Thursday, May 7, 2015

Romans 13 ≠ libertarian

In chasing after legal weed, God’s will be done, says Texas State Rep. David Simpson:

“All that God created is good, including marijuana. God did not make a mistake when he made marijuana that the government needs to fix,” he said. “Let’s allow the plant to be utilized for good—helping people with seizures, treating warriors with PTSD, producing fiber and other products—or simply for beauty and enjoyment. Government prohibition should be for violent actions that harm your neighbor—not of the possession, cultivation, and responsible use of plants.”

In an ideal world, that is what government does. Also in an ideal world, people do not stupefy themselves, which is precisely what weed legalization invites. That’s the reason people support it, so they can get high.

This Ayn Rand fantasy that no one is “harmed” by the man who indulges in quiet self-destruction works in fiction. But in reality our lives touch others’ lives. Self-destruction is something of a misnomer, as harm is hardly limited to the self.

The East Texas Tea Partier said fellow Republican, Gov. Greg Abbott, has vowed to “expand liberty in Texas” and he hopes Abbott will allow marijuana plants to be used “for God’s glory” outside of government restrictions.

“He started with open carry,” said Simpson. “Well, I would hope he would consider identifying the innate goodness of everything God has made, and allowing those pants to be used for God’s glory, and the good of your neighbor.”

Simpson told radio host Chad Hasty this week that big government solutions to marijuana are off-base. He instead pointed to the Bible as proof that “more bureaucracies” and civil intrusion into people’s personal lives is the wrong path toward “liberty.”

“Civil government should value everything God made and leave people alone unless they meddle with their neighbor,” Simpson noted on his blog.

“We don’t’ need a registry or more bureaucracies. We just need to hold accountable for their actions,” he explained. “Under the new covenant, if you look at Romans 13 [in the Bible], the role of the civil magistrate is to control or to punish when you have harmed your neighbor. And I don’t want the civil magistrate telling me how to worship and when to worship and dealing with my relationship with God or even coming into my home and telling how to do this or that.”

Interesting eisegesis. Although I’m sympathetic to this view of less officious, less meddlesome government, that’s not what Paul’s talking about in Romans 13. He’s talking about how you should generally submit to civil authorities, who will commend or punish you for your good or wrong deeds (Romans 13:3). He’s not describing the proper, or a limited, role of government, but rather the Christian’s role under any government.

“I think this would allow parents to be involved more with their children, and teach them—like with coffee or tea or with water,” said Simpson. “Respect it, and know that it can harm us if we don’t treat it right.”

That last part makes sense, at least. It’s just hard to see how government can encourage sobriety in an unsober people by not punishing non-sobriety. It helps to know the people are level-headed and won’t abuse their liberty.

A people prone to crimes X, Y, Z need laws that punish X, Y, Z. For every people, a government to suit them.

Related: “Monads in Massachusetts.”

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