Should the US government take care of immigrants at the border? To one syndicated columnist, the Bible says, ‘YES,’ but is this what Scripture really says?
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” There are probably about a million sermons to be preached from this one statement. It is chock-full of meaning and significance. Jesus is also the Word. In the original language, it is the word ‘logos’ meaning God speaks through the lifestyle and teachings of Jesus Christ. Our ability to understand and apply the Word of God will always lead us in the way of truth and abundant life. Misunderstanding or misappropriating the Word of God is like a highway without directional signs. We think we are going the right direction, but we are only getting lost.
This is the case with an article in the San Antonio Express News by Ruben Navarrette. The heart of the article is in the right place, but the misappropriation of Scripture is something that is causing the Christian population of our nation take a road without signs. Should the US government take care of immigrants at the border?
In his article, WWJD about border? Bible doesn’t say ‘shrug,’ Navarette does what so many have done, he uses Scripture to justify political policy as if the commands of Christ apply to the government.
Navarette quotes Scripture of how we, as believers, are to treat the poor, the downtrodden, and the stranger. But his article is in response to a poll taken by the Pew Research Center that specifically asks if the United States (government) has responsibility to accept and care for refugees. The poll was taken in response to the border crisis we are seeing in the news almost daily. The poll, according to Navarette shows that unbelievers and other “religiously unaffiliated” respondents were more than twice as likely to say the government is responsible for those coming to our Southern border. The insinuation is that Christians are not following Scripture if they do not support the stance that our government should take in and care for the caravans coming to the border. He quotes the following Scriptures:
Matthew 25:35-36: For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
Leviticus 19:34: The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
Jeremiah 22:3: This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.
These are FANTASTIC scriptures and, as believers, we should live by these. Ministering to the ‘least of these’ in our society should be a regular practice among Christians. I have no problem with these Bible verses. I have no problem with the government helping people in need. My problem is using Scripture to manipulate Christians in supporting any policy because it is the “Christian” thing to do. Hmmm…I know that statement stopped some of you in your tracks and you are asking, “What’s wrong if the government does some things to help the ‘least of these.’
Well…there is nothing wrong with the government helping in these ways, but should the US government take care of immigrants at the border My problem is with the premise of this notion. You see, our government cannot carry out the commands of Christ. The Government cannot love and all of the commands of Christ are based on love. Jesus said that if we want to obey all the law, then we love God with all of our hearts and love our neighbor as our self. We might be quick to say that some government policies are loving to those they help. But if we dig deeper, we will find the government policies are not loving because love requires allowances that the law will not give.
For example, when President Trump issues a travel ban from certain countries, some people said it was a good thing because the majority of terrorists were coming from those countries. And as far as I can see, this was true. The law designed was designed to protect and, if you will love American citizens. However, would this law be loving to an American citizen who had family in one of these countries attempting to escape radical Islamists? Of course not. But keeping out terrorists determined to kill Americans was a ‘loving’ thought. But as you can see, laws do not love because each person and each situation is unique.
Many parents would understand that they do not parent their children all the same. One child may need strict structure to keep them out of trouble, but another child in the same family might feel smothered by this same structure to the point they rebel. What was loving for one child might not be loving for another.
The Scriptures quoted by Mr. Navarette do not stand alone. Along with those he quoted, we have Scripture that teaches us that taking advantage of someone or something is not good. The Bible says we are not to cast our pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). In other words, do not give good gifts to people who will not be grateful for what has been given to them. The Bible also teaches that if people who are able to work, choose not to, they should not be given charity (2 Thessalonians 3:10). It is loving to give to those who will appreciate it and not take advantage. It is not loving to allow people to be ungrateful and take advantage. These are matters of the heart. Only one heart can know another well enough to know if they are grateful or if they will take advantage. Governments do not know people’s hearts.
Governments set policy regardless of heart issues. I have known people who truly needed government assistance. They used the help to better themselves and now they help others. At the time, they were receiving assistance, they could have used more than what they got. But I know others who abuse the system and take what the government is giving as a means of doing nothing to better themselves. Is it loving to allow this to go on? No, but unless the government is going to assign an FBI agent to every welfare recipient to follow them around for days and months to determine their attitude toward the gifts they have been given, governments will never be able to truly ‘love.’ Government policies will always help some and hurt others. The commands of Christ are for believers to guide their interactions with others and with God.
As individual Christians, we should use our faith to vote for those politicians we believe will do the most good as we understand Biblical goodness. But if the church ever becomes convinced that the poor, downtrodden, strangers, and foreigners are the responsibility of the US government, we would have to demand higher taxes to care for all who need care. Again, some of you might not have an issue with this and frankly, I wouldn’t either if our government was a theocracy guided completely by the Bible, but it’s not. So the taxes used to care for the poor are also funding abortion clinics, sending men and women into unnecessary, political wars, supporting art that denigrates Jesus Christ, removing the Ten Commandments from courthouses, forbidding teachers to pray, advocating evolution with no consideration of creationism, restricting the teaching of Scripture, and more.
I think we could say that the government of the United States was founded on Christian principles, but we cannot say that the US government is a Christian institution and it never will be. It is good for the government to help those in need. So, as believers, we must work within our government to help our nation move more toward the teachings of Christ, but we must beware of being manipulated to support any government policy by those who would misuse Scriptures to convince us a government should follow one command of Christ while ignoring so many others. This is a road that leads to nowhere.
What do you think?