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August 25, 2009



What I love about this article is that it gets to the very heart of the matter. The debate should not hinge on whether a capitalist system, socialist system, or some mixture of the two is the most economically "efficient." While one system may indeed be more efficient than another, that is not the point.

The point is: will we be a free people, or not? Will we indenture ourselves to our government in exchange for "comfort" we can believe in, or not? Will we march lock-step into slavery, or not? I don't just want Uncle Sam's hands out of my wallet, I want his boot-heel off my back.

I always laugh when politicians say "look how much money we could save you if only you would give us control of your life." No matter how "cheaply" oppression can be financed, and no matter the cost of freedom, "give me liberty or give me death."

Alex Marshall

Two thoughts (note, I'm not really trying to take a stand on this particular stimulus bill. These thoughts are more general than the particular bill in discussion):

First, I struggle with reconciling Christianity with a call to "give me liberty or give me death." It seems like a very significant part of Christianity is saying we are giving up our "liberty" because we are acting as servants of Christ. If our loyalty as Christians belongs with God and with doing his will, then it seems really out of place to demand our own personal freedom. Granted, there is some difference between our "spiritual" service to Christ and political liberty. But I also don't believe that our service to Christ is completely separated from our life in this world, a life that includes our political "rights" and "liberties." In fact, I think (and I'm certainly not accusing Jim or Austin of this, but I do think this attitude has crept into the mindset of many supposedly evangelical leaders) that there is a danger in elevating political/economic liberty to the point of making idols of ourselves. I don't think that I necessarily need to be free in every sense. In fact, a very basic premise of human society is that we are not free in every sense but have taken upon ourselves some community obligations/limitation on our freedom. The question is what is the extent of those limitations? Too much emphasis on a need for freedom seems to challenge both the foundation of human society itself and the foundation of Christianity- that we worship God, not an idol (including ourselves or our own autonomy).

Second, given that our primary loyalty as Christians lies with Christ, and our primary duty lies in fulfilling his will, it seems like this should put certain guidelines on our political ideology. Perhaps you can make an argument for a different view of Christian politics, but I am of the persuasion that our primary "motive" politically should be to do the most good for our fellow man. Obviously, there is some discussion about how to measure that good- we're not talking about making available every selfish whim of mankind (that just plays to the idolatry of the self problem)- but a basic movement towards improving the overall standard of living for our society should be part of our "agenda" as Christians (again, in my persuasion). So given this, it seems like a stimulus with the noble aim of making life better for the people of this country is indeed noble and not a masked attack on some supposed "absolute claim" of freedom. Again, the foundational question of any society is not "are there limits on my freedom?" but "what are the limits?" What makes democracy different isn't that there are no limitations on freedom but that the people get to decide what those limits are rather than a self-appointed ruler. Granted, the system is far from perfect. And again, I'm not commenting on this particular stimulus. But whatever flaws the current legislation may have, I don't necessarily think the ideology/concept behind them needs to be totally trashed with the details.

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