Family, Faith and Politics in the Wee Hours

Recently, we had the privilege of and extended visit with several extended family members. For a little over a week, they stayed here at the house, and we had some time to catch up a little bit.
We had dozens of conversations, some of which lasted until late into the night. It was a week of the old, unhealthy way of living to which I am prone by nature of my upbringing and natural wiring. I come from a family of night owls. It was worth it to spend a week like that, because it is so rare, and I don’t know how many more opportunities like that we’ll have on earth. But I am still tired…
Many of the conversations we had, though not all of them, had to do, in one way or another, with the broad subject of Christian faith and politics. There were several times when I found myself arguing with one, two or three of my family members. This is what we do. It was fun… usually. 🙂

One night, we were discussing the problem of immigration. (These family members are from Arizona and have had a front row seat to the specific situation which is going on down there now.) I did not disagree with what they said so much as with how they said it. All the talk was about “our country,” what “we” should do about “them,” and so forth.
My argument was that we should be thinking and speaking as Christians, rather than as Americans. I argued that, if we did so, we would be keeping in the forefront of our minds the fact that we are called to identify with the stranger and the alien. It seemed to me that, whatever conclusions we draw regarding immigration policy in the US, it should be obvious to us and to others that love is the driving force behind all our thought. If we think as Christians and speak in love, and then arrive at the same conclusions, then so be it. But until we do that, none of our conclusions or the thought processes which lead us to them should be trusted. And for my part, I am quite ready to have Christian thought and a heart of God’s love lead me to conclusions that are “liberal” [GASP!], if that be the case.
At one point in this conversation, it was suggested that it was necessary, because of all the violent crime that comes into the US with immigrants from Mexico, to deport all illegals and seal off the border. I replied that such measures would not actually stop the crimes from happening; it would only make them happen in Mexico, rather than in the US. The response I received was basically one which said, “That’s their problem, not ours.” I questioned whether such an attitude shows the kind of love toward people that our God calls us to.

This is just one example of the many sorts of things which we bandied about over the course of about nine days. Hopefully, I’ll soon get a chance to write about more of the week. I love these guys! Although I’m glad to be getting a little more sleep, I already miss them.

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8 thoughts on “Family, Faith and Politics in the Wee Hours

  1. Yes, Yes, YES! Thank you for saying this. I think it needs to be said, and I think many Christians need to hear it. I get very weary when I hear Christians I know speak of illegal immigrants as “those illegals” (as if their illegal residence where the sum of their identity)! Whatever your belief about POLICY, we are called to speak with love.

    Saying things like, “we should shoot those illegals on sight” doesn’t sound very loving to me, frankly. And I hear a lot of conservative Christians use that type of language when addressing this issue. Furthermore, they seem to be PROUD of it, which concerns me. Perhaps they have adopted the belief that the highest form of love is “protecting your own”? Where did that come from, anyway, and how did it come to be associated with Christianity?

    Great thoughts, KC! I’d love to hear more! 🙂

    • Thanks, Beth!
      Here is an interesting website I found earlier today: http://faithandimmigration.org/
      The following is from their “ABOUT” page:
      Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform
      CCIR is a coalition of Christian organizations, churches, and leaders from across the theological and political spectrum, united in support of comprehensive U.S. immigration reform. We are working together to see fair and humane immigration reform enacted in Congress this year because we share a set of common moral and theological principles that compel us to love, care for, and seek justice for the stranger among us.
      We call for an end to the unproductive, divisive, and fear-driven anti-immigrant rhetoric in the media, which has often castigated all immigrants, regardless of citizenship status, and derailed attempts at true reform. As Christian leaders who share the biblical values named below, we commit to fostering civil dialogue on immigration in our churches and in our communities….
      Our shared principles include the following:
      • We believe all people, regardless of national origin or citizenship status, are made in the “image of God” and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect (Genesis 1:26-27, 9:6).
      • We believe there is an undeniable responsibility to love and show compassion for the stranger among us (Deuteronomy 10:18-19, Leviticus 19:33-34, Matthew 25:31-46).
      • We believe that immigrants are our neighbors, both literally and figuratively, and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves and show mercy to neighbors in need (Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:25-37).
      • We believe in the rule of law, but we also believe that we are to oppose unjust laws and systems that harm and oppress people made in God’s image, especially the vulnerable (Isaiah 10:1-4, Jeremiah 7:1-7, Acts 5:29, Romans 13:1-7).

      • Good stuff! I love the Biblical basis, and the spirit with which it seems to be written.

        Honestly, I tend to shy away from anything that has to do with policy change or political reform…I feel that I just don’t know enough, and feel overwhelmed by the competing needs of millions of people. I feel very strongly about having a Christ-like attitude and way of being. I could talk all day about love. Very well, but what is a Christian to DO about it? Do our best to love those around us and leave politics and law-making to others? Or attempt to be involved and reform the country into something that more closely resembles Christian values? It’s something I’ve wondered for a long time, but haven’t arrived at any solid opinion.

        I’d be interested to know what you think!

      • This touches on a discussion between Trent and me which went on in the ‘comments’ on my post about listening to the right and the left.
        It seems to me that Christians should be interested and involved in politics, but should not become politicized. By “politicized” I mean that we must not yield to the temptation to believe that it is in the politics of the land that we find our hope. Should Christians speak as Christians to society and culture? YES! Should we try to “win battles” in a culture war through the legislature and the courts? No, probably not. I find that sort of thing troubling on at least two levels. First, it claims territory not given to us by our Lord. America is not “our” country. Second, it appeals to earthly powers for judgment. We do not look to Congress, the courts, or even the Constitution to bring us what is good and right. We look to God for these things… or at least, we should.
        I would advocate a model along the lines of John Howard Yoder’s Christian Witness to the State. As I understand it, this basically means that, as Christians, we bear faithful testimony to our Lord as we speak to the state. We appeal to the state to listen to what God says through His word and His people. But we recognize the state’s right to be the state, rendering respectful obedience and service as much as we can… sort of like Daniel in Babylon.
        A big key in this, though, is that Christian individuals need to be acting in concert with one another as the body of Christ. It is the church, not Joe or Jane Christian, who is called to witness to the state. Among other things, this is why I’m generally not in favor of Christian bumper stickers. Whatever the specific message, bumper stickers tend merely to add to the idea that what we should do is express ourselves, rather than live as expressions of something bigger than ourselves.
        Well, I’m getting off-track now… Better stop here. 🙂

  2. A little light on the immigration situation:
    History shows us that mass immigration is usually from corrupt, dictatorial, despotic governments, yet those who come with respect for law, and order will wait to come in peace and a love for their new home. As we see in these United States our lack of virtue, and Godly morality is increasingly producing a government of that type as well. Yet, from such, we are to expect the greatest number of emigrants. They will bring with them the principles of the governments they leave, imbibed in their early youth; or, if able to throw them off, it will be in exchange for an unbounded licentiousness, passing, as is usual, from one extreme to another. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty which is a gift of God for a humble people that seek to obey God Almighty in the precious name of Jesus.. These principles, with their language, they will transmit to their children. In proportion to their numbers, they will share with us the legislation. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias its direction, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass. I may appeal to experience, during the present struggle, for a verification of these conjectures of mine that I share with many people that have been blessed with common sense also. But, if this surge be not certain in event, is it not possible, is it not probable? Is it not safer to wait with patience over a graduated time, for the attainment of any degree of population that is desired, or expected from another country much different from our own? May not our government be more homogeneous, more peaceable, more durable? Is the will of the people of this country not worthy to be listened to? Suppose 30 millions of conservative republican Americans were thrown all of a sudden into France, or Saudi Arabia, what would be the condition of that kingdom? If it would be more turbulent, less happy, less strong, we may believe that the addition of say 30 million of foreigners to our present numbers would produce a similar effect here. To say nothing of the fiscal irresponsibility of the situation. If they come of themselves with respect to the law, they are entitled to all the rights of citizenship: but I doubt the expediency of inviting them by extraordinary encouragements or common welfare bribes and the like…. Love, love, love . . . Yes! But let us use the common sense that our dear Lord gave us. If the oligarchy can keep the people confused and divided then we are feeding into their strategy. Again, we need to know where we stand. This is really not confusing at all!

    • Not confusing at all, huh?…
      Well, I have to be honest. I’m very confused by your comments here — simply because I don’t understand what you’re saying half the time.
      Here and there, I find some insightful ideas. For example, when you say “they will bring with them the principles of the governments they leave, imbibed in their early youth; or, if able to throw them off, it will be in exchange for an unbounded licentiousness, passing, as is usual, from one extreme to another. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty,” I can track with you and think: Hmm! Interesting point!
      But I get lost in the seemingly obfuscatory language of other things you say. For example, “I may appeal to experience, during the present struggle, for a verification of these conjectures of mine that I share with many people that have been blessed with common sense also. But, if this surge be not certain in event, is it not possible, is it not probable?” When I read this, I’m at a complete loss to understand what the heck you’re saying. 🙂
      Anyway, the bottom line of what I was getting at in my post was this: As Christians, we must first demonstrate that we are thinking, speaking and acting in the love of our Lord. Then we will be right to speak into issues like the immigration problem.
      I would also add this: I think too many American evangelicals, though they would never consciously admit to it, see themselves as nine-tenths American and one-tenth citizens of the kingdom of God. To put it in such terms (i.e. fractions or percentages) is crude, to be sure, but it will serve for the moment. It would be great if American evangelicals would just stop all political involvement long enough to get biblical clarity and reverse those amounts. Once they begin to see themselves as nine-tenths Christian and only one-tenth American (again, a crude picture), they would be more fit to engage culture and politics.
      In terms of the specific immigration issue, we would then see “us” as being the Christians on both sides of the geo-political border and “them” as those on both sides of the border who do not (as yet) belong to God’s kingdom as children by faith in Christ. It is precisely confusion on this point that has led to the scandal of Christians killing Christians in battle in the name of their earthly states.
      I’m getting off into another area… Better quit here for now… 🙂

  3. Hello My Dear Cousin;
    Thanks for the acknowledgment, sorry I was not able bring my act to town to wow the circus goers. Yes, I am exercising a little literary license here too, I have been wondering lately in this increasingly illiterate world whether my license might expire soon. I know, bad jokes. Sometimes I come off like a poor man’s John Adams. I will . . . try to live more in the present, and sound more contemporary. I do enjoy celebrating their use of the language so. I will try to articulate those phrases for the layman as you must help me with that archaic language you refer to as Greek. Well that was fun. Thanks. Your point on 9/10 was just what I have been getting at in every response I have made. The Lord wants 10/10 of us to function in the Lord Jesus. Our obligations to our God include 1/10 Christian American citizen who upholds justice, and . . . You see The Lord has given me citizenship in Heaven, and their are manifold responsibilities that come with that privilege. To be succinct for the moment, I would describe one obligation to be standing with other citizens to uphold justice for all, to the best of our ability in truth, and while praying the Lord’s will be done. Some times that includes helping immigrants becoming citizens of these United States, and that always includes helping them become citizens of Heaven. Sometimes that includes upholding the laws of the land, and it always includes loving our brothers in Christ Jesus and standing together for truth, even if it means rebelling against King George III. The Holy Spirit will lead if we are willing to listen. Is it not apparent that we should not spend money that we do not have, and especially for those illegals who do not respect our law, and order enough to be legal, or want to become citizens. How does our Lord feel about people who have no interest in being citizens of Heaven who sit in our churches, and propagate beliefs He has not ordained? This is not confusing. Let us help people to understand these common sense things. As for Christians killing Christians there is much to discuss. It is a valid point to raise. Historically that has been christendom killing other christendom, or Christianity. I don’t think you will be killing any Mormans or evangelical Christians during your life, nor will I. The inquisitors killed Christians because they were only in christendom, not saved by faith. Let me know if I should further clarify. Fight the good fight, every minute, every day!

  4. P.S. Our hope is definitely not found in this earthly country, but in Christ Jesus who is coming again to finally redeem our rotting flesh. Yet this does not mean we are idle here, and let our talents go to waste. There is a balance. Cogently said of course, but you get the point.

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