This is another example of serving two masters. There is absolutely nothing Christian about preventing a group of people from entering your land because of their beliefs or out of fear of injury resulting from their entry. There are many Christian groups all over the country who oppose the travel ban (WorldRelief.Org Letter) and there are many evangelical Christians who support it. This post by BaptistNews.com references a pew research center poll regarding Christians and their positions on certain political topics, such as the travel ban. Basically, 76% of white evangelical Christians and half of white protestants support the ban. Unaffiliated (24%) and Catholic Christians (36%) do not support the travel ban.
To me, this is a very clear example of politics influencing Christianity. I believe that Christianity should influence politics, politics should not influence Christianity. This doesn’t mean that Christians should be political, but rather our values as Christians need to be represented and voted for. As I’ve said before in previous political articles, political activism should be left to unbelievers. Politics is divisive and doesn’t align with our mission from Jesus. Another problem with Christians getting involved with political activism is that everyone has their own opinions, and some believe those opinions can be separate from their faith.
If you announce you are a Christian to the world and additionally announce a very controversial opinion, you just spoke on behalf of the entire Christian community. Whether you intend it or not, whether you like it or not, your words and your personal positions are combined with your Christian faith. That combination of opinion and faith is polluting our message. Even though there is a great deal of Christians who don’t believe as you do, the people we are trying to reach believe you speak for the Christian community. Those people who oppose your personal opinion will be less receptive to the message we are trying to deliver to them about Jesus and his teachings.
Christianity is about learning what Jesus believes and walking in his footsteps as best as we can. Our personal opinions don’t mean a great deal to the mission. Our opinions must come from the words of Jesus, from his teachings, and from the teachings of his disciples. If your public words are not supported by those words and you openly proclaim your Christianity, you are opposing Jesus and actively working against him. I don’t believe the ignorant will be judged harshly, but those who know what Jesus said and still hold a position not supported by the teachings of Jesus will be judged quite harshly.
So, as one always should look to when taking a Christian position, what does the bible say that is relevant to this modern day travel ban? Obviously my first thought was to search for foreigner references. Jesus and his disciples did not specifically mention foreigner as is mentioned many times in the Old Testament. However, there were a couple of relevant verses.
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
This story of a good samaritan sounds a lot like a refugee escaping a terrible situation in their homeland. This man was beaten, robbed and left for dead. Two men believing in the same God we do ignored him. The one who didn’t ignore the traveler was considered the right one. There was no mention of concern about that travelers intention, no stipulations put on the aid provided.
Jesus often mentioned loving your neighbor. So lets focus on that. Would a foreigner, or someone from another country coming into our country be considered a neighbor?
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Here Jesus says that you should love not only your neighbor, basically defined as fellow Israelites in the old testament, but you should also love your enemy. He says if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? This indicates he expects you to accept and welcome people not considered your people. This is where God’s expectation for you to love your neighbor shifts from loving only those who believe as you do to loving everyone.
An argument for why Jesus believes you should be welcoming to all could be what he says here:
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Jesus explains that the righteous aren’t the ones who need help, but rather the sinners are. Tax collectors, prostitutes, adulterers; these were all basically foreigners in this situation. Much like politicians want to ban groups of people because of their faith, religious figures tried to do the same in the time of Jesus to sinners.
There is no Christian support for preventing foreigners from entering your land out of fear or religious disagreements. The old testament treated foreigners differently, but often it was mentioned to treat foreigners justly and with kindness. Preventing entry based on faith alone is neither just nor kind.
So, you might be wondering what exactly triggered this…
The image used for this blog post is from that CNN article and all credit belongs to the original photographer and/or CNN.