Bottom Line – Social Conservatism
by Jerry Slauter
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Can you simultaneously be a revolutionary in your faith and a social conservative? Are the two terms mutually exclusive? The American founding fathers were considered to be revolutionaries. They were breaking from the tyranny of England. The documents they proposed were for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for white males.
So, they were fighting two fronts. They wanted freedom from oppression, yet they were also fighting to maintain their standard of living. Socially and politically, this was acceptable, and correct. You might even say, “It was right.” This type of thinking called “plantation mentality” created a faulty logic and a huge void in human rights. It finally led to the Civil War and cost the lives of over 600,000 people. The maintenance of social status remained a valued commodity. The Emancipation Proclamation did not end the plantation mentality, resulting in the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s, nearly 100 years later.
If you look at other cultures, the practices of Islam are highly conservative. Men own their children and their wives. If you want to challenge that belief system, even by presenting the Bible, you can literally expect to lose your head. The practice is perfectly legal. In claiming to be a practicing social conservative you must analyze that which you are attempting to conserve.
As you listen to discussions of Biblical principles, or conversations about politics, you might obtain the impression that God cannot operate under any system other than a democratic, capitalistic republic. You might feel impressed that democracy is the cure for all evils in the world and nationalism is the highest moral attitude attainable. Finally, you might even get the impression that the words, “Christian” and “Conservative” are interchangeable and therefore, redundant if used in the same sentence.
If you study the Bible carefully, you will find little to validate these attitudes and arguments. Remember, the Bible was written before America was even known by the writers. The Bible was and remains a universal document for the entire world. America has been truly blessed by the Creator. To continue to be blessed, the nation will have to rely more on the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the Bible. Conversely, the nation will have to rely less on politics, wars and idolization of our documents and worship of our ancestors. Worship God and pray for the nation. Do not worship the nation, its founders or its documents. Be revolutionary without being revolting.
What does the Bible say about government, and human rights? How does Jesus demonstrate His attitude toward government and earthly kingdoms?
The Bible does not claim that God grants rights. Defenders and worshipers of the Constitution and The Declaration of Independence claim that God grants human rights. This argument will probably continue until the Lord returns. What does the Bible say about rights? Isaiah the prophet said, “Learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17, New English Version)
Proverbs 31:8 says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.” (New Living Translation)
The religious leaders were attempting to find justification to crucify Jesus. A meeting of the Sanhedrin was called. The Jewish leaders showed their true fears when they said, “What are we accomplishing? Here is this man performing miraculous signs. If we let Him go, everybody will believe in Him, and then the Romans will come and take away our place and our nation.” (John 11:47-48, NIV)
What does it mean to do good? Jesus healed people on the Sabbath. For that, the leaders wanted to kill Him. They knew Rome would not tolerate the uproar He was causing. Even though He was doing good, they perceived Him as a revolutionary. How did He walk the fine line between doing good or being a revolutionary?
In two other instances, again attempting to trap Him, they asked Him if He and His disciples paid taxes. His attitude demonstrated His values. In one instance, He asked whose inscription was on the coin. They told Him Caesar. He said, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. (Mark 12:17) In the other instance, He told His disciples to catch a fish and take the coin from the fish’s mouth and pay taxes for the disciple and Him. (Matthew 17: 24-27)
Paul instructs us to, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1-7, English Standard Version)
Paul instructs Timothy to pray for kings and authorities. (1 Timothy 2:2).
Isaiah told us to rebuke the oppressors. What if the government, those assigned with authority over you becomes oppressive? In America, we have the responsibility to keep our officials honest through the democratic process. A good rule of thumb might be to at least pray for your officials and their conversion more than complaining and speaking of them in derogatory terms. Jesus said, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother (or sister) will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool (idiot, rock head) will be liable to the hell of fire.’” (Matthew 5:22 NEV)
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.
In the book of Acts, Peter and John were preaching and creating uproar. The Jewish Council met to discuss the matter. They decided to attempt to intimidate Peter and John, threaten them and instruct them to quit preaching Jesus. Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20, ESV)
After the Pentecost, the disciples and new converts were sharing everything in common. Acts, chapter 2 describes that new converts were added daily. Nobody had needs. If anybody had needs others would sell their possessions to provide. The power of God was working through the church, not a building, but the body. The main point was that the people gave freely and voluntarily. If the government had mandated redistribution, that would have been communism or socialism.
The bottom line is that God does not depend upon any political or economic system. He is not bound or threatened by world philosophies or tyrants. When the nation listens to the voice of the true prophets, the people prosper. When the people pray for and submit to the leadership of their country, they are blessed. When people resolve to build His kingdom rather than worship a dictator, country, economic or political system, or ancestors, they are blessed.
It is a fine line of distinction to pray for your country and the ruling authorities and speaking out against injustice, if called to do so, without being revolutionary. It is a fine line to honor authority and the nation without worshiping your country and making it to be an idol.
Don’t be tempted to limit your perspective to arguments of conservative, progressive, Republican or Democrat. These are illusions placed before us to make us think we actually have a choice. The government will eventually oppose the true church. Elaborate temples that worship ancestors and tradition rooted in forms of pagan worship will be allowed to remain. The true church will be forced to go underground and meet in homes just like the books of Acts.
Worship God and pray for the nation and its leaders. Do not worship the nation and denigrate its leaders. There are those who are working to establish a one world government of wickedness, a one world monetary system and the mark of the beast. Conversely, there are those who seek to establish the kingdom of God – bottom line.
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About the Author:
Jerry is a retired school teacher who loves to spend time with his family, including children and grandchildren. He published Woodcutter’s Revival in 2012 and plans to release the sequel, Fine Line, in 2014. He likes to travel and speak about writing and the topics of his writing and research. He works in his wood, leather and metal shops at home. Writing aligns well with his passion of reading and research. Jerry is available to speak in schools and churches or conferences and seminars.
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