>A Socialist, A Libertarian and A Pacifist Walk Into a Bar…

>I was going to write a joke but I quickly realized that if this were really to happen it wouldn’t be very funny. The socialist and the libertarian would get into a fight and the pacifist would end up getting punched in the head.

In truth all three of these characters are different sides of me. We’re all sitting in the bar together trying to figure out how to assimilate into one body without becoming a schizophrenic hypocrite. Not to be overly simple, but the socialist me wants everyone to have an equal share, the libertarian wants to be rewarded for his hard work without being told what to do and the pacifist just wants everyone to get along.

In my attempt to reconcile these competing agendas, I realized something profound. My personal struggle has NOTHING TO DO WITH GOVERNMENT. It is not about politics because responding to social needs and enacting my liberal democratic rights to do so (in a non-violent way) has nothing to do with who I voted for. Simply put, caring for the poor is not the primary role of government and as much as the UN Millennium goals are commendable, eliminating poverty is just not possible.

There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open-handed toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land. [Deuteronomy 15:11 NIV]

This is a direct command from God. It is not about how governments should behave, it is about how individuals should behave, about how I should behave.

Sure, it’s nice when governments commit money to pay for things like health care and education but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s my money from the taxes I paid. If they didn’t do it I would presumably have more money in my pocket but it wouldn’t negate my responsibility to make sure certain things get done. Nor does the fact that government is doing some of these things take the burden off of me to fill in the inevitable gaps.

Therefore I can live my personal life as socialistically as I want without conflicting with my more politically libertarian leanings. In fact, to live a politically libertarian lifestyle with a personal socialist agenda fits a lot better with biblical teaching than trying to be a political activist. Christ-Followers don’t need to put pressure on the government or other institutions to “do the right thing”. Doing the right thing is our job. If we do it effectively and the government wants to partner with us, fine but we shouldn’t expect it.

Bob Hartman, lead guitarist and principal song writer for the Christian rock band, Petra put it best in 1990 when he penned the lyrics for the song “Seen and Not Heard”.

There’s too much talk and not enough walk
Sometimes God’s children should be seen and not heard.

As regular readers will no doubt know, I do not hold organized religion in very high regard. Neither did the apostle James. The book of James is all about faith in action. Being seen, but not necessarily heard. As I’ve been trying to reconcile these thoughts James definition of religion has resonated with me in a new and profound way.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. [James 1:27]

Religion is not about steeples and bells, rituals and rules; it’s about taking care of people and remaining pure of heart.

So a Socialist, a Libertarian and a Pacifist walked into a bar, a little while later I walked out with a new vision and clarity of purpose.

Who’s with me?


  1. Andrew33 says:

    >Libertarians believe that war is a LAST RESORT ONLY option. Libertarians oppose having the US military spread out all over the world. We pay for them to defend us, not Iraq or europe. We are okay with defending allies as long as they pay their fair share. For the record, I am not really a pure libertarian. I am an independent that strongly leans libertarian.

  2. >Lauren, my name is Frank Lockwood of Eltopia Washinton. I think you tripped over a rusty nail that was sticking up when you wrote, "that is not the purpose of governement."For better or worse, there is no "purpose" of government. There are only "functions" of government, and those are constantly changing depending upon what groups and interests are able to exercise power.

  3. Lauren Sheil says:

    >Hey FrankThanks for the comment but I'm not going to argue over language. "Purpose" or "Function", it doesn't really change the meaning of what I was trying to say…

  4. Andrew33 says:

    >Government does serve a purpose. After hurricane Ivan hit the Gulf Coast, it took several days for national guards and rescue personell staged outside the area to get in because all roads were either in the Gulf or impassable because of fallen trees and roots that damaged the road. At first, it was anarchy. Then, local businesses opened up and gave away all their food. We had an Ice company in town and while it was severely damaged, it was running within 2 days. As soon as the roads opened, trucks rolled in from everywhere with supplies thanks to the businesses in the area. But not exclusively! Our local government had put away tax money to pay local businesses to have plans in place to deliver free and low cost food. Their response was so good considering the situation that it has now been adopted by every state along the Gulf. While 99% of the houses in my county were total losses, the excellent planning by local government kept us fed and as safe as possible. The government (for once) looked out for the folks as needed without trying to take their freedom. Ironically, this local government was not socialist. It was an ultra-conservative republican town council and Mayor. Jeb Bush was our governor and dealt with 4 major hurricane impacts in 2 months and handled it very well also. Power companies came from all over the world. Ironically, 2 months after the storm, a power crew from Ontario Canada turned ours on. It is government's job to make just laws so we can have a fair society. It is also government's job to, when necessary, tap those who can deal with problems or emergencies most efficiently (private business) then stay out of their way and let them do their job in giving help. It is not government's job to solve every problem for everyone itself. Those in government know that if they solved every problem that came up, there would be no use for them afterwards after all. So, while less government is better, a well prepared and put together plan for emergencies is vital to keeping law and order. If you don't believe me, read Romans 13.So

  5. Andrew33 says:

    >When government takes taxes to "pay for health care" you lose the ability to truly help people who need it (when the person who recieves the money gets say so over health care, you get rationing just like in England. Notice how many people you see in England have rotten teeth, Now compare that to America (obamacare hasnt had time to rot our teeth yet.) Then the government decides who needs the help and ultimately they want to keep everything they can for pork projects. So you can't help as commanded, nor can you even decide who to help. That path will only lead you (and possibly us) to financial ruin like Greece, Spain, Italy and England. America's government has spent 3trillion dollars since BHO alone. Are we any better off? (no, we are in an economic depression brought on by high spending/taxes just as we were under FDR, who made a depression last a decade through the tax and spend "new deal"are on

  6. Lauren Sheil says:

    >I understand the role of government as spelled out in Romans 13. But you have to read it after Romans 12, that's why they are in that order…Read them both, one after the other to see what I mean… It might adjust your perspective a bit, not much mind you bit a just a bit.

  7. Andrew33 says:

    >I know the story, and Romans 12 does lend historical context to the story but the fact remains that we are ordered to obey laws. I believe Paul's original intent was to aim that passage as much towards social law(customs) as government. When the Catholic and orthodox faiths were responsible for the translations and they used "creative translating" so that the teachings in the Bible did not conflict to their long held traditions. Once the 4th century Catholic Church became a political force, it was in their interest as lawmakers to tell people to obey the law. The Catholic/Orthodox Church became the government and they then opposed printing of Bibles for public use, and were the only folks that had ancient manuscripts. Early Bibles were based on those manuscripts that were copies of older Catholic manuscripts. The theology of those translating or copying a Biblical text can impact the translation. Pre-Catholic manuscripts show a far different story on such things.

  8. Andrew33 says:

    >As for socialism: the lesson needed there is you can help your poor neighbors far better than a government agency. If someone is truly in need, they don't have time for a government agency to clear the red tape to fill those needs. Plus, when government takes a dollar to "help" the poor, 2/3rds or more of that money pays government employees. I see this attitude as simple laziness. If the government helps the poor, then others don't have to worry about that.The libertarian needs to learn that there must be a government with laws or society will descend into anarchy (See US border with Mexico). The pacifist needs to remember the many promises made in the Bible, by or through God, that war will be with us until we die, or the 2nd coming happens. Either way, wars will happen whether we like it or not. Most pacifists support "gun bans" for instance. I live in a fairly well known area for crime. In the 90's, we had multiple shootings daily in my city. In 2002 Governor Jeb Bush loosened gun laws. Now, with very loose local gun laws, gun crime is down to one-two a month in the county which encompasses several big cities. Now the criminals who can get guns no matter what are afraid of law abiding residents who are now well armed. At the same time, Chicago IL has absolute gun ban and has highest murder by gun rate in the country. The criminals don't fear breaking into a house because it's residents are lawfully disarmed.My point here is that the path to Christ is not political and political solutions rarely fix the intended issue, but often create many more.So, when the socialist, libertarian and pacifist meet at the bar, they can each learn to compromise.

  9. Lauren Sheil says:

    >A note on gun control. Canada has some of the strictest gun control laws in the western world. Our rate of violent crime, including murder is consistently among the lowest in the world. Equating murder rates to gun control laws just doesn't hold up.

  10. Mad Jack says:

    >From Lauren Sheil: Equating murder rates to gun control laws just doesn't hold up.It doesn't have to. The United States has the second amendment which recognizes our right to keep and bear arms. Practically speaking, in any city where I'm most likely to need to defend myself from a violent criminal, I'm forbidden by law to carry a concealed weapon. When those restrictions are removed, such as happened in Florida, violent crime drops.Religion is not about steeples and bells, rituals and rules; it’s about taking care of people and remaining pure of heart.Which is why I am a member of my Church. This is a very perceptive statement and goes to illustrate what Christianity is all about.

  11. Lauren Sheil says:

    >mad jack spoken like a true American (no offense) but in Canada we dont even lock our doors at night and no one has a gun, look up the stats for yourself, even if Florida has a lower crime rate that it used to its still an order of magnitude higher than here. – its not about gun control its about the national attitude toward violent crime. I promise that if we loosed our gun control laws here the effect on the crime rate would be negligable.

  12. >Lauren, I think you missed my point completely concerning purposes or functions of government. You focused on the distinction between a fuction and a purpose and said it doesn't matter what you call it. But that bypasses the real issue. The real issue wass that your statment seems to assume that there are agreed-upon purposes or functions of government. That is only relatively true, with a great deal of difference of opinion as to what the purposes of government SHOULD be.And that, of course, boils down to what YOU would LIKE the purpose to be. There is no OBJECTIVE purpose or function of government apart from a social contract that people can accept. And that contract is continuously being renegotiated.One cannot discusss the "purpose" of government as if there were such a thing objectively, locked in time. One can only speak of what he or she would LIKE the function or purpose to be. In which case, "function" seems to me like a more appropriate word. But stick any word in there that makes you feel better, the point is still the same. There is no purpose, no fuction except the one that we as a people negotiate.

  13. >Maybe mad jack is arguing for less government. His attitude seems to be "I can take care of myself." He doesn't need government programs to protect himself. He has his own gun.Isn't that the same premise as you arguments against government social programs? It's all the same idea. Get government out of the way and let people take care of themselves? Not that I agree, with you or with mad jack. But you are both using the same arguments for your very different agendae.

  14. >Lauren: About locking doors, to lock or not to lock, it's all about culture. And the USA is not one culuture, but many. Not too long ago I visited a Christian friend in Portland Oregon and they said the same thing as you said, "We never lock our doors. The door is always open, day and night."That's because the Lord was supposed to take care of them, and if anybody wants anything, "Well, they may as well take it if they really want it all that bad. It all belongs to the Lord anyway." It's culture. Rather, sub culture.Doesn't mean it is a good, safe idea in a place like Portland. But they lived in a nicer neighborhood too.I visitied a small Oregon town (Ione, 300 population) in eastern Oregon and NOBODY locked their doors, not even the car doors, because everybody knows everybody else. If you lock your door, it is considered an insult to the people there. Means you don't trust them.This is in the United States of America. Oh, and they all do own guns out there in Ione, and it's not unusual to see a rifle hanging in the back window of a pickup truck out there, but I have never heard of anybody being shot in Ione … it's hunting country! They go for deer, elk, and some kind of feathered animal called a "chuckar." Conversely, there are some places here in the USA that only a fool or a madman would go unarmed. It's a culture. You gotta know the territory. But here in the USA, a guy has the right to make that decision for himself … to go armed or to go unarmed. Very libertarian idea don't you think? And as you said, the Pacifist has every right to go wherever he/she wants, unarmed and harmless. No law against that. That's just the USA. Especially rural USA but city folk own guns too. Those city boys are the most dangerous; when they take a notion to go deer hunting you had best stay home lest you get shot by mistake!Frank

  15. Lauren Sheil says:

    >Well Frank, I am entitled to my opinion, that is what a blog is for. You do not have to agree with me.

  16. Andrew33 says:

    >You just proved that gun laws have little or no impact on gun crime…making the argument for gun laws an oxymoron wouldn't you say?Of your gun crime, look up how much of that gun crime happened with illegal firearms. Look right down the road at Chicago. The have most draconian gun laws in the USA, and have a massive crime wave because the criminals (who get their guns with their cocaine and heroin, trust me, I lived on that side of the law before) don't fear law abiding citizens because they obey the law and are defenseless. It is not the job of the police to protect you from a criminal. It is the job of the police to deal with crimes after they happen. That did not come from me but my friend Paul who was an Army Ranger before he became a cop.And by the way, my area used to be an area where you carried a gun and mace and pepper spray and a tazer, if you were just going up to the grocery store for some milk. Now, you leave your car door unlocked and sit outside in your front yard at night, and never hear the crackle of gunfire in the distance. It did not become like that until Jeb's gun law went into effect. Now I don't think you should change your laws, just don't interfere with what is working here

  17. Andrew33 says:

    >Mr. Lockwood must have meant city boys like Dick Cheney going deer hunting :0)He is correct, stay our of urban areas unless you have lots of big well armed friends

  18. Lauren Sheil says:

    >I guess I did prove that gun laws don't work. Touche!What it comes down to is the attitude of society as a whole. Canada has required hand guns to be registered for a long time now but when we tried to implement a "long gun" registry which included rifles and shot guns primarily used for hunting the backlash was massive and program was ultimately scrapped.Almost all gun crime in Canada is carried out with unregistered weapons anyway.

  19. Andrew33 says:

    >It's amazing how pillars of extreme liberal philosophy are collapsed by miniscule doses of common sense. Since you proved gun laws don't work…take it one step further…why does the radical communist agenda support gun control so strongly? The Answer lies with 1916 Russia. Their population was unarmed, When deserters from the Army joined police and revolutionary supporters, the government collapsed with ease. If I recall history, only 16 revolutionaries died overthrowing Czar Nicholas. Would it have been so easy to implement the communist agenda? Had the population been armed, taking the land from the middle class would have been impossible. Now look at how BHO is targeting the American Middle class. Proof of that is the current war between the government and the middle class in America is that the Chamber of Commerce which lobbies the government for businesses, form tiny to huge is now actively supporting any and all opposition to BHO's agenda. Keep in mind, the C.O.C represents businesses owned by members of all political and social background, and the C.O.C. is an apolitical (non-partiisan) agency. The C.O.C is one of those entities in DC that politicians in DC know better than to mess with. BHO has made enemies of just about every private business in this country and the Chamber of Commerce has the financial backing to take on Soros, Immelt and that bunch.One more thing, did you know that in the"obamacare" bill (i see it as unconstutional), the IRS (tax collectors) are now in charge of overseeing health care. One thing that they deemed necessary to provide better health for Americans is to raid the precious metal holdings of all taxpaying Americans. (So if you own American gold, sell it now!!!!) So, you see, my opposition to health care reform was far more about those running the show.

  20. Lee Herald says:

    >"A Socialist . . etc."Very good, Lauren.

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