Refugees, what’s to be done with them? And the temporary, selective travel ban . . . should we let them in or should we keep them out?
Nothing raises the temperature in the room as when the hard-edged realist meets the sanctimonious piety of the liberal Christian who shows up with her smiley-face emoticon and a “Jesus Loves You!” bumper sticker.
The first person justifies his lack of compassion by saying he’s just trying to bring order to this mad world as the second looks down with a moral squint from the high ground she has convinced herself she, Jesus, and a few other good people occupy.
Such is the current discussion among believers sparked by the latest Executive Order on all travel from terrorist hotspots, refugees or otherwise. KEEP THEM OUT! . . . WE MUST LET THEM IN. IT’S WHAT JESUS WOULD DO!
The default position of every true believer is already delineated in the Bible. It’s not complicated. It’s not unclear. There is simply no place for a lack of compassion in the life of a believer; witness the story of The Rich Man and Lazarus or the declaration of James 1:7, regarding orphans and widows. ‘Compassionate’ is the heart condition of a true believer who walks in the Spirit.
So, compassion or the lack thereof, isn’t really the issue. If you have no compassion, well, good luck in the latter day, explaining the logic of your position to God. At least you’ll have time on your hands and The Rich Man close by to listen to your well-honed arguments.
Applying the compassion every true believer has is where the real crux of the discussion about these – or any – refugees lay. But striving for a truly biblical position is different than the moral presumption of those who savage logic and biblical principles in the name of loving people.
Breathe one hint of evaluation of who should be let in or excluded from admission to the U.S. and Christians suddenly appear, reprimanding, with expressions of disbelief that anyone – anyone – could possibly be so cold, callous, uninformed, unchristian, bigoted, racist, xenophobic, etc. (these are actual words lifted from various posts on the topic)
I’m just ashamed of you! How could you? Where’s the love?
You see, you’re just supposed to love, which means, see it my way, let these people in without another word of discussion or you are a judgmental, unkind, unchristian, unloving, mean (pick another one) person.
And, really, who can argue with love like that?
This brand of Christian compassion has nothing, whatever, to do with what the Bible teaches or with an understanding of biblical principles.
Whenever a discussion begins, every Christian has one starting place. Christians who desire to influence others to their position or who challenge the ideas of others can only do so, legitimately, if they align their argument with what the Bible teaches. Granted, people can see things the Bible teaches differently, but that’s where reason and mature discourse come in.
In His Word, God says, Come, let us reason together, Isaiah 1:18. That’s interesting, isn’t it – God, inviting us to have a logical discussion?
Reason – biblical reason – is what is needed in the acrimonious debate over the placement of the Refugees. To reason, to consider facts, to assess risk, to guard yourself, your children, and your neighbor against terrorists does not reveal a lack of compassion. It’s Biblical.
But first, we need to light a straw man on fire and burn him to ashes. The very idea that refugees shouldn’t be welcomed into this country, period, is a straw man used to “prove” a lack of compassion on one side and genuine love and concern on the other.
No doubt there are people, somewhere, who believe no refugees should be admitted to the U.S., ever – that they should shift for themselves as best they can. This position is manifestly unbiblical. We are our brother’s keeper and are called on to meet the needs of the destitute. Jesus’ account in Matthew 25 removes any grey from the topic. So, get the matches. This straw man is going up in flames.
And yet, the same ardent tone leveled against the straw man is used against those who argue for the vetting of refugees and visitors from terrorist hotspots. They are accused, right along with the straw man, of being racists, bigots, fear-driven etc., etc.
Claiming the moral high ground by saying such things does not an argument make – at least an argument that will hold up to logical . . . and biblical scrutiny. Those against delaying admission until after thoroughly vetting the refugees (making as definitive assessment of their intentions as possible) have lost their capacity to think biblically, and are being driven by their emotions.
When truth dominates love, judgment follows but when love dominates truth, chaos follows. Truth and Love need each other.
Vetting people we do not know prior to making them our neighbors is neither unkind, unloving, or any of the epithets hurled against those who advocate the process. Preventing admission until after vetting unknown people is logical, reasonable, responsible, and a very loving thing to do for the neighbor you already have. But, it’s more than that. Vetting is a biblical practice. In fact, the Bible teaches you should vet people for a variety of things.
Many different kinds of vetting were commonly practiced in both the Old and New Testaments. Check out Joshua 9 where vetting foreigners miscarried and two men, posing as travelers from a distant country on the brink of destitution, deceived the border guards and tricked Joshua into a damaging treaty with his country’s enemies.
In the Church of the 1st Century, the commitment to care for the destitute was unquestioned, but showing up and declaring oneself a widow or looking needy was not enough for admittance to the Church’s welfare program. First, you were vetted. What were the criteria, outlined in 1 Timothy 5? Among other things . . .
- The woman must be over 60 years of age
- She must have no children or nephews (It is the family’s responsibility to care for family members)
- She must have led a life of caring for others
By today’s bleeding-heart standards, this is tantamount to waterboarding. But, no, these are the standards set down for the love and care of those who were widows, indeed. For the rest of the women seeking admission to the Church’s welfare program: Sorry. We vetted you, and you don’t qualify for admission.
So for all those who decry stopping the admission of refugees and/or travelers from terrorist hotspots prior to thorough vetting, please tone down your moral outrage and recognize your unmeasured compassion isn’t Christian or biblical.
Without question, there are people who need help. And, for those who, after being vetted, are found to be truly destitute, Christian compassion dictates the response.
With the mass migration out of the Middle East, it is an exercise worthy of the most committed ostrich to suggest as fear mongering the concern over terrorists being among them. If terrorists were smart enough to bring down the World Trade Center towers back in 2001, surely today, they’re smart enough to realize the Syrian Refugee Crisis is a golden opportunity to slip unnoticed into enemy territory.
Happily, we don’t have to wonder how smart terrorists are. Along with those who truly need help are also those who pose as those who need help, like this guy: Tunisian terrorist ‘returns to Europe posing as asylum-seeker’
And . . .
The Syrians arrested yesterday in Honduras, heading to the U.S. on stolen Greek passports who, when asked what they were doing traveling north through Central America responded, in fairly good English, “Refugees”. Interpol tracked these strong, able-bodied men from Syria, through Lebanon, Turkey, Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica, and Honduras, where they were arrested, preventing the rest of the trip: Guatemala, Mexico, and through the porous U.S. border (smart guys!). Turns out, they’re far from refugees but they don’t have terrorist ties, apparently. Now, if the guys who just want to sneak into the U.S. on stolen passports can figure out that posing as Syrian refugees is helpful to your goals, do you still wonder if the terrorists are smart enough to figure it out?
Stop wondering and read about . . .
And, then there is what the French Prime Minister said, “Some of the suspects in the Paris attacks took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to “slip in” unnoticed”
Most people believe the majority of the migrants/refugees are people who just want a better life. But, as Mark Steyn pointed out a few years ago in his witty, intelligent book, America Alone, (which I highly recommend for a quick, fun, informative, serious review of the situation. George Will called it “The most fun he’s had being depressed.” At the time of publication it elicited cries of “hate speech” and “bigot” but, today, shows the author to have had clear foresight) the numbers are completely irrelevant to the discussion. It took only a handful of committed terrorists to bring down the Towers and, more recently to kill/injure hundreds in Paris.
And this is the material point. It is willful blindness and beyond foolish to tell yourself that mass migration of the scope seen throughout Europe, from a terrorist riddled region, would not include terrorists using refugee status for cover, and therefore, the U.S. should welcome with open arms, without a rigorous, individual assessment, all who clamor for entry.
Preventing entry before thoroughly vetting these people is the only Christian, biblical, circumspect course of action. What’s more, it is the compassionate thing to do – the only way Truth and Love can remain in proper balance to each other . . . under the circumstances . . . based on the facts.
Come, let us reason together.
Matt Jacobson is a biblical marriage coach and founder of FaithfulMan.com a biblical marriage, parenting, and discipleship ministry providing written and audio teaching, as well as couples marriage coaching. He is the co-host (with his wife, Lisa) of Faithful Life Podcast and is author of the bestseller, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife. Matt is pastor of Tumalo Bible Fellowship and is married to Lisa, founder of Club31Women.com (they have 8 kids!).