipline for sustained political reflection, for engaging the centuries-long conversation on ...