The Book of Judges ends with a sad description: “A man did what right according to his vision.”
If America gets there, then we are done as a free people. We might get a king, but for every David, there will be a Jeroboam, son of Nebat, who causes us to sin. How? We chose power and prudence over goodness and beauty.
The author of this book makes this the theme of his story: They did what they thought was right. They followed their dream and their heart. Want to know the end of emotional libertarianism, Oprah? Read the end of the book of Judges.
This ended in strong men hurting weaker women. That’s how a culture morally adrift always ends: power wins. The end comes when people hear that they can ignore the law, God’s morality. They begin to experiment and at first there is little harm. After all, no culture gets everything right and most get a few big things wrong. There is a difference, however, between getting a few things wrong, because people do and getting a big thing wrong on purpose.
This might seem ideal to a liberty loving people, but liberty cannot survive for long when we all do what is right in our eyes.
When we all we do is what we wish, the powerful will do with us as they wish. Why? The powerful begin with the chips: money, fame, power, position, or all of the above. When we go mad, they peddle product to us. If we are sad, they sell us opioids or booze. If we are happy, they promote parks where we can fritter away our income to make them rich. The powerful, including those in churches, are happy to fleece the flock.
If the exploitation gets bad enough, then the mob will do what they wish to the formerly powerful. After the revolution, a new tyrant will arise and do what seems right in his own eyes. This tyrant will wear overalls, if he must, to relate to us, but he will rule. We will follow.
When I visited Mongolia, just after the fall of socialism, I found a burnt out people. Government murders? Massive. Freedom? None. Now the people had risen up to get liberty, but what they got instead were the children of the previous “comrades” now wearing business suits. Free markets meant ripping people off without Stalinist overalls. The problem was that the law was still coming to the folks externally, from the powerful.
Segregationists talked small government until they called the police to deal with the race “problem.” If you wanted to rent a room to a nice couple, forget it. The government decided you could not and the stick, noose, and flames were waiting to make sure you complied.
God’s law does not have to be enforced with police powers. We can have it written on our hearts and this limits the power of men over us. The more power we give the government to do good, the more power we give to other people to decide what goodness is. Liberty cannot exist without structure, but structure without the liberty of the soul is tyranny.
What is soul liberty?
Soul liberty is the right of every person to say “yes” or “no” and have that decision respected. We do not torture prisoners, because we respect the liberty of the jihadist to say “no.” They may face unpleasant consequences, but we leave their liberty intact.
Follow your heart?
God help us: no. Let’s follow the law of nature and of nature’s God and then use power as little as possible.