9.07.2007

Conservative Politics and Conservative Lives

Why do conservative Christians also live conservative lives?


Let me explain the question...

Christians in America tend to be politically conservative, although there are plenty of liberal Christians as well, however, the typical conservative Christian (who views theology in a conservative way, and trends towards the conservative end of the political spectrum) also tends to live those political values out on the personal level.

This is not the proper time to discuss my own political views (that will only muddy the water), but suffice it to say that I have no problem with Christians aligning themselves with conservative politics. If you are convinced that the policies proffered by conservative politicians would provide for the welfare of the people then, by all means, vote your conscience. The problem arises, however, when the conservative political philosophy is brought to the personal level.

The typical conservative is against redistribution of wealth through things like Welfare, Social Security, Medicare, etc. This may very well be an innapropriate way of running a country. However, if that same posture is applied at the personal level, then we are in direct contradiction with the ethic of the Kingdom of God.

It is exactly this contradiction that I see in conservative Christianity. The emphasis on personal responsibility has led conservative Christians to eschew helping the poor in their community. Perhaps they will give a little money, even less time and energy, but only very rarely will they actually involve themselves in the lives of the needy people in the world.

The single driving force (at the personal level) behind the conservative Christian way of life (in my humble, yet accurate, opinion) is a desire to create a social bubble of safety and comfort, removed from the evils of the world; drug abuse, vulgarity, sexual perversion, etc. This force is in diametrical opposition to the mandate of the Gospel.

What this amounts to is the very thing that Jesus condemned in the Pharisees; using their status as God's elect to abuse the very people they were 'elected' to bless!!! We, like Abraham, have not been chosen by God to enjoy His blessing, but to give away His blessing.

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To be a disciple is to become a child; embracing change and becoming a learner is central to being a Christian. (What else would 'born again' refer to?) This means that we can never have a condescending attitude. We are not like spiritual PhD's dispensing wisdom, rather we must be like spiritual children constantly asking, "Papa, how should I do this?"

If we approach life as a disciple we will see the glaring problem with removing ourselves from the problems of the world.; taking our spiritual blessing and 'leaving the playground.'

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I propose that Christians should be orthodox in theology, ambiguous in politics, and radical in lifestyle.

2 comments:

www.maxgrace.com said...

Steve,
Are you suggesting that "conservative Christians" are radically underrepresented in service to the poor and oppressed? I would differ, and say that conservatives are leading the way. This does not negate your observation that many conservatives are creating a social safety bubble... it's just to say that conservatives are all over the map on this, as are any other groupings.

Bill

Steve S. said...

I don't know which groups are more involved in serving the poor. It is not so much giving money or time to help people in need that I am refering to...

...it is the lack of personal investment. Conservative Christians are the ones who won't allow messy people into their Churches, or into their homes. We are the ones who will give money or food to the local mission, but won't take the time to take a homeless man home to a thanksgiving meal. (Of course there is a separate issue at work here as well, the 'professionalization of ministry,' and the false lay-clergy dichotomy that has arisen alongside it...)

There is an attitude of personal space, and separation from the world that can be found in Conservative circles, it is this that I am getting at...

I am reading a book that does a great job of getting at these issues, although, it doesn't really approach them from a liberal-conservative understanding, 'The Shaping of Things to Come.'

It is quite possible that I am failing to critique other Christian groups who deserve, even more deeply, to be criticized. I just happen to be a product of Conservative Christian circles...