I confess up-front, I have never fit neatly into any box. No, I am not a wild-haired rebel who is always pushing the limits of social norms. I am just not systematic in my thinking. This doesn’t mean I don’t come up with systems to get things done, but it does mean the systems I come up with are a bit out of the ordinary. Recently, our daughter-in-law fixed a window on the family car by removing the inside panel and manufacturing a piece of wood to hold things in place. I taught her how and I was so proud!
Maybe my “unsystematic” ways explains why I struggle with politics. I was raised in a family of old-line Democrats. My father was from the coal mines of Eastern Kentucky and my mother’s parents were sharecroppers, just a mile or so from the place Daniel Boone settled after leaving Fort Boonesborough. You might say both sides of my family were a part of the group some people describe as “poor, but didn’t know just how poor” they were. And when it came to politics, they sided with the Democratic Party because they sought protection from people with lots of money who might take advantage of their circumstances. Today, we might say they were concerned about “the man.” My grandfather called them “fat cats”, but you get the idea.
Both sides of my family were heavily involved in politics in Kentucky. The list included a Sheriff (Grandfather Baesler), County Clerk (Grandfather Baesler), State Treasurer (Francis Jones Mills), Mayor of Lexington (Scotty Baesler) and Governor (Bert Combs). Yep, we were Democrats through and through.
But here is what I remember about the people I met through my family members and at a number of political rallies: they were frugal people, committed to their church and the truth of God’s Word, and respectful of governmental process. I am sure they had a progressive view of politics, and history tells me their party fought against the capitalists and sought greater government regulation. I am simply saying their lives reflected godly values and a healthy sense of accountability to their Creator.
I can’t speak to the Republican side of things from this same season in my life. However, I married into the Republican Party and had a relative on my wife’s side who was also heavily involved in politics in another state. I found Republicans to also be godly and God-fearing. They too were frugal, committed to their church and to the truth of God’s Word. And they respected governmental process.
There is obviously an evolution of thought buried in these days of my life. Many people point to a time when a shift occurred and the old-line Democrats became Republicans. However, it is probably safe to say Democrats are still perceived as the party that cares about the little man. I can also tell you, from experience, while there are a lot of people in politics who firmly believe in the principles of their party, there are also a lot of “hangers-on” who just need a vehicle for their personality or personal agenda. That’s why you should always view what people in power tell you with some suspicion. Don’t be cynical. Just be careful what you believe.
I don’t wish to validate any political perceptions here. My goal is to show that any political transition taking place in our culture in previous generations was not reflective of a smooth shift of values from one party to the other. The basic contrast between constitutional conservatism and progressivism remains, but a lot of other things didn’t travel. Maybe that’s why I am so mixed up, being prone to unsystematic thinking.
I hear people talk about Christian conservatives. If, by this term one is talking about those who believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God, and that we should live holy and godly lives before the Father and the world, then I’m on board! I’m not saying I am a perfect example, but this is who I want to be! But if someone wants to say I have to adopt a specific political view to go to heaven, then that’s when I pull the rope to get off of the campaign train.
In case you are wondering, I am politically conservative. I believe in personal responsibility, freedom from big-government, and adherence to our country’s constitution. I believe the laws of our land are good laws and are designed to win out over evil and oppression. The wheels of justice turn slow at times, but there is no other country on the face of the earth like ours and time has proven our system of government is something to be treasured.
Yet, my allegiance is to my Savior. Every now and then I take a position that seems out-of-order, given some of my basic political views. I don’t do it as a means of compromise. I do it because it seems to be the right thing to do.
In other words, sometimes, my true Christian conservatism, represented by my commitment to the Word of God, comes into conflict with my political conservatism. And when it does, I have to pause and pray about what God would have me do.
We are in the midst of quite a bit of discussion on these matters, and the recent death of a conservative Supreme Court Justice has taken us from first gear into overdrive. Personally, I think every Christian should engage in the conversation and struggle, while being respectful of others’ feelings.
Just don’t forget who wears the crown. He doesn’t live in Washington D.C. He is seated next to the right hand of God. He is Jesus.
And yes, I know He is systematic.