Not the Home I Once Knew

I used to love you.

Adored you.

Wanted to be just like you.

You let me into your home.
Your home became my home.
Beautiful.
Craftsman Victorian.
Polished.
The kind draped on the covers of magazines across the world.

You taught me about your food.
Your clothing.
Your music.
Your slang.
You gave me a chance.
You taught me how to live.

But you eventually left me hanging like rosary necklaces wrapped around generations of innocence left longing for hope.

You majored in sin and you didn’t even know it.

You became a modern day Caesar,
convincing Christians
to fight for king and country,
all the while degrading basic human decency.

God in me weeps uncontrollably.

He floods cities to bring people together,
but your entitlement floods division into the cities
already torn apart.

Your screeches slip looser than serpentine belts.

Your religious hypocrisy is just a regurgitated oratorical form of colonialism.

Your name…
Your name used to sweet talk
even the hardest of felons,
but the way you shackle my freedom
feels like rusted braces
scratching the insides of my mouth.

Your canker soars past sidewalk chalk outlines of dandelion dreams.

Crushed.

Blown in the wind.

The flag that waves above your mantle points to the secret rooms hidden behind your bookcases.

Your barrels still smell of burnt metal.
And you caress them tightly
every time I mourn another
And another
And another

I don’t want to ban your guns.
I just want to ban your ability to take away our sons
And our daughters.
He…
He wanted to write captivating words just like me.
She…
She wanted to paint succulents in teacups because they lasted longer that way.

And his cousin,
She just wanted to play too.
She wanted to taste your food
and learn your slang
just like you once taught me.
She wanted a home.
She wanted to be home.
She wanted her own room
and a place to play dolls
with her make believe friends.
But you locked her away in your basement,
while her parents peered,
in horror,
through your front porch window.

You’re more Herod than you are Christian,
misquoting Scriptures to justify your separation.

And you have the audacity to claim my God?

My God…
who came to preach good news to the poor.
My God who came to heal the brokenhearted,
My God…
who came to proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
My God who came to free the oppressed.
My God…
whose name you’ve taken in vain.

Your empty praises
are centuries of Molotov cocktails,
getting drunk on religious idolatry.

Sometimes it feels more like I’m being locked in
than you keeping people out.
And who puts barbed wire
on white picket fences anyway?

It was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who once said,
“The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.”

No wonder I don’t recognize this Craftsman anymore.
This Victorian, draping its rusted pipes around the necks of little boys and little girls, has become a mansion haunting tourists for its own pleasure.

This home isn’t what I once knew.

But it’s not like I can just pick up and leave.
It’s not that easy.
So, I’m here.
Standing firm on your front porch.
And, yes, I am not going anywhere.
So, go ahead.
Take your best shot.

Submitting to the Government

Yes, but context is everything. We have to be very careful when we cite Scripture as a basis for our actions.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently quoted Romans 13 to hit back at the “concerns raised by our church friends about separating families.” He called the criticism “not fair or logical” and quoted the passage in his defense of the administration’s tough policies on illegal immigration.

Governments, back when the Book of Romans was written, was far from being a democracy. In a democracy we understand that there is a sense in which we, the people, are the government, and should not hesitate to help “govern” our democracy through our participation in the democratic process. That’s the beauty of our freedom, both in Christ and in our country.

Having said that, as believers, especially living under the dynamics of a democracy, when the government commands us to do something that is disobedient to God’s Word, we must resist the government and obey God.

For example, when the Sanhedrin commanded Peter and John to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, they replied “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard (Acts 4:19-20).” Later, when the command was repeated, Peter answered, “We must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).” And, going a bit old school, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refused to bow before Nebuchadnezzar’s idol (Dan. 3). Similarly, in defiance of the king’s edict, Daniel continued to pray even though the ruler told the prophet not to (Dan. 6); or King, Bonhoeffer, and other more modern revolutionaries who stood up against the laws of man for the good of Kingdom principles.

With that said, immigration is a complex issue. I understand the need to tighten up our borders and I agree that our government should work to create a better system by which we process those currently here illegally and those who want to come here through legit avenues. But, in submission to God’s Law; which trumps man’s law (no pun intended), the Bible says, “And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God (Leviticus 19:33-34).”

The Bible is also clear as to how we’re to treat orphans and widows. God desires for us to look after the widow and the orphan, as James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Having policies that separate children from their parents go against the core desires of God.

“Laws are good, and order is good, but that doesn’t mean that separating families from each other is a good law,” Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, said. “There are good laws, and there are bad laws, and separating families from each other is a bad policy. We’re not against the law, we’re against bad laws and bad policies.”

All that to say, using Scripture to justify your actions and to strong arm the believing community into submission is wrong. We, as believers, do have an obligation to submit to our governing authority, but we also have an obligation to filter our current laws and policies through the laws of God.

As image bearers of God, we have an obligation to care for one another. We have an obligation to treat one another with dignity and respect. We have an obligation to love, as God loves us.