Conservatism’s Ground

David Burchard Politics Leave a Comment

Let’s talk about why you’re a conservative.

I’m assuming that, if you identify as conservative, you’re not simply for liberty in some abstract sense, but, rather, are for the establishment and preservation of a good society. You think well-ordered families are foundational to such a society; and you don’t think gay marriage is a real marital union that can serve as the foundation of family. You think governments have mandatory bounds within which they must work, bounds which cannot rightly be transgressed. You believe that central to any theory of human rights are the rights of life and property, and so you are opposed to such things as abortion and property taxes. You emphasize personal responsibility, of the sweat, grit, and blood variety.

You’re a conservative.

But let’s talk about why.

Do you think conservatism is common sense? It most certainly is. Do you think conservatism conforms to reality, unlike the psychedelic fantasies of leftists? It does. Do you think conservatism is good, that it is most conducive to a fruitful world, that it leads to prosperity and happiness and the creation of things worth writing poems about and fighting wars to defend? Yes, and amen.

Conservatism is good. But do you hold to it for a good reason, for the right reason? Are you a consistent conservative? Are you able to not simply hold your views, but explain why others are obligated to take them as their own as well?

Yes, conservatism does lead to fruitfulness, to prosperity and happiness. It does conform to the world that is, and not a world of our political imaginings. But is that all we need to recognize in order to say that you and I ought to be conservatives?

Why are we obligated to hold such political convictions? Can you say anything more than that you prefer others to live according to ideas that lead to a good and prosperous society? What about, “I strongly prefer”? Is that any better?

What if your neighbor doesn’t care about what makes society good? What if he doesn’t care about your preferences? Maybe he wants to shape a world that gives him maximal space to pursue maximal pleasure. Maybe he just doesn’t want to work and is excited by the prospect of being able to force others to provide for his basic needs. Maybe she’s had to work her fingers to the bone just to get by in life and has an inner rage that there are those who’ve had it easier; she’s intent on achieving equality of opportunity and outcome, even if it brings equality of misery, goodness be damned.

Can you go up against your neighbor’s desires with anything more than a well-reasoned preference?

Why is he obligated to deny his selfishness? Why is he obligated to deny his laziness? Why is she obligated to deny her envy?

To answer these questions rightly, and thus to be able to sensibly assert the obligatory nature of conservatism, you need to recognize and affirm the foundational, the universal standard.

The Bible is the final rule and standard for all right thinking and doing in this world. That’s because the Bible is God’s inspired, breathed-out Word. And God is the Maker of everyone and everything. As the Maker, He owns all and obligates all to live according to His will, as expressed in His Word, and as is made known to a significant extent in nature itself and in our consciences.

Conservatism, at least a certain kind of conservatism, works because it actually deals with the reality of God’s world. It doesn’t rebel against the natural order, meaning, it conforms to the way God has made His world and has required us to live in it. Because it is in accord with the will of God, bindingly defined in the Bible, all men everywhere have an obligation to conservatism.

God’s world is the ultimate standard. No other standard is sufficient to hold up the weight of conservatism. No other standard is sufficient to obligate all men everywhere to take conservativism’s precepts as their own.

All governments everywhere have bounds within which they must work, limits which must not be transgressed, because God has made government and given it the express job of punishing bad guys, fending off foreign foes, and celebrating heroes. 1 Peter 2:13-14 reads, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.” Instituted by God, governments owe Him the faithful fulfilling of the job description. Conservatism says to a government, “You exist under God, not under the whims of the mob or monarch. Do your duty unto Him.”

Well-ordered families are the foundation of society, the engine of all education and industry. Why? Because the family is the first institution made by God in this world, the institution He made for man to be fruitful, multiply, and work throughout the world (Genesis 1:27-2:24).

Why is abortion universally wrong, no matter the degree of surprise or desirability associated with any given pregnancy? Abortion is wrong because that which is in the pregnant womb is a living, human baby. This is revealed by nature, in that the baby has its own DNA, and by God’s Word. Psalm 139:13 reads, “You wove me in my mother’s womb.” Luke 1:41 reads, “The baby leaped in her womb.” Because that which is in the pregnant womb is a living, human baby, abortion is murder. Murder is wrong because, unlike any other creature in the world, man is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; 9:6).

Socialism is wrong, not because it doesn’t work (hola, venezolanos). It’s wrong because redistributive taxation is theft. Theft, even if done by the government, denies the property rights bestowed on man in Genesis 1:26-28. And theft is forbidden by God’s law. “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15).

Conservatism is the political ideology of the Bible. It is the political ideology that says, “All of this is God’s.” And so, it is the political ideology that all men everywhere must hold.

Are you a conservative unmoored to conservatism’s anchor? Are you a consistent conservative? Are you a man or woman gladly recognizing that this world was not made and is not owned by us?

Don’t settle for a preference. Spend yourself according to the unchanging, universal standard. Live unto God.

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