A Biblical Case for Natural Rights/Law?

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    Hey, everyone, thought I’d get your thoughts on something. As a Protestant Christian Libertarian I keep having conversations with other Christians, libertarian and not, about a Biblical case for libertarianism, specifically natural right and natural law. The argument I always run up against is that, to some degree, it is Biblical for God’s moral law to be enforced by the secular state (depending on the person this is usually about drug use or homosexual marriage). My point is typically that the Bible’s commands in the Old Testament are for the nation of Israel and don’t necessarily apply to secular governments today and, furthermore, growing the size of the state to enforce morality will invariably result in the state using that power against Christians at some point in the future. Needless to say, philosophical or logical arguments aren’t super helpful when they’re brushed aside by a “yeah, but the Bible says…” response.

    So, to any others out there in a similar position, how do you make a Biblical case for libertarianism? Have you come across any Biblical references that explicitly state how secular governments should view the morality of the people? Thanks.


    I would like to see how this conversation goes as well. I recall a sermon a while back where the pastor said something about rights and how they play into the bible. It was some time ago, but I think one of the points was that assuming one is entitled to a “right” assumes they can demand such and therefore are focusing on self, rather than the glory of God. I suppose it comes back to being a servant, or a slave to God. It’s something I’ve personally been thinking a lot about. Coming to terms with your faith and personal beliefs. I would love to hear others thoughts.

    Jason Jewell

    Jack, I expect much of the argument will hinge on the theological position taken on the relationship between the Old and New Testament, as you hinted above. “Dispensationalists” are more likely to agree that laws for Old Testament Israel don’t apply today. For those who appeal to the Old Testament, you can point out that for the majority of the commands in the Law of Moses (e.g. payment of the tithe), there is no penalty prescribed for disobedience. This at least leaves open the possibility that ancient Israel was to employ non-coercive means in enforcing many of these “laws.” That won’t get you to full libertarianism, but it’s a start.


    I think I can make this argument using the Bible.

    Let’s first assume, to make it harder on me, that the Levitical law did not simply apply to Israel, but to everyone. As Dr. J said, there is a difference between the Old and New Testament, but it is a full joining of the 2 that is usually seized on by critics. So what was the purpose of the law in the Old Testament? To show that all people are sinners, that no one is perfect. (Galatians 4) The Law, in the Old testament, the system by which society punishes sin, showed that we are sinners but the New Testament shows that we are under grace, God’s forgiveness (Romans 5-6)

    But are we, human beings, to deal with the sin of others (aside from things that infringe on natural rights we will save that for later)? sometimes. I Corinthians was written by Paul to show the Corinthian church how to deal with sin. I Corinthians 5 involves someone sleeping with (presumably) his step mother. This would have been an instance of stoning in the Old Testament. But what are we to do?

    11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother [a member of the church] be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

    12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?

    13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

    What is he saying? In verse 12 he makes it clear that it is not his duty to judge those that are outside the church and in verse 13 he says that their judgement is God’s to dole out. But in verse 12 he says that judgement for sin WITHIN the church can bet levied by those within the church. But that judgement is removal.

    Of course Galatians goes on to say

    Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

    We are not talking life long excommunication here, or imprisonment, but a temporary disassociation.

    I can find plenty of places in the New Testament that tells the church to spread the Gospel and to love their neighbor. But NOWHERE can I find any call or even permission to use government against anyone in order to promote the Bible. In the end, what is government? It is coercion at the point of a gun. This is diametrically opposed to every thing Christ taught.

    So then, what about natural rights? I dont think that I have to make any biblical argument against murder or theft. We are granted life by God, thus no man has the right to remove life from us. We apply that life to physical endeavors and the product of our labor, though, biblically ultimately belonging to God, is granted to us and, again, no one has the right to remove that. There are plenty of verses against murder and theft.

    But what about the last one expounded by Locke and Jefferson: Liberty. According to the Bible we each have a free will. Who is responsible for that free will? each individual. As Paul said, it is not for us to judge those outside the church that is left to God. We dont have the right to use force to enforce the Bible on those outside the church, and the “force” to us inside the church really isnt much of a force at all. If it would be wrong for me, individually, to hold a gun to someones head and cause him to follow commands in the Bible, how can it possibly be right for me to do the same thing through government?

    But entrance into the church (in this case referring to all believes instead of a local church group) is according to many places by faith alone. No work requirements needed. Thus, both becoming a part of the church and all actions after that are completely (here comes the libertarian word) VOLUNTARY. All sinful actions to those who are both saved and unsaved are judged by God not by men.

    So what is the purpose of government? I have had people use this verse

    3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

    4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

    But the word evil in this case has the connotation of injurious. That is, the role of a just government is to fight those intent on causing harm. I am not saying that this was specifically the intent of that wording but this sounds a bit like “no victim no crime”.

    In my opinion, a real reading of the Bible presents the most libertarian religion there is.


    You probably should give Bob Murphy’s blog a try. He writes Sunday blogs weekly about religion, so I’m sure he’s given this topic considerable thought.

    Use the categories option (>Religion) on the left, or use the search bar.

    His blog:

    Quick finds:


    Great answers, guys.

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