Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Not a Political Post: Our Elected Officials Do Speak for Us, Whether We Like It or Not

This post isn't a political one, but I have noticed something over the past few years regarding how we talk about politics that I'd like to call out, partly because it's just incorrect, and partly because it has implications for how we read and understand the Scriptures.

For a long time now I've seen social media posts that read, 'He's not my President' or 'He/she/they don't speak for me'.  It's not just under the current administration that this kind of rhetoric has been common - many conservative/right wingers said the same kind of thing under the previous administration. Well, hate to break it to you, but they do - whether you like it or not. Again, this isn't a post in support of any politician or party, court decision or policy. I don't post political things (usually), and I'm not doing so here. It's just a post about reality.

The U.S. is a representative democracy - we elect representatives who represent us. They speak for us, enact laws on our behalf, appoint judges, make decisions, strike treaties, etc. I have never done any of those things, but my representatives have on my behalf. I don't always like their decisions, but they do speak for me. If Congress declares war on Canada [or the President; War Powers Resolution is iffy constitutionally], then we, including me, are at war.

It is a special expression of our western individualism [run amuck] that says things like 'PersonX doesn't speak for me' when PersonX clearly does. And this individualism makes it hard to accept a key principle of Scripture - federal headship.

Did I appoint Adam as my representative? No, I didn't have a say. Do I approve of what he did? No (but, slightly off point, I would have failed just as miserably - I do it daily).  But still Adam spoke and acted as my representative. He declared independence from his Maker, thrust himself and me into conflict with the Divine Judge/Jury/Executioner.  "But he doesn't speak for me!" Yes, yes he does.

And so does Christ. He speaks for me and all those who are 'in him'. He, as the second Adam, is our faithful and true representative who makes terms of peace for us, accomplishes the peace, and imposes a new law of love. At the same time, I am conscripted by him into an ongoing war against darkness, sin, and the devil.

Our western, individualistic presuppositions can truly make it difficult to understand texts written in the Ancient Near East, and to the degree that such presuppositions are fallen and twisted, they make it hard to understand how a holy God operates too.

[note: I will not engage political discourse in the comments, but if you have questions about the theology of this post, ask away]

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