Having been a “conservative” for a number of years, this is something that was difficult for me to learn. Actually, God didn’t give me the above phrase until recently; however, He has taught us much about conservatism over the past few years.
I was born in the Mennonite church. We went to a somewhat conservative church that my dad had been a part of since just a little boy. God led us out of that church, so we began attending another Mennonite church nearby. This church was more conservative than our previous church. Eventually, God led us to leave that church as well, and to worship at home. As we studied His plan for the Church and the Christian life, we found that many things that we had held to be true for so long were not true.
Conservatism is seen, by conservatives, as truth. “Liberals” are people who have rejected truth. The above has a definite element of truth to it. In most cases, the liberal element of the church ignores portions of Scripture that they don’t want to follow, and pretty well believe that almost anything goes.
Unfortunately, the truth is that most conservatives don’t keep all of Jesus’ commands themselves. On top of that, they add to His commands with some of their own commands to help you keep the commands that they believe in.
Let’s take headcoverings for example. God is clear, in 1 Corinthians 11, that a Christian woman should cover her head while praying or prophesying. This is one command that the conservative Mennonite church keeps. But that’s not where it stops. The next step is: “Let’s define what length of hair a woman should have. Our women should keep their hair at natural length.” But God didn’t say that. He said it is a glory for a woman to have long hair. Natural length is great. But He didn’t say that a woman with waist-long hair couldn’t trim off some to keep her hair manageable. He just said that long hair is a glory.
The next step: “Let’s define what sort of covering the ladies should wear.” This leads to some wild human commands. Some churches require a useless loop of string attached to the headcovering. Others only require that the ladies wear the Mennonite cap style covering. Both go back to age-old traditions. The result is women who look like they come from about a hundred years ago—or simply just a different culture. It is bondage.
Why do churches require things like stringed coverings? Because they have observed that many times, whenever churches no longer require strings, eventually the ladies no longer wear any sort of headcovering. Their response is, “We’d better not remove our requirement because of what it will lead to!”
God spoke about this in Colossians 2:20-23:
Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not; 22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.
God is saying here that we are not to try to follow Him by instituting commandments and doctrines of men. He says that they appear to be good and wise. However, He says, “Why are ye subject to them?” He says that they will perish with the use of them.
In chapter 3, God gives us the answer:
Colossians 3:1-7 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. 5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
In other words, instead of instituting commandments and doctrines of men, and following the commandments and doctrines of conservatives around us, we need to focus on the commandments in the New Testament. We need to focus on Jesus and doing His will. We need to lay aside the weights of sins that are mentioned in the above passage.
Jesus knew what commands were necessary for the Church whenever He wrote the New Testament. He knew that we did not need to have specific styles of headcoverings, specific styles of dress or any of the other embellishments that are imposed by conservatives. If He was going to judge me for driving a gray vehicle instead of a black one, or judge me for wearing a plaid shirt instead of a solid-color one, He would have told me.
So, to come full circle: God is not a conservative. God is God. He says what is truth. There is only one God and one truth. There are not multiple variations of the truth. As long as we insist on certain interpretations or additions to His Word, we will not be able to follow Him fully.
A “liberal” is someone who doesn’t obey all of God’s commands. A conservative is someone who also probably does not keep all of God’s commands, either, but adds to the ones that they do keep.
In Isaiah 29:13-14, we read:
Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: 14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.
This goes along with the previous post about the fear of the Lord. Too many people try to teach the fear of the Lord with the commandments of men. The result is that people don’t fear the Lord; they fear the preacher.
One other place that conservatives may run to for extra doctrines: the Law of Moses.