“There is no such thing as not worshiping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship … If you worship money and things, … then you will never have enough … worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need even more power over others to numb you to your own fear …. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is … they’re unconscious. They are default settings.“ ~David Foster Wallace, 2005.
The late novelist, David Foster Wallace said this at a commencement address at Kenyon College back in 2005. (I highly recommend listening to his whole speech). He wasn’t a professing Christian, yet he articulated the human propensity to worship with astonishing clarity. While we inevitably worship even when there is no crisis happening, whom or what we trust for caring control during hardship says more than perhaps we realize.
We all worship; we’re made to worship. We all have an innate consciousness of the need for something greater than ourselves that is in control and that can save us. But humanity’s fall into sin resulted in our tendency to worship something other than the true God (see Rom. 1:21-25).
In a way, the erroneous desire for government interventionism testifies to the need for a sovereign God and savior. When evil or suffering occurs some look to the state, as though it were a messiah to save us from our sin and misery. And those in power are happy to oblige and assume this role.
Though libertarians tend to be good at avoiding statist idolatry, both government interventionism and libertarianism can be idolized, and Christian libertarians can (and should) avoid making an idol of a free society.
Christians who are libertarian know more about why government interventionism should not be an idol
Libertarian Christians have learned the state is neither our messiah nor in actual control. We recognize the emergent order which arises naturally through humans acting and coordinating voluntarily, without aggression or centralization. Rather than calling for more government intervention and calling opposition to it “cowardice,” we understand that when people are left free to act voluntarily, it actually saves more lives.
One need not be a Christian to recognize this. By God’s common grace, non-Christian libertarians have observed what Christian libertarians know to be God’s design for society. Libertarians understand how the principles of liberty and a free society are the most conducive to human flourishing and a better life. And we can see various manifestations of this fact in reality.
- Habitat-for-Humanity’s post-Hurricane Katrina effort
- Firestone helping contain the Ebola outbreak in 2014.
- Distilleries shifting production to produce hand sanitizer.
- Elon Musk using one of his Tesla factories to produce ventilators.
- or the countless others making their services readily available for free or low cost.
Of course, this small list isn’t even the tip of the iceberg.