I’m struggling with the implementation of the immigration policy that has resulted in the separation of approximately 2000 children from their parents. I’m struggling for a variety of reasons.
First, that we have a law that allows for this to happen and that this law has been the law of the land for several years. I had no idea that this was the law. It is immoral. These are not violent criminals we are talking about. Often these are asylum seekers – people who left places because their life was in danger only to find the life of their families in danger by coming here.
Why? Because we have to carry out the laws? Except our government has never carried out all of our laws. The current administration previously stated that it would not carry out the laws related to Obamacare. So why this law and not that one?
I’m struggling with the Attorney General citing the Bible, all with a smile, as a justification for carrying out this law. This is the same reasoning that tyrants have used throughout history to gain compliance from people. It is the same reasoning that the South used to support the laws of slavery. And it’s completely out of context – using the Bible as a weapon of mass destruction, rather than something that is life-giving.
I’m struggling with other things that go beyond this one decision. Why is it that children are always the ones to suffer from immoral policies? Is it because they are truly powerless?
Immigration laws that separate families make no sense. Unless we are using children as a pawn, a deterrent. But why are the powerless used at all? Are they pawns in a game or human beings?
Shootings at schools go on and children die – the least and the powerless suffer. And they are used in a debate about the laws pertaining to guns – what should be legal and what should not. Any action is held hostage to the whims of those with power. And we wait for the next shooting and the body count that will go with it. It’s just a number after all. And we aren’t serious about an actual change if it has financial (fundraising) implications, or forces the powerful to acknowledge the least among us – or give voice to them as if they matter.
Why is it that the youngest, the most defenseless, are the ones that always suffer at the hands of the powerful?
While abortion is a topic that is extremely divisive to even bring up, the least and most vulnerable suffer. Regardless of your stand on abortion – the legality of it – can you see that there are victims in this tragic decision? The tragedy starts well before the final act and leaves emotional scars the we are not open to offering healing, forgiveness, or help that might change lives, rather than end them. Instead we offer shame and demand silence of the women who suffer, forcing them to continue to be punished and alone. After all there is a whole lot of money to be made from this divisive issue – campaign funds are easier to come by from controversial and emotional issues after all. The women and who they carry become pawns in a fundraising scheme for the decision makers.
Why are the least and the powerless, the most vulnerable, used as pawns?
There are no simple answers to this. And it is not new.
King Herod was upset about a child being born – the newborn King of the Jews. Someone who he thought would usurp his power. So he had to strike. And strike he did – at the least and the most vulnerable – children. He slaughtered all the male babies two years old and younger.
The least and the most vulnerable suffer at the hands of the powerful. Always.
Do the powerful fear children so much that they are willing to kill them? According to history that seems to be the case. Power is a hungry idol that demands human sacrifice.
Do the powerful fear the most vulnerable that they are willing to allow terrible things to happen to them? Apparently. Power is such that is lonely and has no use for koinonia (community). It only believes in the self.
Do the powerful fear the children that they are willing to enforce an immoral law? It wouldn’t be the first. Nor will it be the last.
And the good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. None of it has to. None of this is set in stone. Laws can change. It really isn’t that difficult. What is difficult is the will to change – the will to empower the powerless.
God presents an alternative to this way of life – not just for us individually, but as a society and how we govern. God’s way isn’t a top-down, do this or else, type of way of governing. God is a bottom-up God. God is one who is incarnate and walks with the least and the most vulnerable. We see this in the example of Jesus. God isn’t just a God of Law, but also of Gospel – Good News. That the captives will be set free. That the hungry will be fed. That the last shall be first.
I believe in a different way for this world. A way that is guided by the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes. A way that is guided by Jesus command to tend to the least and the most vulnerable. A way this guided by both the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures that call on us to love our neighbors, our enemies – all people. A way that is summed up in two words – Koinonia (Community) and Shalom (Wholeness). A way that isn’t interested in using force to get its way, but lives by something else that Paul wrote
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging symbol. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-13, NRSV)
Our world doesn’t have to be this way. God offers us an alternative – one that is actually unfolding before us. God invites us to participate in this unfolding. God gives us the faith to participate in it.
Sometimes it can be difficult to see this way unfolding. But thankfully, as we were reminded this Sunday – We walk by faith, and not by sight.
Let us walk in the way of the Lord, not in the way of the powerful. Their way doesn’t work. It never has. It always leaves a trail of suffering and death.
There is an alternative. The path is set before us. Let us take this path. Let us walk together and not look back.