Border Wall, the Bible, and the Government Shutdown

A Border Patrol officer makes his rounds near central El Paso on December 23, 2018. 

Tom and I are currently in the fifth week of the government shutdown with little end in sight.  I feel that a border wall is a useless waste of money.  Let’s invest in more agents and better technology for our border security.  Holding government workers as hostages in a battle over whether to build this wall is an immoral crime.  This seems like a very reasonable and logical point of view to me.  But not everyone shares my views on the border wall.

Here in Georgia, when Tom and I have conversations with people, they surprise us by supporting Trump’s shutdown and supporting a border wall.  Even at church, people say the shutdown is the right move until the wall gets built.  There is absolutely no compassion for all the people who are being hurt by the shutdown or by our refusal to allow refugees to enter our country.  One woman was particularly clear in her statement “Democrats care more about them (refugees and immigrants) than they do about us.”

I have been thinking about that statement for days because it goes against everything I believe as a Christian.  Jesus welcomed everyone, to the scandal and discomfort of those who were wealthy and religious.  Jesus tore down walls and barriers.  He talked to Samaritans and welcomed Romans.  A tax collector was one of his disciples.  He taught women as well as men.  Here is a link to a clear discussion of the issue.

And the Bible is pretty clear about how we are supposed to treat refugees and immigrants also.  You can read a list of 30 verses here.  Some of the verses I find convicting:

Cursed is anyone who withholds justice from the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow.  Deuteronomy 27:19
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.  Matthew 25:35
This is what the LORD Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.  Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’  Zechariah 7:9-10
For me the real issue seems to be this idea of “us versus them.”  I cannot see the world in this way.  I am a citizen of heaven, not just a citizen of the United States.  Jesus calls us to treat all people with love, compassion, and empathy.  He tells us to welcome everyone into his kingdom, not to put up walls to keep people out.  When we divide things into an “us” and “them,” we are operating from a view of scarcity opposed to God’s abundant love.
To me, some of the most powerful words in the New Testament are from Galatians 3.  “23 Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed,and heirs according to the promise.”

Now that faith has come, we do not need a guardian or a border wall.  We are all one in the eyes of Christ Jesus.  May the Church begin to practice the love that Jesus Christ taught and lived.

 

  • Kristin Burkey

    I agree with you, Karen. Unfortunately, the political climate today suggests that this shutdown is going to continue for a long time. We talk about barriers going up on a weekend remembering MLK, a man who was all about breaking down barriers.

    • revkaren54

      I couldn’t believe Pence compare Trump to MLK Jr. We live in crazy times.

  • Kristine Moye

    Amen to that! We need laws, I would not want to live in a lawless land, but it is not right when those laws oppress entire groups of people. I pray to see God’s teaching of love and kindness prevail.

    • revkaren54

      Laws are important as long as they are enforced the same for all people regardless differences such as color, gender, or sexual orientation. Amen to your prayer.

  • Ronn Cort

    Interestingly, I sat with a group of 20-somethings yesterday afternoon, some of them from Hope College, a Christian college. It was a lively discussion about the shutdown. The conversation moved from politics to a conversation about compassion. Sadly, the most compassionate group were the ones that were NOT part of any organized religion. The ones that were going to the “Christian-values” school were surprisingly intolerant. They were “well armed” with bible verse, but that was exactly how it felt – armed. After they left, the remaining group was lamenting that the REAL problem with compassion was organized religion and not lack of compassion. I tried to explain that there are “good people on both sides” (which got a laugh), but I worry about the strength of the message when Christians support such heinous ideas as building walls, fear, and using people as pawns. How does that help the church grow? I struggle with that in my own journey, but these kids (all wonderful, caring souls from what I could tell), see organized religion as part of the problem and not part of the solution. I think Christians have to work doubly hard to share Christ’s message, especially if people think Christians are part of the problem instead of part of the solution. Thanks for being crystal clear on your position, Karen. I wish our local church leaders would demonstrate similar leadership.

    • revkaren54

      It is so sad when Christians are the ones standing in the way to our witness for Christ. I have never understood evangelical Christianity’s “we’ve got ours but you can’t have yours” mentality. I’m glad you were able to engage with this group of young people. I hope they learned as much from you as I’m sure you did from them.