This is not meant to be partisan. That is to cheapen the discussion. I appreciate the opinion that immigration needs to be regulated, but this Presidential action is much more. Horsey’s editorial cartoon quotes a particular judgment-saying of Jesus, but the Bible – the Law, the Prophets, the Gospels, the Epistles – holds a rich history of concern for the less fortunate.
Furthermore, Jesus was a rebellious sort. His teachings and lifestyle were reflections of the radical nature of God as holy, which means as other, as separated from the common human expectation. Think about the early Christian parallel He inspired between spiritual perfection and human mercy that emerges when we compare the same source material as recorded in two different ways by the Evangelists. The Matthean Jesus advises: “‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’” The Lucan Jesus takes that same source and says instead: “‘Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.’” Perfection and mercy are interchangeable.
This is why it was awkward, to say the least, to hear the Attorney General quote in isolation from Romans 13 about follow the law or “incur judgment,” when he knows (I hope) that this often-misused statement is followed by “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” The throwing around of Bible-talk debases the subject and the speaker, and verges on the sacrilegious. If the administration is serious about enacting Christian policies, then it must move beyond the practical concerns of stopping desperate human beings seeking a safer life. If the administration is serious about following the Bible, then the human logic of making illegal immigration so unappealing that even children and infants are depersonalized and used as a cudgel to beat back their parents must give way to the Christian equation of mercy as spiritual perfection.
At the 2018 Tri-Conference Annual Meeting, much time was devoted to worship. We had gathered as representatives of Christ’s body, the church. The worship was to prepare and excite our spiritual selves so that we could be better in tune with the will and work of the Spirit. Music was an important and beautiful part of the worship. One of the hymns included this repeated refrain: “The world won’t get no better, no, if we just let it be. We gotta change it, just you and me.” It is agreed that illegal immigration is a problem, but it must be dealt with as a humanitarian tragedy as well. If the Bible quoting Attorney General is serious, then “we gotta change it, just you and me.” Jim Wallis is the founder of Sojourners Magazine. Speaking for people of faith, he has said that our job is not only to pull people out of the water, but to go upstream and see who or what is pushing them in. Rather than spend $70 billion on a wall (because the Mexicans never were), a more ethical plan may be to spend that kind of money upstream to fix the problem. It may not seem practical, but it sure beats Jesus huddling with children who are terrified and traumatized by our own government, and under the cloak of Bible-talk no less. It’s time to start paying closer attention to what evangelical really means.
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