I follow Catholicism first and foremost. If the Church and God asked me to turn away from any political affiliation and follow Him alone, even to the cross, I would do it. However, such a thing has not happened, and owing to the fact that our church’s highest body in the US, the USCCB, is rather involved in certain political matters, I think it only pertinent that I am also. As a citizen of a largely secularized world, I see it as my responsibility to form an intellectually based, well-informed opinion about government, after all, as someone said, “Everyone deserves their own government,” no matter how horrendous it may be. To this end, I follow the political philosophy of libertarianism.
Libertarianism, very fundamentally, teaches that the sole role of the government in lawmaking is to ensure that the actions of one group or individual do not infringe upon the actions of another group or individual. In the United States, we have a Declaration of Independence which is generally a very libertarian document, especially here:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
The Constitution, over the course of the last two centuries, has moved closer and closer to this goal through the Bill of Rights and most of the other amendments. Of course, today in the United States we do not have a libertarian government. We have a heavily centralized federal government which has swelled and left no room for the Constitution, in its eyes a worthless rag to be used only to pass laws that benefit the current Congress. Both Republicans and Democrats have generally been equally responsible for these attacks on their foundations.
However, I am not here primarily to discuss the merits of libertarian philosophy, but rather to discuss how libertarianism fits with the framework of Catholicism. ** In modern Catholic parlance, it seems to be a given that any devout Catholic should support such ideas as government assistance of the poor, via healthcare and welfare, and government intervention in moral affairs such as marriage and sexuality.
(Note: My personal philosophy is that abortion and contraception do not fit with libertarianism because they are acts of murder, and thus a clear violation of someone else’s right to life.)
Yet, I find myself questioning such apparently commonplace beliefs among faithful Catholics such as the idea that gay marriage should be illegal. Why? Gay marriage, like the millions, if not billions of sins committed daily around the world are not the fault of Catholics but rather the failed morals of other human beings. Thus, we can, in good conscience, ignore such marriages as long as they do not invade the space of our church.
In any case, before I descend into a long winded reflection, here is a short list of my beliefs as a libertarian that may be of interest to the readers:
Gay “marriage” may be legal
Forced charity like welfare and Social Security should be illegal
Divorce should be legal
Sodomy and other sinful sex acts like masturbation should be legal (as long as they do not violate another human’s freedom)
Pornography should be legal and unrestricted under the law
Blasphemous movies, comedy shows, and statements about the Church and Christianity should be legal and protected by the government
Abortion and contraception should be ILLEGAL because they constitute murder
Thus the questions arise: Do these beliefs make me (or anyone who follows them) a bad Catholic? Does a convert have to abandon them in order to become a true disciple of the Christ? More nebulously, can anyone truly follow a political philosophy and still strive to be a man of God?
In general, I would like to hear fellow Catholics (and others) weigh in on whether such a philosophy is compatible with church teaching and life.