Posted by: jackslife | April 8, 2009

How Christian is our Politics?

Rod Dreher has a great post up right now regarding the Red Cross torture report.  This post got me to thinking again about something I have thought about many times before.  How is it that many conservative Christians choose which areas they allow their faith to influence their politics?  This seems like an area where many conservatives are pretty inconsistent.  It’s okay to make policy decisions based on faith when it comes to abortion, evolution, or gay marriage, but when it comes down to issues like poverty, torture, unjustifiable wars, or even economics, it seems that Republican political philosophy or some sort of utilitarianism overrules the Christ-like alternative.

How is it more conservative to choose the transient over the transcendent?  How is it more conservative to support the “necessary evil” of torture over virtue in the name of security?  How is it more conservative to support a culture of consumerism over one of restraint?  The transcendent, the virtuous, and the restrained are all Christian, and I believe that they are all equally conservative.

Russell Kirk wrote about what he called the Ten Conservative Principles.  I think that these principles have been largely replaced in the modern conservative movement by a combination of liberalism masquerading as conservatism and some level of libertarianism.  I recommend that you read the whole thing, but here is one relevant portion –

1. First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order. That order is made for man, and man is made for it: human nature is a constant, and moral truths are permanent…

…Our twentieth-century world has experienced the hideous consequences of the collapse of belief in a moral order. Like the atrocities and disasters of Greece in the fifth century before Christ, the ruin of great nations in our century shows us the pit into which fall societies that mistake clever self-interest, or ingenious social controls, for pleasing alternatives to an oldfangled moral order [Emphasis mine – BS].

It has been said by liberal intellectuals that the conservative believes all social questions, at heart, to be questions of private morality. Properly understood, this statement is quite true. A society in which men and women are governed by belief in an enduring moral order, by a strong sense of right and wrong, by personal convictions about justice and honor, will be a good society—whatever political machinery it may utilize; while a society in which men and women are morally adrift, ignorant of norms, and intent chiefly upon gratification of appetites, will be a bad society—no matter how many people vote and no matter how liberal its formal constitution may be.

I think that when Christians support an institution like torture it weakens the moral fabric of the entire country.  Many conservatives like to offer the words of Tocqueville when he said, “America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”  How can our country hope to remain good when Christians are willing to embrace or even tolerate something like torture for utilitarian gains?


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