I often hear that the “voice of the Holy Spirit” is more important than the “voice of the church” — as if they are separate — especially in matters where the losing minority is loud and angry. In The United Methodist Church, the “voice of the church” is signified by one thing: the Book of Discipline. This is the voice of the General Conference, attended by delegates elected from the annual conferences. The GC votes on things, based on a majority (and sometimes supermajority).
The point made here is that if the Church does not make decisions as a ‘body’ and with ‘universal intention’ where that is appropriate; or if it leaves everything to civil legislation or individual conscience, Christian people may be left without a sense of direction in matters of common interest and importance.
They are persuaded that the silence of the corporate voice of the Church supplies to her members a powerful temptation, and sometimes imposes a necessity, to act upon their own individual opinion, in opposition to the letter of the law. They appeal to experience in proof of the inadequacy of a mere civil legislation to meet the ever-varying requirements of a religious system which … extends into every quarter of the globe.
I am not an individualist. Rather, I believe that in any society based on democratic principles (namely voting), then we must do things corporately, even if our side lost. Does this make sense? If we believe in Scripture, then the Holy Spirit dwells in the Church (Ephesians 2.22). The Church is supposed to be unified (Ephesians. The entire book).
Unlike Catholicism, protestants have no central “living voice.” We can suggest it is Scripture (but do we really want to go there?). Rather, the voice of the Holy Spirit is recognized (logically) in our various denominations as the voice of the majority (supposedly making decisions based on Scripture). Why is it, then, that we feel that our voice is the voice of the Holy Spirit, even when (or, especially when?) it is the losing side repeatedly? And why, in a voluntary association, does this give us license to rebel against the majority and the actual voice of the Church, even to the point of breaking our vows, something without a doubt is an abomination in the eyes of God?
And yes, while my focus here is The United Methodist Church, likewise this can be directed against American political institutions (but, you know, with the Holy Spirit).