When is the label Conservative Christian an oxymoron?

I had a “like” recently on one of my posts from someone who self-identified as a “Conservative Christian”. The label intrigued me enough to go see what that meant. Apparently, at least for this individual, that meant that he was free to call himself a Christian while behaving in an intolerant, bigoted and self-righteous manner. There is unfortunately quite a bit of that sort of behavior from people who self-identify as Conservatives. I would probably self-describe as fiscally conservative but moderate on social issues. I suspect that the issue is those who self-identify using the word conservative before Christian have inadvertently also identified their problem – they have subjugated their Christian beliefs to their conservative beliefs.

It used to be that the “Conservative” label was reserved primarily for people who were very careful (some might say tight) about money issues. Then the label was also taken on by people who were concerned about the size of government and government interventions into their daily lives. Then the “so-called moral majority” decided that being a “Conservative” is about being like them – people who shared their beliefs about “others” – people who were not like them. Since most of these self-righteous people also self-identify as Christians, they became Conservative Christians – those who share “our family values” and condemn “those” who don’t share the exact same values, those who aren’t like us. They have put their conservative beliefs ahead of what should be their Christian beliefs.

So, I went to this Conservative Christian’s blog site and discovered to no great surprise that he expends a great deal of energy and time on blog posts that rage against the sins of those who are not like him.  As might have been expected he has concocted an elaborate defense of his position by scouring the Bible for passages that supposedly support his narrow and definitely exclusive view of the teachings and intent of the words of Jesus. He builds a huge case against anyone who would dare not be like him; yet, in the end, it is not convincing because it would have the reader believe that Jesus came only to save those who were like this man – people who were, in his eyes, without the sins of being different (at least to his way of thinking). Somehow I missed that side of Jesus and his message in my readings of the same Bible.

I found it telling, when reading about this person’s background (he posted it so it must be true) that he is estranged from his church – a church in which at one time he was an ordained minister – because it moved away from his conservative beliefs and embraced the changes and the people of the modern world around us today.  It really doesn’t matter which of the modern day issues caused the alienation of this man from his church; the fact is that he has been unable to see the inclusive message of Christ in today’s world and had chosen to isolate himself in a cocoon of hate and intolerance, all the while trying to claim the cloak of being a Christian. There was no room for that attitude in his church and there is really no room for it under the label of Christianity; however, we Christians are forgiving and welcoming for those who see the light, who repent and want back under the tent. So, pray for this man. He has joined the sheep that have wandered away from the Shepard and we need to help him find his way back into the grace and peace that comes with being a true Christian.

We have room under the tent for people who are fiscally conservative in their lives, even for those who rail against big government in our lives; but for those who try to use their religious beliefs as a way to discriminate against those who are “not like them”, there is no room. Get it together. Get right with Jesus. Get your priorities right and get back under the tent.  The label Conservative Christian has no place trying to justify bigotry, intolerance and self-righteousness.  Go back to the Bible that you like to use so freely to justify your position and read about the people that Jesus associated with so often – the unclean, the outcasts and the people who were “not like us.” Perhaps being a Conservative Christian is more like being one of the Biblical Pharoses; and, remember, that they missed the boat. So turn it around and be a Christian who is conservative. I can live with that.

So, am I saying that you have to embrace the lifestyle of those whom you do not understand, who are not like you? No, but if you want to continue to include the word Christian in how you describe yourself and what are supposed to be your values in life, you need to do a serious reset towards tolerance and understanding and acceptance of people who are not like you. Show love to all of your fellow men. Don’t let your personal hang-ups, ignorance or foibles take you away from what should be your anchor beliefs. Jesus did not say that the greatest commandment was to “Love God with all your heart and love some of your neighbors who are like you”. Get your head around that. It’s not that hard and it’s not about your personal beliefs. The ability to show love, compassion and understanding to those who are “not like you” is perhaps the most Christian thing that you could do.

Let us all pray for those wandering in the wilderness of hate and prejudice. You are welcome back under the tent if you will only embrace the true teachings of the one for whom the tent was built.

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