Weekly Reflection – What a Treat!

05 July 2024

It’s easy to forget how recently the United Kingdom became a democracy in the fullest sense – less than a hundred years ago in fact. It was not until 1928 that women were afforded the same voting rights as men, rights they were allowed to exercise in the General Election the following year. During the preceding century, from the Great Reform Act of 1832,  the journey towards elections as we know them today was slow: for instance, the secret ballot which we take so much for granted when we vote only became a legal requirement for both local and parliamentary elections in 1872. Before that the ‘treating’ of electors was commonplace: food, alcohol and cash were all used as inducements by the wealthy to ensure that their tenants or workers voted the ‘correct’ way when they completed their ballot paper in public at elections. If these inducements did not work, the added threat of eviction or redundancy usually did the trick.

There is nothing particularly Christian about democracy as a form of government: whether in the Old Testament or the New the Bible takes for granted the systems of government in place at any given time, none of which are democratic in any meaningful sense. But the Bible does have a good deal to say about how our commitment to love and serve God brings with it certain responsibilities – perhaps best summed up in a famous verse from the prophet Micah writing over two and a half thousand years ago:

The Lord has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

Because of the inexorable requirements of the deadline for Catch Up I write this before the outcome of the General Election is known. But that, at least, does give me freedom to commend Micah’s words to the members of the new government whatever its complexion, along with the added reflection that they are words we all need to take to heart.

With love and prayers.
Dean Simon


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