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I will be the first to admit that I grew up in a fairly conservative Christian family. It wasn’t as extreme as some stories I’ve heard from my grandparents, but I never saw my parents drink alcohol until my oldest brother’s wedding ceremony and the radio always blared Christian music. None of these are bad things, but these few examples are great indicators of a more conservative spin on Christianity.

In fact, conservative Christianity often abides by several of these rules or behaviors, regardless of whether it is abstaining this or that, in an attempt to live a holy lifestyle. The idea is that as we live holy lifestyles, we can glorify God and be a great counter-example to the world. This is the whole city-on-a-hill mentality. Shine your light upon the darkness. While this can lead to some legalistic tendencies (similar to the Pharisees, which many people are quick to point out), there are many positive things, one of which is the frugal nature of conservative Christianity.

Why Conservatives are Frugal

Despite the criticism that conservative Christians get, there are many financial benefits of living a life free from many of certain behaviors. Here are several activities or items that some (not all) abstain from:

Movies – Believe it or not, many Christian families and churches forbade going to the movies. It was considered too secular. (In my opinion, they didn’t understand a proper balance between sacred and secular) However, despite my “progressive” (or contemporary) stance, this was a great way to save some bucks. Today, going to a movie can cost more than $30 with tax before food for just two people. I can’t imagine having a large family. By avoiding movies all-together, they can enjoy other forms of entertainment.

Alcohol – Alcohol is probably one of the most debated topics within conservative Christians. Because of the strict adherence to literal interpretations of the Bible, conservative Christians hardly know what to do with passages of Jesus turning water into Wine. I have heard some pastors trying to say that there is a different Greek word used for wine than grape juice and so forth. While it may seem absurd to some of you, the point that I am making is that it saves some serious dough. I just went to two weddings in the same month. One had an open bar and the other didn’t have any alcohol. I can only guess how much more one bride and groom spent than the other. The simple fact is that alcohol costs money. Plain and simple. By avoiding this altogether, you are freeing up your money for other purposes.

The point I wish to make is two-fold. First and foremost, conservative Christianity (even as it changes with time) gets a lot of criticism, but actually contributes towards a healthy financial situation as it protects people from overspending on unnecessary items. Secondly, everything is more complicated than we often make it appear. Regardless of my own beliefs, conservative Christianity often gets blamed for a lot of things wrong in the church without pointing out the positive things. And so, the next time you want to point the finger, try to challenge yourself by asking what are some of the positive things that it/they/he/she has/have to offer.

What other ways does conservative Christianity help people save money?

During the month of May, most Americans receive the day off of work in light of Memorial Day. While most may only look at memorial day as a time away from the 9-to-5, it is much more than that. Indeed, it often marks the shift in seasons from Spring to Summer, but again, it is much more than this. In fact, memorial day is a day to remember all of those who have died, serving in the Armed Forces.

Christianity’s history has long had a non-violent voice to it. Martin Luther King Jr., who was the face of the civil rights movement is perhaps the most prominent U.S. Christian known for his commitment to non-violent actions. Yet, it is not merely a recent theme or belief. It dates back to Jesus. In fact, many Christians and people today expose non-violent tactics as a result of Jesus’ teachings and actions. In light of memorial day coming up, it leaves Christians with a difficult question.

Should Christians celebrate memorial day? Does honoring this holiday go against any Christian Beliefs?

This is the very question I hope to discuss. Be sure to share you opinion in the comments after reading!

Christian Origins of Non-Violence

Christianity has long agreed with the idea of non-violence, with some disagreement. Like any other belief in Christianity, there is a wide spectrum of beliefs within this one religion. Thus, while I hope to uncover the origins of non-violence within Christianity, it should be understood that many Christians interpret this in different ways. With that aside, one could trace the roots of non-violence back to Jesus.

There are several places in the gospels that people refer to, when talking of Jesus’ commitment to non-violence. Of the many, I will share two:

The first is in the garden of Gethsemane, right before Jesus is arrested. Matthew 26:47-55 reads (emphasis added),

47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”[d]

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

55 In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Instead of having his disciples fight for him, Jesus told them to put their swords away. The phrase, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword,” has been repeated over and over, even to this day, as sound wisdom. It’s basic argument is that violence escalates violence.

The second example is in both the gospel of Matthew and Luke. In order to keep the same source, I will quote from Matthew 5:38-42:

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[h] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

While many people misinterpret this verse to suggest that believers need to accept abuse, it is not intended like that at all. In fact, turning the other cheek was an act of non-violently putting an end to the abuse, while exposing the injustice. As a result, Jesus is empowering his followers to expose and put an end to the injustice through non-violent means.

Should a Commitment to Non-Violence Keep Christians from Celebrating Memorial Day?

If this is the commitment of some Christians, I can’t help but ask whether this should keep them from celebrating memorial day. Some might suggest that in celebrating memorial day and those who have fought in past wars, we thereby support violence. Yet, I am not sure it can be that simple.

Is honoring those who fought in wars supporting violence? 

Suggesting that Christians ignore Memorial Day reminds me of veterans returning from the Vietnam war to protests and hatred for what they did. While this was a result of the commitment to peace and the hippie movement, the truth is that many Americans were forced to serve in that war against their will. They didn’t want to be fighting in that war any more than those protesting the war did.

While it can be helpful to remind ourselves of Jesus’ commitment to non-violence, we should be careful not to isolate ourselves from those who have fought in wars. The world is a complicated place and to simplify things such as an either-or could do more harm than good.