The Statue of Liberty teaches two lessons . . .
. . . lessons learned again at Thanksgiving.
We need to remember two things: America is a nation both of law and acceptance. These are not mutually exclusive, indeed, one cannot exist without the other. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses” is just as true as the earliest immigration requirements at Ellis Island.
Something I hear over and over from my liberal friends is their desire to make biblical refugee commands directed at The Church, conform to the state. Something I see over and over from my conservative friends is their desire to make state dictates a litmus test for Christian teaching on immigration.
Both views are faulty.
Do biblical principles establish economic, political, mercy, or justice principles? Yes.
Do biblical commands directed at believers directly establish U.S. law? No.
We must not confuse personal Christian responsibility with national security. The Church bears the onus of caring for people. The government bears the weight of caring for its populace. We must prompt Christians to love and national leaders to exercise prudence in national defense.
We dare not fail on either count.
The Church for eternal consequences, the U.S. government for temporal consequences.
A president takes an oath of office to defend the nation against enemies. Prudence, considering the bravado of our enemies to announce the penetration of our borders through immigration, would seem to be at least, the least one could do in our “defense.” President Obama should not mock the opposition party: proposing a “pause” may be a circumspect approach.
Fear-mongering alarmists, on the other hand, need to stop talking up impending doom agitating “right-wing” paranoia. Such talk does not serve to protect, only to incite.
Emotive diatribes and cultural intimidations
leave us with a vacuum of moral order.
What is needed is a populace who serves others rather than self and a government whose focus is on protecting the populace so it can continue to serve others.
Our country, our churches, and believers in those churches are the most welcoming, loving, caring, empathetic, personally-engaged folks in the world. Efforts of help include openhearted ESL teachers and welcoming hospitality programs. Christian leadership evidences not only community through sharing meals but providing a loving bridge of communication through language. This is what we can do, do do, and will continue to do.
There is a distinctive difference, however, between the personal love and care provided to anyone who is so in need and the issues of national security; the focus of Peggy Noonan‘s essay. There is no hateful rhetoric here, only national prudence as it relates to recent terrorist attacks.
We simply need to recognize that the Statue of Liberty symbolizes both welcome and warning: we will always help and we will always stand against those who hurt.
God has given all people inalienable rights, the nation now bears responsibility to protect them.
May everyone have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving with family and friends. And may we remember that our American freedoms come with American responsibilities. Dr. Mark Eckel