[Excuse the run-on sentences. It is a personal weakness, perhaps evidence of the sin nature.]
I am a conservative because I believe there are values and truths that have been entrusted to humanity and that we and every generation have a sacred responsibility to preserve/conserve them for future generations. Among those truths are (1) that humans are created in the image of God, (2) humans are of immeasurable value (because they were created by, exist for, and are valued by God), (3) humans have great abilities/gifts(4) humans have great potential for good (because of God’s abiding grace for all humanity), (5) families are the cornerstone of civilization and must be guarded from external dominance, including government intrusion, (6) freedom is a fundamental right and human responsibility, and (7) that humans are marred by sin which inclines them toward self-centered behavior that is sometimes expressed in abuse of the weak by the powerful.
I am committed to maximizing personal freedom and limiting government. This is a theological concern. I believe in the innate goodness of people, that humanity is in the death-grip of sin, but that our gracious God is continually at work withstanding the power of sin to destroy and extending his life-giving grace to new generations until His Son returns. In other words, people are by design, and by the abiding breath of God, good; sin is a ubiquitous disease that perverts and ultimately destroys the image of God; humans are responsible to God for how they respond to sin and grace. As free moral agents, humans must understand their personal responsibility for their relationships and actions. Human freedom should be constrained only when it infringes on the rights of others.
I believe in communal morality, sin and responsibility. “Nations” will be judged by God with a special emphasis on how they treat widows, orphans, the poor, and aliens in their midst. It is a mistake however to define “nation” by the modern concept of national government. It simply means “peoples.” We will be judged by God for all of our collective actions, whether institutionalized in government bureaucracies or hidden in cultural traits and patterns of behavior. In a democracy we are collectively responsible for the behavior of our government.
Governments are comprised of people who bring to government the good and evil of human nature. But governments are also dynamic systems that take on traits of good and evil. They are powers for righteousness and evil. Big government is sinful when it robs people of their humanity by depersonalizing human relationships which in turn gives greater room for sin to work. Governments should be held to the standards of the core values of human tradition, especially justice and freedom. Governments must never presume to be the source or even to shape those God-given truths/values; such idolatry will always degenerate into an oppressive oligarchy.
Societies have a moral responsibility to care for their members who cannot care for themselves and may choose to do this through their governments or private agencies, or a combination of both. If delegated to government, care must be taken to ensure people do not lose their sense of personal responsibility for the care of others.
It follows that the role of civil government should be limited to (1) ensuring the safety and security of the nation’s citizens, (2) protecting individuals and minority groups from abuse, i.e., ensuring their rights, and (3) providing the services the citizens assign to it. We can best achieve our national potential by helping each member of our society achieve their fullest human potential; this requires (1) a sense of personal responsibility for one’s future, and (2) hope that one can attain to an abundant life. Liberalism is handicapped in these concerns.