What does it mean to be a “conservative”?
That is a question that is getting thornier and thornier.
In recent years, some of the “conservative” movement’s heavyweight personalities have distanced themselves from the Republican Party leadership because of efforts to move left and to create a “big tent.”
Yet the very same tendency is at work right in the heart of the “conservative” movement today. And it is being championed by stalwarts of the movement’s leadership.
For instance, a group that supports same-sex marriage and openly homosexual activity in the U.S. military ranks was permitted to be a sponsor of the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington this year. And, more recently, Grover Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform, signed on to the group’s board of advisers, saying: “GOProud is an important part of the conservative movement. I am proud to join GOProud’s Board of Advisers and to help in advancing their common-sense conservative agenda of limited government, lower taxes and individual liberty.”
“Conservatives” embracing same-sex marriage and open homosexual service in the military?
Are those “conservative” positions?
I don’t pretend to speak for the “conservative” movement. In fact, I don’t even label myself a “conservative” precisely because the term has become so ambiguous. Nevertheless, the answer should be an unequivocal “no.”
But why isn’t it? Why are more “conservative” leaders accepting positions – even embracing them – that were once considered anathema?
It all has to do with how and where we get our definitions of right and wrong.
Are the worldviews of conservatives based on nothing more than the principles espoused in Barry Goldwater’s 1960 book, “The Conscience of a Conservative”?
Or, are there more transcendent values that “conservatives” are beholden to defend?
One of the reasons I don’t like the term “conservative” is because it sounds defensive. “Conservatives” need to define what it is they are “conserving.” Is it lower taxes? Is that the deep, ultimate, eternal truth of the “conservative” movement? Is it just about guns? Is it just about stuff you touch and feel? Is it just about materialism?
Apparently, that is the reality for a growing number of “conservatives,” who have become almost indistinguishable from “libertarians” in their worldview.
To me, “conservatism,” along with any other “ism,” is worthless unless it has a moral core based on God’s revelation to humanity in the Bible. My only interest is in defending and conserving God’s eternal values and principles, not Barry Goldwater’s.
“Conservatives” need to grasp that they can be just as morally lost as Barack Obama if their ideology is based on the “do-your-own-thing ethic” that is being popularized in their movement today.
Yes, I am a freedom advocate and take a backseat to no one in promoting liberty. But the liberty I pursue is a liberty founded on God’s commandments to us. America’s Founding Fathers recognized we could only be a truly self-governing people if we maintained a Judeo-Christian worldview in which individuals were accountable to God for their behavior.
That’s how and where “conservatives” run into conflicts over transcendent issues like homosexuality and even the question of when life begins.
For years the Republican Party has debated whether so-called “social issues” should be a part of its platform. “Big tent” Republicans said no. “Conservatives” said yes. Now this debate is being reignited within the “conservative” movement.
But the debate is a phony one from the start.
What are “social issues”? They are issues that have to do with people. Which means all political issues are social issues. Taxes are social issues every bit as much as abortion is. What’s the distinction? Some of the brave new “conservatives” might tell you abortion and homosexuality are matters of individual morality. That’s certainly true. But it is no more true than the fact that taxing is a question of individual morality.
All political issues are social issues. All political issues are moral issues. It’s simply a question of what kind of morality you bring to the table.
If it is not a biblical morality, if it’s not God’s morality, then it is man’s. And that is a very shaky foundation for any political movement.