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Russell D. Moore of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and Ronnie Floyd, the current president of the Southern Baptist Convention, have added some much needed moral clarity to the crisis at the border.
They have gone and served as eye witnesses to what is not just a national security problem, but a humanitarian crisis. Ronnie Floyd notes that the Southern Baptist National Disaster Relief Ministry is no longer permitted to assist those who have come over the border. The Department of Health and Human Services has “assumed custody of unaccompanied children, permitting only federal authorities and federal contractors to be in contact with them.” I hope these kids fair better with HHS than the millions of Americans trying to navigate Obamacare.
SBC President Floyd and Dr. Moore have seen up close and personal the kids “as young as seven years of age” streaming across the border. Dr. Moore has made clear that
As Christians, we don’t have to agree on all the details of public policy to agree that our response ought to be, first, one of compassion for those penned up in detention centers on the border. . . . The Gospel doesn’t fill in for us on the details on how we can simultaneously balance border security and respect for human life in this case. But the Gospel does tell us that our instinct ought to be one of compassion toward those in need, not disgust or anger.
I agree with him. I am reminded of Hebrews 13:2. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (ESV) Christians, indeed all Americans, should show compassion to these children who have been put in this situation by their parents often out of a desire for the children’s safety or well being.
I appreciate the moral clarity of leaders like Ronnie Floyd and Russell Moore. I am sympathetic to and want to provide private Christian charity to these children. I am somewhat shocked by the very hostile reaction some Christians are having to folks to Russell Moore and Ronnie Floyd, along with Glenn Beck, Dana Loesch, and others. They’re being accused of helping criminals. The Good Samaritan never asked for papers before rendering assistance. Chuck Colson started a prison ministry to minister to law breakers. Christianity does not stop at the border. Christian charity should not start with a passport check.
Concurrently, I hope the many evangelicals who are providing assistance at the border do not rush forward and muddy the moral clarity with opposition to proposals to close our border, ensure the expeditious reunion with families south of us, end the DACA program, and bring this crisis to closure. A number of mainline denominations are attempting to do that even now with requests that Congress and the Administration not deport and not take the steps needed to ensure this crisis starts.
I am reminded of Romans 13:1. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (ESV). We are a nation of laws. But first, we are a nation. That nation has borders. Those borders must be respected. Those crossing over show no respect for our borders. “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution,” Peter wrote at 1 Peter 2:13 (ESV).
This border crisis highlights a longing for what our nation represents for many, but also, for others not featured in the sympathetic press, an opportunity for crime and other issues. Christians should show compassion, but we should also respect the law and want others to respect the law and our institutions.
Christians should provide for those in need. Christians should comfort the poor and the refugee. As a nation, we should be ending incentives for the perpetuation of this crisis through both rapid repatriation and rapid closing of the border. Jesus said in Matthew 19:13-14, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them.” I agree with that. Let us also agree that America is not Jesus. Even upon the arrival of the new Heaven, the new Jerusalem will have a wall. It’s gates may never shut, but gates and wall there will remain.
A Christian, in private charity, providing a teddy bear to a seven year old abandoned by his parents or a warm meal to a teenager coming to find his family does not provide an incentive for the perpetuation of the crisis. If you think it does, you are not a serious person.