SHOULD CHRISTIANS BE CONSERVATIVE?

Should Christians be conservative? If you look at modern America you would get the impression they are. 50% of the traditionally conservative Republican Party voters are white evangelical Christians. [1]

In the 2004 election, 79% of that demographic voted for the conservative candidate George Bush over the progressive John Kerry. [2] This same 79% of white evangelicals showed up for conservative Mitt Romney in his loss to the liberal Barack Obama in 2012. [3]

What exactly does "conservative" mean? According to one of Merriam Webster's definitions, it means "marked by moderation or caution." [4] Should Christians be moderate?

Christ sent out his disciples on prolonged journeys telling them to take only one set of clothing, and no money. [5] He told the rich young ruler to "sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me." [6] On another occasion, our Lord said: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple." [7] Jesus wasn't very concerned with moderation.

Many modern people beleive conservatives are afraid of change and the future, and that their trying to "hold onto the past." A study carried out in 2010 by the University London College, found that conservatives have larger fear centers in their brains. [8] In another study, carried out by the American Journal of Political Science, a similar conclusion was reached. [9] Critics mock conservatives with statements like: "It's not that conservative people are more fearful, it's that fearful people are more conservative." [10]

Would Christ approve of his servants being fearful? Probably not. As he said: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." [11] Paul echoed his master: "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear." [12]

Although some questions might surround whether or not Christians should be driven by fear, it might be asked whether it's good for us to be viewed this way. Will this perception place us in a situation to conquer people's hearts and minds? It's said that people can smell fear, and science claims to have confirmed this sentiment. [13]

Christians have absolutely no reason to fear. We have no reason to be overly cautious, no reason to moderate our zeal. Christians are the Sons of God. Do we really beleive that God controls everyone's lives, including our own?

Today, conservatives are known to embrace all kinds of seemingly fearful causes. Chief among these is gun control. Although gun ownership is an absolute right guaranteed by the US Constitution, the cause is likely a losing religious position because it places Christians in a situation in which we advocate violence for self-defense. Christians are deceiving ourselves if we think unbelievers don't recognize this as contradictory to our claim that God will protect us.

Even if the conservative Christian claim to the liberty to bear arms is not contradictory, it still appears to be so. Paul wrote: "beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak." [14]

Christians today must begin to ask ourselves whether conservatism (though perhaps correct) is an asset or liability? The question is not "am I correct?" but "how will this effect Christianity’s success?"

If Christianity is to revive its influence, and shift its fortunes, Christians cannot continue fighting for past "glory days." The 1950s were definitely the high point of American civilization, but they're gone. It's humanity's nature to look for new hope and a better world. Christians must present themselves to the world as bearers of good news: the good news of brighter future days. In this sense, Christianity is not a conservative ideology. Rather, it's true progressivism.

The youth of the counter culture turned America upside down in the 1960s with their message of "peace and love." Today, Christians should prophesy a coming age of everlasting peace and love with the example of their lives. This prophetic progressivism should not be identified with "conservatism," as it's the value system of a coming utopian age.

Which is the more inspiring image to an unbeliever: A long haired liberal anti-war girl fearlessly placing a flower in the barrel of a gun, or a severe conservative police officer beating that girl for resisting establishment institutions? The answer might resolve many questions about how to win their neighbor’s hearts.


NOTES

[1] http://www.cbsnews.com/news/white-evangelicals-are-half-of-gop-primary-voters/

[2] http://www.pewforum.org/2007/09/28/young-white-evangelicals-less-republican-still-conservative/

[3] http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765615349/Mitt-Romney-won-white-evangelicals-but-struggled-with-Latino-Catholics.html?pg=all

[4] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conservative

[5] Luke 10.1-20

[6] Luke 18.22

[7] Luke 14.26

[8] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/8228192/Political-views-hard-wired-into-your-brain.html

[9] Hatemi, P. K., McDermott, R., Eaves, L. J., Kendler, K. S. and Neale, M. C. (2013), Fear as a Disposition and an Emotional State: A Genetic and Environmental Approach to Out-Group Political Preferences. American Journal of Political Science, 57: 279–293. doi: 10.1111/ajps.12016

[10] http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/fear-and-conservatism

[11] Matthew 10.28

[12] Romans 8.15

[13] http://www.livescience.com/24578-humans-smell-fear.html

[14] I Corinthians 8.9