Over at his blog, Denny Burk highlights a brief video detailing why he does not care for Glenn Beck’s politics, even though Beck, like Burk presumably, is an economic conservative. And on this issue, Burk is absolutely correct in denouncing the myopic agenda of “rodeo-clowns” like Beck (as he calls himself). For Burk and similarly like-minded evangelicals (like yours truly), Beck’s dismissal on the importance of issues such as gay marriage and abortion signal a troubling shift in pop-conservatism.

Whereas the polymathic genius of William F. Buckley was capable of merging three conservative strands (social conservatism, anti-communism, and libertarianism) in the 1950’s, called “fusionism,” Beck is perhaps intentionally unraveling the bond of conservatism which has been an intellectual mainstay for 50+ years. Beck, it appears, is loath to engage debate on these issues simply due to the mistaken belief that abortion and gay marriage do not directly affect him.

For some strange reason, Beck believes the iconic and nostalgic vision of America he longs for can somehow be separated from its sexual and marital ethics. For Beck, I assume, the apparent loss of principled, Constitutional, self-government is seen in contradistinction from the ravaging cost that sexual libertinism has produced in this county. Nevermind that the introduction of the sexual revolution also saw a direct rise in Statism (which Beck detests). Beck overlooks that an upsurge in sexually transmitted diseases, drive-through divorce, and abortion portended drastic economic effects in America.

Beck assumes that gay marriage is an isolated issue. Yet, he overlooks how the subtle effect of multi-definitional views of marriage downplay the significance of opposite-sex marriage. And where marriage ethics are devalued, economic downturn is sure to follow. Nevermind that the self-styled libertarianism Beck popularizes countenances the fraudulant “rights” culture which undermines the sanctity of life and public decency.

I’m a conservative that has much in common with Beck, but as Robert George has so eloquently noted, the supposed separation of a full-orbed economic conservatism from a full-orbed social conservatism ultimately ends up undermining one another.

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Posted by Andrew Walker

Andrew T. Walker is an Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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