Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Liberal or Conservative? It's All Relative...

About a year into my tenure at SJ, I was in the middle of a conversation with my treasurer when he said, "Now ____, you're very liberal, which I guess is expected..." and then continued with the conversation. I was sort of shocked, and as soon as I hung up the phone, I burst into laughter. Me, being referred to as LIBERAL! Obviously this man did not know what seminary I attended or that some (misinformed, jump-to-conclusions) people think that because I am a graduate of the above-named seminary I am a raging conservative who worships the memory of Jerry Falwell (I am not and do not, by the way).

In reality, I consider myself a theological moderate, at least in the spectrum of the entire Christian tradition. I lean slightly towards the left on some areas (violence, death penalty, homosexuality, womens' roles in the church, etc) and slightly to the right in some other areas (abortion, sexual ethics, medical ethics, Biblical interpretation, etc). I'm fairly orthodox in my core beliefs but have a strong commitment to social justice, bringing Christ's kingdom to earth, being his hands and feet through the power of the Holy Spirit, etc.

What I've realized over the years is that theological perception is very much a relative thing. I know many liberal Christians who consider me to be "socially and theologically conservative" and will not hear an argument against it. However, I have also known several people who perceive me as liberal because I am a woman in ministry, am open to the possibility of homosexuals in ministry, am against the death penalty, and have a passion for those on the margins of society.

However, rather than be defensive when someone mislabels me as very conservative or very liberal, I've learned to just take it in stride and remember that a) I know who I am, what I believe, and where I stand and b) that perception is all relative, dependent on where you are standing.

So go ahead, call me a liberal, call me a conservative, call me late for dinner. I know however, that I am a MODERATE.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are a disciple... and for some reason... that makes people think you are a liberal. Don't get it... never will... but I think that's the way people see us.