Disagreements: America, Christians & Syrian Refugees

In Lynsi’s words.

I hate disagreements. I mean, I know it’s a normal part of life and that disagreements in themselves aren’t bad. I guess I just hate how quickly and easily it becomes more than a disagreement and becomes a reason to judge and criticise one another. I’m not normally one to throw my opinion into the ring when it comes to hot topics like this because of this very reason.

In conversations like this I want my voice to be heard, but I know that by opening my mouth I can put a target on my head that says “she thinks differently, ATTACK”!  I won’t lie and say that I’m not saddened by my fellow followers of Christ who have decided in their hearts that refusing refugees is the appropriate response to the terror in our world. 

It’s funny how things begin to change for you when you start to view your home culture through the eyes of another. Living cross-culturally can be challenging for many reasons.  You wonder why people do things the way they do and think the way they think. Over time, however, you start to make sense of some of it and without even realising it you begin to understand the world in a different way. Not always in complete agreement with all of your new cultures views, but not necessarily in complete agreement with your old ones either. There is no doubt that this has played a part in shaping my views on this subject. 

Three years ago I don’t think I would’ve had any issue with the choices of so many to refuse refugees. I would have struggled with it, of course, but ultimately I would have probably agreed that the best decision would be to refuse refugees until we could make sure that no one slipped through the cracks and put others at risk.

Not that my opinion is going to necessarily change anyone’s mind, but I would like to share my thoughts on why I think the Christian response to refuse refugees in America is at the surface a noble gesture of protection, but that ultimately is misguided and misunderstood.

To me, there are two main issues being discussed.

First is the difference between the government’s response to threat and the individuals response. Secondly, it’s the value of human life.

I’ll start with the first. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for any Christian leader in America right now. My heart and prayers are with them as they try to lead the best they know how in a tension-filled political environment. I start to become very uneasy, however, when I hear Christians defending the decision to close the borders based on stories in the Old Testament when God defended the Israelites against it’s enemies. I don’t pretend to fully understand the Scriptures, but one thing I do understand is that America is not God’s chosen people. In Romans, Paul begins to unpack for the early church God’s plan to make a holy people for himself that includes “every tribe, tongue, and nation.” For a follower of Christ, there are no borders of separation. No longer is it the physical attributes of nationality and circumcision that define His people, but rather it is the “circumcision of the heart” that makes someone part of God’s holy people. He further explains to the early believers that their citizenship is no longer here on earth but in heaven. This was not just a promise for the future, but for the here and now. No longer are we to place our hope in our governments and it’s leaders, but we are to look to Jesus as our King. The country we were born into becomes secondary to our new identity as a citizen of heaven.  We as children of God are called first and foremost to pledge our ways to Christ’s ways not looking to ourselves for answers and protection, but to God. What I’m not saying is that the government doesn’t have a right to defend with military action to protect the innocent, but I don’t think that includes turning away those in need because the enemy might try to exploit our compassion. I don’t think the decision to show love and compassion could ever really be considered unwise. I completely agree with France’s president in his response to the situation. In light of the attacks last week he has definitely made it clear that they are at war and has begun heavy bombings as a response. He has also said that the country will stick to its word to accept the number of refugees that they originally agreed to. That is strong leadership. He’s providing a safe haven for those in need while still sending a clear message that they will not refuse the right to justice. I realise that not every American is a Christian, but I fear for what kind of message the country is sending to the rest of the world when, it being one of the wealthiest nations in history, would refuse to help the needy. Most European countries are targets as well as America. Imagine if everyone refused refugees in the way America has. Where would they go? I don’t know about you, but if it were me as the refugee I would hope that someone would be willing to risk their safety to save me, my husband, and my children.

Secondly, the value of human life.

This one might get me into more trouble than I’d like, but I’m going to say it the way I see it (remember, you don’t have to agree :).) It is clear that American evangelicals value human life. I think that is the driving force behind the argument for closing the borders. We want to protect our citizens lives from coming under attack by a foreign enemy. That’s noble, but what we’re really saying is that we value our lives over their lives. We like to blaze social media to fight abortion pleading that ALL life is valuable and deserves the right to live and thrive. Why is this any different?  We don’t know who is going to grow up to be “dangerous”, but because it’s a baby we are disarmed and offer love and compassion, and rightly so. We accept the risk that the baby could very well grow up and be an extremist terrorist themselves, but because the threat is not immediate or definite it’s a risk we are more willing to take. My heart breaks over this hypocrisy. Either you believe that all of life is valuable or you don’t.  

 May I not stand before the Lord and say that the risk to love was too great. That I was happy to accept His sacrifice to save me, but I just couldn’t do it for another.

And finally, let’s remember that there are already IS terrorists/sympathizers living in America and other European countries. When IS can recruit online the physical borders of land and property disappear anyway. IS is waging a war unlike any the world has ever had to experience before. They are fighting for an ideology that isn’t limited to race and borders. People from all over the world are joining the ranks of IS and the struggle to identify who is who becomes much more difficult. If IS wants to attack America, they may already have the people inside to do it. America has been under attack more from its own in recent months and years than it has from any outside threat.

So there it is. My thoughts for whatever it’s worth. Go easy on me!

@lynsirigney

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