Witness for Justice
My faith, my vote
By Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, General Minister and President
I am a believer and I vote. I might amplify that statement with this. Because I am a believer and a disciple of Jesus, I vote. My faith, my basic beliefs and the act of voting are integral to each other. So, I begin with a foundational teaching of Jesus and of the Judeo-Christian tradition. In the Gospel According to Mark Chapter 12 one of the scribes asked Jesus, “Which commandments is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear O Israel: the Lord our God is one; you shall love the lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” In response to the scribe, I like to say, Jesus leads with love – love of God, love of neighbor and love of self. As with faith and voting, I understand that these two commandments are integral to each other.
For me voting is love in action. It is about loving God, neighbor and about self. Therefore, I vote for candidates who are likely to enact policies that honor God and are in the best interest of my neighbors. Of course, I also vote in my own self-interest and that too is an act of love. However, I want to be clear – voting in my own self-interest is not about being selfish. Policies that are truly beneficial to me are policies that serve the common good. They are the kind of policies that will make life better for all. Moreover, voting is an act of self-expression in the public realm. As an individual it is a way for me to participate fully in this society and the world. I understand self-expression to be an essential element of self-love.
Today the interconnectedness of the world is more apparent than ever before in history. We live in a global economy. As Christians we share a faith tradition with people around the world. They are our neighbors. When I cast a vote, I do so with them in mind. In this respect also, I strive to vote for candidates who are likely to enact policies that will reflect love – policies that eschew fear and hatred.
I am a child of the Civil Rights Movement. My neighbors engaged in this struggle for justice and equality so that all would have the right to vote. My love for those neighbors is framed in sacred memory of the many people of all races – men, women and children – who were injured or killed in that struggle. I vote with gratitude and paying homage to them.
In his teachings, Jesus was always pointing to the Realm of God. He taught about it and he taught his followers to pray for it, “Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” For me, the realm of God is the social, political and spiritual ideal. We are to strive for it in all of our living, which includes our voting.