There’s been a ton of memes going around and articles and name calling on all sides of this Syrian refugee issue. These will just be a few observations from little ol’ me.
I am prepared this Thanksgiving season for two main ironies (not that there won’t be more, I’m sure, but these will be in context of this article).
First irony – those who passionately oppose the Syrian refugees coming into our country on the possibility that terrorists might get in and yet celebrating a holiday where the Pilgrims were saved by native peoples and everyone supposedly learned to get along.
Second irony – those who passionately oppose any arguments against allowing Syrian refugees. These will quote scripture, even, shaming any and all who question vetting methods, etc. And they will also be the ones who in the past, or even this holiday season, will post articles detailing how evil and horrible those Pilgrims are and how those Pilgrims raped and pillaged and destroyed a great culture.
On the issue as a whole: I don’t see a preponderance of conservative Christians trying to keep out Syrian refugees altogether. I’m not saying I agree with the idea we need better vetting, but that’s been the main concern. Many of the Republican candidates have used the refugee issue as talking point and gone more radical on this issue than even many conservative Christians are comfortable with. Every potential candidate has the right to their beliefs and opinions, but they are placing doubt in some of their traditional voting base by reacting in a more extreme sense.
The only other observation I have are with those that argue that it is Christian to take care of refugees and use the Bible to make this argument. I agree, to a point. From the Old Testament to the New, the idea of taking care of the stranger or those in need (pure religion is orphans and widows, that kind of thing) is absolutely consistent.
Two things, though. On the one hand, I find it interesting how many publicly shaming other Christians with scripture from the Old and New Testament are also the ones who, when a conservative quotes a scripture clearly supporting something against the liberal position, the answer will invariably be, “Oh, and the Old Testament says _________________(some harsh thing about stoning or something), do we do that, too?” And refuse to address said issue reasonably.
On the other hand, if we bring in the Bible, then let’s be biblical. All those scriptures are teachings to individuals to open their homes, their lives, their own pocketbooks to show compassion. There was no expectation that a larger, central authority would carry out these mandates (whether the nation of Israel or Rome, also a republic, under NT teaching).
It is bad biblical teaching that we take what is clearly directed as individual and voluntary morality and then apply it to a large institution.
The point, in all of that teaching, is relationship. If we believe the Bible, then the design is that we personally get involved by inviting refugees, the poor, those in need, into our lives and care for them. In that personal relationship, then transformation happens. A terrorist will not change because of institutional policy, even good or bad. He or she is more likely to change if someone takes them into their home, feeds them, clothes them, and shows them love. That’s the design, and I will always support that, as dangerous as it may or may not be, because that is the Kingdom.