Monday, June 02, 2008

Jumping Libertarian Jesus

Michael Gerson writes:
The Jewish tradition in which Jesus lived and taught demanded that just rulers make a minimal provision for the poor, including no-interest loans and the distribution of agricultural commodities. (Look it up: Exodus 22:25-27 and Deuteronomy 24:19-21.) The apostle Paul held a high view of government's role in promoting justice and urged the willing payment of taxes -- a biblical demand more severe, for some of us, than all those sexual prohibitions.
Notice the careful use of language by Gerson, it does not say that Jesus demanded these things, but that the Jewish tradition demanded it. The first time I read it, I had the impression that he directly demanded it as well (which he might have, but that is not what Gerson is writing, but seems to be implying).

Can I now use a violation of the separation between church and state as a means of protesting taxation and public goods? Probably not, because that no longer seems to matter these days.

Hat Tip: Mike Munger

1 comment:

KipEsquire said...

As I noted in a Hit & Run comment on this: at least some, if not most, translations of Exodus 22:25 say "excessive interest" or "usury" and not just "interest."

The passage could also easily be interpreted as a call for discrimination: Do not charge one of my people (i.e., another Hebrew) excessive interest. Open season on exploiting goyim, however. (See also Deuteronomy 23:20.)

And the passage says nothing about government-mandated law -- just being a good neighbor (and, of course, avoiding God's wrath).