When we tell the Christmas story, we typically begin with Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem. Then we get to the birth of Jesus with the manger and angels and shepherds – Nativity scene stuff. Later, an angel tells Joseph to flee with his family and head to Egypt because King Herod wants to kill the infant Jesus. Fortunately for the future of humanity, Donald Trump wasn’t waiting at the border to tell Joseph that he needed to turn around.
Jesus began his life as a refugee, fleeing Herod’s terror, which included a mass slaughter of all boys under the age of two in and around Bethlehem. Jesus died nailed to a cross – a method of torture so horrific that ISIS, the newest face of terrorism in the world, has brought it into modern times.
ISIS is terrorizing the Middle East, and Syrians are fleeing their homeland. Now ISIS has said it has smuggled terrorists into other countries while masquerading as refugees. So what is America to do?
Many self-proclaimed Christians – ranging from presidential candidates to governors to friends of mine – have said that America has no business allowing Syrians into the country because of this threat.
Even in the face of terror, I cannot figure how a Christian in America could turn away a refugee out of fearfulness. It not only contradicts Christ’s story, it contradicts his teachings.
Jesus was born and killed in environments where terrorism was present, and that makes his teachings even more impactful. He never backed down from his prescription for how to deal with enemies or “the least of these.”
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” (Luke 6:27)
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” (Matthew 25:35)
I often see Christians tote the gospel as “offensive” when juxtaposed with modern culture. And sometimes it is, though tact is a powerful sidekick to the truth. However, in this case, I think Jesus is blatantly offensive. Offensive to Christians, our knee-jerk reactions, our fear and our protect-ourselves-first mentality.
Jesus continually tells us to love our neighbor and to welcome the stranger. He calls for our compassion to be endless and for our fear to be thrown away and replaced with love. And the Church has an incredible opportunity to show that love by inviting the strangers and welcoming them in.
The debate of whether the United States should open its borders and help Syrian refugees should not be religious, it should be strictly political. Freedoms are plentiful in America; everybody has their own religion and it’s disastrous to make such a decision based on the subject. In this situation, too many people are focused on what Jesus would do and not what the United States should do as a nation.
From a political perspective, the reasons to stop fleeing refugees from entering the United States heavily outweigh the positives. ISIS has made it quite clear that they intend to strike America “at its heart.” With reports that at least one of the terrorists in the Paris attacks could possibly have been a refugee who had recently entered France, how can anybody be on board with allowing them in?
What if we allow refugees in, saving thousands of Syrians in the process, but one of them turns out to be an orchestrator of an ISIS attack on American soil? What if that kills 200 Americans, but we’ve saved 5,000 Syrians? Is that a good trade-off? Morally, this can be debated. From an American perspective, it’s unacceptable. Our government is in place to protect the United States, not the Bible. In order to stick to these duties, they must prevent refugees from entering America.
My heart goes out to the Syrians who are fighting for their lives in the Middle East. I am all for finding a way to support the refugees in some way, but opening our borders is far from the safest and most ideal option. As a nation, we must do what is best for the United States, and we therefore must trust our government to do the same.
It’s too bad that the Obama administration is too naïve to realize this, because if we continue to accept refugees into the United States, the chances of ISIS carrying out a successful attack here will skyrocket.