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prisonchaplain

Is it possible to be conservative and LDS?

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This is a shameless play off the thread about LDS and liberalism.  However, at its most basic, to be conservative means to avoid change.  Can one is has a great need for stasis, for "unchanging truth" survive in a religion that embraces continuing revelation?

 

Some conservatives leave one a major prophetic revelation comes.  Others form splinter groups.  Still others stay, but grimace, and lament the better days of yesteryear.

 

So, I ask again, can one who is conservative in disposition flourish as an LDS member?

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However, at its most basic, to be conservative means to avoid change.

 

In order to discuss, this statement needs to be agreed upon. I'm not sure that's going to be possible.

 

Edit

To be more clear: I think what I'm thinking more is that -- what if change IS the tradition to which you are conservative?

Edited by The Folk Prophet

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I liked your post, simply because I found the other thread dismissive of people, and much can be said against conservative views that might also be contrary to the gospel.

 

Gospel is not defined by political party.

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I'm going more for the traditional understanding of a conservative person vs. a liberal/progressive person.  To overstate, a conservative wants things the way they are.  A liberal embraces change for change's sake.  This has more to do with disposition than politics.

 

Continuing revelation means new scripture can be added, new doctrine (not contradictory) can be sustained, and changes can be made.  The potential is always there for major new spiritual insight and direction.  Can one with a conservative disposition be happy in this spiritual millieu?  (sorry...felt like using one of those $64 words)

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I'm going more for the traditional understanding of a conservative person vs. a liberal/progressive person.  To overstate, a conservative wants things the way they are.  A liberal embraces change for change's sake.  This has more to do with disposition than politics.

 

Continuing revelation means new scripture can be added, new doctrine (not contradictory) can be sustained, and changes can be made.  The potential is always there for major new spiritual insight and direction.  Can one with a conservative disposition be happy in this spiritual millieu?  (sorry...felt like using one of those $64 words)

 

My friend Prisonchap:

 

For the most part we tend to lump politics by parties.  I was raised in a very "conservative" political household.   I tried very hard to be a good Republican Party member but I just could not take the corruption.  I fell out of favor with the Republican Party when I turned over to the state district attorney evidence to prosecute high ranking but corrupt Republican Party officials.  I tried the Democratic Party thinking I could handle platform disagreements in favor of some honesty – but I found no less corruption. 

 

I am sorry to say this but despite the fact that a Mormon (Mitt Romney) holds high standing in my faith I have difficulty believing that a Christian could become heavily involved in politics let alone run successfully for office and with party support.  Also despite the fact that the church leaders I fully sustain almost demand our members become more politically active.

 

You may personally be interested to know that while I was living in your area I served as the political chair for the Washington PTSA.  But I lack your social charms and managed to upset a number of politically minded teachers that are, as far as I could determine, were more interested in running for a future political office than they were teaching students in the public schools.  I was centered and focused on students and assisting teachers that were dealing positively with having a good impact on helping educate students.

 

Likewise I have problems with individuals involved in political parties for reason other than serving the citizens of their country.  I am not supportive of someone trying to end racial or minority tensions, foreign problems, border or illegal problems – I am interested in an informed citizenry and politicians interested in representing the most citizens possible – regardless of party or any portion of citizens.  I believe in the representation of the majority of the citizens and a government responsible to the people – not someone determined by issue – someone determined by the people.  All this despite that fact that I tend to disagree with the majority or mob on just about everything.  However bad a majority may be on individual issues – I have come to believe it is somehow less evil than a country ruled by a minority elite.

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I would like it known that the gospel is absolutely, one hundred percent political. Anyone who does not belong to the Rhino party is clearly going against what the Saviour taught.

The Rhino Party are Marxist-Lennonists(They really like Groucho and John).

The Rhino Party promised to repeal the law of gravity.

The Rhino Party promised to take Canada off of the gold standard, to be replaced by the snow standard, which would improve the economy until. Y'know. Spring.

They promised to reduce crime to 0% by abolishing all laws.

They were going to eliminate the national debt by putting it all on Visa.

If you don't support the Rhinos, you are a bad Mormon.

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I believe in democratic socialism.

 

I am unsure how anyone could look at the example Jesus set and then say they're all for pure and unregulated capitalism of greed. 

 

I am not a communist, as I believe in a free market. But am realistic enough to know that market should be left to its own devices without even a gram of regulation or supervision. Nor do I believe the government should have all the power. I believe in a sensible middle ground.

Edited by AussieMatt

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I'm going more for the traditional understanding of a conservative person vs. a liberal/progressive person.  To overstate, a conservative wants things the way they are.  A liberal embraces change for change's sake.  This has more to do with disposition than politics.

 

I have no idea how you got these statements from the definitions of conservative and liberal.  But this is completely incorrect.

 

There is nothing about conservatism that rejects change!  Rather, conservatism is simply - the good of society trumps the individual... therefore, changes are made by weighing its effects on society rather than its effects on individuals.

 

In the LDS Faith (and all other Christian churches for that matter) - conservatism and liberalism are in complete balance and that balance is embodied by the 2nd great commandment - to love others (society) as you love yourself (individual).

 

So the answer to both questions of:  Can you be liberal and LDS and Can you be conservative and LDS is YES.

Edited by anatess

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I'm going more for the traditional understanding of a conservative person vs. a liberal/progressive person.  To overstate, a conservative wants things the way they are.  A liberal embraces change for change's sake.  This has more to do with disposition than politics.

 

Continuing revelation means new scripture can be added, new doctrine (not contradictory) can be sustained, and changes can be made.  The potential is always there for major new spiritual insight and direction.  Can one with a conservative disposition be happy in this spiritual millieu?  (sorry...felt like using one of those $64 words)

 

Yeah, I think modern American political conservatism is rather unhappy with the way things are; and has been increasingly so at least since the 1960s and the rise of the welfare state.

 

Now, I agree with the point I think you're getting at, which is that Mormonism is theologically quite revolutionary--quite possibly the hippie-flower child of modern Christianity.  But I think terms like "conservative" and "liberal" have too much political baggage (at least, here at LDS.net) to really be useful terms to apply in a theological discussion in this particular context.

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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The gospel isn't political. 

 

Amen.  It irritates me no end when liberals tells Christians to get their [email protected]%# religion out of politics, usually in the context of abortion or same-sex marriage.  This is perfectly summarized in the foolish words of Daniel Radcliffe, who was quoted as saying, "I'm an atheist, and a militant atheist when religion starts impacting on legislation" (see his Wikipedia article for source).  Yet when Catholic priests and nuns start protesting budget cuts to the poor because their religion demands it, liberals gleefully hold them up as conquering heroes and as models of wise, enlightened voters.  The double standard is appalling.

 

I'm not picking on liberals; I'm sure some conservatives do the same.

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Guest LiterateParakeet

PC...considering the literal meaning not political as you suggested..

I think one cannot be conservative and Christian. Christ asked us to be perfect (or at least be striving towards that goal. We can't do that if we refuse to change. Great thought provoking question BTW.

Edited by LiterateParakeet

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I think terms like "conservative" and "liberal" have too much political baggage (at least, here at LDS.net) to really be useful terms to apply in a theological discussion in this particular context.

 

You are correct.  I clarified that I was speaking to disposition, not politics, and got more posts about politics.  We do live in a politically-charged environment.  I was starting to think maybe I am just insane, and I made my "conservative" definition up--out of thin air, or too much Nyquil.

 

So, I went to our mutual friend, Merriam Webster, and found this:

 

3:  CONSERVATIVE
 
a :  tending or disposed to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions :  traditional
 
b :  marked by moderation or caution <a conservative estimate>
 

c :  marked by or relating to traditional norms of taste, elegance, style, or manners

 

I also found the idea of being averse to change.  The word PRESERVATION was treated as a synonym.

 

 

So...as Master of the String, and Grand Original Poster, I declare, that thus far, LiterateParakeet wins the Most Relevent Post Award.

 

Of course, that's just today's standing.  :D 

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And I still vehemently disagree.  Nothing in that apolitical definition states it is averse to change.  Merely it is cautious to change.  And synonyms does not necessarily mean EXACTLY the same meaning.  There's a difference in nuance between Conservative and Preservation (besides one being an adjective and the other a noun).

Edited by anatess

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PC...considering the literal meaning not political as you suggested..

I think one cannot be conservative and Christian. Christ asked us to be perfect (or at least be striving towards that goal. We can't do that if we refuse to change. Great thought provoking question BTW.

 

Unless one believes that, truly, God never changes, and the conservative values one holds are those "eternal" truths. Which pretty much, in my mind, sums up the conservative nature of LDS thinking. Yes...some take it too far and resist ANY change. But the great majority of conservative LDS folk accept changes that are not eternal in nature fairly well.

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Guest LiterateParakeet

Unless one believes that, truly, God never changes, and the conservative values one holds are those "eternal" truths. Which pretty much, in my mind, sums up the conservative nature of LDS thinking. Yes...some take it too far and resist ANY change. But the great majority of conservative LDS folk accept changes that are not eternal in nature fairly well.

 

I don't think we are talking about the same thing here.  I'm not quite sure if you are speaking politically, or simply collectively, but I'm talking about non-political, personal growth.  God wants us to change and grow.  If we are not doing that we aren't following Him.

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Let me throw another wrinkle in this discussion...Those who are adult converts (say 14 and above, if from non-LDS families) would almost have to have been progressive--even revolutionary--in their disposition.  To make such a change--often leaving behind close relationships to embrace a faith that many consider "other--outside"--is counter-conservative, is it not?

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I don't think we are talking about the same thing here.  I'm not quite sure if you are speaking politically, or simply collectively, but I'm talking about non-political, personal growth.  God wants us to change and grow.  If we are not doing that we aren't following Him.

 

But he doesn't want us to change our views on an eternal truth.* The point being, I'm not so sure that conservative and liberal (classical meanings) can be so black and white. But certainly, it is possible to be conservative and LDS. But perhaps not 100% conservative.

 

*edit: unless those views are wrong, of course. :)

Edited by The Folk Prophet

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If "conservative" means shying away from or avoiding change, I would say that no, you cannot be LDS. Mormons believe that the prophet receives revelation from God, so if they subscribed to the kind of conservative mindset you describe, they aren't open to new revelation.

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So, I went to our mutual friend, Merriam Webster, and found this:

 

3:  CONSERVATIVE
 
a :  tending or disposed to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions :  traditional
 
b :  marked by moderation or caution <a conservative estimate>
 

c :  marked by or relating to traditional norms of taste, elegance, style, or manners

 

I also found the idea of being averse to change.  The word PRESERVATION was treated as a synonym.

 

 

Obviously no one is ever fully one way or the other (conservative or liberal), but if they were it would appear both sides would prove problematic. Using the take away message that conservatism is marked by resistance to change (not avoidance altogether) it would be difficult for a conservative minded person in this context to accept the gospel because it would be representative of a change for them. Furthermore once having accepted the gospel  this same person would likely struggle with changes such as the end of practicing polygamy, or the priesthood being available to every worthy male. If they are really rigid they would not like the changing of the missionary age of service either.

 

On the other hand using the idea that liberalism is marked by being progressive, seeking reform, not being limited by traditional values - than such a person is going to struggle with rigid rules that the gospel calls for, seeing them as restrictive of individual expression.

 

My take is that if we truly exaggerate and polarize these two views than neither can embrace the gospel. However since the reality is that people of either mindset end up closer to the middle somewhere, both can embrace and endure the gospel, but will have different struggles within it and its culture. 

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In Jesus' time, who were the conservatives and who were the liberals?  Most definitely, Annas and Caiaphas were the conservatives.  They were trying to maintain a long-standing orthodoxy and resist reforms.  Jesus was considered a dangerous reformer who had accumulated a group of misfits and ne'er-do-wells who were outside the system.  When anyone with connections to the "Establishment" got involved with Jesus, they did so secretly like Nicodemus for fear.  Those who accepted Jesus were put out (excommunicated) from the synagogues.  

 

In America today, the liberal party tends toward godlessness and secularism.  The conservative party leans toward sectarian religion and denial of modern revelation.  In essence, both sides believe in the same thing--a world in which there is no God who can speak now.  To paraphrase Parley P. Pratt, there are two kinds of atheists: one who believes that NOTHING is God and the other who believes that God IS nothing.  The end result is the same--when God speaks through revelation, both sides reject it.  That's why Mormons ultimately never feel completely at home among liberals or conservatives.

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That's why I love this church because each election they read a letter from pulpit encouraging us as members to get involved ....study the issues and learn about the candidates and prayerfully vote for the person you think will do the best job. They never tell you how to vote or who to vote for. I am talking candidates now.

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That's why I love this church because each election they read a letter from pulpit encouraging us as members to get involved ....study the issues and learn about the candidates and prayerfully vote for the person you think will do the best job. They never tell you how to vote or who to vote for. I am talking candidates now.

 

I attended the Born Again Church last Christmas Eve and the pastor spent a good 5 minutes talking about how terrible our situation is financially because of Obama... he was talking about Malachi 3:10.  :)

 

My cousin did say that not all BA Churches talk about politics like that - it depends on the pastor.  Which kinda reminds me that I always get nervous about Testimony Meetings within a Sunday of election day...

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There seem to be a few different topics going on in this forum. I'll try to weigh in on a couple :)

 

Literally, a conservative is a person who wants to maintain things the way they are. Traditionally, those championing this sort of position would be more likely to say that they are opposed to change for the sake of change. In other works, they tend to oppose changing an institution or practice unless there is a good reason to change it, and not just for the sake of "novel innovation".

 

A liberal, meanwhile, is simply a person who is in favor of maximizing liberties. Taken as far as that, most people would probably consider themselves liberty, but it gets a bit more complicated when one starts contrasting liberty and license. Classically, the historic Christian position has been that one has the right to freely do good, but not to do evil, with the right to do good counting as "liberty" and the right to do "whatever you want" counting as license. It obviously gets a bit difficult when one tries to define what is good and what is evil, and in the west the tendency has been to try to allow as much wiggle room as possible in the "license" category to let people work out what is truly good and what isn't.

 

Ultimately, being either a "conservative" or a "liberal" in the classical sense probably doesn't preclude one from being Mormon or any other sort of Christian. When you start throwing in the contemporary American policy stances associated with either of those labels, you can also probably find examples in either case that runs afoul of the Gospel .

 

In summary, I suppose I'm saying that a Christian could be both a conservative and a liberal in the classical senses of the words and could be neither (in 100% of issues) in the modern America use of the labels.

 

As a sidebar, I'd like to tackle the issue of religious involvement in politics, and the oft cited "don't force your religion on me" stance some take. In "The Republic," Plato argued that the citizens of a state must believe in the same "highest things" (i.e gods/belief system) in order to be able to function in that state. Historically, in America, those "highest things" have basically been a Christian and Protestant worldview. These days, a more atheistic viewpoint seems to be gradually supplanting it. Ultimately, if we can't reach a consensus on the highest things, odds are we will just continue to talk past eachother on political issues. The fundamental differences between the two worldviews are simply too radical to harmonize.

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