What if it’s True, Conservatives? The Liberal Elites Do Ignore You

Conversations on the non-negotiable values held by Conservatives and Liberals have broken down—we need to reopen the channels and parlay.

Published: Aug 14, 2023  |  

Writer, professor and business consultant


Dear Conservatives:

I think you might be right. We on the left have been rushing forward with what we see as important social and economic imperatives, but you may (justifiably) feel like you’ve been run over. Time and again over the past five to six years I have heard you: You feel ignored. And you’re mad about it. 

So let me begin by saying that I agree: We on the left have not been listening adequately or sympathetically. Here is the whole point of this article: I want to know how to regain your trust. We won’t always agree, but can we trust each other? We all want what is best for America and our children, so I confirm my desire to listen to you, and we can listen to each other. 

Here’s what I pledge:

I will listen to your religious concerns

I will pay more attention to how your religion informs your worldview. I think I understand. I am a churchgoer. I know that you believe Jesus Christ was a fundamental turning point in the history of the world. This is not only an important truth to you but the only important truth. 

But let’s talk 

I’ll share my perspective and you can share yours. The issue here for me is that my private belief and your private belief have to play out in a world where many different people believe many different things. And they have the right to hold those beliefs.

The most influential of the Founding Fathers with regard to the Constitution and Declaration of Independence (like Jefferson) believed in God, but were strongly guided by human reason. Here’s an interesting fact: The Constitution never mentions the word “God.” What it does say is that the government cannot favor my religious beliefs, nor yours, nor anyone’s: Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and on and on. But at the same time, it can’t stop us from practicing our religion. 

So anyone who tells you that the Constitution establishes Christianity as a preferred religion is just flat-out incorrect. They are telling you a falsehood. This is easily verifiable. Just Google “First Amendment.”

Here’s my hope: that I will read more of the things you are reading and that you will, in turn, listen to other voices about what God is and means. I think you will hear important insights about God and God’s people. People of other religions want to be understood, just like we do. Most of them want to live in peace, and I hope you do, too. 

I will listen to your positions on sexuality and gender 

Here is where I think you are especially concerned, because you can point to specific texts in the Bible about homosexuality. A big question is whether the handful of verses in the Bible about homosexuality overrules Jesus’ basic message of love, understanding, and acceptance. Jesus’ God is not a vengeful one. I also understand that you think there are particular sexual acts that are “unnatural.” I felt this way at one point in my life, so I think I understand. 

But let’s talk

What I came to realize years ago is that “natural” really means, “things that occur in nature.” So here I can tell you that same-sex behavior is very common. It’s been documented in over 450 species of animals worldwide. I bet you feel kind of squeamish about some aspects of homosexuality, but in fact, large percentages of heterosexuals engage in some of the same acts as homosexuals. In that respect, those acts are “natural.” (And squeamishness does not make something morally wrong.) 

As for the Biblical texts, I think we need to be careful about the Old Testament law. Remember the warning in Deuteronomy 27:26: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” I repeat: Everything. So if you want to take Leviticus seriously about homosexuality, you also have to agree that someone cheating on their spouse should be put to death. And you can’t get a tattoo. Nor can you wear clothing with a blend of cotton and polyester fibers. You can’t have a pulled pork sandwich…

Here’s the ultimate insight for those who believe in Christ: As Paul wrote to the Galatians, “No one who relies on the law is justified before God, because the righteous will live by faith.” “Christ,” Paul goes on to say, “redeemed us from the curse of the Law.” We have to live guided by Christ, not the Old Testament laws. 

I will listen to your abortion concerns

This is a hard one, isn’t it? For many of you, it’s all pretty clear: Life begins at conception. Here’s a surprise for you: I agree. From one standpoint, it’s not even controversial. Your life began at fertilization of your mother’s egg. There are endless arguments to be had about when it’s correct to call the fetus a “person,” but these never achieve any common ground. 

But let’s talk

Let me start out by granting you something: Liberals could do a better job of talking about our changing responsibilities to a developing child as it moves from a fertilized egg (a zygote) to an independent human being. My first child was born prematurely, at 31 ½ weeks, so I have some experience with this situation. I know he was already a “person” by that point.

Here’s a couple of thoughts. First, there is no easy way out here. No clear moral line. I’ve criticized one side of the debate, so let me offer a criticism of the other: What I fail to hear clearly from many anti-abortion advocates is that there are two lives involved here: The life of the fetus and the life of the woman. If the life of the woman is at stake, for example, her right to life has to override the right of the embryo or fetus. It is not right to sentence a mature human being to death over an embryo. After all, that woman could continue to create life. That’s an important goal, yes?

Second, my favoring of the mother’s life leads me to another conclusion: If we outlaw abortion, we are condemning thousands of women to death—desperate women who will seek to terminate their pregnancies under unsafe conditions. Therefore, whatever our moral stance is about a developing fetus, we have to save the lives of these mothers. This is messy from an ethical point of view, but rising above the messiness is the fact that we need to save the lives of these pregnant women. 

So we need reasonable ways to move forward here. Traditional Christian wisdom over the centuries said that abortion until midway through the second trimester or so was permissible. The borderline was “quickening”—when the mother could feel the baby move. This is a very controversial point, I know.

But although you might hate Roe v. Wade, it was pretty reasonable, if you ask me. It also shared some similarities with the Christian concept of quickening as a dividing line between what is permissible and what is not. The government cannot interfere through the first trimester, has the right to act in certain circumstances in the second trimester, and then has a more definitive right to intervene in the third trimester. (Though it must be said that most third-term issues are a tragic matter and should be about a doctor’s private counsel and treatment in the face of a dreadful situation regarding the mother and child).

Let’s seek to understand

You may know the so-called “Peace Prayer” attributed to St. Francis of Assisi—the one beginning, “Lord make me an instrument of Thy peace.” Within the prayer is a desire to “seek to understand, just as we wish others might understand us.” That’s what I hope for. That, amid the chaos and violent language, a few of us might make the time to listen. That we will seek to understand.

P.S. I also have one final request: Could you please stop using the term, “woke,” as an insult? I am thinking of a person I know who was particularly focused on the poor, the sick, the needy, the suffering, and the outcast. He was pretty woke. That would be Jesus Christ.

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