Next Tuesday, November 4, is Election Day. It is a time when our voice is heard in a unique and significant way, yet some tend to think that their voice doesn’t matter. Maybe we would do well to consider the example of another lone voice, and the power and duty Christians have to speak on God’s behalf.
Before Jesus arrived on the scene to begin to speak on God’s behalf publicly, there was another unique and unusual man who preceded Him. His birth was unusual in that it was predicted to his parents by an angel before any conception took place, including the assignment of his gender and the selection of his name. Further, he was born to parents who were far beyond normal childbearing age. When he became a man, the lifestyle he chose was also unique. He was socially reclusive, dressing in crude garments, and following dietary habits that were suited to his preference for wilderness living, but not reflective of the norm for his day. What John, who came to be called, ‘the Baptist’, may have lacked in social savoir faire, he made up for in a profound personal connection with God. The collection of idiosyncrasies that set him apart from the culture that surrounded him served as the dwelling place for a deep spirituality and courageous boldness that was irresistible to multitudes who came out to hear him speak. And speak he did, with the power of unvarnished, undiluted truth, coupled with an obvious disregard for the approval, or lack thereof, of those who came to hear him. John wasn’t just another religious orator in love with the sound of his own voice. He didn’t regurgitate spiritual sounding clichés laced with nuances designed to accommodate compromise if circumstances required it. Not John. He spoke with the kind of authority whose roots do not lie in religious or political ambitions, nor this world’s system of values and ideas. He spoke God’s truth, and did so in the confidence that attends it.
John’s message, and his very presence, raised questions like this, “Who are you… What do you say about yourself?”
In response, John quoted a line from the prophet Isaiah, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness” John 1:22-23 (NKJV).
John didn’t cite his degrees to certify himself. He didn’t whip out his resume’, and pass out copies of academic transcripts, curriculum vitae, and writing samples. He wasn’t as practiced in academic self-defense as we are when subjected to critical evaluation by those who consider themselves our superiors. He was much simpler. “I am the voice”, he said, and further qualified it as a voice sounding forth in an unusual place—the wilderness. What a strange anomaly, a very distinctive human voice crying out in a place infrequently graced with anyone around to hear it. That situation began to change, though, when ‘the voice’ began to speak. People heard about him, and added their voices to his. Multitudes began to go where they weren’t accustomed to go, because they wanted to hear what ‘the voice’ had to say. They left the cities and towns and came from everywhere. Peculiar, isn’t it? Just a lone voice, from a guy who didn’t seem to fit in with the popular religious culture, who didn’t surround himself with the comforts demanded by most of his kinsmen. Voices can be powerful things.
Illustrations of the influential power of words, and the voices that articulate them permeate both Holy Scripture and secular history from the beginning. Ideas and belief systems are defined by them, social boundaries are established through them, governments are managed by them, and relationships are sanctified with them. The captivating nature of their double-edged influence is that their power is felt not only in the use of them, but also in their absence.
The scope of our ‘voice’ extends far beyond verbalizing words with our mouth. We speak most powerfully when we combine the weight of our words with complementary actions. Together, they constitute a ‘voice’ that carries significant potential, whether the message they send is boldly spoken, or one interpreted when the voice lies still and silent. Moses addressed the significance of a voice being heard, and conversely, the lack of it, in Deuteronomy 22:23-24. He illustrates the principle by describing a situation involving a sexual encounter between a man and a woman who are not married to each other.
It was expected that if a woman was sexually assaulted, she would resist her assailant and cry out in protest. Her voice declaring opposition to the attack affirmed that the guilt belonged to the male perpetrator alone, and there would be no punishment or consequence assigned to the woman. If such an episode took place in the remote countryside where there was no one to hear or help, the woman would be given the benefit of the doubt, and her outcries in resistance would be assumed, as well as her innocence. If it took place in the city where there was help available, it was different. If the woman failed to cry out in protest in that scenario, she was considered to be as guilty as her alleged assailant. If her voice was not raised in protest, she would suffer the same fate as the man. Silence was deemed tacit approval. Refusal to cry out was permission to proceed. No ‘voiced’ opposition was voluntary acceptance, and silence equaled complicity and shared guilt.
In this morally bankrupt culture we followers of Jesus Christ have been subjected to attack after attack on the sanctity of life, on the definition of marriage, and on the freedom to hold and practice personal religious beliefs and convictions, and to express those beliefs through reasonable avenues of communication. We have been stripped of the right to even debate and defend those ideas in the public forum and humiliated for believing them. These assaults are intentional, unrelenting, and intense, and they are ultimately individual. The question is not whether there is an attack on our virtue and our freedom, but whether or not our voice will be raised in protest.
On Tuesday, we have an opportunity and duty to ‘cry out’ against those who have already violated us, and who will continue. Casting our ballot on Tuesday, November 4, may seem like a lone voice in a wilderness of moral corruption, arrogant foolishness, and evil, but so did John’s. Voices are powerful things, and silence in the face of those who would violate our dignity to promote their own selfish pleasures is as heinous to God as the attack itself . . . See you at the polls.
© 2014 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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