Before you read this, I want you to know (if you don’t already) that I am the last person to jump into a culture/political finger-pointing match, which is why it has taken a lot of thought and sentence-deleting to get to the point of publishing this. And this isn’t a finger-pointing match. It’s simply a Biblical defense of the type of culture I identify with, based on what I believe God’s word has revealed.
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My personal beliefs and convictions fall into what culture calls “the conservative Right.” However, after working in both the secular and faith-based workforce, attending both a secular and faith-based higher education institution, and having friends on both the far left-winged and far right-winged ends of the political/social/religious spectrum, I believe God has allowed me to cultivate a very balanced worldview that I’m grateful for.
Because of our current political climate, there are ample articles circulating online that vocally oppose the worldview of, specifically, the “religious Right” because they disagree with the way many of the religious leaders have supposedly crowned “themselves moral police and political powerbrokers,” hijacking “Jesus as a front man for its political agenda” (The Religious Right’s Last Gasp, 1). Here is the article this conversation was prompted by. The article uses examples of Franklin Graham, James Dobson, and Pat Robertson endorsing Donald Trump and therefore degrading the name of Christ.
First, every single person has the privilege of supporting whomever they want, based on their own conscience. They can vote for the lesser of two evils, they can choose to write-in, or they can not vote at all. None of these choices should be expected to be completely representative of Christianity, as Jesus did not instruct us on how to vote for leaders when they are all corrupt. He did, however, instruct us to respectfully submit to them and pray for them.
Second, I’m so confused as to why the news keeps choosing to highlight the same religious figures to represent all of the “religious Right.”
I guess it’s the same reason people always choose Westboro Baptist Church to represent conservatism and Joel Olsteen to represent Evangelicalism. Please see that that’s extremism, and it’s just not accurate.
Whether leaning on the side of the Right or the Left, there are many, many faithful and biblically-sound churches, pastors, and other religious leaders, who are speaking into culture and the political climate with great humility. I think of my own two pastors, Lance Hahn and Brad Swope. These are two incredible men who are not perfect, yet who do their best to approach life with both grace and truth. And yes, I also think that, while maybe not preached during sermons, it is 100% the Church’s responsibility to have political convictions and use them to influence the way they interact with culture. If we as believers, individually and collectively, are the Church, then this verse is appropriate:
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven.” -Matthew 5:14-16
It’s also common for conservative Christians to be called judgmental instead of loving. This is very sad to me because the majority of conservative Christians I know are incredibly loving, balanced, and grace-filled. They are not Bible-thumping; they are reverent and have a deep respect for Truth, which includes the principles upheld in God’s word. Of course, there are some who have bitterness embedded in them, and they can be judgmental. I know I have a vein of that in me, as well. This, too, is human, but that doesn’t make it acceptable, and I pray these people (as well as myself) can accept God’s love so deeply that they can extend that same love to others.
I believe that when you have a high view of Scripture, it’s natural and healthy to assume a cautionary response when subjects/beliefs that you believe to be contradictory to Judeo-Christian morality rear their heads in the news. (I’m thinking of the examples listed in this article: secular humanism, gay marriage, abortion, porn.) Others may call this reaction fear-based, but it seems appropriately in line with these two, very practical verses:
- “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
- “Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15).
This is not a fear-based view of life, it’s just realistic.
Now, there is one area where Christians have been guilty of reacting in a fear-based manner, and that is in regard to which political candidate gets elected.
Is this healthy? Is it God’s best for us? Does is demonstrate trust in his sovereign power? No, I don’t think so. But it is human. I struggle with anxiety attacks, so I can speak into this issue. There are many things in life that freak me out, cause me to panic, and make me feel sick to my stomach. Whether Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton gets elected is definitely on the list, but not as high up as having a brain aneurysm (yes, you can laugh, anxiety is highly irrational). But that doesn’t justify it. Acknowledging human nature to distrust our safety, and the future of our country, is totally normal — if it weren’t, Jesus wouldn’t have said “fear not” so much. But we are also accountable for our thoughts and actions and responsible for lifting our hopes to a higher place.
“Fear not, for I am with you” -Isaiah 41:10
Whether we’re safe on this earth or not (and remember, it has to get worse before it gets better), Jesus Christ died to save us, and we will spend eternity with him, no matter what means it takes to get us there.
So, here are three things about the conservative Right that I would love for you to reconsider before proselytizing them:
- The Right always reacts out of fear.
- All conservative Christians think they have the right to act as your moral police.
- The Right prefers to resort to judgment instead of love.
I guess if I could communicate one thing from my heart, it would be to praise God for the number of loving, balanced Christian leaders who are doing their best to lift up Jesus in the midst of a tumultuous culture, instead of ranting on those somewhat controversial (and, admittedly, outdated) religious figures that the vast amount of Christianity isn’t taking cues from, anyway. Let’s cling to what is good.
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