It’s hard to know where to begin when the Attorney General sites scripture to justify separating children from their parents. I imagine the cries of both parents and children are breaking the heart of God, as we stray far from our values as a nation. There are no easy answers to the plight of refugees trying to flee violence in Central America. I don’t know what I would do in a similar situation facing immigrants coming to our southern border. My instinct is that I would try to find a safe place for my children and myself, wherever that safe place was.
The kindest thing one can say is that Jeff Sessions is confused in his understanding of the Romans 13 text that he quoted. The apostle Paul was encouraging new Christians in Rome to avoid doing anything that would cause trouble with Rome. At the same time, Paul was breaking laws that would have kept him from speaking about Jesus. There was a reason he kept getting arrested and put in jail. But, meanwhile he wrote this letter to the Christians in Rome and laid out the foundation of Christian Ethics. The entire twelveth chapter is all about how to live as a Christian. Some key verses include “Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply . . . keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.” (Romans 12:9-13 The Message Bible)
I find myself needing to pray harder in this season of our nation’s history. I really do fear for the soul of our nation, I fear that we will harden our hearts to the cries of God’s people. The outpouring, across the Christian spectrum, protesting the current border policy of taking children from their parents tells me that God’s heart is breaking with each child pulled from his/her parent’s arms. Real solutions to the immigration issues will only be found when we get to the source of why people are fleeing. Meanwhile, there is the word of God given to the Israelites as they entered the promised land, a part of our Judaeo-Christian heritage. “You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God . . .When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien ” Leviticus 19:10, 33 And from the New Testament book of James, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God. . . is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” Good words for us to remember and to live.