MythBuster Case#20: Another Classic Oxymoron: Christian Conservative

Posted: September 30, 2012 in Historical Exposes
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Somebody once defined an oxymoron as “someone who forgets to breathe.”  There are some really funny oxymorons out there:  military intelligence, government worker, government organization, and pretty ugly, among many others.

That last one describes Paul Ryan’s lastest decision to a tee.  In a brilliant political move, calculated to appease the GOP’s restless Christian conservative base, Paul Ryan yesterday announced his support for Obama’s new policy of open acceptance of homosexuals in the military.

There is no word in the English language to describe that last statement.  Facetious doesn’t even come close.  But the decision was so politically obtuse, irony is perhaps the best way to communicate its absurdity.  And it illustrates another great oxymoron that is not quite so funny, namely, “Christian conservative.”

Many evangelicals who think both candidates are totally unqualified to be President of the United States, have nonetheless been teetering on the edge of casting a vote for Mitt Romney.  Arguments that a refusal to vote is a vote for Obama and all the Bible really requires in the political realm is a peaceful environment for the spread of the gospel had begun to make traction.

Timothy calls on Christians to pray for political leaders so that, ” …we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.  This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior” (I Tim. 2:2).

Enter Paul Ryan as reported by Americans For Truth About Homosexuality.  Ryan’s oxymoron is not only a slap in the face to Christians, but it puts a big nail in the coffin of an old myth that has lingered for decades in the Christian right.

Myth:  Social Conservatism and Christianity have the same political objectives and a vote for one is identical to a vote for the other.

Far more dangerous, Ryan’s decision is a slap in the face to God, and we’ll get back to that in a minute.  His decision is a classic example that Conservatism is nothing more than a commitment to something that has been around for a while.  We’ve always done it that way and it’s worked in the past for most of us, so why rock the boat.   This is our time-honored tradition.  But times change and if a majority comes to agree that there is a better way to live with the changing times, so be it.  This is a species of “historicism.”  What is, is right.

We’re just not “early adopters.”  We peer cautiously into the future.  We’ll resist the change for a while, but when the consensus starts to shift you can count on us to go along with the crowd.   “Let’s move on” is our motto.  On to the next round of heel-dragging, accommodation, and eventual defeat.

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No one has stated this more clearly than Rev. Robert L. Dabney, field chaplain to General Stonewall Jackson during the Civil War.  But, lest you immediately dismiss Rev. Dabney as a hopeless bigot, let me point out that there was a theological reason behind his opposition to women’s suffrage.  Prior to that time Christians in general believed that God deals governmentally with the husband as representative of the family, as when he spoke with Adam not Eve immediately after the Fall.   Although it is lengthy we quote it here in its entirety:

“It may be inferred again that the present movement for women’s rights will certainly prevail from the history of its only opponent, Northern conservatism. This is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn.

“American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt bath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth, and has no idea of being guilty of the folly of martyrdom. It always, when about to enter a protest, very blandly informs the wild beast whose path it essays to stop, that its “bark is worse than its bite,” and that it only means to save its manners by enacting its decent role of resistance.

“The only practical purpose which it now subserves in American politics is to give enough exercise to Radicalism to keep it “in wind,” and to prevent its becoming pursy and lazy from having nothing to whip. No doubt, after a few years, when women’s suffrage shall have become an accomplished fact, conservatism will tacitly admit it into its creed, and thenceforward plume itself upon its wise firmness in opposing with similar weapons the extreme of baby suffrage; and when that too shall have been won, it will be heard declaring that the integrity of the American Constitution requires at least the refusal of suffrage to asses. There it will assume, with great dignity, its final position.

A moment ago we noted that the biggest danger in this decision lies in the offense that it gives to Yahweh God.  For that we will let Him speak for Himself.

  •  “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination” (Lev. 18:22).
  •  “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act, both of them shall surely be put to death; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them” (Lev. 20:13). 
  • “And although they know the ordinance of God that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them” (Rmn. 1: 32).

Case Closed:  Although the issues and agenda of conservatism and Christianity may at times coincide, there is a world of difference between the two.  Conservatism is based on the shifting sand of human tradition, which is subject to constant change.  Christianity is based on the unshakeable foundation of God’s holy word, which is unchangeable.

Hence the oxymoron, Christian conservative.  Habitual use of the oxymoron Christian conservative is a bit like trying to mix oil and water.

MythBusters Rating:  Blue Flag to Americans For Truth About Homosexuality for their courage in standing against the tide of popular media opinion regarding homosexual “marriage.”  Don’t miss the oxymoron, popular opinion.

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