As I write this, it's Sunday morning, time for church. Time to sing with eyes opened or closed, holding a hymnal or reading from a screen, accompanied by an organ or a full out rock band. In whatever style, across our country millions of Americans are attending church services.
My wish for this Sunday morning is that every pastor, minister, or preacher would speak the same words and read the same verses from the scriptures on which they've based their lives.
"Let the children come to me and do not stop them, because the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Mark 19:14.
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength...Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
"Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." Ps. 82:3-4.
"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." Heb. 13: 1-2.
I could continue, but I trust you get the point. The scriptures are filled with admonitions toward love, care, and empathy, the opposite of the behavior the United States is showing toward asylum seekers at our southern border. Now, I'm not so naive to think that open borders are possible. I understand that, for various reasons, borders must be maintained and protected, and my purpose today is not to argue or recommend specific immigration policy of a larger scope. But, as a person of faith who values the scripture, as a mother, and as a human being, it seems more than obvious that separating children from their parents as a deterrent and perhaps punishment is cruel, ungodly, and unscriptural. And to use the Bible as a justification for this practice is reprehensible. This has nothing to do with following the Bible. This is about something else.
I've read some pretty heartless reasoning on this topic lately, and at its core is the stripping of the humanity of those in question. These aren't refugees or asylum seekers, they are "criminals" who have given up the rights to their children by their criminal behavior. This is dangerous reasoning with a long history. Throughout the ages, the only way humans have been able to treat other humans so cruelly is to make them less than human. These are not parents seeking safety for their children. They are criminals who don't deserve our empathy. Of course, it becomes much easier to treat people badly if you believe "They are not our friend...they're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists." Oh yeah, some of them might be good people, but good people don't commit crimes, and since these people engaged in a criminal act when they entered the country illegally, they are criminals. And so the circular reasoning continues.
It's true, the Bible does say we should obey the law. Christians in the early church were instructed to mind their own business and live quiet and productive lives (I Thess 4:11), but this instruction came after praise for being "taught by God to love one another" (v. 9). The Old and New Testaments also give many accounts of people who broke human law (secular and religious) in order to follow God's law. Jesus was among these people. And let's remember that there was only one group of people that Jesus criticized harshly -- the Pharisees, and it was because, as he pointed out, "they don't practice what they teach" (Matt. 23:3). I'm sure you can see some parallels here.
So, this Sunday morning I wish that all believers in Jesus (along with folks of other faiths) would be encouraged to practice what we teach and to invite our government officials to do the same. We are in a position to love our neighbors, to defend the weak, to show hospitality to strangers, and to care for the children, owners of the Kingdom of heaven.