A Pitfall of Christian Conservatives
As you peruse the latest headlines on conservative media outlets, you will see numerous things conservatives have accomplished within the past year. The Supreme Court heard a case that could potentially overturn Roe v. Wade, Virginia turned red, and parents started showing up to their local school boards to protest radical doctrine, like Critical Race Theory and transgenderism, from being taught to their children. Amongst these headlines, you will also encounter a hearty plethora of criticism about the Left. A large part of this criticism centers around how the Left communicates with pettiness, disrespectfulness, or creates deeper division between people with differing political beliefs. While this criticism carries merit and should be discussed, many conservatives, including I, have become so enthralled with pointing out such pitfalls of the Left that we have grown blind to our own. A dangerous pitfall I believe we as Christian conservatives have fallen into is speaking out rather than speaking up. The difference between speaking out and speaking up may seem minuscule, but there is a crucial difference that completely transforms the way by which we conduct our speech.
When a person speaks out, the word about frequently follows. You may speak out about your passions, your disdain about an issue, or about something that happened. There may be a specific cause behind why you speak, or it may be purely emotionally and personally based. Many conservatives, along with Leftists, have bought into the sensation that speaking out is itself an act of bravery. Some seem to think that sharing your opinion makes you a hero. It is important to be bold and use our first amendment rights. But according to the Bible, being passionate about our political ideology does not earn us a badge of honor. Receiving hate mail or rude comments does not automatically earn us a gold star, either. Striving to be the “boldest” by sharing the most controversial topics does not make us a hero because bold speech does not equate to speaking scriptural truth. Speaking out passionately could solely reflect our desire for recognition or personal preferences. Even if we are speaking facts that are true, we must deliver them wisely. Proverbs 13:3 praises those who are wise and intentional with their speech, saying, “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” Speaking out just to “stir the pot” is not a fruit of the spirit. Speaking up for God’s truth with love, joy, peacefulness, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control is (Galatians 5:22-23).
This is not to say that there is never a place for speaking out. Speaking with satire and posting humorous memes to show the flaws of the Left can certainly explain why we believe what we do. But speaking out cannot be our constant default. Instead of speaking up for the unborn, for the mother harmed by government mandates, or for religious freedom, conservatives have often settled for speaking out about Biden’s cognitive decline or about how many people chanted “Let’s Go Brandon” at the last Liberty University football game. Speaking out in this way is ultimately not going to change minds for the better, nor conserve biblical virtues in society.
Speaking up is the better alternative as we talk about politics. As opposed to speaking out about something, speaking up is usually followed by the word “for.” It implies you are advocating for someone or something, such as the unborn, the persecuted, or biblical truth. As a result, there is a definite, defined purpose present behind why you are speaking. Proverbs 31:8-9 commands us to speak up for others: “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Jesus modeled speaking up, rather than speaking out, during his time on earth by explaining the purpose behind his teaching. He said he was talking for God, saying, “For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken” (John 12:49).
Today, we as Christians have the privilege to mirror Jesus as ambassadors of God’s Kingdom. With that representation comes the duty to speak for him. We must understand and identify the purpose of our speech in the issues of abortion, capitalism, religious freedom, and the like as his representatives. Our conversations about social and political issues must be done as advocates for his will and truth, not for our personal opinions or nature. If we are not speaking up for God, we are simply speaking out for our own voices to be heard. There is no place in Scripture where we are called to amplify our voices for personal satisfaction. Rather, we are called to quiet our own and amplify the Lord’s.
Our job is ultimately not to change minds to believe the biblical truths that form the foundation of conservatism. The act of changing minds, conviction, belongs to the Holy Spirit alone. Our only job is to speak up for God’s will and His commands with love. I pray that we as Christian conservatives will begin to filter our speech by asking if we are speaking out to feel good about ourselves or if we are speaking up for someone higher than ourselves as we fight for freedom.