Nov
16

Petraeus and the moral bankruptness of social conservatism

By

I think it is rather funny how two major golden boys in the "Conservative Idol" game have been taken down by infidelity in the past few weeks: Dinesh D’Souza and now General Petraeus.

It is especially sickening, though, that according to “conservatives” the military is supposed to be the virtuous of virtuous groups, we are supposed to honor the living daylights out of them, give them special treatment (even moral license), etc., and yet at the highest levels we find such immoral scumbags. And people still think they can make decisions about who lives and who dies?

I keep growing in my dislike for social "conservatives" because, basically, they are complete and total statists. Oh yes, they say they want limited, small government, low taxes – except when it comes to enforcing their social values at the point of a gun and to making sure the military has unlimited expense accounts to police the world and blow up countries they find nominally offensive.

Even as a theologically conservative Christian, I cannot stand being associated with the socially “conservative” philosophy overall. If I had to label it, I’d say I am socially Biblical, not conservative. Even though God’s theocracy/monarchy in Israel had civil laws that we do not, nowhere in Scripture are we called as Christians to make the State make people moral.

Of course, being socially Biblical as well as a libertarian, I intuitively recognize that you cannot make people moral. People must make the choice to be moral freely. That does not meant there are no boundaries whatsoever (we expect prohibitions on violence), but personal morals must be adhered to voluntarily. If I am to believe the Bible, I cannot be a social conservative, nor a social liberal.

What do you think, is it time to abandon the term “socially conservative,” but not even replace it with “socially liberal”? Can we be “socially Biblical” and retain some nominal kinship to people on both sides? Is calling our position “socially Biblical” even a good idea in the first place? Let us know in the comments.

Norman Horn

Norman is the founder and editor of LibertarianChristians.com. He holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from the Austin Graduate School of Theology.

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Categories : Random Thoughts
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=11320389 Dan Noe

    Hi Norm,
    As a recovering conservative, I completely agree with where you are coming from. Those socially conservative Republicans just know how to pick ‘em, right? David Petraeus, Dinesh D’Souza, Newt Gingrich, David Vitter, etc. etc. etc. And of course they never criticize those people for their infidelities. Which means they are blatant hypocrites. These people need to be exposed for who they are, if you ask me.

    (And why do the same social conservatives who scream that children need both a mother and father, and who are more than happy to criticize same-sex couples, never criticize loudmouth conservatives like Laura Ingraham, who has adopted three children and is not married?)

    Honestly, these people are the real ones who are destroying Christianity in America, not the secular boogeyman they all point to (usually the ACLU or some other scapegoat.) And it breaks my heart because not all Christians are as judgmental as they are, and the stereotypes they bring upon American Christians are pushing so many people in this country away from having an individual relationship with God.

    I do like the term “socially biblical”; never thought of it before. But it makes a ton of sense. I’d say let’s try it out.

    Anyway, my two cents. Thank you for letting me vent. And thanks for creating this blog and the Christian Libertarian Facebook page. It’s just good to know I am not the only God-fearing, libertarian twenty-something male out there. God bless you, Norm.

    Sincerely,

    Dan Noe

  • CH

    I think your term is a good one, Norm. As the leaders in our nation (note I did not call them “our” leaders!) move further and further away from any semblance of Christianity, we need a new term. Thanks.

  • Chris

    Agree, Dan. The ‘social conservative’ movement is doing a great harm to the church in America, destroying our social currency not only at home, but abroad as well.

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  • http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/ M. Simon

    The cons never got “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1055136897 Christopher Bevis

    Another good article, Norm. I think the term “Socially Biblical” is a distinctive and constructive starting point for a new contribution to the tired social liberal/conservative tug-of-war, in which each side seeks to talk up the other’s influence and portray itself as the virtuous, persecuted minority.

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  • Bram

    YES! I am a Christian and I simply cannot stand the “Christian Conservatives”. They are usually neither.

  • http://www.makemenfree.tumblr.com/ makemenfree

    I’m very sorry to hear about Dinesh D’Souza. I have appreciated his defense of Christianity in the face of attacks from the “New Atheism.” This will definitely hurt his ability to meet atheists on their own ground.
    As to being “socially Biblical,” I was just reading Gary North’s commentary on Exodus last night (vol 6) where he discusses victim’s rights and punishment. His conclusion was that the victim set the penalty – in the case of adultery the maximum penalty is execution. Are you ready for the state to enforce execution on adulterers, assuming the victim (in this case Dinesh’s wife) demands it? That’s what would be “socially Biblical.”

  • http://libertarianchristians.com Norman Horn

    Such was the civil law set up for the people of Israel, and although it provides some important principles I do not think it follows that we should have the State enforce it. So no, I wouldn’t be ready to endorse state enforcement, but I don’t really think that state enforcement is either required nor moral under the heading of “socially biblical.”

    Also, I am a bit hesitant to proffer the term “socially biblical” because it would be ripe for misinterpretation from the outset — at least from my point of view. Invariably some people I know would immediately say, “Oh so you want to put gay people and pot smokers in prison, eh?” No, not at all. Christians should not revere or take that kind of power.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andypaulsgirl Andy Steph Flowers

    I hope that all the can’t standing of conservatives is carefully tempered with the Love of Christ. As someone long a conservative I have found myself, in the last few years, struggling to put sound theology together with sound politics. It has led me down the Libertarian path, but I in no way consider myself to have attained anything above my conservative brothers and sisters who have genuine hearts , but are perhaps (like most Americans) lacking critical thinking skills. I am just beginning to aquire these skills myself, as I homeschool my three kiddos. As far as the term socialy Biblical, I like it and think in is a useful term in starting a conversation. I have long struggled with the polarizing and often unBiblical realms of both the Chrstian Left and Right. Each applying their personal political ideas to Scripture rather than Scripture to their political ideas. And long gone are my notions that being a Libertarian necessitates I also be liberal (in the current political use of the word). It could be said that I think of myself as socially Biblical and politically Constitutional. ~Steph

  • http://www.facebook.com/andypaulsgirl Andy Steph Flowers

    Dan, With or wthout a rogue conservative, most will not turn to Christ. Unfortunately, in cases like this, humanity finds a convenient excuse to do that which is already in their hearts. It is the old ‘the church is full of hypocrites’ excuse. Of course it is and always has had at least a few.
    I find this quote by Solzenitsyn helpful when I feel like raging at either side:
    “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart.”
    Forgive the fact that I am not a young male, but rather a late 30s married woman with a family. It gives me, perhaps, a slightly different perspective.~Steph

  • http://www.makemenfree.tumblr.com/ makemenfree

    Yes, defining “socially Biblical” will be extremely difficult.

  • http://www.makemenfree.tumblr.com/ makemenfree

    I think the opening statement in this post needs to be clarified or retracted. I am unclear as to what infidelity Dinesh D’Souza committed, especially since he is publicly denying that he had an affair. This is dramatically different than General Patraeus’ situation. This post insinuates that it is a foregone conclusion that Dinesh D’Souza did something unacceptable and hypocritical. This does not appear to be the case:

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/10/17/2016-obama-america-film-maker-am-not-having-affair/

  • http://libertarianchristians.com Norman Horn

    Personally, I think his confusion on whether engaging in another relationship *while married* and then even getting engaged to that woman *while still married* has nothing to do with whether it is “legal” and everything to do with one’s beliefs about marriage in the first place. Thus, I believe he is “estoppel”-ed from being a “social conservative” with the power to lambaste people about personal moral standards.

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