I remember waiting to listen to Charlie Kirk speak at last year’s Remember America event in Lancaster. At the time, I didn’t really know much about him or what he stood for, but I was hoping he would provide an alternative to the bland conservatism so common in our day that co-opts the Bible when convenient and disregards it when inconvenient.
As the program began, a narrated video highlighted the history of America, including the faith of the Pilgrims – men who sought to apply the Bible in all areas, not only when convenient. Then a high school student gave a brief speech on abortion (in hindsight, probably the best talk of the night). Songs were song. Other announcements were made. And then Charlie Kirk, the keynote speaker, took the stage.
As I listened, I kept waiting for him to provide something of substance, something of the pith contained in the Pilgrims’ passion to apply the Bible to society. But it never came.
Instead, Kirk spoke about courage and our need to stand firm. But stand firm for what?
The best I could gather from Kirk, and from the event, was a vague need to return to our founding documents and principles.
That was disappointing to me, because the solution to our woes as a nation is not simply to return to our founding. If the founding documents were truly the answer, then they would have prevented us from getting into this mess. They did not. And simply trying to return to them will only put us in a place for them to be trampled again.
As I went home that evening, I had the clear impression that victory for Kirk and many “conservative” Christians in attendance does not entail a complete and thorough acknowledgement that Christ is King over America.
Instead, returning to the founding of our nation seems to be the end goal.
But I even question Kirk’s commitment to this. No government education system, no federal income tax, no property tax? Laws against homosexuality back on the books? Will Kirk argue for that? Unlikely.
But, ultimately, our touchpoint, our keystone, cannot be the founding of the nation. In reality, while history is incredibly important, and the course of Western Civilization should be diligently consulted, it is possible to form a godly society without any reference to the history of the United States by simply looking to God’s law-word and putting it into practice. (Uganda seems to be making a better attempt at this than we are currently.)
The pep talks about our nation’s heritage should be ancillary to the application of God’s Word. But it seems that talks like Kirk’s, and events like Remember America, are prone to reverse that order.
I don’t think anyone, after hearing Kirk’s speech, left the event thinking, “Yes, we need to apply the Bible to all of society!” Instead, I surmise they were thinking, “We can ‘win’ this if we have courage.” But what does it mean to win? To return to our founding documents? To return to pre-Covid and pre-transgender America? To have a nation of Charlie Kirkian conservatives? That is not victory.
Following that event, I had little interest in hearing much more from Kirk. He had shown his hand rather clearly to me and several others in attendance. And while I appreciated some of the things he said, I remained concerned that his clear reluctance to acknowledge the lordship of Christ over every sphere of American life was a serious fly in the ointment.
Naturally, not being a follower of his work, I didn’t hear much of Kirk’s speeches over the past year. Recently however, I came across a video of Kirk on stage with Rob Smith, an openly homosexual man who claims to be a Christian, being asked questions about Christian morality. It turns out the clip was from an event several years ago, but I still want to address it because it revealed everything wrong with Kirk’s philosophy and Turning Point USA.
If, after seeing this clip, Christians are still excited about Charlie Kirk, then I am truly at a loss for words (something somewhat rare for me, you might imagine).
In the clip, two separate questioners ask Kirk about preserving Christian morality. The first man asks about how promoting homosexual acts serves the conservative cause, and Kirk responds rather smugly: “I don’t care what two consenting adults do.”
The second man asks Kirk if conservatives should take a stance on Christian morality.
“What is your brand of conservatism doing to actually conserve Christian morality, if we’re ceding to the Left on transgender, gay rights, gay marriage?” the questioner said. “We don’t want that in conservatism.”
Instead of answering the man’s (legitimate) question, Kirk pointed to Smith and said, “So, you don’t want him in the conservative movement?”
(That was a lame response from Kirk – it’s like asking a group of free market capitalists if they want Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in their movement. Uh….no, not unless she first repents of her socialism.)
Kirk continued: “I’m a Christian, I believe the Bible is the greatest book ever to exist in the history of the world. And I believe Rob Smith has decency and dignity as an individual in the United States of America…We’re not a theocracy, we never have been.”
To say nothing of Kirk’s phony grandstanding about the Bible, I am not sure what he means by theocracy. To suggest that America “never” addressed the sin of homosexuality in the civil sphere is grossly dishonest (or perhaps Kirk is simply ignorant of American history).
Laws against homosexuality were common in early America, and even William Penn outlawed the practice in Pennsylvania. As late as 2013, the state of Montana apparently included “sexual contact or sexual intercourse between two persons of the same sex” as part of its definition of deviate sexual conduct.
In any case, Kirk seems to care neither for American history (so much for returning to the founding) or biblical morality (so much for the “greatest book ever”).
Smith jumped into the discussion, claiming that loving God means accepting homosexuality.
“As somebody that is a gay Christian,” Smith said, “my relationship with God and coming back into the church over the last year and a half is one of the greatest gifts that has been given to me in terms of being in this movement.”
As Smith spoke, Kirk applauded.
As of today, Smith is still listed on Turning Point USA’s website as a “Contributor.”
Christians, behold the uselessness of Turning Point USA and every other conservative effort not based explicitly on the lordship of Jesus Christ.
As Kirk so eloquently put it during his speech last year, “courage involves doing what is right without knowing the consequences.”
Well, Charlie, how about you start doing what is right, including standing first and foremost on Christ’s lordship and Christian morality? The consequences of such a stand would likely mean a serious loss of revenue for Turning Point USA, but surely a courageous man like you is willing to face those consequences for doing what is right.
In the meantime, I hope Christians are beginning to see the folly of a (conservative) movement build on anything other than the lordship of Jesus Christ.