on a mission to embody grace and compassion in all relationships

A Liberal Conservative

This post is the twentieth in a series, “Lessons from my Father, Lewis Marler,” who lived from 1921-1998.

My father was a conservative Baptist pastor in the sense that he was traditional in most of his theological beliefs.

On the other hand my father also rejected being called a fundamentalist. He had many close friends who embraced this label for themselves, but not him.

Persons who called themselves fundamentalists during the end of my dad’s career in the 80’s and early 90’s, were black and white in their beliefs and my dad was a much lighter shade of gray.

Don’t get me wrong, my father certainly preached about heaven and hell.

But when it came to condemning an individual he chose love instead.  He drew the circle wider and more inclusive than many of his friends who were pastors.  When some of them would challenge him, he would say “it’s not my job to judge, that’s God’s job. I’m just suppose to love people.”

All of this is to say he chose love over hate, gentleness over damnation, and forgiveness over blame. Every time.

When I became a chaplain in an HIV/AIDS clinic in 1994 and worked with hundreds of persons who were gay, I asked him what he thought of it. He said without hesitation, “Malcolm, everybody needs love and forgiveness.”  That part was easy for him.

My conservative father taught me to be a liberal. Liberal in love and liberal in forgiveness.

My liberal loving father also taught me to be a conservative. Conservative in judging others and conservative in drawing the circle too small.

Thanks be to God.

My father taught me so.


  1. Wes Ellis

    Bless your father! We need more like him today. I think the most overlooked (ignored?) verse in the bible is Romans 2:1. Thank you for your columns.

  2. Malcolm

    Wes, thank you so much for your response to this post about my dad. I am thankful you are reading my columns here and hope you will return often.

    Peace to you,

  3. Malcolm

    Thanks so much Gary, that means a lot to me. Yes, I was born in Selma in 1955 while he was pastor at Central Baptist Church.

    My father influences my life every single day as I am thankful for his love and encouragement of me and of all those he loved in his ministry.

    Blessings on you, thanks for taking the time to write.

  4. Kathy Lloyd Cooper

    Just read this post Malcolm. Not sure if you remember me at Ridgecrest. You probably remember some of my brothers. I still remember your dad and I smile. I have been so blessed to have had some awesome pastors and people who just didn’t talk about what to do, but did it and showed others how. I will never forget my baptism day over 50 years ago and the charge your dad gave to me. I try to live like Jesus every day.

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