Today’s SCOTUS Affordable Act decision, faith, and politics
John Westerhoff wrote:
“Stewardship is what we do after we say we believe, that is, after we give our love, loyalty, and trust to God, from whom each and every aspect of our lives comes as a gift. As members of God’ s household, we are subject to God’ s economy or stewardship, that is, God’ s plan to reconcile the whole world and bring creation to its proper end.” (Grateful and Generous Hearts, Atlanta: St. Luke’s Press, 1997, p. 20.)
I know that I’ve blogged about Westerhoff’s words before.
But today’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act makes Westerhoff’s words come to mind in a new and different way.
I am of the mind that one’s vote is an act of prayer.
It is a reflection of how we see God’s agenda coming into play, and how we can actively be ambassadors of it.
A few weeks back, some well-meaning religious people stopped by our home to engage in a conversation geared toward convincing us that faith has nothing to do with politics.
That the conversation itself had a theo-political agenda was lost on these two young men.
So we started with Moses.
“Moses heard God tell him to announce to Pharaoh that he should ‘Let My People Go!’ He didn’t mean, “Go to the Movies, or Go Hiking, or Go Nap.’ He spoke to a political power about politics: ‘Release the Slaves, King, even though you and your kingdom are benefitting economically from their exploitation.'”
Well, that wasn’t all a direct quote from either Moses, but it was the gist.
The Bible is a book filled with stories of politics, political upheaval, social upheaval, and social action.
It’s exhilaratingly shocking to me how many of today’s political conversations have people of faith at the very least all chatty and, if you’ll pardon the pun, even hot under the collar.
Contraception, environmental degradation, the budget, gay marriage, and, of course, health care (each topic is linked to a different source to show how widely religion and faith are connected) all have proponents and opponents who come to their advocacy by way of religious principles.
So, to go back to Westerhoff, “Stewardship is what we do after we say we believe.'”
Believe in what?
Or rather, in whom?
Or rather, in what sort of whom?
If we say that we have a God, then we are saying that that God governs (yes, I used that word intentionally) our beliefs which then, obviously, shape our choices.
Including our votes.
Stewards represent the agenda of the One in Charge. That’s what they do. They act not on their own behalf, but on behalf of, in the stead of, instead of their master.
So if stewardship is what we do after we say we believe, then our vote is a reflection of what we believe the One in whom we believe would want, even given imperfect choices in an imperfect world.
In my writing and teaching, I try and make manifest my own beliefs, because I do have opinions which shape the way I think about things.
My opinion, as far as politics go, echoes that powerful phrase taken from some elements in Roman Catholic theology. We are to act giving preferential treatment to the poor and vulnerable.
Now, of course, I recognize that who is poor and who is vulnerable is open to conversation.
By and large, however, we who are Christian call ourselves such because we identify the Christ in Christian to be Jesus of Nazareth. And when you poke around at him, we see that he was awfully concerned about the poor and the sick and the lonely and the sinners, and he sculpted his ministry around them.
The issue of health care is deeply personal to me. I’ve posted about my convictions about the push to repeal the Affordable Care Act here.
But the overarching spirit of my belief comes from the perspective of stewardship. I think I’m called to be about stewarding, as best I can given imperfect choices in an imperfect world, life: health, healing, and wholeness, just like the Greek word we translate “salvation” means.
So, two points to this particular blog.
First, I’m acknowledging my thanksgiving about the SCOTUS decision today: not to gloat, but to reflect and own up to my belief that my theology tells me that it’s a step in the right direction, a way to offer practical help and hope to those who suffer.
Second, I’m interested in raising the question, in this election season, about faith and politics. How is it that, out of faith, Christians can have such different political conclusions based on their faith? How do we make sense of that?
And to that end, I’m eager for your thoughts.