What Does it Mean to Be a Conservative?

Can you be a true conservative if you reject the most fundamental conservative values? In this 'Consider This' episode Dr. Brown examines the changing definition of 'conservative' and how morality and politics intersect.
What does it mean to be a conservative?

What separates those on the right from those on the left?

In the past, being a conservative normally meant that you held firmly to traditional moral values.

That you were pro-life and pro-marriage.

That God and the Bible played an important role in your life.

It also meant you favored smaller government and reduction in taxes and a strong military. But for many conservatives, those were the secondary issues. Faith and family came first.

Today, there's a new type of conservative. Today we have conservatives who are atheists. And we have transgender conservatives. And gay conservatives. Some of them are even "married" to their same-sex partners.

What are we to make of these new conservatives?

On the one hand, the more voices opposing the radical left, the better. And that includes non-religious and non-traditional voices. As conservatives, our doors are wide open.

But there's another question we need to ask: Can you be a true conservative if you reject the most fundamental conservative values, starting with the biblical (and historic) definition of marriage? Can you be a true conservative if you say that gender is whatever you perceive it to be? And can you be a true conservative if you don't believe in God?

Let's stop and think about this for a moment.

There's nothing more fundamental to the well-being of our society than healthy families - and that means families as God intended them to be. That means homes with solid marriages, uniting one man and one woman for life, raising their kids together.

And there's nothing more foundational to the order of society than male-female distinctives. There are major consequences when we blur the lines of gender.

How, then, can you be conservative and want to redefine marriage or make gender flexible or say that traditional, moral values are not that significant?

But that's only part of the problem. What about our freedoms? Is there anything we value more as conservative Americans? As the state motto of New Hampshire proclaims, "Live free or die."

Yet today, LGBT activism is the most serious threat to our most cherished freedoms - the freedoms of conscience and speech and religion. I'm not exaggerating in the least.

Every day, in courts and businesses and schools across America, our freedoms are under assault. And it is LGBT activism that's leading the charge, telling us we can't freely practice our faith and we can't openly hold to our convictions (without penalty).

Telling us that we're bigots and homophobes and transphobes. Calling us Nazis and comparing us to ISIS. Trying to silence us and shame us and put us in the closet. Trying to force a radical educational agenda on our children.

And we're facing this onslaught simply because we agree with God's Word when it comes to marriage and sexuality and gender.

How, then, can you be truly conservative if you don't oppose such activism? And how can you fully oppose such activism if you accept the redefinition of marriage?

Gay activists have long understood the implications of redefining marriage. In 1996, gay blogger Andrew Sullivan wrote that redefining marriage is "ultimately the only reform that matters." The same year gay journalist Michelangelo Signorile stated that redefining marriage presents "a chance to wholly transform the definition of family in American culture." Their predictions are proving true in front of our eyes.

So, it's one thing to be a fiscal conservative or a conservative when it comes to the strength of our military or the size of our government. It's another thing to be conservative when it comes to religion and morality. Take that away, and our conservatism falls short. Take that way, and our conservatism does not fully reflect the values of our Founding Fathers.

And that brings us to the question of God. Can you be a true conservative and an atheist?

I'm sure there are plenty of atheists who hold to high standards of morality, who help the poor, who are devoted spouses and parents, who put many professing Christians to shame.

But there's something else we need to consider. Our second president, John Adams said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

He was absolutely right.

Take God and true religion out of the picture, and our nation collapses.

Take the foundation of faith out of our culture, and we have anarchy.

That means that America cannot be great unless America is good, and America cannot be good without God.

So, can you be a gay conservative or a transgender conservative or a conservative atheist?

To a point, you absolutely can, and I expect that, in the days ahead, some of the leading conservative voices will come from outside the traditional, Judeo-Christian fold as the left gets more radical by the hour.

I welcome those voices and intend to learn whatever I can from them.

But let's not fool ourselves.

The radical left is ultimately at war with God and with biblical faith and morality. That means it is only those who are joined together in faith and morals who will be able to withstand the tidal wave that's coming.

A conservatism based on anything less will ultimately fail.