The images occurring on the border, of families being separated and children being held in detention centers scared and alone are difficult to stomach, especially compared with the image of the Statue of Liberty and the stirring words of Emma Lazarus. I am not, however, concerned with whether or not the Trump Administration is acting legally or not or whether or not it falls within the scope of prosecutorial discretion to enact this policy. I am deeply concerned about whether we as Christians should accept or acquiesce in this policy.
The answer is an emphatic no. The Bible is full of admonitions to care for the other, the stranger among us. Even in the Old Testament the call is clear. It was a lack of hospitality that doomed Sodom and Gomorrah, not same sex relationships. The law of hospitality was etched deep into that culture as one would expect in a desert atmosphere were one’s life may depend on someone helping you and theirs on whether you would help them.
In the New Testament the call to help the stranger and the outcast only grows stronger. Time and again Jesus ministers to prostitutes, tax collectors, sinners of all types as well as those on the margins of society. He doesn’t care if the needy need help on the Sabbath, He doesn’t care if it breaks social norms or if it “simply isn’t done”. His response is as simple as it is powerful, you help those in need and welcome the stranger and the outcast.
None of this is diminished by trotting out Romans 13 as a defense of government activity. This is a hack, crap interpretation and I have dealt with it here. Jesus states clearly in Matt 22:34-40 that loving God and loving your neighbor are the two greatest commandments and that, in fact, ALL the law and prophets hang upon these two commandments. In any event, we do not need to engage in some deep biblical exegesis to understand any of this. We know in our heart that this is true. He did not die for us so that we may turn away any of God’s children in their moment of need.
Let’s be clear, I am not suggesting that we need to confiscate taxpayer money in order to provide for these people. They are not, in fact, asking for a handout. I am stating clearly that we should not confiscate taxpayer wealth to forcibly keep them out, round them up or imprison them. There are more than enough generously offered resources to get people on their feet and help them along to becoming productive members of our communities.
What then can we do to give witness to what we know in our heart to be true. First, never let a “Christian” claim that this is a just policy without loudly challenging them on this. Ask them in no uncertain terms whom Jesus would turn away, whom Jesus would refuse help. Don’t let them fall behind the hateful interpretation of Romans 13 to justify government action. Ask them if this interpretation would protect Stalin’s Soviet Union or Hitler’s Germany from Christian condemnation. The “Christian” defense of these policies will quickly crumble. If the argument shifts to a practical concern about the ability to take in so many, I discussed that here and here.
Second, get involved. There are many ways to do this. A few can be found here. Write your Representatives and Senators, let them know what your position is. Attend town halls and forums where these issues can be discussed. Be civil, but be absolutely clear that this policy is unacceptable at every level. Join protests and marches. Be a physical presence and make sure that people see that there are those willing to take the time to give witness on behalf of their brothers and sisters. Write letters to the editor, post on websites, don’t give the other side a victory by our silence. Go as far down the road of civil disobedience as your conscience will let you. Act always with charity and love but with firm resolve to stand for what we know in our hearts to be true.
Finally, pray. As always seek strength in God the Father, His son our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Do not be swayed by the voices telling you whom to fear and whom to hate. Pray ceaselessly for the strength to remain faithful to being the kind of people God calls His own. Pray to be able to withstand the slings and arrows of those who ignore what God has given us and turn their back on the sacrifice of His Son. In the end it will not be the heathens you are standing in front of when you are all done dancing on this Earth.
Jesus tells us clearly (Matt 25:31-46) that we will be judged by how we treated the least of our brothers and sisters. Let our answer be clear and truthful “Lord we did all that we could”.
Praise Be to God