Some American Christians easily accept that political conservatism protects them from supporting immoral social movements. However, the Bible provides a playbook more akin to a liberal manifesto than an endorsement of presently popular conservative concepts. When we look at what Jesus said and did while living on the Earth, He hardly looks conservative.
First, definitions matter. “Liberal” suggests “an emancipation from convention, tradition or dogma that extends from a belief in altering institutions to fit altering conditions.” “Conservative” suggests “a desire to retain and maintain existing institutions, procedures, and ways and to resist and suspect proposals for change.” Now some reading this will say something like, “Well, that’s not how I define those terms.” My response is: “Then you disagree with the dictionary about what these words mean. And frankly, you’re not as reliable as a dictionary.” Now that we have proper terms in place, let’s look at history.
When Jesus physically walked the Earth, conservatives existed. We call them “Pharisees.” Who were they? Back to a dictionary: “The Pharisees were a party whose endeavor it was to live in strict accordance with the Law thus interpreted and amplified by the Scribes, and the tradition of interpretation which they had established, and to bring the people to a similar conformity.”
Listen to Jesus and his view of Pharisees.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
But does this mean Jesus walked liberally? According to the definitions and social norms of Jesus’ day, He did. The Pharisees accused Jesus of being empowered by the Devil. Jesus did not come to emphasize the importance of religion. He came to destroy it—for it stood in the way of people properly experiencing the Almighty. Consider this: Jesus led a revolution against the religious leaders of His day. He saw their structures as barriers to eternal redemption, unessential for a relationship with God.
Nevertheless, many who identify themselves as “Christians” are simply nothing more than “moralists”. They wish to see mercy extended to few, faithfulness defined according to their limited views and justice always done to somebody else (who disagrees with them). They are in essence modern day Pharisees. The Gospel they proclaim is not good news at all.
Sinners loved Jesus. (By the way, I am one and we still do.) He spent lots of time with sinners. He gladly dined with them and attended their parties. He willingly accepted social condemnation from the religiously proper and powerful as He tightly embraced sinners longing for a different solution than religion provided. The most amazing man in their lifetime spent time with the poor, the prostitutes, the unseemly, those hated tax collectors. He did not preach “retaining” and “maintaining” the status quo. Jesus turned the world upside down, freeing the masses from a way of life that looked beautiful on the outside, but on the inside was full of dead men’s bones.
Jesus practiced compassion with very broken people, because this is the heart of God. And if any Jesus follower is unwilling to do as Jesus did, because they dislike the affect the “liberal” label has on their carefully manicured reputation, then it’s time to repent of living life designed with you in mind. As my retired police officer father often says, “I’m liberal because Jesus is—liberal in love and forgiveness and mercy.”
 Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (1993)
 The New International Dictionary of the Bible (1987)
 Matthew 23:13-15 (NIV)
 Matthew 23:23-24 (NIV)
 See Matthew 12:24 (NIV)
 “One who is concerned to regulate the morals of others.” Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (1993).
 See Matthew 23:27 (NIV)