“Temperance is, unfortunately, one of those words that has changed its meaning. It now usually means teetotalism. But in the days when the second Cardinal virtue was christened ‘Temperance’, it meant nothing of the sort. Temperance referred not specially to drink, but to all pleasures; and it meant not abstaining, but going the right length and no further. It is a mistake to think that Christians ought all to be teetotallers; Mohammedanism, not Christianity, is the teetotal religion. Of course it may be the duty of a particular Christian, or of any Christian, at a particular time, to abstain from strong drink, either because he is the sort of man who cannot drink at all without drinking too much, or because he wants to give the money to the poor, or because he is with people who are inclined to drunkenness and must not encourage them by drinking himself. But the whole point is that he is abstaining, for a good reason, from something which he does not condemn and which he likes to see other people enjoying. One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting everyone else to give it up. That is not the Christian way. An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons — marriage or meat, or beer, or the cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning.
One great piece of mischief has been done by the modem restriction of the word Temperance to the question of drink. It helps people to forget that you can be just as intemperate about lots of other things. A man who makes his golf or his motor bicycle the centre of his life, or a woman who devotes all her thoughts to clothes or bridge or her dog, is being just as ‘intemperate’ as someone who gets drunk every evening. Of course, it does not show on the outside so easily: bridge-mania or golf-mania do not make you fall down in the middle of the road. But God is not deceived by externals.”
-C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Bk. III, ch. 2
The libertarianism in me thinks of these passage when I hear people debating what other people can or cannot do as individuals.
Revelations 22:11: “Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is holy continue to be holy.”
Romans 14:4: “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”
Colossians 2:20-23 “You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.“
The implications of a free society are not without consequence and a wise person should never judge the right or wrong of something based on personal liberty alone. But I believe the most sustainable and healthy spirituality starts from freedom not law in matters of personal liberty.
I was in a conversation with a man recently who prefaced his comments with “I am not a “Bible-guy” but what do you believe about gay marriage?” He was surprised that I could vote libertarian and yet hold a conservative view of marriage between a man and a woman. But to me everyone is responsible and accountable for their own lives before God and man in relationship to their choices harming others.
“A law court should be a place to settle quarrels; not a place to settle controversies. It should be a place for legal debates, which do (even on the most mournful calculation and experience) end at last. It should not be a place for moral debates, which can never really end till the day of judgment.” -GK Chesterton