Conservatism & Liberalism in the Bible


Not to get too political, but this IS an actual socio-religious issue.

Firstly, by liberal and conservative, I DO NOT mean it in the political or economic senses. I mean it in the social and religious sense.

I hope nobody gets angered by my opinion, but I view Jesus as the “relatively liberal one” while the Pharisees were the “more conservative ones”. The Pharisees thought that they were better than the rest because they “followed tradition and traditional social norms”… they felt like they had the right to “condemn” others for not following traditions like the Sabbath, yet the Pharisees were the ones who, of all people, rejected Jesus because He preferred to be compassionate for His people rather than condemn them for not following traditions.

I’m sorry, but the image loud conservatives are giving me are that they prefer to condemn others like how the Pharisees approached sinners, rather than to actually reach out and help like Jesus did. They may cite everything from the Bible, and yet it seems as if they can’t follow the greatest commandment which is to Love as Jesus Loved Us. I understand that some may say that it is to warn others by informing them harshly, but that’s not what Jesus used all the time. In fact, Jesus reached down to sinners and healed people more than he used a harsh tone on people.

I may be wrong, perhaps the examples I gave were only about the “loud conservatives”, I am not saying all conservatives are like that, but without further ado, please reply, because I’d be willing to see people’s points of view. On the other hand, I am not siding with liberalism either. I believe there should be a balance of following sacred traditional rules and showing tolerance and compassion for others.


This is fine if you want to analyze biblical times this way. But then you immediately turned around and did just what you said you were not going to do. You used the words in their modern political sense to identify people. Try to be consistent in the definitions you employ.


No, I’m comparing biblical society with modern society. Socially liberal, for example, means someone who would have a little bit more tolerance for things like gay marriage, etc… but doesn’t necessarily have to be political.

The political/economic stuff would be stuff like capitalism, etc. But this topic should delve more into the social aspect of liberal/conservative.

Here are some guide questions that are relevant to the thread:

  1. Is it okay for a strict Catholic to be socially liberal?
  2. Does religious conservatism imply fundamentalism?


If by that you mean, “Is it OK for a Catholic to support same-sex ‘marriage’, assisted suicide, abortion, in-vitro fertilization, artificial contraception, etc.,” then the answer is a resounding no.

  1. Does religious conservatism imply fundamentalism?

One can be conservative and not hold to literalistic interpretations of Scripture.


Many of the socially liberal issues are in direct conflict with the Church.
One cannot be a faithful Catholic and in any way endorse abortion,SSMarriage,euthanasia,contraception,just to name a few…
Religious conservatism,in my opinion means just that.Maintaining and living out God’scommands,by avoiding the grievous acts I mentioned above.
Why helping the poor is considered a liberal issue isn’t true.It has been shown that more conservative Christians are inclined to give more generously of their own time,money and talents.:slight_smile:


You have a twisted view of Jesus and an oversimplified understanding of the Pharisees. Jesus wouldn’t have been pro gay marriage, because He wasn’t pro sin. He preached repentance and forgiveness, but those who refused to repent He insisted would be sent, by Himself, to an eternity in Hell. No one speaks more of Hell than Christ. The Pharisees were condemned, not because they were “conservative” but because they were loveless. They were trying to follow the letter of the law without the spirit of the law. Christ explodes this, not by saying sin is okay like a “liberal”, but by raising the stakes! The Pharisees, following the letter of the law, allowed for divorce and remarriage. Jesus calls that adultery. The Pharisees, following the letter of the law, allowed for lustful thoughts as long as they didn’t end in action. Jesus also calls that adultery. Jesus would call, in fact (because He is alive) is calling, those living the gay lifestyle to “repent and sin no more”. He wants to forgive them, but only can do so if they are willing to change their lifestyles. I suggest you spend less time worrying about “liberals” and “conservatives” (neither liberalism nor conservatism can save your soul) and focus more on knowing Christ. God bless.


Jesus took the law of the Old Testament to the superlative. On sin, he was entirely intolerant of it. On charity, he was entirely motivated by it.

Conservatism & Liberalism are political models that describe moods of demographics. They have nothing to do with orthodoxy.


Taking loaded, 21st century socio-political terms and using them as a “lens” to interpret Scripture is only going to end badly.

We’re only a few posts in and already there is the implication that – because we can somehow foist the term “liberal” onto Jesus – He is pro-gay marriage. That is, frankly, offensive and not even close to how sound biblical scholarship is conducted.

It is far better to evaluate the labels “liberal” and “conservative” by the light of the Gospels rather than vice versa.


The current US political terms liberal and conservative both stem from the so-called Enlightenment philosophies, which were precisely anti-Catholic. And the way you are using these terms and the term fundamentalist are all related to current US political thought.

Altho Catholics are against homosexual “marriage,” we are neither fundamentalists (Protestants who adhere to their literal interpretation of Scripture), nor Pharisees, who burdened people by ignoring the forest in favor of the trees.

What the Catholic Church and orthodox Catholics are against is the violations of natural law, which cause the breakdown of the societies in which we live.

Frankly, homosexual “marriage” is 3/4 of the way down the slippery slope, not the top. The separation between God’s gift to us of the marital act and procreation by artificial contraception and the destruction of the family resulting from easy and no-fault divorce got us to the point on the slippery slope where the idea of homosexual “marriage” can make sense to people; after all, marriage for heterosexual people has devolved to just a fancy form of going steady.

So, do you think that society has a right to form itself in a way which promotes the common good of all, including the non-voting future of our society? The Church teaces that no only does the society have this right but that it has the duty and obligation to do so! And it is the Catholic Church which has continued to teach that artificial contraception and easy divorce are wrong.

We are not liberal or conservative; what we are is adherents to the truth.


What I meant is that Jesus did not tolerate the sin, but He tolerated the sinners and decided that the sinners be reconciled with Him and be helped. Rather than seeking their punishment, Jesus sook their repentance. The Pharisees both did not tolerate the sin and the sinner.

Now, here is why I am starting this thead: I acknowledge the fact that there are many people. Of different religions in society. For some, gay marriage and other stuff are okay. There is such thing as “Natural Law” in which our human instincts tell us what is wrong such as killing. (In other words, things that are obvious). However, there are additional rules as to which something should be moral or not provided to us by our religion. For example, “carving an idol” is not inherently wrong by our human instincts, however, our religion tells us that it is a sin. There are some things that we know are wrong because of our human nature, while there are many things that are also wrong only because of our religion.

Now, is it okay for a Christian to support, for example, gay marriage? Because on human level, I probably should recognize the fact that not everybody in society has the same religious beliefs as I do.


No, same-sex “marriage” is contrary to Christianity and to the natural law.

Because on human level, I probably should recognize the fact that not everybody in society has the same religious beliefs as I do.

What they believe is the truth does not affect what is the truth. As Catholics, we know the truth to be that any perversion of marriage is an abomination, and we should act accordingly.

When Christ chastised the Pharisees and scribes, He didn’t worry about what they believed. He laid out the truth, and expected all to abide by it.


There are three things that I will point out here:

*]Pretty much any incident where Jesus showed a lot of sympathy was with a sinner who was repentant (or who Jesus, in his divine foreknowledge, knew would repent). I do not seem to recall any instances where he showed sympathy where the sinner turned around and continued in his/her sin (I could have missed something, but I can’t think of an example off the top of my head that goes against that).
*]I can recall no instance where Jesus soft-pedaled on doctrinal matters.
*]Recall John 6, where he talked about truly eating His flesh and drinking His blood. He didn’t say, “just kidding, folks.”
*]With the famous story about the woman caught in adultery, He didn’t say, “aw, that’s OK, honey, you go on back to your lover…it doesn’t matter now, does it?”
*]With the Prodigal Son / Forgiving Father, the Father didn’t go out to the son and shove more money in his wallet so he could squander more.The son had to deal with the consequences of his actions and, once he was thoroughly humble, he returned. Only when he returned did the Forgiving Father wrap him in the cloak and had the fatted calf slaughtered for a feast.

*]You do realize that conservatives give significantly more to charity than liberals, right?


But then Jesus, despite not being able to convince the Pharisees, also forgave them even though it wasn’t stated if they actually repented or not. "Forgive them, Father, for they do not know what they are doing.

Yes, I am aware of that, but then it just seems so Pharisee-like how the loud conservatives of today have this “I am so holy, and you are not” attitude. I mean… Look at the Westboros and the jesus-is-savior website.


Really?? REALLY?? You actually went there…

For the record, neither group is conservative. They are both fruitcakes. They are no more good representatives of conservatism than Weather Underground or the Nation of Islam are good representatives of liberalism.

Of, and for something to chew on, Fred Phelps is a lifelong Democrat.

I don’t think you’ll find many conservatives who attribute his group’s actions to Democratic Party policies…until Democrats try to attribute him to the GOP.

On edit: if you want to look at actual conservatism, you can feel free to look at the Acton Institute, or something along those lines.


The fact that some people who are not even Catholic do things which are not Catholic and which the Church teaches against is not a reason to go against Church teaching in tye opposite direction, is it?


So, you’re interested in liberal and conservative quotes. This is fine up to a certain degree, but sooner or later you will need to focus on a single construct, humanitarianism. I really would not want to pigeonhole Christ as being more liberal, but more humanitarian. Humanitarian values and concerns can be held by either liberals or conservatives. Pope Francis, for example, is neither liberal or conservative in my estimation, but humanitarian.


Hi there and welcome to the forum. In this forum, you’ll find all kinds of Catholics, from ultra conservative and to ultra liberal. And even within those terms, you find gradations. For example, not all conservative Catholics in this forum believe the same things. That being said, most regulars here fall into the conservative category.

What I’ve found here and within the Catholic communities in which I lived, everyone has their own opinions, their own interpretations of doctrines and scriptures. The USCCB and the Vatican have made comments about social issues that many Catholics have disagreed with… repeatedly. So not even the Pope, the Magisterium and the USCCB have it right according to many Catholics. For example, when the Vatican and the USCCB called for the US government to do more to fight poverty in accordance to the teachings and doctrines of the Catholic Church, anti-tax Catholics railed against it. Watching it was like watching Jesus and Satan on the mountain, throwing biblical quotes at each other. Same with gun control. The Pope’s official spokesperson and the USCCB called for greater gun control in the US in accordance with our faith and many gun loving Catholics tore them down like raw meat in a tiger’s cage. There are great differences between how the Church leaders discern doctrine and scripture and how many Catholics in the pews interpret them.

I guess my point is that no one here or in the pew next to you is any better at discerning your path to God than you. No one has the right to judge you for your choices. Feel sorry for those who judge as their sins are great indeed. They are playing God. Seek guidance from within yourself. While your religious training and the bible will help guide you, your soul, your direct connection with God, is the place to seek consultation with the Lord. This den of opinions and personal interpretations is not the place to ask your questions. No one here has YOUR answers. Not even me.


Liberals often confuse liberalism with freedom. That’s simply not true.

Freedom is the balance of liberalism with conservatism.

Christ calls us to be giving of ourselves to others: but he also calls us to avoid sin.

He tells us that in him we shall know the truth, and the truth will make us free. Then again he says, “My burden is light.” But clearly he calls committing to him a burden of self restraint.


For what it’s worth, I read recently in a book where the author said as Christians, we should be both liberal and conservative. And most importantly, strike a balance between the two.

closed #20

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit