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Will the last conservative please turn out the lights?

R. Albert Mohler Jr. | If conservatism is not accountable to the moral law, it is nothing


A student member of the Log Cabin Republicans wears a combination Gadsden/gay pride flag at U.C.-Davis. Hector Amezcua/The Sacramento Bee via Associated Press

Will the last conservative please turn out the lights?
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Fox News reported the story as if it made perfect sense—just a routine news account of a political happening. But this political event was actually a moral earthquake disguised as a social celebration. The festivities were held at Mar-a-Lago and among the “high-profile group of attendees” were none other than former President Donald Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump. The event may be remembered as a milestone in the death of American conservatism.

Mrs. Trump was actually a featured honoree at the event, billed as the Log Cabin Republicans “Spirit of Lincoln Gala.” The central purpose of the Log Cabin Republicans is to advance the LGBTQ movement within the Republican Party. As Fox reported that the Republican National Committee announced at the gala the formation of its first RNC Pride Coalition, “partnering with the Log Cabin Republicans to invest and mobilize LGBTQ communities ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.”

Log Cabin president Charles Moran told Fox News, “When LGBT conservatives are included in Republican campaigns, we win." LGBT conservatives? That makes sense only if conservatism now means nothing more than dismantling human civilization more slowly than the left demands.

We now see two rival visions of “conservatism” in the United States. The Log Cabin version, representing moral liberalism, just wants a more orderly transition to a new ideological age. True conservatism, based in the impulse to conserve the truths, traditions, and principles that are necessary for human happiness and lasting civilization, is committed to a metaphysical vision that acknowledges that sex and marriage are not plastic realities to be reshaped at will. Marriage was created by God, not by the Supreme Court. Sexual morality, centered in marriage, was also revealed by God. The Creator has spoken in Scripture and he embedded the cosmos with these truths. Successful civilizations obey, respect, and revere these necessary truths. That has been a central conservative commitment and the cardinal conservative insight.

As the late Sir Roger Scruton rightly said: “Conservatism is about freedom, yes. But it is also about the institutions and attitudes that shape the responsible citizen, and ensure that freedom is a benefit to us all. Conservatism is therefore about the limits to freedom.”

But the authentic conservative vision is now being undermined by many who call themselves conservative. In Britain, the so-called Conservative Party is just more conservative (on many issues) than the rival Labour Party. Back in 2005, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron began his drive to rebrand the Conservative Party as—you guessed it—on the right side of history. It was the Conservative Party in the U.K. that led the drive to legalize same-sex marriage, and it was David Cameron who boasted, “So I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative, I support gay marriage because I am a Conservative.”

Here is a hint: If you support a rebellion against marriage as exclusively the union of a man and a woman, you are not a conservative. Same-sex marriage is not a reform of marriage as an institution, it is a rebellion against marriage and morality.

David Brooks is billed by the New York Times as a conservative. It is blatantly false advertising. As far back as 2013, Brooks told his readers that “same-sex marriage will be a victory for the good life.” David Blankenhorn, founder of the Institute for American Values, once led the fight against same-sex marriage. All that changed in 2013. Why? His answer: “I changed my opposition to gay marriage because of personal relationships.” Andrew Sullivan, a brilliant intellectual force, famously made what he claimed was a conservative case for same-sex marriage. His argument, similar to the argument made by Jonathan Rauch, was that same-sex marriage would serve as a restraint on homosexual promiscuity and thus, conservatives “should be among the first to support it.”

That is not a conservative argument, but plenty who want to redirect conservatism to non-conservative principles want us to think it is. Andrew J. Bacevich, editor of the recent volume, American Conservatism: Reclaiming an Intellectual Tradition, chose Sullivan’s argument for same-sex marriage as a key chapter, describing Sullivan as “arguably the most influential conservative public intellectual of his generation.” If so, conservatism is dead.

If conservatism is not accountable to the moral law, it is nothing. If would-be “conservatives” fall all over themselves to celebrate the Log Cabin Republicans, we are doomed. Driven by love of neighbor, our Christian concern must be to conserve the institutions and truths necessary for healthy human society—and the defense of marriage as the union of a man and a woman is at the top of that list.

Those who are trying to redefine conservatism were shimmying up to the bar at Mar-a-Lago last weekend. Those who would conserve an authentic conservatism had better get ready for an argument. We now know what we are up against.


R. Albert Mohler Jr.

Albert Mohler is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College and editor of WORLD Opinions. He is also president of the Evangelical Theological Society and host of The Briefing and Thinking in Public. He is the author of several books, including The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture, and the Church. He is the seminary’s Centennial Professor of Christian Thought and a minister, having served as pastor and staff minister of several Southern Baptist churches.

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ajcoalson

World Mag - What Are You Doing?

This article is pandering and beneath the extraordinary reputation you've built. I haven't visited this site in a while, and as I peruse the Opinions pages and see names like Mohler (above) and Erick Erickson I'm wondering - what's happened here?

There's so much wrong with this article it's hard to know where to start. Mohler is determined to define conservatism to his viewers, and any variance is unacceptable or viewed as anti-conservative. He directly implies that political conservatives may not build bridges into communities unless they agree with them on all fronts.
The fusion of republicanism/conservatism/evangelicalism here is so palpable, one could almost read it as satire as they observe the author lambast the future of conservatism, claiming the above conservatives aren't conservative enough - while the very same author wrote many pieces supporting a man for president that was not and is not a candidate that embodies conservative values.

Dr. Mohler, you're better than this. You know you can't have your cake and eat it to. Yet, you seem to think you can support a man like Trump and then play the role of a man astounded by the demise of classic conservatism. Conservativism may be evolving, indeed it may be quite a bit less conservative than it use to be, but you have actually played an active role here. You can't support a man who's entire life has been built on anti-conservative principles then wonder what the hell has happened to conservativism.

Rather than attacking Log Cabin Republicans, you might want to explore a more humble, inward looking thinktank with some of your fellow intelectual Trumpers as to how you've actually been a part of the deconstruction of conservatism in America over the past five years.

It's mind-boggling to me, that in your full-throated support of Trump as a believer, you'd then cast stones at (seemingly) unbelievers who are simply uniting together for the purpose of gaining power - as is expected of unbelievers, straight or not. Yet - from your intellectial ivory tower - they're the ones to blame, not the ones who have given up their integrity for the sake of (brief) political power and expected no substantial hits to the ethos and tribe to follow. It's been impacted more than we can even understand...conservatism may never recover.

World Mag - Please do better. We need robust, invasive and relentless journalism, not people's opinions.

ALICIA

Respectfully, you "now know" what we are up against?? Because the lack of any consistent moral conviction or behavior by President Trump, anyone in his trusted circle/family, nor the people who sacrificed their own convictions for the "greater good" of keeping him as the key figure of power, didn't reveal this to you, like, 6 years ago??
I hope you are NOW seeing what is evident to anyone, in Christ, who isn't determined to "not" see what President Trump has never, ever hidden about himself. He has never pretended to be moral, honest, kind, humble...you know...all the things that we see in...Jesus. And, yet, "we" as a collective christian American people have sacrificed our unity in order to keep him at the forefront.
I hope you "now know" this has got to stop. Please, make it stop.

Steve S

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/14/business/world-magazine-marvin-olasky-trump.html?

If you, like me, were surprised (and disappointed) by World magazine's hard turn to "conservativism", the article above provides some context.

FIMIKISteve S

Troubling indeed. It's worth noting, though, that the article was written by Ben Smith, the provocateur behind the publishing of the now infamous Steele dossier. This doesn't mean it's false, but that it should perhaps be read with a fair amount of skepticism. Quotes and timelines can be constructed to paint a darker picture than reality. I'll hold my judgement until more information emerges.

Steve SFIMIKI

For what it's worth, another set of reporting on this: https://julieroys.com/marvin-olasky-world-magazine-opinjon-staff-departures/

FIMIKISteve S

Wow. Well, there we have it. Sophia Lee too. That's pretty discouraging. Thanks for sharing Steve. WORLD had been one of the few remaining journalistic institutions whose perspective I trusted implicitly. Even though it's not going full-on MAGA, locking things down to one particular ideological stance is hardly edifying in this age of our increasingly fracturing church body.

Edit:
To elaborate, I consider myself a conservative - both economically and socially - and like Mohler earnestly want to see authentic conservatism defended against various ascendant elements on the right that are overly individualistic, rebellious, and in this instance morally libertine as well. But I have to recognize that conservatism is at its root an instinct and is completely contextual to the issue at hand, not a stance dictated by the eternal truths of scripture. Even if they get the solution wrong it behooves us to pay attention to the problems highlighted by progressives because they can see the log in our eye that we are often blind too.

Allen Johnson

1. Melania Trump posed for a nude lesbian photo shoot a few decades ago.
2. The Trump family cannot be a model for Christian sexual morality.
3. Neither can the Republican Party,
4. Biblical marriage seems to condone or at least tacitly accept polygamy, concubinage, child marriage, and acceptance of rape for betrothal.
5. New Testament marriage is clearly one man married to one woman. Divorce is restricted.
6. Political power should not do the heavy moral lifting for Christians. Rather, a job of the Church is to form and maintain holiness and truthful witness within its own people, irrespective of the political and secular world.
7. The Church has largely failed to constructively minister to LGBTQ people by avoidance, and now the Left is failing to help LGBTQ people by endorsing sinful behavior.
8. Marriage has been devalued for decades into simply a relationship of affection and convenience. The Trinitarian mystery of Imago Dei in a marriage is lost. As also children..
9. Pornography as it is today, and mainstream media, are major influencers to the acceptance of LGBTQ eroticism.

Salty1

One other point. I don’t necessarily agree with Albert Mohler on this topic because as our Christian voice in America shrinks we are going to have to align with those who share some of our beliefs but not all of them.

The challenge will be to maintain our Christian moral standards while at the same time working with people who don’t. How do we stay salty in this, maintaining our distinctives, yet working with those we align with politically?

If we treat our political party as a church, censuring those outside our moral standards, then we have a recipe for disaster. Rather, we should not treat the Republican Party as a church but should understand that some of our political allies will be of the world and we shouldn’t judge those outside the church.

1 Corinthians 5:9-13
New International Version
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[a] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”[b]

Now I like this as much as the next Christian- as much as I would like a bullet in the head - but I believe we are going to have to wrestle with this how to do this in a Christian way. I am definitely not advocating removing our Christian standards but how do we align with political allies who don’t share our values but still will support us enough where it will benefit the Christian cause. This I find disturbing but I don’t see anyway around it given the trends we see. Will we be even more divided?

FIMIKISalty1

"How do we align with political allies who don’t share our values but still will support us enough where it will benefit the Christian cause?"

The same way we've always done it, or at least should have done it; lend our support when they support a Christian cause, and boldly call them out when they do not. No party is 100% aligned with Christian values, so we should likewise never be 100% aligned with a political party, right? Of course this is hard because there's a lot of pressure to be partisan these days, and in our zero-sum winner-takes-all political system any critique of one party is seen as tacit support of the other one, but if we refrain from speaking truth to power and holding all parties to account for their actions and character, then we as a Christian community will end up being the ones conformed to the world instead of the other way around.

This is a tough question indeed and for any other community would certainly cause division. May our love for one another show the world where our true allegiance lies!

Salty1

This is why we should not give up on Republicans but we need to fight on pushing forward the Christian cause. The reality is that the Republican Party will become less Christian as our culture becomes less Christian. If we can’t keep our children from abandoning the faith by the time they are 30 years old, then we need to ask what are we doing wrong. Or look at this statistic:

“Study Findings: 88% of the children in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18”

“Book Findings: If current trends in the belief systems and practices of the younger generation continue, in ten years, church attendance will be half the size it is today.“

https://coldcasechristianity.com/writings/are-young-people-really-leaving-christianity/

The problem is that we have huddled in our churches and failed to fight the cultural battle using pietistic arguments to not engage. Even now Christians are trying to wage war against us who are trying to encourage Christians to not cower but to stand up with dignity and fight. This is a holy calling and we are in need of godly warriors not afraid of the battle. Stand up and fight for the Lord!

LROB4976

Come quickly Lord Jesus 🙏🏼

not silent

This is not to criticize anyone for their personal choices, just to express my own: I no longer define myself by political labels like "conservative" because politics is constantly changing. I don't even call myself an "evangelical" because of how political the term has become. The older I get, the more I want to define myself by my relationship with the Lord. If you were to ask people I know, some would probably consider me "liberal"; others would consider me "conservative." I honestly don't care what you call me as long as I am seeking God and his kingdom first.

Steve Snot silent

fully agree... Dr. Mohler gets himself twisted into knots because he is assuming somehow that "authentic conservatism" (whatever that is?) is somehow equivalent to Christian beliefs. And there seems to be some assumption that "Back in the good ol' days, things were better!" Men having been sinning since Adam....what's the surprise?

not silentSteve S

I agree that it is very hard to define what "authentic conservatism" is. For many people, it seems to reflect a desire to "go back to the way things were." As someone who grew up in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement, I feel confident in saying "the way things were" is not always the best way. Of course, not ALL change is good; but not all change is bad either.

I was asking myself after reading this article if a Jewish person (or even a Roman citizen) who lived during the time of Jesus or in the years following his death and resurrection have considered Jesus a "conservative," as we view the idea today. Frankly, I doubt it! Jesus' followers and the spread of the gospel RADICALLY reshaped society. Would the Israelites who left Egypt in the Exodus (and the Egyptians who lost their free labor force) have considered Moses "conservative" as we define it today? I doubt it!

I'm not saying ALL that is viewed as conservative is "bad," of course. I'm only pointing out that things which are considered "conservative" must be viewed in light of God's work and his plan. The true gospel is pretty radical compared to most human ideas. It won't line up with everything that a given person might label as "liberal," but it also won't line up with everything a given person might label as "conservative." THAT is why I try to keep the focus on the Lord, his will, and his kingdom and NOT on political parties or terminology.

Carol Tonjes

The longer I live the more I understand the truth that we must “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." Few, indeed!

David Rasmusson

I agree with Dr. Mohler's position but am unconvinced by the messenger. Isn't he the same guy who made the case for reelecting President Trump while simultaneously overlooking his multiple moral failures? By doing so, the good Dr. sacrificed the moral high ground that he now fears has been lost.

As a Christian conservative, I get it as I too held my nose and voted for President Trump in 2020 because he was by far the better choice. But it's my prayer that the 2024 Republican primaries will produce a nominee with much stronger moral and conservative credentials than the former president can point to. Conservatives can and should do better than Donald Trump. Are you listening Ron DeSantis?

LROB4976David Rasmusson

I chose to not vote for president in 2016 and 2020. This decision did not come lightly but out of prayer. God is good and we need to listen to him.

Jebby

I’m a follower of Jesus, and as a result I’ve never voted for a Democrat. That makes me a conservative I guess. My problem with politics is the drive to win elections, which results in strange alliances such as the one mentioned in this article. I desire a political party that strives to do what is right for the people, not what will just win elections. I will most likely forever be disappointed, because I know that what is right is not always popular. But I will still hope. And I agree with this article.

JMAN3581

Well said!
Walk with the LORD or rebel. There is no middle ground. Genesis 1
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
This first commandment also applies to some of the other liberal ills.