Are You a Liberal or a Conservative?

Written by Jeff Carlson on .

Trump Clinton USA presidential election 2016It's been an amazing week in politics. As of Tuesday, it looks like controversial businessman Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee for President after his main rival, Senator Ted Cruz dropped out of the race. Many of Senator Cruz's supporters and other Republicans don't feel Mr. Trump is a true conservative or conservative enough, triggering deep division within the Republican world. A similar battle is going on in the Democratic Party between Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. However, on the Democratic side, people seem to be fighting over who is more "liberal" and what it means to be a true "liberal." Invariably, all of this leads to an obvious question on whether or not people have the slightest idea of what the words "conservative" and "liberal" really mean.

If you spend a moment and think about it, the words "conservative" and "liberal" are just words that change with the shifting winds of culture and politics. They are just words with subjective definitions that literally mean something different to every person. As a result, it is impossible to have a civil discourse today about these terms because virtually everyone starts from a different place. The same problem is also true in the Church world as well. After all, what is a "conservative" or "liberal" Christian? The Bible never uses these terms. The Church has turned to these labels because Christianity has become so confused in our culture today with a hundred counterfeits all around us of what it means to be a Christian.
However, what people are really try to say to each other when they use the terms "conservative" or"liberal" is that they have some standard to judge or measure things by that should be important to others as well. And while that standard may not be known to others, or even the person themselves, at least people are looking for some standard or basis of decision making and moral judgment. What few people seem to understand is that anytime you appeal to a definition or standard for any word you are starting to move toward a discussion about the Lord. After all, only the Lord could be the Unchanging Standard that would serve as a definition for discussion about anything.

In his book Mere Christianity, well known author C.S. Lewis says that the concept of "right" and "wrong" is appealed to by everyone because there is an innate belief in the human soul that there is a moral order in the Universe of "right" and "wrong." For Lewis that appeal to a standard of morality or truth is a witness to the existence of God and human conscience according to Romans 1:19-20. It is very clear that Lewis' argument about the defintions of "right" and "wrong" carries over perfectly to the political or religious definitions of "conservative" and "liberal." People not only believe these words mean something important, but they believe their defintions to be "right," while others are "wrong." Lewis was right!

Now the best way to escape this political mess we are in is to begin to talk about things is NOT to use the terms "conservative" or "liberal" again because these terms are meaningless. The best way to discuss our views about politics, or anything else, is to say that some position, belief or practice is "Biblical" or "Not Biblical." The moment a person appeals to something being "Biblical" everything changes. People may or may not agree with that position, but at least a person is appealing to an unchanging standard, God's Word in the Bible.

Let's take an example to flesh this thinking out. If a person is against abortion, they need not define themselves with a political platform from any party or use a word to describe themselves as holding to a "conservative" view about abortion. After all, some "conservatives" support abortion. The best way to have public discourse on the abortion issue is to say that we hold to a Biblical position on abortion. People may not like what the Bible says about abortion, may not know what the Bible says about abortion, or even may not agree that the Bible is against abortion, but at least the discussion is framed from an unchanging standard as a place to begin.

IF Christians began to use the term "Biblical" to describe themselves and their beliefs it would revolutionize public discourse about politics and anything else. You would be amazed what saying that will do in a conversation with anyone. So instead of trying to figure out what a person means when describing themselves and their positions as "conservative" or "liberal," just reframe the question. Ask a person if they hold to a Biblical position on a particular issue. If they are not sure what you mean, tell them in a kind a courteous way and let the Lord use you to speak to them in love.

It would be a wonderful thing to let people know in this chaotic political time that there are words like "Biblical" that have real, instrinsic meanings that are eternal because they come from the Lord Himself. The continued fighting and mud wrestling over words like "conservative" and "liberal" will not help Christians share the wonderful truth of the Lord and His unchanging laws and redeeming love in the Lord Jesus Christ.

So as the Presidential election in November comes closer, let's just tell people that we are "Biblical" in our political views and vote for those who most reflect positions that are in line with those standards that have never changed. Try it and be amazed how the Lord will use you to speak to others in this confusing world.