As you read this, the election is hard upon us. Most of you already know with certainty for whom you will vote, and significant numbers of you (like me) have already cast your ballot. Good for you!
We’re often told that voting is a “civic duty.” That may be, but I also view it as a sacred privilege and responsibility.
The Bible offers scant direct guidance about “voting.” This thing we take for granted – self-government – was hardly something that could be imagined in biblical times (After the ascension of Jesus the apostles were confronted with a need to select a new leader. They didn’t vote – they drew straws!). As we try to figure out what it means to responsibly and faithfully opt for this candidate or that one, we are left to extrapolate from admonitions to obey and pray for those in authority, to render taxes as “due” and on the other hand, to “obey God rather than any human authority.”
The history of church and state in the United States is fascinating and complicated. It’s at the same time distant and cozy – helpful and destructive – and almost always confusing. Our national constitution prohibits state interference in religion – the government is adjured from either advancing or hindering it. But governance is exercised by humans – and whether intentional or not, humans bring their values to work with them. Therefore, it seems evident to me that people who care about justice and compassion and equity ought to wonder and probe propecia 5 mg side effects about the ways those who aspire to office think and act about justice and compassion and equity.
I think it is clear from the breadth of the scriptural story is that God is interested in human governance – and therefore we should also. God is interested that those who govern do so justly. When justice and equity characterizes any human authority, God seems to claim the authority thereby wielded as God’s own (whether the governor recognizes and/or admits to it), and when the contrary is true, God is opposed. The notion (frequently expressed) that God punishes evil-doers by agency of human government is a fraught proposal. Some scripture seems to support the notion, but other readings would cast doubt on this notion.
So….shall we throw up our hands and cast our votes on the basis of self-interest? Many (most?) will, of course. I’d suggest a slightly different approach – that as people committed to a communitarian vision of the human family that we cast our votes on the basis of our best guess about which person and which proposals particularly advance the welfare of those (American and not) who live at the edges. As faithful followers of Jesus we may nonetheless legitimately differ on the wisdom of this policy or that, but certainly we can agree that love of neighbor is not a negotiable value.
So vote! Do so with your neighbors – all of them –near and far! – in mind!
With great hope!
The UCC in Iowa