This is a REMARKABLE thread that touches on so many brilliant things. I would like to take a quick stab at making some connections between this and why so many Evangelicals are conservative. It has a lot to do with #EvangelicalIntoEnglish for anyone who's been following that.
I'm going to use my father as an example because, as anyone who knows me at all is aware by now, nothing is better than a combination of parent issues and theology. My father is very into conservatism. He has listened to Rush Limbaugh my whole life, which probably tells you a lot
I struggled a lot as I got older with how exactly all this worked. It seemed that at heart my father really wanted to be a libertarian. He wanted the government to always be smaller, he didn't believe in anything resembling handouts or even most laws.
And yet, because of his faith, he also believed firmly in stringent laws around abortion, drugs, and other practices he deemed immoral. Because of this I have said multiple times that it seems as if he would have been a marginally better person WITHOUT his faith.
As it was, he ended up being a person who believed in controlling women's bodies and in the worst possible laws around things like drugs, but who didn't believe in seatbelt laws or child labor laws. Which truly does seem like the worst of both worlds in every sense.
Reading this amazing thread has pulled some things into perspective for me. It rang some very specific bells. The idea of only judging a policy in a vacuum, of consequences not mattering, or of them being just simply because the policy must be just in creation... that's familiar.
I've talked many times before about how growing up Evangelical fucked with me in many ways, but most SPECIFICALLY in how language was abused. One of the most common ways to do that was to explain that God was the one who defined words, God WAS in fact the definition of concepts.
So, for example, it was not possible for god to not be loving because he was in fact the incarnation of love. It was not possible for god not to be just because he was the incarnation of justice. Same with good or righteous or pure, or whatever word you want to put in there.
If it SEEMED like god was not embodying one of those concepts, that was because you were a flawed and broken human who couldn't understand those concepts fully. God existed by himself, in a vacuum, apart from human understanding. Whatever consequences came from him were just.
The easiest example of this is hell. When I was fairly young, I asked my father if people who had never heard of Jesus were going to go to hell. My father said yes, unfortunately they were. I was shocked and disturbed by this information. It seemed clearly and innately unfair.
My father's response to this was to explain that if that was NOT the case, then missionary work wouldn't exist. If people went to heaven because they didn't have a chance to deny Jesus, we would be better off not doing missionary work at all. And the Great Commission existed.
I will give my father some benefit of the doubt and say I suspect he was trying to explain it was unfair in the other direction. I mean, right? Like if all it took for you to get into heaven was to never HEAR about Jesus, that is also a little... unfair, I guess?
But the TRUE main point is that it wasn't possible for it to be unfair. It could seem unfair to us on some level but we needed to work past that dissonance and figure out how it actually WAS fair, how it actually COULD be just, how it actually WAS truly loving.
Do you know how much cognitive dissonance you are talking about? Like if you are at all an empathetic and loving person? Do you know how dissonant it is to find ways to convince yourself that people you truly love and care about suffering for eternity is love?
To convince yourself that eternal torture is appropriate punishment for children? To convince yourself that that is JUSTICE? Because here's the thing, on some level we *know it isn't.* We know that we would never do that to someone we loved. We would never consider it.
What does it say about god that he would? No, more than that. Think about this hard. What does it mean that our faith teaches us that the fact that we shrink from the eternal torture of those we love is evidence that we are broken and can never understand the nature of god?
Think about all of that and think about what you need to do to your brain to make that work. To make that love. Usually I focus on how much this leads to abuse, because it does. Anytime you focus on how pain = love that is inevitable. But also something else.
This thread helped connect some dots I've struggled with. Because when you are already so accustomed to starting from a perspective of 'this is just, this is loving, this is caring, and wavering from this would actually be UNloving' the move to conservatism is just a baby step.
And it becomes comparatively easy to hold certain libertarian beliefs (like small government when it comes to safety laws or taxes) while holding seemingly contradictory beliefs in other places (like abortion or drugs) because the 'truth' you are coming from is God, not 'logic.'
It's always worth recognizing how closely Evangelicals have tied themselves to conservative politics and how much the church has helped groom them to take these stances. It's not accidental.
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