Being a political “Social Conservative” and a Christian??

July 27, 2009 — 9 Comments

I am going to keep this post very short but I would like to hear anyone’s views on whether being a Christian and a social conservative are compatible. I am only talking about social conservatives not fiscal or conservatism in general. If Jesus were here today would He be labeled a social conservative? I personally can’t begin to imagine that but would like to hear from anyone who thinks it is a possibility.

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9 responses to Being a political “Social Conservative” and a Christian??

  1. 

    Speaking from my own experience as a Bible Translator; I would say no, tentatively. Honestly interpreting Scripture in its context does not lend itself to the subjugation of homosexuals, nor to the totalitarian restriction of abortion, two issues firmly planted within conservative politics.

  2. 

    It really depends what you mean by “social conservative,” and here I speak as one who isn’t really accepted by either the “conservative” or the “liberal” camps. In contrast to your previous poster, I believe that both homosexuality and abortion are immoral; that means I believe they are unacceptable behavior for a believer. But I do not accept the social conservatives’ view that they can or should impose Christian moral behavior on an unbelieving world. . .which means that I do not support “pro-life” legislation and court decisions.

    Which gets to the broader issue. I think that a serious reading of the gospel–one that does not start with self-centered notions of fulfillment and personal identity and pleasure–leads one to choose a fairly conservative outlook for his/her own life and, to a certain extent, for the behavior expected of those who claim fellowship with Jesus. But it does NOT make the mistake of trying to accomplish by legislative fiat what the church has failed to accomplish by evangelism, when it comes to moral behavior of the society.

    And of course, beyond that, there is the fact that most “social conservatives” are also economic and military conservatives, and those things, as I read the Scriptures, are wholly antithetical to a Jesus ethic.

    …which is why I get in trouble from both sides… ;{)

  3. 

    The reason I got into this is because as a group social conservatives are generally:
    anti-universal healthcare
    anti-raising minimum wage
    anti-gun control
    anti-helping other people (they say pull yourself up)
    anti-anti-anti

    I’m not trying to pidgeon hole all SCs in this list but I do personally know several who definitely fit it. Many SCs also label themselves Evangelical. This is just a mystery to me? When I read Jesus’ words in the Bible I see just the opposite stand. I have great difficulty seeing how to resolve this conflict and am hoping that some serious SCs might respond but maybe they don’t frequent blogs such as this one.

  4. 

    I have trouble imagining that Jesus would send thugs to attack/imprison you because
    …you wanted to handle your own medical care and not pay for that of others
    …your workers were willing to work for less than what Jesus felt they should have
    …you wanted to defend yourself against thugs rather than letting “official thugs” handle the job
    …you weren’t helping others enough

    Jesus taught things for us to do, not things for us to force others to do.

  5. 

    Thank you Enjay for your input. This is the type of comment I was expecting from Social Conservatives. Let me address each of your statements. First of all Jesus would not attack you or imprison you for any reason. He did just the opposite; he died for your sins. He never condoned violence in his name or otherwise.

    Item 1: you wanted to handle your own medical care and not pay for that of others — I don’t know about your own medical care but Jesus definitely wanted you to pay for that of others. He said that on several occasions. He said if your neighbor is in need give him the shirt off your back. And what you do for those without (in need) you are actually doing for Him.

    Item 2: your workers were willing to work for less than what Jesus felt they should have — I don’t know that Jesus was a wage negotiator (there was a place in the Bible where two people were trying to get him to settle a dispute and Jesus clearly said keeping your money and your property was not something he cared about). But he did say that everything you have, including your wages, are a gift from God and therefore should be used for Godly purposes.

    Item 3: you wanted to defend yourself against thugs rather than letting “official thugs” handle the job — I think you are confusing world kingdoms with Jesus. Although he did say if someone hits you (thugs or not) to turn the other cheek. Jesus definitely rebuked Peter when he was trying to “defend” Jesus in the Garden during his arrest.

    Item 4: you weren’t helping others enough — Now this is one that Jesus had a lot to say about. Helping others was a top priority for him and he told us it should be a top priority for us as well. No, Jesus is not going to attack/imprison you for any of the items on your list but he definitly said that you are going to be held accountable for not helping others.

    Item 5: Jesus taught things for us to do, not things for us to force others to do — I have no idea where you are coming from with your final statement? Again I think you are confusing worldly kingdoms with the kingdom of God. Jesus certainly taught us to do things. He said the most important lesson you can ever learn in this life is to love God with your heart and soul and to love your neighbors as yourself. Allowing your neighbor to die because he can’t afford to see a doctor was not on his list of things to do.

    I am not one of those people who cite chapter and verse but I can provide them to you in reference to the above if you want. Just let me know.

  6. 

    Several thoughts in follow up to RJ’s response to Enjay — and I agree with what RJ has said. But to add:

    Item 2: Malachi 3:5 suggests that wage oppression is one of the things God judges harshly. One can argue whether a legal minimum wage is the appropriate way to handle it, but paying a worker inadequate wages (defined as “whatever Jesus felt they should have” been paid–your words) is not a standard I’d feel comfortable violating. . .

    Item 4: Jesus isn’t going to attack/imprison you for not helping others enough–IN THIS LIFE–but as I read Matt. 25:31-46 (the parable of the sheep and the goats) he IS going to punish you eventually for this very thing.

    Jesus taught things for us to do, not things for us to force others to do.

    True, but he did teach that there were certain behaviors expected of his followers (some to do, others not to do) and serious consequences for not doing the one, or doing the other. Some of those things are diametrically opposed to the classic conservative agenda.

    You do have a point in that we are not to “force” others to do what Jesus commanded. In this, it is important to remember (as Greg Boyd has pointed out in Myth of a Christian Nation) that replacing a conservative tyranny with a liberal one is NOT Christlike either. So while RJ is right that the “Christian Right” is flagrantly anti-Christian, so would a “Christian Left” be. Politics–left or right–cannot achieve the goals of the kingdom of God.

    Nevertheless, the fact remains that any careful study of the Gospels and the Prophets leads to the inescapable conclusion that the “Christian Right” is neither Christian nor right.

  7. 

    Dan, thanks for the balance you add to my postings. I don’t necessarily agree with all you say but that is ok.

    I don’t believe that the “Christian Right” is anti-Christian, just misguided. And that is certainly not an unusual road for Christians to be in; especially when they give in to the political arenas of this world. The examples that come immediately to mind is the Crusades, the Inquisition, and even the 1950’s when whole Christian denominations landed on the segragation side of the Civil Rights movement.

    I think many on the right let the words of their leaders (Rush Limburgh, Jerry Falwell, and that gang) crowd out the teachings of Jesus. I don’t think it is intentional but it does happen. They think that just because the leaders say they are against abortion, but nothing ever changes in that area even when they had almost total political control, that they are somehow aligned with all Christian principles. That couldn’t be further from the truth, as least as I understand it.

    Yes, I do believe that a Christian “Left” political movement would be just as harmful to Christianity as the right is now. Harmful but not lethal. Many who proudly align with the extreme right wing of politics are not unchristian just misguided and I pray daily they instead of listening to the hate spewed out by their spokesmen they instead spend that time in reflection of Jesus Christ’s words as found in the Gospels. The two are very different.

  8. 

    Thank you for your kind correction, RJ. I do not mean to imply that right-wing Christians are not Christian, but rather that the notion of Christian, right-wing principles is fundamentally anti-Christ…that is, many of the core principles of right-wing politics are irreconcilably at odds with the teachings of Jesus and the prophets (this is also equally true of left-wing politics on different principles).

    So, to split a hair, I would say that there are right-wing Christians and left-wing Christians–both Christian and both deeply misguided on some issues–but there is no “Christian Right” or “Christian Left” in that both take their cues, not from Christ, but from the issues of their “wing.”

    Nevertheless I accept your correction that my previous statement was too overarching.

  9. 

    Yeah, I think we are in agreement.

    There is right wing politics and it is definitely not based on Christian principles.

    There are Christian, however misguided, that espouse strong beliefs in right wing politics.

    Change all the words “right” with “left” in the above and it still applies.

    Sounds like an algebraic theorem doesn’t it 😉

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