Love thy Immigrant Neighbor

Children are being separated from their parents at the U.S./Mexico border.

Full stop.

Honestly, this should be all this blog post needs to say to make the point I’m going to try to make.

Before I engage in the moral reprehensibility here, I want to refute some the rhetoric which has become way too common on most, if not all, social media platforms.

First, we do not separate children from parents who break the law in the same way it is happening at the border. This is a ludicrous comparison and with any thought at all – like, at all – we’d see why. Here are a few reasons: a) We do not take children from parents who commit a misdemeanor and put them in tents with several rows of dog cages. b) Children are allowed to see their parents even if they have been incarcerated. c) Children are allowed to go and live with another parent or next of kin. These are NOT the conditions at the border.

Second, it does not at all – at all – matter who’s policy it was first. Just because you can produce factual information that Clinton signed the law into being in 1997 doesn’t excuse the inhumanity being displayed here. This is a diversion tactic allowing us to not engage.

Who is my neighbor?

What has become most unsettling to me during the last few days is how we have allowed our political affiliation to direct our morality. Some say, “I am a republican so what is happening is right no matter how inhumane. Anyone who disagrees is a Democrat.” This is perhaps even a bigger issue than border crossings because this likely won’t change regardless of policy. Our political party is giving us permission to look past people being treated as sub-human.

Not surprisingly, first-century Palestine suffered these same problems. The Jews felt entitled to their sliver of land even though they were being oppressed and occupied by Rome and since it was not all that easy to kick out the superpower that was Rome, they oftentimes directed their angst to other outsiders; one of whom was the Samaritan people. A couple hundred years before Jesus, there was a sect of Jewish people who split off over disagreements on where the holy temple/place should be. The split would eventually become a wide chasm and tensions ran incredibly high between Israel and Samaria. To be clear, I’m not talking about tension we feel on Saturdays when our two teams play football. I’m talking about an extreme hatred.

One afternoon Jesus was teaching and someone asked him what was the greatest commandment. Jesus responds “Love God and love neighbor.” Someone in the crowd decided to put Jesus to the test and asks him, “Who is my neighbor?” In other words, who am I supposed to love? Perhaps there was someone from the “other” group in the crowd this person was trying to passive-aggressively put down. Or maybe this person was seeking justification for being a jerk to someone earlier in the day. Regardless, Jesus doesn’t flinch. He responds by telling the story of someone being mugged and left for dead on a sketchy road in ‘that’ part of town. Continuing the thought, Jesus tells how two religious leaders come upon the man, pull their cloaks up a little tighter, walk to the other side of the road, and pass by. Here is where the story gets interesting. A Samaritan comes upon the man and in what would have been a stunning turn of events, the Samaritan stops to help.

The point Jesus is making here is regardless of political, racial, or religious differences, life matters. If we see someone in need, perhaps struggling with their lives and we don’t help them, we are wrong. Taking immigrant families and ripping them apart is subjecting children to unnecessary fear and grief. If you want to have tough borders, fine. But don’t do it like this. Maybe we could stop them, feed them, and send them back. It almost seems like the least we could do.

You were strangers too.

I have been wondering how we as a country can just be a little kinder to people. Just imagine what the world would be like if we just took every opportunity to be nice. Regardless, there is a moment in the book of Exodus where Israel is leaving Egypt to head into what is modern day Israel. Before they enter the land God says to them, “You must not exploit or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” 

What if it was as simple as humbling ourselves and realizing we too were once immigrants? This country was not our birthright in the beginning. In fact, we were kind of jerks and took it from other people (maybe WE SHOULD APOLOGIZE… but that’s a different post).

The bottom line is this; love thy immigrant neighbor.

What does love require of you?

the thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog or not necessarily the thoughts and opinions expressed by beachside community church or npsp.