Fillibustering or Fasting?

30 06 2013

State Senator Wendy Davis of Texas fasted for the women of Texas last Tuesday.

            How did she do it? With a filibuster. Wendy Davis talked continuously against an abortion bill that would shut down 37 of the state’s 42 abortion clinics, and it would ban abortions after 20 weeks from 11:18 am until midnight. She was not able to sit down, eat, drink water or take a bathroom break, or the filibuster would be invalidated.

            But fasting is typically an internal Christian spiritual practice right? Not necessarily.

            The prophet Isaiah once admonished the people of Israel to fast not only for spiritual clarity but also to create social change. He said, “Is not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” (Isaish 58:6)

            Wendy Davis lived out this Scripture last week. She said nothing about the fast she will endure, but instead, she stood for 13 hours about the consequences of this prohibitive abortion bill.

            Many Christians endure physical discomfort as a spiritual practice. The Apostle Paul glorified this type of suffering, repeating his experiences over and over again through his many letters. For Paul, suffering shows his own humanly weakness so that God will be elevated. (2 Corinthians 11:30) Early Christians took these words of Paul and implemented self-suffering for spiritual practices. Some people went without basic needs such as food or sleep for days. Monks endured days long fasting to be connected spiritually. Some early European Christians voluntarily participated in flogging.

            These Christian practices provide spiritual healing and clarity for many, but it’s an internal and individual revelation. Spiritual disciplines mark someone as Christian, however, while someone fasts, people still go hungry. Some people endure pain willingly, still their neighbors endure domestic violence, or people don’t have adequate health insurance and desperately need medical attention to alleviate pain.      

Last night, SB 5 in Texas failed because Wendy Davis went without basic needs for 13 hours. When she fasted, things changed. The spiritual practice became not internal, she did not do it for her own needs, but external, she did it for the needs of her community. 

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