I cast my vote early because I can in this country. My voice can be heard and counted. I’m grateful for that right and privilege.
I won’t tell you specifically who I voted for I will tell you directionally what I voted for. This is certainly my opinion—but it is my opinion based on years of studying the ancient scriptures, listening to what the Spirit of God is saying now, and living, as best I can, in a way that reflects not only what God has said but also the direction the Living God is moving.
Let me explain: I am guided by a simple interpretive principle when I read the scriptures. Sometimes we need to do what God says. Sometimes we need to head the direction that God is leading.
Sounds simple. Not so much. The process includes hours of intentional work, discernment, prayer and action. For that reason, I am convinced that all too many in the Christian community don’t want to or choose not to do the work. So we fall back on what we learned when we were growing up, we don’t critically reflect on or ask what God might be saying today, or, in a worst case scenario, we blindly follow leaders who often are corrupted by the seductive impulse to power over the lives of those in their care.
Maybe that sounds a little harsh. But, it’s real. I know it because I’ve seen it and because, as a leader, I’m tempted to succumb to the voices in my head that say, “Just tell people what they want to hear.” Or even worse, “They won’t ask questions anyway, so just tell them what to do!” It’s easy to be seduced by those voices. I live in that tension all the time.
So, back to my interpretive principles: Sometimes we need to do what God says. Sometimes we need to head the direction that God is leading.
Sometimes we need to do what God says. In this case I look for consistent, unchanging themes throughout scripture. A simple example is: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself.” The theme is woven throughout the history of the people of Israel and the early Christian community. Another example is God’s decided heart motivation toward the “widows, the poor, and the orphans.” In other words, anyone who, because of circumstance, needs to rely on the community, the community is obligated to extend help and care. Christian communities and any community that desires to reflect Christian values should be known by how it cares for and includes those who are easily excluded, have no voice, or face discrimination and injustice at the hands of a dominant culture. These themes are threaded throughout the fabric of the biblical narrative. Sometimes we need to do what God says.
Sometimes we need to head the direction that God is leading. A specific example: In Deuteronomy 23:1, eunuchs are excluded from the worshipping community. Later in the biblical story, the prophet Isaiah imagines what the world will be like when God’s kingdom is realized. In Isaiah 56, the prophet proclaims that a sign of the emerging kingdom will be that eunuchs and foreigners will be invited to participate in the kingdom life. In Acts 8, when the early church is going out to announce the kingdom is at hand through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, one of the first to hear and receive the call is an Ethiopian eunuch.
Look at that:
Deuteronomy: Eunuchs no.
Isaiah: Eunuchs, maybe, in the future.
Acts: Eunuchs, yes.
See the direction! The direction of God in the scriptural narrative is expansive and inclusive. God’s desire is for more to be welcomed and given a chance to participate fully in community, not less. Yes, there were times when the community became isolationist and resisted. But, God’s Spirit has always been prodding us forward. Two steps ahead. One back. Two step ahead. One back.
We make a move toward a more open, inclusive community, then the forces of fear and perceived scarcity become threats and we shrivel in retreat—regressing rather than progressing.
Diminishing one’s humanity because of race—regression.
Diminishing one’s humanity because of gender—regression.
Diminishing one’s humanity because of sexual preference—regression.
Diminishing one’s humanity because of creed—regression.
Sometimes we need to do what God says. Sometimes we need to head the direction that God is leading.
I voted today to keep heading in the direction that, I believe, God is leading the entire human community, not just the Christian community. Yes, it’s a stumbling, scratch your heard, can’t believe we got ourselves into this place, kind of journey. Two steps ahead. One step back. In then end, it has less to do with the flawed candidates. And I’m certainly not saying God has a candidate in mind.
But, I do believe God has a direction in mind. God is always calling us forward to a more inclusive vision of human community—more loving, more compassionate, more hopeful.
That’s just me. I’m glad I had a chance to vote today.