A couple times a week someone asks me if I’m a liberal or a conservative. So I want to say this loud and clear. My name is Adam McLane, I want my label to be “Christ-follower.” You can call me crazy. You can call me radical. But liberal or conservative are stupid titles.
Here’s why the labels mean nothing. Labels like conservative and liberal are not black and white, it’s not that easy. They are completely subjective to the person asking the question as well as the question that person uses to determine if a person is “left or right” of them on that particular issue.
Two examples from my world.
Politics In this year’s election you have McCain vs. Obama. Mike Huckabee would call John McCain a liberal republican. But just about any democrat would label McCain a conservative. On the democratic side most democrats, who republicans call liberals, would consider Obama a liberal and themselves conservative. It is difficult in 2008 because one traditional test of a persons “liberal or conservative status” is determined by who is seen as the person with the best family values. Boy, that’s a tough call in 2008!
In Christian circles the political labels reverse based on where you live. Traditionally, Christians in the north vote republican while Christians in the south trend towards democrats. Now Christians from the north or the south would have the same view that abortion is murder, but a “conservative” would use a persons belief on abortion as the litmus test for his candidacy while a “liberal” would use a litmus test along broader social policy lines.
Church This is where it gets really scary. In conservative places, like my alma mater and the churches I’ve worked at, I was labeled a “liberal” in that I believe Paul, that men and women are equal in Christ. But with others, because I went to a “conservative” Bible college and have always worked at “conservative” churches and I personally believe in the inerrency of Scripture, I’m a borderline fundamentalist conservative Christian. the crazy thing is, in the church, these labels have so many litmus tests that no one truly is a conservative or liberal but most of us are both liberal and conservative at the same time.
To further draw out the point from a church perspective. A “hard core conservative” would call teachings from a place like Willow Creek Community Church, liberal. But a “hard core liberal” would call the same teachings “conservative.” It’s all about perspective, baby!
Here’s why labels like this are stupid. Most times I am asked the question, “Are you a liberal or conservative?” I have no freaking clue how to answer it. And most of the time, the people asking the question are mixing politics and religion together… which is something I think is equally difficult in a postmodern, pluralistic society. I think its possible to be a flamingly liberal on social issues while holding firmly to my conservative religious roots. But on other issues, I am flamingly liberal on matters of faith… longing to shake the church out of inaction into world change… while staunchly conservative on certain political matters. So the label is meaningless altogether.
Labeling a person one way or the other is a dismissive thing to do. It devalues the entirity of a human being, someone bought and paid for by Jesus, into a label. This labelism is a dark mark against us as believers. It is a hate crime to a persons intellect which prevents us from fulfilling the Great Commission. Labels are, in fact, a devisive tool of our enemy, Satan. Labelism is emblematic of the label-fighting our Lord fought against. Over and over in the Gospels we see religious people asking Jesus litmus test questions. And over and over again, we see Jesus giving double answers that defied labeling.
Remember when mom taught you, “Sticks and stones will break our bones, but words will never hurt me.“ She lied. Words (labels) are powerful. My challenge to is always the same, live wildly… crazily… passionately… stupidly… for Jesus Christ in all you do.
Never be distracted by fans or haters!