The Iowa Caucuses are tomorrow and Ron Paul’s candidacy, in particular, seems to be receiving particularly strong responses (both positive and negative). While Romney has about as much support as he had last time, Paul has roughly twice the support as in 2008. One of these two is likely to win it.
Many Christians support Paul, but lots of others have serious reservations about some of his positions (most notably foreign policy). Pastor Douglas Wilson was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about Paul.
Why is Paul gaining so much traction this go-around, and is he gaining more support from Christians?
I believe that one of the reasons why Ron Paul has gotten a second look from Christians is that it is becoming increasingly evident that the fiscal irresponsibility on display in Washington is actually fiscal immorality, and is immorality on a grand scale. The theft has been scaled up to the point where conservative Christians can correctly identify it.
What do you think of Paul’s profession of faith, and how relevant should that be for Christians? (In his CT interview, he seemed to avoid the “born again” label.)
Scripture requires us to choose leaders who fear God, are men of truth, and who hate covetousness (Ex. 18:21). I take Paul’s profession of faith at face value. A man might avoid evangelical sub-cultural jargon without rejecting the reality that Jesus spoke of in John 3.
Gay “marriage”. How does Paul’s position make sense for Christians to advocate/support?
This is a place where Paul’s libertarianism runs off with him. Societies are more than contracts, and marriage is more than what lawyers can tell you about.
Legalizing drugs (like cocaine) which harm so many. How does Paul’s position make sense for Christians to advocate/support?
It should be possible to recognize the use of drugs as sinful without taking the next step of wanting to make them criminal. For example, in Moses’ Israel, drunkenness was not a crime. It was, of course, a sin. Just as Prohibition created organized crime of the Capone-variety, so the War on Drugs created the Mexican cartels. We ought not to assume that making something illegal actually discourages a practice . . . which harms so many.
Policy on Iran. Paul has said he does not want them to get a nuclear bomb, but understands that they would want one. Should they be deterred? If so, what would Paul do? And how does this position make sense?
I believe that Ron Paul radically underestimates the threat of radical Islam. On paper, any nation has the right to develop a bomb. But it should make a difference to us whether that nation is Canada or Iran.
Some say Paul holds most purely to the just war theory, but even WWII to Paul was started because the USA “meddled” in Japan’s affairs via trade policy (prompting Japan to attack, after which WWII was, from what I understand of Paul’s position, justified).
The geopolitics leading up to the Second World War are obviously complicated. But here, I have the sense that Paul’s libertarian paradigm is sifting the data for him. I would prefer to keep it simple — Pearl Harbor was pretty straightforward.
Paul’s old association with racist papers (John Birch Society). What should we make of it (if anything)?
I don’t really know enough about this issue yet to comment. But I have been called racist enough times myself to know how bogus the charge can be. I will say that his newsletters appealed to the hard right, and that a goodly amount of that population does live in the fever swamps.
Why was it wrong for the US to interfere with the southern states in the civil rights era, requiring private businesses to treat Blacks equally?
In a free country, it should be legal to be a jerk. Once you make it illegal to be a jerk, you have laws in place that in principle can penalize someone for being righteous. All you have to do is add “or sexual orientation” to the code, and now the feds can hammer any Christian organization they want to. We are in the middle of that process now.
Another related question I thought of, though I’m not sure of a succinct way of expressing it, or if you’ll even think it’s fair. Given that you are post-millennial, a view embraced by some who are theonomists (or something close), why is it that you don’t support a candidate who favors a more “overt” expression of explicitly Christian values in government (e.g., Rick Santorum or Michele Bachmann — two candidates who, incidentally, Ron Paul recently mocked (and possibly misrepresented) to the amusement of a late-night comedian and his TV audience.)
I would prefer a candiate who is explicit about his or her Christianity, everything else being equal. But unfortunately, in the mixed bag of modern politics, a candidate like Perry can be open about Jesus, which I applaud, but fall short in other ways. The same would be true about Bachman and Santorum. Ron Paul is a confessing Christian, and he is strong on some of the basic issues of our time (pro-life, pro-individual liberty). I haven’t endorsed Paul, for various reasons, but he is making certain important issues important. But I would also be willing to say the same thing about some of the other candidates, particularly Santorum.
Thank you, Pastor Wilson, for taking the time.
Editorial note: I (Alex) respectfully disagree with Paul’s position on the 14th amendment and civil rights legislation, and I disagree with many libertarians who see a direct connection between the government requiring that businesses give equal treatment to Blacks in the South and governments telling churches who can be a member. Just because the former happened doesn’t mean the latter necessarily will happen. Of course, the latter might happen, and that’d be bad, but it would happen for other reasons, in my view.