Since last week’s announcement that the federal government would rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months; I’ve followed the back and forth between “conservative” Christians (who support President Trump’s immigration policies) and “liberal” Christians (who oppose these policies) use of the Bible to support their various positions. Relying heavily on the Old Testament, it’s provided entertaining discourse in how to cherry pick from scripture.
One such meme, posted by a congregation member, reads: “Hey Conservative Christians You’re Full of Crap”. It goes on to quote Leviticus 19:33-34, “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you, you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” I don’t think it’s helpful to tell people they’re full of crap. I do like the verse. It makes a valid point.
However, five verses earlier, there’s a prohibition against tattoos. Depending on the weight we give Leviticus 19:33-34, are we going to then have to ban dreamers who have tattoos (Leviticus 19:28)? When we start picking and choosing verses we like and dislike, those we want to throw back in people’s faces from Leviticus and Deuteronomy, we need to be careful, because we’re going look foolish.
Not far from where we’re urged to welcome aliens and refrain from tattoos, parents are instructed to take their rebellious children to the edge of town. Once there, they are to be stoned to death. These arcane rules are all on par, held equal to, and considered valid to one another. We know that’s ridiculous. Do we? How can we ask people to take other verses (ones just above or below) seriously only when they fit our agenda? (Yes, we all have agendas.) How do you pick the one verse that backs up our 21st century post-modern, progressive, theological, politics, and spirituality? I’ll tell you; you don’t. If you can’t take them all, leave everything behind. Don’t use the Old Testament for this debate. Put your Bible down. Leave scripture out of the argument. Stop wielding God like a weapon.
“It’s the right thing to do let people who came here as children, stay here, and find a path to citizenship.” Why can’t we say that? That would be too easy.
Why do we need to invoke divine authority? I know why. It’s because we’re the church. It’s all we know how to do. If we don’t speak for God, who will? If God speaks through others, beyond the prescribed texts, and outside the bounds of our control; who knows what might happen?
Richard Lowell Bryant