Santorum’s Bible

Mike Lux at HuffPo has this astute observation:

Because here’s the thing: while you can — if you really work hard to do it — find verses here and there supporting a more conservative political point of view on certain specific issues, there is simply no way to read the Bible I read and not come to the conclusion that it is overwhelmingly supportive of helping the poor, showing mercy to the weak, refraining from judging, treating others as you would treat yourself, calling on the wealthy to give their money to the poor, and all kinds of other liberal, lefty, progressive values. You would have to ignore a great deal of Genesis and Exodus, with their talk of being our brother’s keeper and bringing justice to the poor, oppressed slaves in Egypt; you would have to skip over a great many of the verses of Psalms with its poetry about justice and mercy for the poor and the widow; you would have to avoid the books of the Prophets almost entirely since so much of what they are angry about is the Israelite society’s mistreatment of poor people and immigrants in their midst. Then there is the New Testament, where between St. Paul, the relatives of Jesus, and the big guy himself, there are so many verses on these subjects that it is virtually impossible to ignore them.

READ THE REST: Mike Lux: What Bible Is Santorum Reading?.

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  • Santorum and others who share his beliefs would (and could) argue that scripture has just as much to say about holiness, purity, and what is sexually acceptable. I think Mike Lux is doing here the same thing Santorum is doing, just from the other side of the fence. He’s presenting his theology and saying, “This is the ultimate expression of what it means to be in a faithful relationship with God.” No one wins when we play the extremes. Maybe the challenge (for Santorum, Lux, and all of us) is to find balance between those seemingly opposite theologies. We’ve turned them into polarities, when really social justice and personal (as well as communal) holiness exist side-by-side in scripture.

    • JoeyS

      I’m guessing this is in regards to Santorum’s recent comments that effectually say that God doesn’t care about how we treat the earth rather than his stances on issues of personal piety.

    • No. The Bible doesn’t have “just as much” to say about “holiness, purity, and what is sexually acceptable” as it does about justice. Since you make this quantitative, there are way more verses about justice than holiness, purity, and sexuality. Furthermore, Christians read the Scriptures through the Word, Jesus Christ. In him God’s holiness IS God’s justice in welcoming the outsider, healing the sick, liberating those in bondage, etc. Holiness and purity should certainly not be disregarded as important categories (which the left often does), but Jesus himself defines his ministry in terms of justice (Luke 4; Isaiah 61). And he is frequently suspicious of those who place their holiness and purity ahead of justice and love.

  • ME

    There is a big difference between calling on people to give money to the poor and forcing them to do so with the threat of violence, which is what our political system does. If a selfish atheist doesn’t want to give his money to the poor, and withholds his taxes thru cheating or whatever, the government will eventually send people armed with guns and physically lock him away in prison. The bible I read does not support this.

    How can you reconcile coercion with what Jesus taught? I believe Jesus’ Gospel is the answer to almost all of our problems. It’s a Gospel that has to be accepted by individuals, not by force. We should focus on His Kingdom, not the political system. All the pagans and atheists will run the government just as well as us Christians. We don’t have time to spare for it.

    • I just don’t get the libertarian “threat of violence” thing. We have a rule of law and it is enforced. We are also “threatened with violence” if we are speeding or stealing. Not paying taxes is stealing. If you use the roads, go to the library, use public schools, expect the fireman to come when your house is on fire, expect your neighbor won’t dump his garbage in the river upstream from you, breath clean air etc. then you are using common resources that we all must pay for. I don’t like most of what the military does, but I appreciate living in a safe country. I don’t like all the entitlement programs, but that’s why I participate in my democracy.

      How would you compare tithing to taxes?

      • ME

        How do I compare tithing to taxes? I’ll probably expose some of my ignorance, but, my recollection is that tithing was an old testamant requirement for the Jews. As a gentile I don’t typically think it applies to me. For the Jews I think the tithe would be fairly similar to taxes.

        For gentiles like myself, the tithe sets the bar way too low. I like what John Wesley said- give all you can- and I believe that aligns with Jesus’ message. Further, to me what’s critical is that when Jesus told the young rich man to sell all he owns, he let the young rich man say no. Jesus never forced someone to believe in him, did he?

        And what is it we are worrying about so much with taxes and government? It’s all about money and security. Lets say we all work together and improve the government and the general welfare. What has that gotten us? It’s not the Good News. It will not be our salvation.

        • Carl

          Amen, ME. Well said.

        • I thought working together and improving the general welfare was going pretty good. We defeated the Nazis, one of the greatest threats in history and now diplomacy is used in greater measure than ever throughout the world. In many parts of the world, if you break your arm, you just go in a get it fixed, at low or no immediate cost. It is assumed that you are a productive member of society and deserve to be treated and continue to be a valued member. That continued participation will pay for the system where we all work together. Seems Christian to me.

          Of course some people abuse the system. Jesus said there will always be poor. He was referring to Deuteronomy 15 where it says we should help them. We have AA for the alcoholics and therapy for prisoners. We should do the same for welfare abusers. Seems like the Christian thing to me.

          • ME

            I understand your points and of course think those things are good. But a much inferior good to some other goods. I think the meaning of life is communion with God. Part of that is doing/obeying his will. I interpret Jesus’ will as being expressly against coercion and violence. Therefore, to coerce other people to my point of view is wrong. I can’t justify that wrong by saying it affords poor people to be less poor. Especially when Jesus warned against worrying about money and security.

  • Patrick S

    I don’t see anywhere in the Lux post where he claims it is written in the bible that people should punt on this and have government do it all. People like Santorum (and me) believe anyone BUT government should help the poor.

  • Phil Miller

    Is it possible for a large federal government to be merciful or charitable? I have my doubts… It’s not as if the government is making a sacrifice by giving money from its treasury to the poor. It’s not showing love to its enemies. I would argue that it’s simply not possible for government to exhibit these sorts of values because it simply goes against the nature of what government is. That’s not saying that some good can’t come from various government programs sometimes, but I have hard time believing that Jesus would advocate increasing the scope and reach of the federal government as a way to further the Kingdom of God.

  • Kenton

    “I have hard time believing that Jesus would advocate increasing the scope and reach of the federal government as a way to further the Kingdom of God.”

    Actually, Jesus did exactly that when he said “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and render unto Caesar what is God’s”

    • Phil Miller


      Actually, Jesus commenting on something entirely different. The Pharisees and Herodians were trying to get Jesus to pick sides in a debate about Jewish identity. The Herodians were of the persuasion that since the Romans were ruling the Jews, it must be what God wants. They should make the best of it, and not rock the boat. The Pharisees took a more hardline position. They saw the Roman occupation as more of punishment from God for Israel’s unfaithfulness. Once the nation repented, they would be freed. They would say that compromise with the Romans was simply prolonging their exile. Using the idolatrous coins with Caesar’s image stamped on them was something forbidden by the Torah. So asking Jesus to pick a side was a way to trap him. Was he going to come out as a compromiser or a revolutionary.

      The answer was neither, at least not right away. By asking this group of men to produce a coin, he revealed that they themselves were taking part in the action they were speaking out against. Caesar’s image is on the coin, so let him have it. It doesn’t mean he really owns anything, though. Any claim of ownership that Caesar makes is inherently fraudulent. In other words, there’s nothing that belongs to Caesar that doesn’t belong to God. So both groups trying to trap Jesus were revealed as being wrong… kind of like American politics.

    • Nope, Kenton, that’s the exact opposite of what he was saying. When he said “Whose image is on this coin?”, every Jew in earshot knew that he was saying that even Caesar is created in the image of God. Every human being — even Caesar — is an image-bearer of God. That’s why when he says what you quoted, his questioners walked away confounded and angry.

      • ME

        “every Jew in earshot knew that he was saying that even Caesar is created in the image of God. Every human being — even Caesar — is an image-bearer of God. That’s why when he says what you quoted, his questioners walked away confounded and angry.”

        anyone else think this interpretation is a stretch?

        • JoeyS

          No that’s a pretty standard understanding of it. Archaeology, extra-biblical sources, and the history of interpretation would all affirm this reading.

    • Kenton

      Did you guys all miss the intentional snarky misquote??? You do know I’m one of the political conservatives here, right? (And for the record your exegesis of that passage pretty much sums up my understanding too.)

      • Carl

        I didn’t miss it (see my comment below), but they all did apparently.

      • Phil Miller

        Oh… I didn’t see what you did there…

  • Carl

    Oh Kenton, you got me there. 🙂

  • “Conservatism” sounds like it had to do with conserving things. What a conservator does, as an officer over somebody’s estate. Makes sure it gets disposed or disbursed properly. One of many words I wish meant what they say, like “New Covenant” and “Puritan”.

    @ME: Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.

    • Patrick S

      For what it is worth, Hayek’s definition of political conservatism is the one I favor: when dealing with issues, we should rely on the spontaneous forces of society and resort as little as possible to coersion by the state.

    • ME

      Marshall, Caesar was a pagan who, I’m guessing, used violence for the sake of money and property. I interpret what Jesus said to mean give to the government what is the government, or give to the bully what is the bully’s. But, in our case, we are little Caesar’s. We each are tiny kings trying legislating our kingdom’s on others via democracy. Is Jesus condoning Caesar’s behavior? I strongly think not. Is Jesus saying if you are a king you should govern like Caesar? I think not.

      When you go to the polls and vote, you are imposing or attempting to impose your will on other people. If I vote for Santorum, I’m attempting to force my neighbor to pay for the defense department. And if my neighbor doesn’t want to, he’ll go to jail. Does Jesus condone me threatening my neighbor with violence?

      • Patrick S

        Your neighbor benefits by the defense provided by the defense department.

        Wait until the $500 billion in tax increases your neighbor will soon be forced to pay under Obama (ObamaCare, ending of Bush tax cuts, cap gains and the list goes on). If your neighbor doesn’t want to pay all those taxes (and isn’t the Treasury Secretary) he’ll go to jail, too.

  • Jonathan

    I’m really having trouble keeping calm about this, so bear with me. I think Lux and other liberals who talk like him are either entirely ignorant about conservatism, or blatant and insidious liars. I’d much prefer the former to be true, but sometimes it’s really hard to believe.

    Conservatives do not hate the poor. Lux says that Conservatives like Santorum are “happy to let the poor starve.” This is a falsehood. I’ve never met a conservative who took pleasure from starvation. Every conservative Christian I’ve met believes the poor should be treated with compassion and respect, and that Christians have a responsibility to care for widows and orphans. They all believe in treating others as you would treat yourself (the fact that Lux calls this a “lefty” value is either idiocy or villainy, take your pick).

    Where we differ is on the role the government should play in this. We should help the poor, sure. Agreed. But is federalized welfare the best way? I don’t think so. And because I disagree on the means of helping the poor, Lux thinks I’m happy to let the poor starve. This is perilously close to bearing false witness.

    So to my more liberal brothers and sisters. Please don’t repeat (as Tony has, alas) these sorts of falsehoods. Villainizing your opponents as mini Darth Vaders who laugh at starving children is not helpful.

    (P.S. – I’m sure there are, in fact, some greedy and wicked conservatives who prey on the poor. But guess what, there are greedy and wicked liberals who prey on the poor too. No political party has a corner on sinfulness, that’s for sure.)

    • Curtis

      >>Conservatives do not hate the poor.

      So who was cheering “YES” in the crowd when Wolf Blitzer asked “What do you tell a guy who is sick, goes into a coma and doesn’t have health insurance?… Are you saying society should just let him die?”

      Were they not conservatives? Maybe the conservatives you know are not the same conservatives we see on display from time to time?

      • Jonathan

        Two points here. First, the hypothetical man was not poor, but had a “good job” and was simply irresponsibly unwilling (not unable) to pay for health insurance. Second, Paul’s answer that the church should take care of him received substantially more applause. If we’re judging the conservative position by noise at a debate, that answer is far more mainstream. It certainly represents the conservatives I interact with on a daily basis. Do you have many conservative friends? Do they express giddy delight at the thought of starvation?

        • Curtis

          But the people who wanted the man to die were clear and vocal You can’t claim they don’t exist.

          Perhaps, instead of compassionate people, both conservative and liberal, calling one another liars and ignorant, we should band together as compassionate people to condemn the greedy, selfish people, both conservative and liberal.

          I would be happy to hear more condemnation of greed as a “social issue”, rather than the usual litany of gay marriage, abortion, and school prayer. Why don’t we hear more condemnation of selfish greed, if both conservatives and liberals agree that it is sinful? It seems to be one thing we can all agree on.

          • Carl

            Curtis, Christ didn’t come to condemn, he came to bring freedom. What we need more of is not condemnation, but grace and the Gospel, and less forceful coercion by the government and liberals.

          • You’re avoiding Crutis’ point Carl. Curtis said he wants LESS condemnation and more banding together to promote compassion. You seem to agree on that then immediately turn to name calling of the government and liberals. If we don’t use our representative democracy to promote freedom and equality, how do you suggest we do it?

          • Carl

            How do I suggest we do it? What the founders of this country thought, and what is supported by the Bible: actually giving people freedom from control and threat of force. We promote freedom by actually leaving people alone (I know, a novel thought). We don’t promote freedom by stealing their money, forcing them to support things they don’t believe in, and giving government all the power. We don’t help the poor by enslaving them to welfare and encouraging in them a sense of entitlement. We help the poor by voluntarily helping them with a hand UP, not a hand out. We assist them in getting out of poverty, not by institutionalizing them within it.

            I suggest we let the Church be the Church it has been for 2000 years and get the government out of the business of being god. What we currently have is a government intent on persecuting the Church and taking all her responsibilities on itself. In short, we have idolatry.

          • Jonathan

            I certainly don’t deny they exist. See the P.S. in my first comment. We’ve got our Ayn Rands, and you’ve got your Maos. Neither conservatives nor liberals are free from sin. I acknowledge this wholeheartedly. That still doesn’t make it ok to say “Conservatives hate the poor and enjoy watching them starve” or “Liberals hate babies and enjoy watching them cut to pieces.” Neither statement is true, and neither statement furthers understanding and reasonable discourse.

            I think the reason why don’t get mutual condemnation of greed is that there’s disagreement as to what constitutes greed. Take the rich banker type who abuses the public trust for personal gain. Greed? Sure. But what about the OWS protestor who wants that rich guy’s money to pay for his education. This is also greed. But here is where we probably disagree, and this disagreement is why you don’t get many mutual condemnations of greed.

          • Scot Miller

            Carl, sounds fantastic! I can only assume that you are opposed to the government forbidding same sex marriages (you’re obviously for the freedom of same sex couples to marry without big government getting in the way), and you’re opposed to all of the anti-abortion legislation like requiring transvaginal ultra-sounds of anyone wanting an abortion, since each woman should be free to have the choice to terminate their pregnancy. Down with government intrusion in our personal lives! Support marriage equality and keep abortion safe and legal!

          • Phil Miller

            I don’t really consider myself a conservative – more of a libertarian, really. But regarding the gay marriage issue, I tend to agree it’s something the government should not be necessarily defining. Regarding abortion, I think that a libertarian case can be made for being against almost all abortions. If someone believe life begins at conception (something, btw, I’d be willing to give some on – I think a better case can be made for life beginning at implantation), then you can’t say that a woman simply has the right to choose to end another life because she wants to. I know slippery slope arguments can be abused, but if we start down the road of saying another person has the right to end the life of another because of convenience, etc., well it leads to some scary places.

            I guess what I’d say is that abortion probably should be legal in limited situations, but it should really be seen as a medical procedure of last resort, not a form of birth control.

          • Carl

            Actually, Scot, same sex couples ARE currently free to marry whomever they choose in all 50 states and in most of the world. Get a few friends together, find a priest who doesn’t have any qualms with it, and get yerself hitched. Badda bing, badda bum.

            What you’re probably actually referring to is the additional step of the government sanctioning, supporting, and approving such marriages (and the necessary next step of persecuting anyone who doesn’t agree… I think the government should stay out of the bedroom. If homos want to form a voluntary contractual agreement, the government shouldn’t stop it.

            As for abortion, I am all for the freedom for babies to live, just as I support your right to life. Unfortunately, you seem to think that as long as certain humans can’t defend themselves, they’re fair game to murder. Lucky for you you got out of the most dangerous place for a human being (the womb) intact.

          • Carl

            Exactly Phil. The only place an “abortion” should be legal is when the life of the mother is at stake, and even then, everything should be tried to save the baby. So even that wouldn’t be a true abortion.

          • Scot Miller

            Phil, I don’t think it’s consistent for a libertarian to be anti-choice in regards to abortion. Reasonable people disagree about the moral status of a fetus (especially in the first trimester): some believe it is a person from the moment of conception, others (like me) think it does not yet possess the properties of personhood (e.g., consciousness, self-consciousness, viability, etc.). Those people who feel abortion is killing a person shouldn’t have abortions, but they shouldn’t impose their religious/moral beliefs on people who don’t believe that. (Most of the so-called moral arguments about the personhood of a fetus are really religious beliefs.) A good libertarian, who values freedom of religion, should honor my moral and religious belief that abortions are morally permissible for any reason, especially before viability.

          • Phil Miller

            Well, then I guess I’m not a good libertarian then…

            Throughout its history, the position of the church has been pretty much universally against abortion. Abortion isn’t something that was invented in 20th century America. I simply don’t see any compelling reason to abandon that position. The way I see it, it’s completely within the limited scope of the government’s powers to ensure that the most defenseless member of society are protected from harm.

            Certainly there are case where abortions are unavoidable. We live in a fallen world, and things are not always as they should be. But that doesn’t mean we simply accept things the way they are.

          • Carl

            “Those people who feel abortion is killing a person shouldn’t have abortions, but they shouldn’t impose their religious/moral beliefs on people who don’t believe that. (Most of the so-called moral arguments about the personhood of a fetus are really religious beliefs.) A good libertarian, who values freedom of religion, should honor my moral and religious belief that abortions are morally permissible for any reason, especially before viability.”

            Scot, ironically enough, THAT is a religious belief (which you admitted). What gives you the right to force your belief on the rest of us while we just have to shut up? And since the being we are discussing is quite possibly a human life at the point of conception, wouldn’t we want to err on the side of life? Why are you so unwilling to extend some charity to the most innocent being on this planet?

          • Scot Miller

            Carl, of course I’m trying to illustrate that your idea of “freedom” isn’t really internally consistent.

            As long as the state treats marriage as a legal contract with legal benefits and responsibilities, everyone who wants to get married should be treated the same way. Perhaps the state needs to get out of the business of conducting marriages, but until that day, there is no rational moral or legal reason to prohibit same sex couples from marrying. At least a good libertarian who hates government would support same-sex marriage. I think Jonathan would agree here.

            I am not convinced that a zygote has any moral significance simply because it has human DNA and could potentially be a human being some day. It would be wrong on libertarian grounds for the government to favor your religious and moral position over mine on this issue. You should have the freedom to decide what is right for you and your family, and I should have the same freedom; the fact that we make different initial assumptions about the moral status of the fetus is irrelevant on libertarian grounds.

            Then again, most so-called “libertarians” aren’t very consistent. Most libertarians I know are for an expansive governmental role in people’s bedrooms and in regulating the personal sexual lives of citizens.

          • Curtis

            >Take the rich banker type who abuses the public trust for personal
            >gain. Greed? Sure. But what about the OWS protestor who wants >that rich guy’s money to pay for his education. This is also greed.

            I agree with you on both counts. I think most Christians, liberal and conservative, would find it refreshing to engage our culture on a debate on the proper balance between liberty and responsibility, rather than the usual hot-button topics that come up every election cycle. It would be refreshing to find a leader who is willing to take up that debate.

          • Scot Miller

            Carl, of course, you are free to believe whatever you want about the moral status of a fetus; my position in no way compromises your freedom to believe whatever you want and act however you want. Your position, however, violates my religious freedom if you actively work to restrict my family’s access to abortion services. If you respected religious liberty, you would allow me and my family to make our own decisions.

          • Carl

            Okay Scot, what if your religious beliefs taught you that rape was okay (as some religious beliefs DO teach)? I guess I just have to sit by and not support laws that stop you from raping other people. Or murder. Or theft.

          • Phil Miller

            You should have the freedom to decide what is right for you and your family, and I should have the same freedom; the fact that we make different initial assumptions about the moral status of the fetus is irrelevant on libertarian grounds.

            Well, if consistency is important to you, it’s not too hard to think of example where those on the left would soon be at odds with this statement. I think it’s right to feed my kid Cheetos and Skittles everyday, so that’s what I send with him for lunch everyday. It’s my right as his parent to decide what he eats, right? How long until I get some sort of warning from the school district about that?

            I guess I just find the left’s insistence on personal freedom in certain areas to be completely at odds with its idea that the government knows best in so many others. It’s like the personal freedom card is only played when it’s convenient.

          • Scot Miller

            Phil, the historical position of the church was that someone became a person when one acquired a “soul.” In the Talmudic tradition, rabbis held that ensoulment took place when the baby took its first breath (“And God breathed into man’s nostrils and he became a living being….”). In the middle ages, the belief was that ensoulment took place at quickening (when the mother could feel the baby move). Prior to quickening, if the fetus miscarried, it was not considered the loss of a person. This idea also seems to be reflected in Exodus 21:22-23, where the loss of a fetus is not always regarded as the moral equivalent of the death of a person.

            My exegesis, of course, is beside the point. My point is that a libertarian, or anyone who values religious liberty, should defend the right of women and their families to make their own reproductive choices. The state is the last entity which should have anything to say.

            If you feel passionately about abortion, then by all means try to convince others not to have abortions. But religious liberty requires you to back off if they make a decision that you don’t like.

          • The current system we have is a hand UP. Of course it needs to be improved, we are constantly improving, mostly with steps forward, sometimes back. We aren’t going to agree on that, so I’m done repeating myself.

            Carl Said “I suggest we let the Church be the Church it has been for 2000 years”
            You have a strange view of history, not rare but definitely strange. Before governments started taking on social roles, if you were the wrong faith, you might not get much help. It was the outsider, the Samaritan, who helped the traveler, not the priest. I’m sure we won’t find much agreement on that either. You don’t seem to have much to say other than “get government off my back”, but I haven’t heard much that indicates you understand the implications of that.

          • Carl

            Lausten, you need to read some more history. The facts are strongly against you. The Church was for centuries where the poor were cared for. It got so bad in the early Church that a Roman Caesar complained that Christians were making the Roman government look bad… “These impious Galileans not only feed their own poor, but ours also.” It has been that way since Christ brought His Kingdom. Of course there are instances where local churches didn’t do so great, of course. And more recently, the Church has done more poorly as it has ceded (or been forced to cede) much of those duties to the government. Oh, and I never said “get the government off MY back.” While that would be a benefit, I’m more concerned with getting it off the backs of millions of Americans. I’m not selfish enough to think that my needs are most important. I actually think this is a place where many conservatives err by making it about them rather than about others. Sure, a truly free society will benefit me, but I’m not really being persecuted all that much right now. But I know of plenty who are (the poor, the Church, etc.)

            Oh, as for the current system being a hand UP… that is demonstrably false. Do you know any stories of poor people who got out of poverty while on welfare? Name one. Please. And if you can name one, then name a second. Cause I can personally name many, and I can look at whole neighborhoods for further proof that the current system is a hand OUT. I have to assume you were joking or misspoke when you said it was a hand UP. A great book on this topic (though focused more on missions) is When Helping Hurts. That or go actually live and work in urban America like I do. You’ll see how broken the current system is and how it enslaves people to poverty.

          • Curtis

            Carl, I agree that a deeper exploration of welfare numbers are in order. The fact is, that since welfare reform in 1996, it is impossible for a healthy adult to be eligible for ongoing welfare benefits. The only people who continue to receive welfare are families with dependent children. Apparently we haven’t become so heartless that we are willing to take support away from helpless children. I take that as a good sign.

            The vast majority of “welfare” dollars are spend on healthcare and living expenses of people on medical assistance and supplemental income. That is, we spend most of our welfare money on the elderly and disabled. Your and my grandparents eat up more welfare dollars than poor people living in the inner city. Yes, the dollar value of that welfare is increasing rapidly, mostly because healthcare costs are out of control.

            The fact is, case loads for assistance to needy families has been essentially flat since welfare reform kicked in in 1996. Healthy adults cannot get ongoing welfare in any state, they are expected to get a job. The vast majority of welfare that does get paid out goes to kids, elderly and the disabled. I can’t imagine a compassionate conservative would want it any other way.

          • Carl,
            You cherry pick history, then ask me to use anecdotal evidence. I see you make your decisions. You are condemning the entire system because you see some people who did not have good parenting, behaving poorly. Get off the computer and go meet some people who are using government programs to improve themselves. They are not hard to find.

  • Carl

    To add to what Jonathan said so well, take a look at who gives the most to charity. That’s right, conservatives do. So either Lux (and Tony) are really that ignorant (which I doubt) or they are liars and haters of good. “Their condemnation is just.”

    • ME

      Duuude… Do you think it’s possible Lux and Tony want the same thing as you, and just see a different way of getting there?

    • Curtis

      In general, conservatives will give anywhere they can find the best tax breaks. Seeking the lowest tax burden does not necessarily reflect positively on one’s view of the poor.

      • Jonathan

        Ah, Curtis, you’ve found us out! Clearly, giving away money is just a secret plan to make more money!

        So basically what I’m getting here is that when a conservative says “I care about the poor,” and then gives his own money to the poor, the only possible explanation for his behavior is greed?

        I guess he could be a racist too. That might explain it.

        • Carl

          Don’t be too hard on Curtis, Jonathan. He probably learned his math in a state-run school.

          • Jonathan

            State-run schools. Now there’s an example of giving to Caesar what belongs to God.

  • Carl


    By lying about their opponents’ motives? That’s definitely a DIFFERENT way to get there.

  • SuperStar
    • Imagine the attack ads from Gingrich and Romney if Jesus really were running for President.

  • Mark Armstrong

    There is precedent that conservatives historically have shied away from social concern. During the first and second great awakenings this was not so much the case evangelism and social concern were kept together. The Great Reversal happened around the turn of the 20th century that split these two biblical concerns. There were a number of factors: abolition was over and abolitionists did not have the goal they had and some did not adjust. Premillenial Dispensationalism said that the world is going to hell in a hand basket so the sooner the better….no need to make the world a better place, liberals and conservatives had a guilt by association that if the other group valued it it must not be biblical. There were other factors too. Studying this in college helped me to see historically how evangelism and social concern got split up. It was not so much the case before the Great Reversal.

  • Scot Miller

    Phil, Carl, Jonathan, et al — I’m starting a new thread since it’s getting hard to follow the one above.

    Since I’m not a libertarian, but accept a liberal social contract theory of government (in the tradition of Locke and Rawls), I don’t have a problem with recognizing a more active role in government to restrict behavior (e.g., your example of rape and murder above). There are plenty of moral reasons that all members of society can recognize as to why rape, murder, etc. should be illegal and severely sanctioned.

    My point with abortion is that there is not as clear a moral consensus about when a fetus becomes a person. The intensity and passion for one’s belief about a fetus being a person is not a substitute for a good moral argument. Reasonable people can look at the same facts and reach contradictory conclusions about the moral status of a fetus. Nobody wants babies to be killed; but if a fetus isn’t yet a baby (i.e., a person in the moral community), then killing a fetus isn’t the moral equivalent of murder. (By the way, an abortion in an ectopic pregnancy where the fetus is alive and growing is nothing but an abortion; if the fetus died before the procedure, the procedure isn’t really an abortion.)

    I’m not sure this is the best forum to discuss whether abortion is morally permissible. (For what it’s worth, I think the Christian position should be both pro-life and pro-choice: we presume that life is good, but sometimes abortion is morally permissible.) We are already pretty far afield from Tony’s post. I’ve really been trying to address the libertarian responses to Tony’s post.

    • Phil Miller

      Honestly, Scot, abortion is not something I get into arguments about. I actually tend to agree with the things you put up there. When a fetus is considered viable is something I’m willing to compromise on. My intitial response to you was to your assertion that being pro-life is inconsistent with a libertarian position. I don’t think, for instance, that if we came to an agreement as to when “quickening” occurs that it would be unreasonable for a law to say that beyond this point no abortions could be performed apart from extenuating circumstances. In reality, I think 90% of abortions are performed in the first trimester now, so that sort of law would not limit much in the way of choice that exists now.

      The thing that I have a problem with is that it seems to me that there are those on the pro-choice side who want to act as if getting an abortion is as simple a matter of going and getting your teeth cleaned.

      • Scot Miller

        Phil, I was really just trying to poke libertarians in the eye about what counts as freedom. It sounds like you and I actually agree about abortion… and marriage equality (I think).

  • Carl

    “There are plenty of moral reasons that all members of society can recognize as to why rape, murder, etc. should be illegal and severely sanctioned.

    My point with abortion is that there is not as clear a moral consensus about when a fetus becomes a person.”

    Actually, the Biblical, rational, and scientific arguments are all pretty solidly pro-life. Books like Klusendorf’s The Case for Life or Beckwith’s Defending Life show that science and reason are solidly behind the idea that life begins at or around conception. We don’t look to popular opinion to decide morality. We look to the Bible first, and to reason and science second. And since all three say a fetus is a baby, then it’s probably a baby. Or at least, we should err to that conclusion.

    • Scot Miller

      But everyone doesn’t read the Bible the way you do, Carl. We live in a pluralistic society, not a biblically-based society. If we respect religious liberty, that means we can’t have government privilege the majority at the expense of the minority. That’s why a good libertarian who distrusts government should be opposed to laws restricting liberty. A libertarian may be personally opposed to abortion, yet defend the rights of people who disagree with her to have abortions.

  • Jonathan


    Your replies are gracious and reasonable. So much so that I feel guilty bowing out of this part of the discussion. My aim in this thread hasn’t been to try and argue that libertarianism is right (I have my own qualms, to be sure), but simply that conservatives aren’t poor-hating, starvation-loving monsters. That, I thought, was how we were portrayed in the article that Tony linked, in which loving one’s neighbor was claimed as a “lefty” value. I doubt that I can (though I certainly would like to) change anyone’s real political opinion here. My modest hope would be to discourage anyone from spreading or believing the sort of falsehoods that Lux is (inadvertently, I hope?) spreading about our mutual brothers in Christ. Libertarian consistency, for me, at least, will have to wait for another day.

  • I know I’m late to this party, but want to chime in with a nugget that hasn’t yet come up, at least as far as I can tell by reading some of the comments and skimming some.

    Some have suggested that government – especially the federal government – should get out of the way and just let the churches help poor and hungry people. But we run into a problem of scale. A huge problem of scale.

    As I heard Bread for the World’s President, Rev. David Beckmann, say last night (and write here
    “all the food churches and food banks provide is equivalent to just 6% of the food federal nutrition programs provide–mainly through SNAP, WIC, and school meals.”

    6%. That’s all churches can muster. Where would the other 94% come from if not the government?

    Meanwhile, those nutrition programs along with refundable tax credits are lifting millions of people out of poverty each year.

    Yes, of course the church can, should, and must help poor and hungry people – both by providing meals and by advocating for laws that protect the poor.
    But it isn’t a zero-sum game. It isn’t the churches OR government, it’s both/and. We have – and need! – layers of safety nets. Churches, people of faith, provide one vital layer. And so does the government.