What is a Social Conservative? And Do They Hate Gays?
My most recent post at NewsReal Blog has raised some interesting questions. For me, at least. The biggest question is this: what does it mean to be a social conservative? That question is quickly followed by: if I’m not a social conservative, does that mean I’m not a conservative at all? And the third: who really cares?
If you’ve read my blog at all, you know I’m an atheist. You also know I’ve repeatedly stood up for the free expression of religion and have made arguments for teaching the Bible and creationism in school (just not in the science classroom.) You also know that I come down on the side of the founding fathers that our country was based on Judeo-Christian principles. I’ve quoted Jefferson extensively, including reprinting the entire 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists, in which the phrase “separation of church and state” was coined to give it context.
Here’s where the other shoe drops.
It’s a lie to say all the founding fathers were secretly Deists. It’s also a lie to say they were all Christians. While it’s true the political Left has very much tried to divorce the Constitution from its ethical and moral frameworks, the radical religious right (a term I use to create a separation between conservative Christians and Jews who act according to their faiths and those who would like to impose their faiths on us) is making the same mistake.
It’s always very interesting to look at the historical record and read what various founding fathers had to say on this or that issue. It’s often relevant and pertinent. What is also relevant and pertinent is what they did not say. And what they did not say is that the Bible should be the law of the land.
The founding fathers believed all our rights descended from “nature and nature’s God.” I do not dispute that. Thomas Jefferson himself repeatedly referenced God in his works, including the works used to bolster the idea of “separation of church and state.” But here’s the thing: a careful reading of the Bible shows that God grants you … what rights, exactly? (and please quote scripture. I admit I’m rusty, so maybe I’m missing something.)
Recently, someone wrote to me that the Constitution was based on the 10 Commandments. Really? Freedom of speech comes from the 10 Commandments? I see two commandments regarding speech: Do not take the name of the Lord in vain. Do not bear false witness. Both restrict speech. Freedom of religion? You shall have no other gods before me.
Face it, our most “sacred” Constitutional rights just aren’t there.
Likewise, I can find none of our enumerated rights in the New Testament.
God gives us rules by which to live. Regardless of whether you are Jewish or Christian, these rules are meant to improve our lives and bring us closer to God, yes? God does not grant rights; He grants responsibilities.
Save one, of course: the right to freedom of choice.
From the perspective of one who has studied the Bible – and doing so while being a Christian – salvation means nothing without our choosing it. One cannot force salvation on someone. Forcing a person to follow the word of God does not make that person a true believer, nor does it guarantee salvation. One must choose to come to God. One must choose to be redeemed.
It is that one right – the right to either follow or not – that God grants us and from which all our other rights descend.
This does not mean I feel we need to have law completely divorced from a Judeo-Christian perspective. It does mean, however, that I feel we need to have a law based on what part of that perspective the founding fathers chose to incorporate into the Constitution.
Some (and I mean some. Not most. Definitely not all) social Christian Conservatives would like people to believe the Bible is the unalterable word of God. This is either untrue, as there are over 1,000 translations of the Bible that conflict on one point or another, or it means there is only one true translation of the Bible. Yet, they do not seem to agree on which translation is the right one. That aside, many of these socons use the words of Paul to prove God is a conservative. Even if you believe the entire Bible is the word of God, you must believe the words of Christ carry more weight, otherwise why be a Christian at all. Yet how did Christ live? Who were his associates? What did he have to say about the government?
The truth is, God is neither a Republican nor a Democrat. If you believe in Him, you must believe he is above all laws of man. Consequently, I firmly acknowledge your duty as a person of faith to put God first and the laws of the land second. However, I do not and never will acknowledge your right to force me to do the same. It’s too easy to point out the hypocrisy.
I’m not trying to say God is somehow un-American. Far from it. What I am saying is that no one on earth follows the word of God to the letter. No one.
Now I approach my point. There is a faction of Social Conservatism that very much believes if it’s in the Bible it should be law … when it suits them. There are nutcases out there – and yes, you are nutcases – who believe if we accept gay marriage, God will destroy the country. Yet it is a Christian concept that all sin is equal in the eyes of God. So why wouldn’t God destroy America for acceptance of one sin, and not countless others?
Divorce – “But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” – Matthew 5:32
On not upholding the whole of the law – “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” James 2:10
On Women speaking in the church – “The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” 1 Corinthians 14:34-35
Why will God destroy us for “sanctifying” one sin, when we have clearly sanctified many?
The point is, America was founded on freedom. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness: that is what we declared and what we fought for. While there is absolutely no reason for any person of faith to separate him or herself from a higher power for the purposes of voting, likewise is there no legal compunction for me to follow the words of your faith if I do not choose to do so. If God exists, then I am accountable to Him for my transgressions and disbelief; not to you and certainly not to the federal government.
For a social conservative to therefore insist that “sinful” behavior, such as “homosexual activity,” be outlawed is of the utmost hypocrisy.
And yet, these are exactly the type of comments I’ve been encountering. I’ve been told I can’t be a “real conservative” because I’m gay and all homosexuals support a radical leftist agenda. I think it’s clear from my posts on so-called “gay issues” I do not support a gay agenda, radical or otherwise. Neither do I, nor will I, support an agenda that advocates creeping theocracy; by any religion.
Social conservatives need to better define themselves. If you are against gay marriage because so are the majority of Americans, then fine. That’s true. If you are against gay marriage because the Bible tells you homosexuality is a sin; that’s fine and true, too. However, if you are the type of social conservative (and I am not claiming all social conservatives do this) who thinks this country has a mandate to legislate sin, and in particular one sin, you are neither conservative nor are you a believer in the Constitution.
By all means, profess your faith. Celebrate your faith. Share your faith. I, Godless and hell bound as you may consider me to be, will stand up for your right to do so. Vote your faith. I know I vote my conscience, too. But do not tell me I have a warped perception of Christianity and conservatism because I ignore a handful of passages in the Bible when you ignore the essence of Christ and of the freedoms granted to us by – in your own words – God. Do not tell me I can’t be a real conservative because 5% of what I believe disagrees with your religious viewpoint. And, so help me … erm … God, do not ever tell me God will destroy America because it accepts me. If that’s the America you want to live in, then I have a church for you. It’s called Westboro Baptist, and it’s run by Fred Phelps: a Democrat.
Leave the term “social conservative” to people like Ann Coulter. People who have earned it and understand what it means.
If you think the only way to accomplish social reform in this country is by legislation, I have a more accurate word for your political ideology, and it’s “progressivism.”