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However things may be viewed in other countries, in the United States we have long had the viewpoint that there are conservatives, moderates, and liberals, the latter now calling themselves progressives. This is especially true in politics and has some usage in other areas of life. We certainly hear of it in churches, at least in the mainline evangelical denominations, anyway. Well, what seems to have happened over time is that conservatism and Christianity have become linked together. It at least seems to be true that political conservatives, and even some moderates, hold to Christian values more that progressives and other moderates do. It is also true that Christian values are often of a conservative nature. Still, conservatism and Christianity are not the same thing.


Obviously conservatism and Christianity are not the same due to their disparate natures. Secular people hold conservative values, for example. But among Christians who identify as conservatives there is a disturbing reality. Like other people who lean to the right on the social and political spectra, Christian conservatives also tend to have unmerciful views of those who mess up in certain ways, particularly criminals (especially sex offenders), homosexuals, and abusers of alcohol or other drugs. It is one thing to have outrage and a need for justice relating to those who do these things. It is quite another to play God and act as though you have the final say-so in whether they should be saved or admitted to church or not.  Learn this well: What is Christian isn’t always conservative and what is conservative isn’t always Christian. Consult the Bible, not the world.


The reality is that virtually everyone, at least among adults, has at minimum one or two skeletons in their closet, as the saying goes. Yet to hear conservatives talk, whether on a political campaign, in a pew or a church seat, or from a pulpit, there is neither help nor hope for those they really don’t want to deal with, and they are somehow as upright as can be. Deflection—keeping the spotlight off you and your skeletons while highlighting someone else’s—is an age-old tactic. Where I live, in the deep South, cultural Christianity is endemic. Among churchgoers and secular folks alike you can hear discussions about such diverse subjects as the zodiac, sexual behavior, and partying, only to hear, “Amen!” or, “God gave me a blessing!”, for example.


Whether conservative, moderate, or liberal, it is not unusual for some political candidates to work Christianese into their campaign ads. A lot of these folks sit in Southern Baptist, Pentecostal, or other common churches in the deep South on Sunday morning, bellowing out praises to God and how He loves everyone, then proceed to condemn those they do not like to oblivion and Hell the rest of the time, and if it is in their job description, to develop nefarious and onerous laws against those whose sins have been exposed. You could say in some cases that it is the uncaught deflecting onto the caught. Even if you are not in such a position, how many “Christians” post on Facebook or speak in their conversations about what they would like to do to certain types of people?


And then there is the encouragement of unforgiveness. This is especially appalling because it goes directly against what Jesus Christ teaches us as well as condemning these individuals to lack of forgiveness from God (Matthew 5:43-45, 6:14-15). Conservatives get forgiveness mixed up with lack of accountability. When this misguided concept gets sucked into the Christian paradigm engine it causes considerable damage, leading to the oft-unspoken implication that it is somehow all right to treat certain persons as if we were still living under the Old Testament law. Christianity amalgamated with worldly conservatism is almost a syncretistic form of the faith, greatly weakened by being burdened down with various caveats in which some people are treated as if they are exempt from God’s forgiveness. This  reminds me of the Israelite diaspora who mixed in local religious beliefs with Judaism once they were carried into captivity by Assyria, or of the Pharisees of Jesus’s time who felt that Gentiles were no more likely than dogs to receive God’s blessings.


Conservatives, there is a way out of this confusion. For those of you who are lost and are identifying as conservatives, you must be saved first. For those of my fellow believers who consider themselves to be conservative but have wrong ideas about what that is, be guided by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, not by political or otherwise worldly propaganda. Quit justifying wrongheaded ideas and filter them through the Word so that they will return to your mind purified and corrected. I am about to share a couple of Scriptures you have heard perhaps many times, but this time in the context of proper Biblical conservatism:


Matthew 7:1-2:  “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”


Luke 23:32-33, 39-43:  There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and one on the left…Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”


1 Corinthians 6:9-11:  Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.


Now, we as Christians must call sin out, but we are to do it in the love of God. A condescending, judgmental attitude towards those in sin is very dangerous. In fact, that attitude towards anyone is displeasing to God. When a person who has been proven guilty of a crime and is going to serve prison time, for instance, we can be glad that justice has been served, but we should still pray for that person in addition to those whom he or she caused any sort of harm to. Justice certainly was not ignored in the case of the thieves on the cross. They died, suffering the full penalty for their crimes. But one of them died a saint and went to be with Jesus, who forgave him in spite of the fact that he was a convicted criminal. The passage in 1 Corinthians covers criminals and non-criminals alike. How many Christians and other conservatives heap contempt on gays and drunkards, for instance—even after these folks get saved and go straight or sober up?


Back to forgiveness. God is as much a God of judgment and justice as He is a God of forgiveness and love. Since we are made in His own image we, likewise, have a desire for justice in ourselves. We had that desire even while we were still sinners. You may be interested to know that justice is served both when the lost go to hell and when sinners get saved. The lost going to hell is obvious, but how is justice served when a sinner is saved? It has already been served at Calvary when Jesus bled and died on the cross for our sins. He was the substitutionary atonement for our sins, the Just dying for the unjust (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). Christ took the penalty for our sins, so justice was served, and because He is God, He alone was able to pay that penalty in full. Therefore God is not wrong to forgive sinners who accept the free gift of salvation, becoming blood-washed saints with the righteousness of Jesus Christ accredited to them. As for forgiveness generally, forgiveness does not equal trust, either. You can forgive someone who has wronged you but, in wisdom, not allow that person to get close to you again until that trust is earned back, if it can be earned back at all. Sometimes forgiveness is very difficult, but for the believer there is no alternative. The unforgiveness that secular conservatism advocates for has neither place nor business in the life of a Christian.


There is one more element which drives a lot of people, no matter their spiritual condition, social status, or position on the spectrum from progressivism through conservatism: Peer pressure, the pressure to conform. One glaring example of that is cancel culture: If you do not go along with the politically correct dogma of the day you open yourself up to attack from many different quarters and you can lose employment, friends, family, sometimes even your life. While not as drastic, peer pressure exists in conservative circles as well, including conservative Christian circles. There is pressure to uphold conservative ideals even when it should be obvious that some of them are wrong, such as the continued execution of criminals when so many unjustly or excessively convicted individuals have been found on death row that executions should be halted until it as certain as can be that only bona fide capital cases are going to their deaths. Whether it is this, the ongoing ridicule of someone who is no longer in a sinful lifestyle, and so on, it is imperative that we as Christians stand on the Word of God, even if it invites ridicule and rejection. Are we not supposed to be Christlike? Yes, we are:


Romans 12:2:  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.


If you are a Biblical Christian then your values will be conservative. You will be in favor of law and order, you will be against abortion and homosexuality, you will practice sobriety, and so on. All of this you will do in the love of God. That is the ideal, so for those of you who are believers identifying as conservative yet you are guilty of any of the behaviors and attitudes we have seen in this blog, repent and start doing things God’s way. For such Christians who are in a position of power, and you know that things are being done wrong in the government or in lawmaking, or that laws being made are crushing folks who by implication have been given another chance (or chances) by being released from prison, be bold enough to glorify God by opposing these things even if it costs you popularity in the polls. After all, if you belong to God then ultimately you are working for Him. For all of us, myself included, periodic self-examination is a good thing to practice in order to weed out things in ourselves that are sinful, and that includes the wrong kind of conservatism.



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