Bible quotations are from The New American Standard Bible © 1963 by The Lockman Foundation.
I am a Christian and a conservative.
As a Christian, I submit to Jesus Christ as Lord. As a conservative, I adhere to the Constitution.
As a Christian, my worldview is based on the authority of the Bible. As a conservative, I recognize that the concepts in the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence are in harmony with the teachings of the Bible.
If it is true that one’s political views are tied to one’s worldview, then it is worth it to examine one’s worldview and understand how it affects one’s views on issues. In this document I would like to reveal my worldview and how it affects my stances on issues, in the hopes that others will be motivated to talk about their views.
As a Christian, I recognize government as God’s gift. The Bible says to pray for all those in authority, “in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 1:2). The first sentence of the constitution includes among its purposes to “insure domestic tranquility” and “promote the general welfare.”
The Bible enjoins “subjection to the governing authority. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God.” (Romans 13:1-3). Moreover, “this is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants (verses 6).” When this was written, that authority was the Roman Emperor, so we can conclude that God’s authority is behind whatever government you are under.
Most governments we know of have a dominant figure, sometimes called a sovereign, who personifies that authority. The first words of the constitution clearly says what the locus of authority is in the United States: “We the people.” As a conservative, it therefore is important for me to play my role as part of that sovereign power, at least by keeping up on current affairs, by voting, by writing to representatives, and by continuing to strive toward two other of the goals listed in the constitution: “to form a more perfect union, establish justice.” I see our country as a work in progress moving towards those goals, and I must join in that work. As a Christian, I believe Jesus has given me a new life so that I can serve people by doing the “good works that God has prepared for me to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
I appreciate the many strands that contributed to writing the constitution. The writers studied the Roman Republic, inherited the English tradition “rule of law” that already started with the Magna Carta, and studied the insights of the Enlightenment British legal philosophers, such as Locke and Burke. Our founders also lived in the context of Christendom, and so held the presuppositions of the Judeo-Christian tradition. One example is the recognition that people are not perfect, (one phrase used in the Reformed churches is “the total depravity of man”), and some see this as one of the thoughts that undergirded the concept of having three competing branches of government.
The writers also were aware that in recent centuries Christianity had divided into many mutually-antagonistic branches, and that many of these groups had migrated to America. In Europe it was common for each country to declare one of those branches as the official church, but a lot of people had fled Europe for this country precisely in order to avoid being subject to the official church. The founding fathers could have privileged one of those churches, but it is clear that they chose not to. The first amendment recognized the importance of religion, writing that Congress can make no “law prohibiting the free exercise of religion.” At the same time, knowing that there were many varieties of denominations present, they wrote “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” (that does not mean one can not form a religion; it just means one of them can not be the official religion with state support and privileges over other religions.)
It is often noted that the primary religion known to the founders was Christianity, although now the rest of the world religions are also found in America. Some question whether Christianity should be privileged over the other world religions. My stance is that all religions in America are to co-exist with equal status under the law, and I am glad that America is one of the few countries of the world where those of any religion can find a safe haven.
As a Christian, I am actively involved in the commission of Christ to make disciples of all nations. The conflict between making disciples and insuring equal treatment of all religions is solved for me because I know people should not be coerced to have a religion.
This can be illustrated by looking at the situation in Europe during the time of Martin Luther. He wanted to emphasize “grace by faith without relying on works of the law.” But the established church at the time had the power to try to coerce him to relent of this view and to teach exactly the same way that the established church was teaching. To justify his position, Luther called upon the ancient Christian concept of “the two kingdoms.” In this concept, God rules the world in two ways. The Kingdom of the Left Hand represents the civil realm, where God permits the use of force and the punishment of wrongdoers. The Kingdom of the Right Hand represents God ruling the church through grace and forgiveness. If the church calls upon the civil government to help it get its way, the church is trying to use the left hand to bring about the work of the right hand. This would bring us back to the situation at Luther’s time, and certain religious views would be forbidden.
The sphere in which the Kingdom of the Left takes place is called the secular realm. Secular simply means “belonging to the present age.” In this realm, people of all religions and ideologies mix together to buy and sell and form a civic community. Someone who lives as though the secular world is all that exists, and does not feel answerable to a divine figure, is termed a secularist.
My purpose in this paper is to show how I approach certain policy questions by trying to be both Christian and conservative. I have noticed that many disputes about politics could be clarified if there was agreement on the definition of terms, such as progressive and liberal. Since others have written about these terms, in this paper I will skip over the terms, and go directly to the policy questions.
Another way to say this is that I will look at each policy question, come to a conclusion that I feel is Christian and conservative, and then declare it to be my position, no matter whether conservatives or nonconservatives might agree with it. Another way to see this paper is that the entire paper is a definition of conservatism as I see it.
I will organize this paper according to the first 4 concepts in Jefferson’s declaration of independence: “That all men are created equal, that they are endowed with their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” I take the word inalienable to mean that it is impossible to separate these qualities from a being a human. Of course we do sometimes separate people from their liberty, when we put them in jail, or take their life away through capital punishment. This is such a drastic step that in our country it is only supposed to be done by due process of law. That God does give this power to the government is found in this line “it does not bear the sword for nothing” (Romans 13:4). In other words, part of the function of government is that because it represents God ruling on the Left Hand, it does have powers of coercion and punishment. The church however does not.
A.All men are created equal
Equality is a value both in the Judeo-Christian tradition and in our country’s founding documents. I take the phrase in the declaration to mean “equality under the law,” that is, the king is subject to the same laws as the commoner. The Christian view is that all humans are of equal value because they are made in the image of God, though that image has been damaged because of sin.
The constitution caught up with the declaration after “four-score and seven years” when Lincoln in the emancipation proclamation specified that a black person was no longer to be counted as 3/5 of a white person. Though conservatives are rightly proud that this proclamation was made by the first Republican president, they also have to admit that after a Democratic president shepherded the civil rights acts through congress in the 1960’s, Republicans traded places with southern Democrats and picked up the votes of those who opposed desegregation.
When the supreme court ordered desegregation in 1954, the argument it used had to do with equality. It ruled that “separate but equal” schools were not actually equal.
When women obtained the right to vote, it meant the word “men” in the declaration be seen by us as meaning “all men and women.”
I agree as a conservative with those who say that the goal of policy should be equal opportunity, not equal outcomes. Equality has been an ongoing process. Just when we start to think progress is being made, something happens like police officers unnecessarily killing persons of color, and the remaining inequality is highlighted again. Conservatives should work against inequality
Life is also a value both in Judeo-Christian tradition and in our country’s founding documents. The Bible teaches that God is the source of life. Thomas Jefferson meant that the right to life is a universal truth for all human beings.
As a Christian, I believe that human life begins at the moment of conception, and that the fetus should be protected. As a conservative, I believe I am in harmony with the declaration of independence, which calls life an inalienable right. I value life, including unborn human life, and I want to see abortions decrease.
The Republican Party has positioned itself since the 1990’s as the antiabortion party. Many evangelical leaders stated publicly that even though they recognized the flaws in Donald Trump, they could overlook those flaws because of the policies favorable to them that they hoped he would provide. One of those was appointing supreme court justices who could conceivably strike down Roe versus Wade. They were not disappointed. President Trump did appoint three such judges.
What we conservatives need to recognize is that even if Roe were to be struck down and states passed laws against abortions, that would not end abortions. Abortions would continue, but there would be more deaths from botched underground abortions, and there would be more young teen age girls who would accidentally kill themselves while trying to keep from bearing a child.
Conservatives therefore need to get beyond using abortion as a voting slogan, and attack the causes of abortion. Local organizations like “Life Choices” have pointed the way by providing scans, counseling, and bereavement counseling for those who have had abortions. Statistics show that many (not all) abortions are entered into reluctantly because the mother does not have a stable and economically viable family situation to bring the child into. This link provides statistics on why people have abortions.
Conservatives should be in the forefront of ameliorating this situation. Some things we can advocate for are: making adoptions simpler and cheaper, making sure families have health insurance, making sure expectant mothers can receive prenatal and postnatal care, making sure childcare is available for mothers who need to work, and bringing up the lowest wages to a level that a family can live on. Such actions not only help decrease the number of abortions, but also help strengthen families, which is a conservative value. The tax bill of 2017 did help by raising the standard deduction, though that could only help families whose wages were high enough to pay taxes.
Conservatives must prove wrong the mistaken complaint that they seem to lose interest in human life once it is safely out of the womb. Christianity and conservatism compels us to value life from conception to old age. The Declaration of Independence says this is a built in human right for all the people of the world. The image of God also includes refugees, incarcerated people, illegal aliens, the homeless, Alzheimers patients, addicted people, and people of every race, religion, and sexual theory.
A lot depends on having the right definition. I define liberty as my freedom to act as I wish up to the point where I transgress the liberty of others. I accept that it is a function of government to protect my liberty against intrusion by others. Someone has freedom to get drunk, but the government is correct to punish that person if he drives a car while impaired, since that is a danger to my life. I wear a face mask so I don’t impinge on someone else’ liberty by breathing covid particles upon them. The flip side of morality is the conservative value of personal responsibility: I take responsibility to avoid infringing the liberty of others.
As a Christian, I take it seriously that God has given us an obligation to care for creation. I understand the biblical phrase “take dominion over,” to mean to rule properly. As a partisan of liberty, I accept that individuals are free to create enterprises, and that production creates byproducts, some of which could be harmful. It is not controversial for a company to be expected to pay a garbage company to come and pick up its garbage. I do not know why it is controversial to expect a company to pay for the particles caused by their industrial process that it puts into the air or water. Those particles become an infringement on my liberty when they enter my body. The government would be correct to charge the enterprise for those leftovers, and ideally the money collected would subsidize health care for the sake of those whose health has been infringed. As it is now, the common people are paying in health care costs for the air and water pollution produced by industry. I apply this also to microscopic particles, like carbon dioxide, because I accept the concept that burning fossil fuels is moving the climate out of the historic range that has been optimal for human civilization. Humans must take responsibility for reversing this trend. Taking personal responsibility is a conservative value.
Liberty and Moral Issues
Most of the founding fathers held moral views in accord with Judeo-Christian tradition, so they could have privileged that view in the constitution, but they did not.
When the first amendment guarantees the free exercise of religion, I take this to include the free exercise of worldview and moral systems. When the amendment forbids the establishment of religion, I take this to mean that no one worldview and moral system is privileged. To me, that would mean a secularist viewpoint also is guaranteed but not privileged. So I reject the view that one cannot bring up personal moral views in civic discussions. It is impossible for one to engage in discussion without bringing along one’s worldview and moral system.
It is important to see the difference between the words “Secular” and “secularist.” The word secular is from Latin and means “of this present age.” It is in the secular space that people of varying religions and worldviews carry out buying and selling and create a civic life. There is no religious test required in the secular space. This is clear because of the rarity of instances when there is disagreement about it, such as when someone might decline to decorate a cake that celebrates a moral position one cannot accept.
There was not always a secular space. In the ancient world, religion was part of life, and everyone was expected to have the same religion. Even today in some countries, people who do not take part in the majority religion are persecuted. Some see the development of a secular space as helped along by Christ’s words “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. and unto God the things that are God’s.” The Christendom of the Middle Ages acknowledged a separation between clerical and civil responsibilities, though both were see as carrying out God’s work. It was the Enlightenment period that clarified the secular space as we experience it today.
Individuals who see themselves as ultimately accountable to God cannot help but bring their moral code into their life in the secular space. They acknowledge both a secular space – this present age – and an age to come, and age presently existing outside the secular space. Those who live as though there is no other age, and thus no accountability to God, would be termed followers of “secularism.” Secularism as well as accountability to God are both protected by the first amendment, and neither is privileged by the first amendment. The basis for these two worldviews working together in the secular space to form civil life is the concept of liberty.
To me, morality is inextricably tied to religious views, and so moral and ethical views are protected speech under the first amendment. That means the government cannot forbid a moral view, and it cannot mandate a moral view. It can however punish behavior that harms someone’s liberty.
For this reason I have felt that “hate-crime” legislation is ill-advised. The government can punish an action, but it cannot punish a thought. That would be thought-control.
From the standpoint of liberty, sexual activity among consenting adults is no business of civil law, though if injury occurs legal remedies can be sought. From the Christian standpoint, all human beings are accountable to God, and God does have moral standards that apply to all humans. No one is innocent in God’s eyes, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in his blood through faith.” The Christian’s role in civil society is to support authority as God-given, and to be “salt and light.” To do that, the views of Christians on each topic are permitted in the public square, as an application of liberty, just as much as the values of every other viewpoint.
Free speech is an example of a liberty that is reconfirmed in the first amendment. Private parties however can choose who’s speech they will chose to publicize. The constitution must guarantee that every newspaper can have a voice , but the individual newspaper has freedom to include what it chooses. A controversy today is how much the private companies called “web-based platforms” should prevent certain posts. I totally support banning child pornography and recruitment for militant groups. I do not know where to draw the line on “conspiracy” theories, because to those who hold them they are regarded as true. I would go so far as urging social media to include links to other views when potentially harmful views are posted.
When there is a conflict over moral or religious views, the solution lies in referring back to liberty, as it is expressed in the establishment clause of the first amendment. This solution also has application to public school policies. Tax money should not pay for schools to advocate one system of religion and morality over another. If a biology teacher were to say “evolution proves that God does not exist,” the administration would be correct to tell that teacher not to bring religion into science. If parents believe that the gender of their child does not match up with the child’s birth certificate, the public school cannot interfere with the liberty of the parents to think that way. The public school is correct in making sure the child is accommodated and not bullied. The school can and should provide informational research about those who change genders. But tax dollars should not be paid for the school to advocate for the theory that sex and gender are different. That is a religious and moral question, and so the school must remain neutral on it.
The argument would be that our first amendment explicitly forbids the state to establish any religious body, that is, to have a religious body that has the force of the civil government behind it. So I see forcing people to accept the moral view that gender is not the same as sex is an instance of government interference with religion. This implies though that the government cannot enforce Christian views either. So in the civil sphere, Christians need to use the principle of liberty to attain legislation that has to do with moral issues. The argument would be, if the government tells me that my kids need to be told that they are not necessarily the gender that they were born with, the government is impinging on my liberty for me to raise my kids with my moral view.
In the February 6, 2021 Reporter-Herald, George Will notes that Illinois schools might require teachers to assess their biases, such as racism, sexism, and homophobism. I agree that teachers should know their biases so they know how to avoid promoting them using tax dollars. Possible bias against religion and conventional morality should also be on this list.
I was a public school teacher for 17 years, and was careful not to transgress the liberty of my students and parents. Teachers who are religious are good at this, because they are clear about where the boundaries are. My rule of thumb was that I should not bring up my own viewpoints in areas where I would not like my children to be propagandized by another teacher who might be of a different viewpoint.
D. Pursuit of Happiness
I take this to mean the freedom to try to find a satisfying occupation and to lead a fulfilling life. As a Christian, I with Paul have “learned in whatever situation in to be content … I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” As a conservative, I support capitalism as a system that increases wealth and arrives at rational prices in a way that does not lead to shortages. More on Capitalism and Socialism.
I do not have opinions on all the issues regarding our civic life together, but here are a few samples of how I apply my conservative viewpoint to policy questions:
APPLICATIONS TO LOCAL ISSUES
I don’t want the city to infringe on areas that could be covered by private enterprise. I look at subsidies given to private enterprise as skewing the market system. I do not want a rise in the sales tax, and my long-range hope is to lower the food tax. I am glad the city thus far is not allowing sales of marijuana and am opposed to the sale of flavored nicotine products.
APPLICATIONS TO STATE ISSUES (COLORADO)
I feel we need more flexibility in spending TABOR funds. I favor less leeway on the freedom of the oil industry to let methane escape and to encroach drilling on schools and housing.
APPLICATIONS TO NATIONAL ISSUES
As a conservative, I do want to see a balanced budget. I want taxes to be no higher than necessary to balance the budget. That is consonant with frugality, a conservative value. I want regulation to be based on demonstrated needs, such as consumer protection.
With Bismarck, the founder of modern social welfare, I feel that a good social welfare system is the best protection against socialism, and I disagree with those who mistakenly equate social welfare with socialism. As a Christian, I acknowledge that God has asked me to care for the widows and orphans, the poor and the alien in the land. I think the statement in the Constitution to “provide for the common welfare” means that caring for others is constitutional also. When there is unemployment, I would like to see the government provide jobs where possible instead of just distributing money. I feel this would help our disintegrating infrastructure. It is also consonant with the conservative values of personal responsibility and self-reliance, and the biblical injunction to work if you expect to eat.
APPLICATIONS TO GLOBAL ISSUES
I am glad we have a strong and technically advanced military. I favor close cooperation with allies. I am angry when we let down those who have helped us, like the Kurds. We must learn to live with competitors and not go to war with them. We must keep the pressure on militant terrorist groups.
My purpose has been to present my views with transparency so that you would be able to inter-act with me. If you do not have my email, you can message me on Facebook. Jim Found
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