There is a legitimate debate going on right now in the US over Syrian refugees. At least I am calling it legitimate. I have been surprised at how many don’t see any legitimacy in the debate because the answer (to them) is so obvious and simple. And I am not speaking about only one side, both sides “see” so clearly as to be dismissive, rude or accusatory to the “other” side. Barbie and I even had someone unfriend us yesterday because we would not enter into the bombastic and inflammatory manner they were taking. It wasn’t even that we disagreed with them but rather the rude and arrogant method of delivery.
So is this an Old Testament argument, a New Testament argument or somewhere in between. Some have tried to reduce the debate points down to “God is always Love” or “If you don’t protect those in your own family, your are worse than and unbeliever”. Both of those points are true but neither of them fully encompasses this debate. Please do not reduce the compassion for refugees or the security of the US to a “one liner”. Even between Barbie and I there are strong leanings to the different sides. And all of this speaks to me of a few things, patience, learning, listening, respect and most of all the Holy Spirit.
I will tell you that I am not the type to quickly to cut out of my Bible those parts in the Old Testament where, because of the evil of their religious practices, God ordered entire peoples destroyed to include women and children. But at the same time I will never discount the over arching theme in the New Testament that there is none beyond the reach of God’s love. Some might see these themes to be in contradiction. But because we also know that God never changes, we have to accept that in fact they are not in contradiction and we must wrestle with that reality and find the balance. Were those people destroyed because their spiritual DNA was so far gone that it had to be wiped out so it couldn’t spread? Could that then have been a loving thing to do to protect many future generations of God’s people from those evil influences in nearby villages. If that same story was repeated after Jesus’ sacrifice was made would God have ordered a different outcome. That may well be. In the NT we see Jesus telling a woman, properly sentenced to death for adultery, to go and stop doing it after her executioners leave. But later we witness God killing a husband and wife “just” for lying. Are you duly confused by now as to how God does things? (Isaiah 55:8)
On accepting refugees, Republicans are leaning to a pause or a big no which challenges Christians which probably lean more towards yes. Most Democrats along with Obama lean yes mocking Republicans as being afraid of widows and orphans. Yet it was a woman who blew herself up this morning in France wounding 5 officers and a special on PBS last night highlighted how ISIS is training kids as young as 4 to become jihadist. Then today in Turkey and Honduras there were 13 Syrians, with suspected ISIS ties, arrested while posing as refugees trying to get to Europe and North America. And consider our cherished value of “’Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” boldly inscribed on the Statue of Liberty combined with exhortations in scripture to take care of the poor and homeless (paraphrased) and you have the makings of a real dilemma.
I am not a bigot if I choose the safety of my family first and my wife is not naive if she leans towards opening our borders. But we both would show our shallowness if we were not able to listen to each other and with prayer and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit endeavor to flesh out God’s plan.
This is great risk either way. There is great risk if some of the refugees follow the likes of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Chechen refugee who came here as a little boy who was not radicalized and after his family began to follow the American dream he decided to bomb the Boston Marathon. And what are the risks if we close our borders? Perhaps that is a cost that will be felt in unknown ways other than terrorist attacks.
So if you are still determined to throw out your quippy one liners, then you really don’t understand or appreciate how complicated this discussion truly is. And if you are given pause by this Blog then join me and countless others in praying that God will give our leaders and our military the wisdom from on high to deal mercy and justice for all concerned.