June 20, 2018

On the separation of families at the border ...

In 2014, I visited the Rio Grande valley region to see for myself what was going on with unaccompanied minors crossing the border (see photo below). McAllen, Texas was not so different than other border towns I've been to. Complicated. When you are at arms reach, it is harder to dehumanize each other in the way public immigration debates do by those pontificating from a distance. I grew up in San Diego, CA. I have watched our relationship with border crossers change over decades. Mostly in demonizing ways that are not Christian and are politically short-sited. I've never been quiet about my views but I'm increasingly reluctant to view social debates as productive. Nonetheless, several friends encouraged me to say something regarding what is currently going on along our border, as well as, speak to how Scripture has been framed around this debate. A video seemed the most expedient delivery system. Below is also the gist of what I address in the video written out, along with links to resources.

My friend, Dongbo Wang, me, Sister Sherry and a young border crosser in 2014.
The separating of families is atrocious. What is also troubling is how the Christian faith, the Bible in particular, is being used in ways that are confusing people and misrepresenting Christianity.

So, I thought I'd offer my perspective and provide some pointers for thinking and acting around this issue.

First, I make it a discipline to read through the Bible every year. In part, because I have grown to believe how dangerous it can become when we site verses that appear to imply one thing out of context yet when read within the entire passage, teach us something else. I want to understand as best as I can the entirety of what the Spirit of God is conveying through this story, this guide we call the Bible. The trouble with what public officials have said is that they are pulling words from Scripture, out of context.

The Bible speaks of immigrants a lot! I counted almost 100 times in the Old Testament alone. It speaks of following the law of the land far less and those passages are debatable. Christianity is not a faith that puts abiding by the law of the land above love and care of our neighbor, the immigrant, the poor ... and even our enemy.

Christians are first and foremost called to love God with every fiber of our being and care for our neighbor as we would care for ourselves. Jesus teaches us that everything else hinges upon this. That means, that when the law does not allow for care for our neighbor and expressing our affection for our Maker, we do it anyways.

So, in this current situation along the border here's what you can do:

Assist migrants.
There are always organizations providing physical and legal aide to migrants. Here are a few:

Advocate for migrants.
Communicate with your representatives letting them know that, as a Christian, you think these policies are wrong.

  1. Find out who your representatives and senators are (Texans, click here)
  2. Call their office (this is more effective than emails)
  3. Do not leave a message with a staff person, ask to leave a message in the "constituent voice mail box"
  4. Speak up for bills such as this, this and this that might change laws of the land.
  5. Vote!
  6. Participate in one of the many events across the country on June 30

As Christians, we actually believe prayer impacts things and maybe most importantly changes us.

From the Book of Common Prayer:
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O Lord our Governor, bless the leaders of our land, that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to other nations of the earth. Lord, keep this nation under your care.

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