Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, recently used a Bible verse to defend his department's policy of prosecuting those who cross the border from Mexico. I'm not going to put words in his mouth, but his narrow and select choice of scripture suggests that God supports the government in separating immigrant parents from their children.
"I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes," Sessions said during a speech to law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, IN. "Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent and fair application of the law is in itself a good and moral thing, and that protects the weak and protects the lawful."
Throughout world history, religion has been a moral compass and indicator for what's right and wrong for many people. People passionately disagree on exactly what impact religion has on the horrors we inflict on one another, but what is certain is that many people use the teachings of their particular sacred books of faith to justify and spread their messages. Christianity, specifically, has catalyzed events and movements and has been the deciding factor and indicator on the outcome of various historical situations.
What's happening at the border is inhumane, but what is more disturbing is that in 2018 we are continuing to justify decisions made in our government with the Bible.
I, as a Christian, know that my interpretation of the Bible will not be the same as the next person's interpretation; therefore, there are denominations of Christianity and a separation between the Catholic tradition, the Protestant tradition and many further sects that divided based on interpretation. However, there are overarching beliefs that cut across all denominations that still comprise of Christianity. This is not the first time the Bible is used to justify certain viewpoints while twisting the truth of the fundamental beliefs, so the words cater to the message being conveyed.
Slave owners and pro-slavery pastors used the text from Romans to justify the African slave trade up until the 19th century. Titus 2:9 was similarly popular, proclaiming, "Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them." Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States during the American Civil War, said that slavery "was established by decree of Almighty God . . . it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation." Even in modern day, the pastor of Appleby Baptist Church in Nacogdoches, Texas wrote on his website in 2013, only five years ago, that "the proof of the presence of God among the Israelites was the absence of the black skinned folk of Canaan." He said that God is a separator rather than a mixer, and interracial marriages are the work of the devil.
The Bible has even been used to justify the inferiority of women and domestic violence internationally. ABC in Australia did a story on the degradation and abuse of wives by male evangelical Christians. "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour." Ephesians 5: 22-23. "Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness I permit no woman to teach or have authority over a man; rather, she is to remain silent." 1 Timothy 2: 11-12. These scriptures taken completely out of context of the letter, and the historical context of the writers, skews theology and promotes literalistic thinking.
Sessions using Romans 13 to justify the decisions of our government (that is supposed to be "the separation of church and state") is wrong. Not just because of the actions taking place, but because Christians who follow God and read from the Bible know that it is immoral to use our holy book to erase and justify the images we see.
My pastor talked about this press conference with his congregation. After reading the verse that Sessions mentioned, he said, "Dude, read the rest of the chapter." After the portion of the text Sessions references from the chapter, the next few verses say this:
"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not covet,"[a] and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."[b] 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law." (Romans 13: 8-11)
Yes, the chapter does talk about abiding by the law of the government. Nobody is denying the fact that the Bible talks about paying taxes, and obeying the law and facing the consequences of breaking the law. But just as any great piece of literature all those aspects were in the introduction and body of the chapter. The conclusion of the chapter says "Love your neighbor as yourself." Other variations of that text include, "do unto others as you would do unto yourself," and "treat people the way you want to be treated."
The rhetoric being used to describe illegal immigration of Mexicans include "infested/infestation," and "these aren't people." Since when has it been Christian-like to dehumanize another person regardless of the events of past or present? If you don't call yourself a racist, why is it okay to group all people of a certain ethnicity together as "criminals" and "the problem in America."
Now, if you are a Trump supporter reading this article (and made it this far), I want to ask you a question: is he worth all the suffering our country is going through? The controversy, hate and the pain? Looking at the events, decisions, words and actions of the current administration, if you believe that he and the company he keeps is doing the best they can for this country, then I am sorry. This not a matter of whether you are a Republican or a Democrat. This is not a matter of whether you consider yourself liberal, moderate or conservative. This IS a matter of what is right and wrong for the betterment of ALL people, not just your friends and family. For many people, they cannot understand or agree with certain viewpoints because they have yet to experience or comprehend the feelings of the people offended and hurt. This is not their fault.
However, if you're going to call yourself a fellow Christian and tell me that the same Bible verse used to justify slavery is different from justifying the tearing away of children from the families is okay because "the law" demands it, then I will pray for you. I will not hate you, nor cut communication with you, but I will pray a special blessing on you because the God I serve is a God of love, mercy and compassion. The God I serve is a healer of families, a provider of better opportunities, and a protector of everyone. That's not what this country is exhibiting by choosing to align itself with my faith in a way that is immoral, and expecting me to agree with it. So, I will not excuse it, and neither should you.