What is it about conservative Christians that is just so… awful? Why is it nearly impossible to imagine an educated person could possibly align with the views espoused by Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Rielly, Sarah Palin or other Fox News correspondents? Although there are no doubt people motivated by hate or prejudice, I have a theory that there are a good number of conservative Christians who, despite being level-headed, just can’t seem to avoid certain pitfalls in how the present their views. So, I have some suggestions.
Here’s a disclaimer: I’m a fairly conservative guy, and I would definitely describe myself as Christian. And yet, I’m terrified of being labeled a “conservative Christian.” It’s not because I don’t think the term describes me, but because I think it also describes a lot of people who do a terrible job showing decency, respect or humility to those who disagree with them. Here’s a list of things we need to stop doing if we ever want to be taken seriously by our opponents:
Yes, I believe the Bible is the Word of God. Yes, I believe it contains wise instruction for how to live. Yes, I believe that going against it is sin. No, I don’t expect people living in the United States to adhere to it or base their political ideology on it just because I do. Does that mean we should all abandon our principles and embrace Godless behavior? By no means! It does, however, mean that we should think a little harder about our reasons for why something should be part of the law. Additionally, it is OK to believe something is wrong while not fighting to make it illegal.
You know the only group of people Jesus criticized? The religious leaders who insisted everyone else strive to be like them. If we can’t manage to talk openly about the things we know we do poorly or the ways we fall short of our own ideals, there are only two outcomes possible: One, we will disgust those who see through us or, two, heap condemnation on those who believe the show we put on. Newsflash: neither of those invite honest discussion and meaningful compromise.
It can be scary to be open about conservative Christian views. It’s not fun to be labeled a bigot because you believe some life choices are sinful. It’s not fun to be hated because you think the unborn should be protected by law. But let’s drop the whole “fight for free speech” thing. As has been pointed out by others, free speech doesn’t mean people have to listen to you or like what you say. And to whatever extent we are being persecuted, let’s take a cue from Jesus (and Peter, John, Paul, James etc.) and rejoice in our trials. The Bible actually teaches that to be persecuted for your faith is an honor. Stop whining about it
Even if there are similarities, trying to draw ties between a proponent of government healthcare and genocidal/maniacal regimes is just rude. Being rude is bad. That’s all I have to say about that.
This is the one I am most guilty of (but I’m guilty of them all… see point two). If we spend more time trying to explain why a policy is bad than we do showing love to others, we’ve made the mistake of being more conservative than Christian. One title should define us, the other merely describes us.
I really believe that if we stop doing these things, we will be on our way to having actual conversations with our political opponents, and we might even be able to find ways to compromise and make the country an even better place to live.