Can an Orthodox Christian Be Libertarian?
Can an Orthodox Christian Be Libertarian?

Can an Orthodox Christian Be Libertarian?

I’ve been an Orthodox Christian for a little more than thirteen years and attended Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology to work on a Masters in Theological Studies. I am no saint and there are far better theologians than I, but I think I can say a few things on how I can be both an Orthodox Christian and a libertarian.

Although, I’ve only recently began describing myself as a libertarian in the last two years, I think I was always at heart a libertarian. I formerly described myself as a conservative, supporting most conservative issues. However, I did reject the death penalty and was lax on the second amendment. I supported free speech, and rejected all forms of censorship, never seeing that as a contradiction of my conservative values. I always held freedom as the most important political value and probably would have agreed with Lord Acton, that “[l]iberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is the highest political end,” if I had ever heard the quote or of Lord Acton.

I was not consistent as a conservative, but I was a loyal supporter of the Republican party and President Bush. I was troubled by the PATRIOT ACT, but trusted the administration to do the right thing and dismissed the attacks on Bush as political ravings of the radical Left. Though liberals claimed to be open minded and tolerant, they betrayed themselves by their hatred and general inability to have a rational discussion (most of them, but not all).

During the election of 2008, I was even open to both Guiliani and McCain and dismissive of Ron Paul, until I actually looked at what he stood for. That led me to take a better look at libertarianism and the Libertarian Party. The more I studied it the more I like it, and I began thinking of joining the Libertarian Party. There was one problem. I had to certify that I supported the non-aggression axiom, that is, “I oppose the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals.”

Now, I find it unbelievable that I had a problem with that. It is, in my view, completely compatible with The Gospel. I cannot for the life of me, see how Jesus Christ would condone the use of force for political, social, moral, or religious goals. Unlike some protestant sects, Orthodoxy asserts that humans have free will. God Himself does not force anyone to believe in Him, obey Him, or love Him. To do that would destroy and invalidate any relationship He wants with humanity.

Many Orthodox, look to the Byzantine Empire as the Golden Age of Orthodoxy, but all times in the history of the Church are flawed and had their unique problems. In Holy Mother Russia, the Church was still suppressed and controlled by the Tzars. No one believes that it was healthy for the Church to be in that state. The Byzantine emperors frequently exiled or banished monks, theologians, and patriarchs. For political reasons they frequently supported heresies, while great saints such as St. Athanasius and St. Chrysostom, were declared enemies of the State. St. Athanasius’s epitaph was Athanasius contra mundum (Athanasius against the world).

Christians are extolled to pray for their rulers, but they are not commanded to blindly obey corrupt rulers against their consciences. No saint ever did that.

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