“What is a conservative?” can only be answered when one knows the standard conserved.

As a sophomore at Fort Worth Southwest high school, the teacher asked me a specific question in front of the entire class:

“Wade, what is a conservative?”

At 16 years of age, the answer didn’t come quickly to my mind.

Today, I’d probably answer, “It depends. It depends on the standard one wishes to conserve.”

The two most significant philosophies in modern American culture are conservative and progressive

The root word of progressive is progress.

Liberals are proud of what they call progress, overturning former standards for better ones.

A conservative is determined to conserve an old culture, framework, or ideal.


One Considered a Progressive May Be a Conservative


You can’t define a conservative until you know the standard someone is conserving. 

For example, for many years, some in the Southern Baptist Convention called me a progressive because I believed ministry in Christ’s Church is never defined by gender.

I conserved the standard of the New Testament, even though my teaching seemed progressive to some. Their standard was the culture of the SBC, not Scripture alone.

The Holy Spirit gives spiritual giftslike teaching, prophecy, administering, mercy, etc – without regard to gender. That’s the standard of the New Testament.

I am a conservative when it comes to the standard of the Bible.

But to some SBC traditionalists, I seemed like a progressive.

We’d have prisoners attend our services (in prison uniforms), men who dressed like women, homosexuals, and transgenders. They were my friends. I would call them by name, get to know them, and welcome them with open arms. However, when it came to “church membership,” repentance of sin was a requirement.

Any of my friends who took “pride” in their sin could attend the services and listen to the teaching of Scripture – but not be church members.

Again, some of my SBC pastor friends thought I was “progressive,” when in reality, I was conserving the standard of behavior displayed by Jesus Christ. 

Jesus is a friend to sinners (Matthew 11:19). He leads His sinner friends to repentance through His kindness and goodness (Romans 2:4)

I seek to conserve that standard.


The Mistake of the Progressives and Conservatives


It should be the Church of the Open Door and the State of the Closed Door.


The Bible has a great deal to say about nation-states.

God will destroy every nation that rejects the Creator and thinks themselves gods able to set their own standards and violate Natural Law. Every nation. God brought down the Assyrians (you read about it in Isaiah), He brought down the Babylonians (you read about it in Daniel 5), He brought down the Greeks (you read about it in Daniel 11), He brought down Israel (you read about it in Matthew 24), and He brought down the Romans (you read about it in Revelation).

Nations and boundaries of nation-states are ordained by God (Acts 17:26). Nations are good. Man’s desire for a global government is not good. Countries continue until the Prince of Peace reigns for eternity in His everlasting Kingdom, and the wicked are destroyed (Revelation 7:9).

Until then, nations that exhibit secure borders, a God-honoring moral culture that abides by Natural Law, just punishment for criminals, taxes for the common good (highways, prisons, police, and fire), and a robust military defense for the people are the biblical standards for nation-states. 

The Bible also has much to say about the standards of the churches of Jesus Christ.

Open doors and love for sinners, a God-honoring requirement of repentance of sins and confession of faith through baptism before church membership (but not attendance), forgiving criminals freely, feeding the poor and sheltering the needy, and being ready to answer every person who asks about the hope within you by pointing to faith in the LORD, are all standards of the Church.

The mistake in America is that progressives wish the government to act like the church and conservatives wish the church to act like the government. 

Think about it.

If the State operated as a Christian nation, all prison doors would be opened, no criminal would be punished, the borders would be open with no standard of immigration, the poor would be fed, the homeless would be housed, and everyone would be forgiven of their sins, and if an enemy attacked, the state would turn the other cheek.

Those are characteristics of the Church, not the State.

Don’t make the progressive mistake of giving the characteristics of a proper church to the nation, and don’t make the mistake of giving the characteristics of a proper nation to the church. 

Know the biblical standard for both. 

And be a true conservative, conserving the biblical standards for nations and churches.