“Caitlyn” (aka Bruce) Jenner has announced his candidacy for governor of California. The question is should conservatives support him? After all, Jenner stands for lower taxes, common-sense border security, and less government intrusion in our daily lives. Surely this would be better than the tyrannical rule of Gavin Newsom, wouldn’t it?
The answer, in a word, is no, and the simple reason is, likewise, one word — priorities.
In “God in the Dock,” C.S. Lewis referred to first things and second things. He wrote, “You can’t get second things by putting them first.
You get second things only by putting first things first.”
In talking about these first and second things, Lewis was borrowing from Jesus. Saint Matthew quotes Christ this way: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” As is almost always the case, Jesus’ message is simple, concise, and clear. If we make His way, His truth, and His life our top priority — our first thing—then the rest of life, the second things, will fall in place and “be given to us as well.”
Context expands on this truth even more.
Immediately before these verses about “seeking first the kingdom,” Jesus talked about “storing treasures in Heaven.” Reading this entire passage in context makes it clear what Christ is telling us. When we live for the eternal rather than the temporal — that is when we store up treasures in heaven — we get not just the reward of the eternal life to come, but we also enjoy the best of the temporal life that we have now.
In other words, place all the secondary things in life in the context of what is first, and you will likely get not only the first but also the second to boot. But reverse the order, and it all comes crumbling down. Again, priorities matter!
Now, it’s evident in Scripture that Christ never diminished our temporal needs. Many of his miracles were examples of him providing for them. He fed people, turned water into wine, healed the blind, and restored the lame. Jesus was clearly not telling us to ignore our needs or those of others. On the contrary, he was telling us to put them in the proper perspective and get our priorities straight. “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul? For whoever will save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life, for my sake, will find it.”
The lesson? Focus on the things that really matter rather than the things that really don’t. First things will bring the second. Second things never lead us to those that are first.
Conservatives want less government and more freedom. We want to be left alone to raise our kids, build our businesses, go to church, and serve our communities. We don’t want oligarchs in Washington D.C. or Sacramento telling us what to do or how to live our lives. Many of us understand that the path for accomplishing all of this is summed up best by Christ’s simple axiom: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”
Conservatives recognize that there are things worthy of conserving. We see the value of an ordered life defined by God and not the government, and we know when we reverse that order, the results are disorder, dysfunction, and chaos. We understand that we will likely never get either the second or the first things in life if our priorities wrong. We know history teaches that when you put second things ahead of those that should be first, you will likely lose it all.
Conservatives understand that our cultural foundation is weak when we live merely pragmatic and materialistic lives. We know the more weight life brings to bear on the shifting sand of moral indifference, the more likely our nation is to fail. We have learned that a house must be built upon deep footers and solid cornerstones, or it will fall.
Conservatives, of all people, should be men and women of substance and not just sustenance, of truth and not just taxes, of self-evident reality and not just our selfish rights.
It has been said that our priorities reflect our character. If this is so, it might be wise to stop and ask, not just if we can or will support Caitlyn Jenner but also why this is even a question in this first place. If our conservative priorities are this unclear, is it possible that our conservative character is likewise?
This week Matt Walsh tweeted, “If the Right gives up the gender fight, then that’s it. It’s over. Once we’ve surrendered reality itself, what else is there to fight for. Tax cuts? I will die on this hill. If this hill is lost, there is none worth keeping after it, and nobody left to fight for them anyway.”
The Piper paraphrase — If God’s reality isn’t our first thing, then we are doomed.
• Everett Piper (dreverettpiper.com, @dreverettpiper), a columnist for The Washington Times, is a former university president and radio host. He is the author of “Not a Daycare: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery) and, most recently, “Grow Up: Life Isn’t Safe, But It’s Good” (Regnery, 2021).