I am so sick of people trying to use scripture to defend the deplorable actions by our government. Yesterday, 600 members of the United Methodist Church filed a complaint against church member Jeff Sessions for violating church rules (by using Romans 13 to justify separation of families at the border). Several other large church organizations have come out against the Administration’s zero-tolerance policy YAY. CHURCHES! Right? Well, I have actually seen it be suggested, by more than one person, that the church should actually be directing their admonishment toward anyone who would want to come to the country. They need to STOP doing it and then their kids won’t be taken away.
Okay, let’s talk scripture for a minute or two, shall we?
Genesis 46: Jacob’s journey to Egypt. He was a father whose children were hungry and went in search of food for them. It’s a migration story.
Exodus All of it. There’s an ENTIRE BOOK on the migration of people seeking freedom from oppression.
Psalm 137: is a tortured lament inspired by searing experiences of migration. “By the rivers of Babylon there we sat and there we wept when we remembered Zion”.
Luke 10: The parable of the Good Samaritan – it’s a literal border story….Jesus makes the case that we should treat our neighbors from other countries well. And by the way, similar stories exist in other faith traditions.
Jesus and the early Christian Community were mostly homeless. Jesus was born on the road when his parents were forced to return to Bethlehem. Then they had to flee to Egypt to escape a crazy leader. The Gospels all portray an adult Jesus as itinerant. And Acts portrays the early Christians as beleaguered, scattered people who were violently persecuted.
I’m not even going to go down the road of twisting Romans 13 to try to justify an authoritarian rule. I will say this though: Paul was not exactly somebody who obeyed civil authority (I mean, come on….do you even KNOW Paul?). And he didn’t suggest that the state must always and absolutely be obeyed. He urged his readers to be subject “insofar as conscience allows”. Paul was imprisoned and eventually put to death because his conscience was in direct conflict with Roman law. So there’s that.
Biblical history is full of stories marked by migration. It’s almost as if God was trying to teach us something.