Nobody is perfect; I’m one of the furthest from it. I choose mainly not to preach or proselytize for that reason. I am not the most pious or devoted. I fail and sin continuously, and probably don’t even acknowledge that enough. I’m not in the pew every Sunday morning. You get the point. However, there is an open (frequently read) Bible on the table in my hallway and I think it’s great that our next Secretary of Agriculture once prayed for rain. I bet he didn’t just do it once; I’ve done it many times. I don’t mind talking about Jesus if somebody wants to. I simply believe religion is personal, and I know where I stand.
Everyone is also entitled to his/her own opinion and entitled to the right to express that opinion (God, I love the 1st Amendment). I love civil discourse. I think it is one of the things we are lacking in America. We talk AT each other. We yell AT each other. We debate AT each other. We no longer do any of those important things WITH each other. I choose to allow open and heated (but respectful) discussion on my posts for that reason. I want people to hear the other side. I want the bubble to pop. I want differences of opinion to be explored and I like being able to honestly say “Hey, I never thought of it that way.”
With all of that being said though, there are just some days when I understand Gandhi more than others. You know the famous line: ‘I love your Christ, not your Christians, they are so unlike your Christ.’ I get it in my gut. (Look up “splagchnizomai” if you’ve never heard of it). I love politics, elections, current events, and hot-button discussion as much as anybody, but there are times that even I get disgusted with it all. Plain and simple. The confluence of events this week has brought me to one of those times.
On one hand, I genuinely LOVED seeing all the pro-life posts, and the shares about the #MarchForLife and how #AllLivesMatter, and the love pouring out for those without a voice (Matthew might call them “the least of these…”). I was proudly endorsed by the Georgia Right to Life in the State House campaign that I ran. I confess to not even favoring the widely favored rape/incest exceptions, but that’s for another day. The point is, the #MarchForLife was peaceful, soulful, and beautiful in my eyes. My beliefs in this area are deeply rooted in faith and a love for God’s creation.
On the other hand, subsequently seeing the sometimes vicious, frequently misleading, and often fear-driven posts about immigrants and refugees (who Matthew may have also described in those same terms) sort of destroyed that warm and fuzzy feeling. I saw the same good people who had been post-stumping about life and human dignity and God’s creations, denigrating and generalizing an entire group of God’s creations. They justified their feelings with broad-brush terrorism fear (even though you’re more likely to die from a white, home-grown killer…or the blades of your lawnmower…than at the hands of a terrorist). You can post all the cute memes you want to about “locking your doors” at night being just like the border, because that’s a lot easier (and lazier) than talking about how you’re most likely to be killed by a family member in a domestic dispute but you don’t request your husband or wife be preemptively put in jail… but I digress.
To them it seemed that, on one hand, human dignity should get the utmost respect no matter the circumstance. On the other, they’re not part of us and we have a right to protect ourselves from our fear because they might do something bad and we must have impenetrable borders. They must not have read Isaiah, at least not 41:10; or Job 31:32; or Matthew 25:35; or 3 John 1:5; or Deuteronomy 10:19; or Hebrews 13:2.
I couldn’t understand it. I could not see how they could not see the connection in the two things. I still do not. When you turn away refugees or demean immigrants, might it be because you see them as non-Americans, instead of your brothers/sisters? Mother Teresa said (and I’m paraphrasing) to imagine what the world would be like if we treated every person we encountered as if he/she was Jesus Christ himself.
I actually read a confusing, disheartening article today from a Christian religious “scholar”, defending the treatment of refugees by comparing them to a stranger at his front door. He had prioritized security over compassion, as is easy to do. He spoke of how he would make this person sit outside, in the cold, on the porch, and then “interrogate” him, while following up his conditional invitation in with a discussion of how much he loves guns. I tried my best to imagine those words in red letters… but they didn’t quite fit. (*Disclaimer: I guess I could’ve missed the interrogation and firearms part of the Good Samaritan Parable, but I looked it up again…and …yeah…) It’s almost as if it’s easy to say “we believe the teachings of Jesus, until it comes to real-world application, then they just don’t work.”
I’m not naïve enough to believe that everyone will ever agree on this topic, but my distaste has been for those who act like either are cut-and-dry. I understand you can’t help everybody, and I’m just as guilty as those of you whose blood is boiling reading this. My issue is the flippancy with which we talk about some issues but not others. Life is life; none more important than another. Many pro-lifers are guilty of totally tuning out pro-choice people (or worse, calling them “murderers”), but they don’t adhere to the same stringency belief when confronted with scriptures or teaching about immigrants or strangers or foreigners. THEN, all of the sudden, it’s a murky issue with no simple answer. The terrified 16 year old, raped and pregnant, thinks of abortion no more “simply” than you think of the “scary” refugee at the national border. Each is human. Each is life.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not advocating for open borders, or a singular North America, and I think cities that choose to be sanctuary cities are free to do so, but not with federal funding. Don’t even throw that crap at me. You want more funding for border patrol? I’m with you. You want immigrants to learn English, and pay a trackable, back-tax penalty? I’m on board. You want refugees properly vetted and placed where they can become productive citizens? They are. I’m simply saying that we could all stand to be a little more thoughtful when weaving our national character into our laws and policies. The world extends past our borders. When you campaign in generalities, and try to govern the same way, you end up with pandemonium. We can’t just close shop and stand alone, consequences be damned. Stop pretending these answers are easy or that we aren’t talking about “life” in both circumstances.
Can’t there possibly be a middle ground where we can remain a safe nation, without choking out the light of the torch that Lady Liberty holds? “Different” is not the enemy. The piss-poor executive implementation we witnessed this weekend only contributed to an “us versus them” fervor. We can be secure and be sensible at the same time. This post doesn’t have all the answers; it isn’t a policy prescription. The Bible and political issues don’t always easily conflate 100 percent, with all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted. This is truly just an expression of frustration, and wrangling with these issues, over the fact that some people could either stand to be a little more thoughtful or at least a little more honest in their beliefs and statements.
Deep down, this isn’t even about people who only believe in religious liberty if it’s THEIR religion, and it’s not just about a specific (chaotic, short-sighted) executive order, or an insane 20% tax on imports to build an unfunded wall (for which the American taxpayer, $18 trillion in debt, will pay…not Mexico). For me, it’s much broader. It is visceral. It’s about our character. It is about sensible, compassionate conservatism. It’s about how we act individually as human beings (embryonic and adult) with our brothers and sisters, and collectively as a nation with our friends and allies (immigrant, refugee, or citizen).
My liberal friends will hate some things about this article; my conservative friends will hate some things about this article. It will frustrate some more than others… and that’s okay. For me, it just would’ve been helpful and eye-opening if some of the folks who shared all the #MarchForLife posts had just been straightforward about it, and specified that they were truly only pro-(unborn American)-lives.