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A Christian Liberals Could Love ...

I wrote this on July 6th, 2014

Commenting on ""A Company Liberals Could Love" by Ross Douthat

Responding in my journal to a NYT opinion piece is quixotic at best ... but this is more than just that. I've been wondering how Christian conservatives justify being conservative, given the radically leftist teachings of Jesus in the canonical Gospels.

And here Ross Douthat seems to argue that Christian conservatives would look a lot more like liberals if it weren't for the sex stuff: premarital sex, homosexuality, transgendered persons, contraception, abortion, divorce. These liberal approaches to sex and gender are driving Christians into the arms of conservatives and ultimately the Republican Party, he implies.

I think it is more than this, but let's assume Douthat is right for a moment, and that sexual liberation is what forces Christians to become conservatives generally.

First, why is sexual liberation so bad in the eyes of Jesus? Most of the pieces of sexual liberation I listed above are not ever mentioned by Jesus, as far as I can tell. Jesus never preached that condoms were bad, or that abortions were murder. Jesus didn't say anything about homosexuality or transgendered persons. Jesus did argue that heterosexual divorce was wrong, and that for men to lust after women they are not married to was wrong.

Yet, strangely, I hardly ever hear conservatives fighting to make divorce illegal, or fighting to make extramarital sex illegal. There are huge and vocal anti-abortion groups, but not anti-divorce groups. Over the past ten years many states rewrote their laws and constitutions to deny same-sex marriages, but they generally left their hetero divorce laws alone. Why is it that the sexual liberation topics that Jesus never mentioned are so important to Christians, while the topics he did mention are left alone?


But, let's assume Jesus would've preached against condoms and LGBT rights were he alive today.

He also preached about a lot of other things. Why are Christian conservatives fixated on the sex stuff? Why let the sex stuff drive you into the arms of a political movement that wants to cut taxes, reduce benefits for poor people, start wars in foreign lands, torture people, build fences to keep immigrants out, and keep the minimum wage at 1950s levels?

I think it is because conservative Christians are using sexual liberation as a symbolic fig leaf, as a way to cover up the way the rest of their beliefs are not Christian at all. The fig leaf is a good analogy, because I think conservative Christians ought to be mostly ashamed of their conservative beliefs. There's no way Jesus would have favored building a fence in the desert to keep desperately poor immigrants from entering a land of relative plenty.


It is true that sexual liberation has swept through most of these United States even as our politics have generally moved to the right: as inequality has grown, as business profits have skyrocketed, as labor unions have withered, as multinational corporations have reduced their effective tax rates, as rich individuals have hidden much of their wealth overseas.

I think conservatives have used sexual liberation as their #1 recruitment tool. It has been a great way to preach to the majority that a small minority is destroying "our" way of life, as "they" parade their sexual liberation in the streets and the media and workplaces & schools.

Meanwhile, conservatives do more than simply resist gay marriage and abortion, they allow rich people and corporations to grab more for themselves.


I think sexual liberation is important. I think gender roles have been used to repress both women and men, and especially women. I think there are responsible alternatives to monogamy, and that adults can choose whether they want monogamy or something else. Overpopulation is a real and growing problem for our species and the rest of the planet, so contraception makes sense. As for abortion, I think women should be able to make their own decisions regarding their health and their ability to raise a (or another) child -- it's a tough issue, but I'm a man and I don't think I should force my views on women generally, as I'm not going to be the one stuck with pregnancy and its results.

But conservatives view my positions as part of a Culture War.

They think I want to tinker with essential rules for family life. Rules that, they think, worked just fine for generations. Rules that, they think, were handed down by God.

But these rules didn't always work for everybody, and circumstances have changed anyway. And God is just your imagination. In the end, I don't believe Jesus was a Son of God anyway.

But if you want to quote Jesus and cite to your Christianity when you oppose sexual liberation, I want you to be consistent. I want to see your commitment to healing the sick and caring for the poor. I want to see you forgive sinners. I want to see you give your excess wealth to charity -- not just 5% of it, but ALL of it. I want to see you oppose war and torture. I want to see you willingly pay your taxes, as Jesus taught. This is just a beginning, there's a lot more involved with being a true Christian, and I expect Christians to hold their leaders accountable on more than just the sexual liberation issues. Stop using my sexual liberation as your fig leaf, as your way to cover up your non-Christian conservative desires for excess wealth & profits, patriarchy, smaller government, or racial purity.

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