Tag Archives: immigration

The Christian dissonance of the “pro-life” movement

I opened my previous post stating that I try to avoid political topics on this blog.   This post is going to make a liar of me as I step into it once more.   I promise (I think) this is the last for quite some time.

My last post was about the Christian dissonance in the phrase, “It’s my body.”   That is to say, for those of us who follow Christ, the Lamb of God who laid down his own life to save ours, it makes little sense for any Christian to claim “It’s MY body.”   Our bodies are gifts from God, temples of the Holy Spirit, and exist to bring glory and honor to our Creator.

The push back I received from my pro-choice friends over that post and others is this: They rightfully point out the dissonance (or hypocrisy) in most of us who are pro-life when they insist we care only about the baby in the womb but fall short in our compassion for humanity beyond that.

If we are honest, we have to admit they are right.   When I have these discussions with people I discover that I am often in the minority among pro-life people.   By this I mean I fully support and desire to see universal health care for all people.  I want to see free maternal care for mothers and mandatory maternal (and paternal!) leave granted by employers.   I want to be part of a nation that cares more about showing empathy and compassion towards the strangers and minorities among us  – refugees, immigrants, etc – than they do about it’s flag.  I want to see the death penalty done away with and real rehabilitation programs for convicted criminals and everyone suffering from addiction.    I want to see real gun reform laws passed and a concerted effort to end mass shootings, particularly in our schools where our children are at greater risk than in any other country on earth.

I guess you could say I am truly pro-life from womb to tomb.

Pro-choice people are right to point out the hypocrisy in many of us when we scream as loud to keep children from crossing our borders as we do to ensure children our born within our borders.

When we argue “I have a right to own a gun,” we sound alarmingly like pro-choice people arguing “I have a right to my own body.”

When we support policies or demonstrations which demean or take lightly the plight of black Americans (who proportionally speaking, are most susceptible to feeling they have a need to have an abortion) we demonstrate to a watching world that we are not really pro-life.

When we argue against health care for every person in our country and continuously vote for leaders who strategically position corporations and the wealthy to get ahead while removing safety nets for the most vulnerable among us, we shoot our cause in the foot and appear to a watching world as white-washed tombs.

When we discourage sex education or free birth control for all, we guarantee a rise in the number of those distressed and hopeless and feeling as though abortion is their only option.

Many of the positions taken against these life affirming policies are rooted in the same beast that gives birth to a pro-choice movement:  Fear of losing what’s rightfully mine.   In essence, it’s a lack of faith in God.   Both the woman who fears she cannot adjust her future life to that of a newborn and the person who thinks allowing in more refugees will water down their culture are committing the same sin:  They lack faith in a God who promises to provide for our needs if we will humble ourselves before him and honor him in all that we do.

I wonder what would happen if we who are pro-life would actually be pro-life in every area of our lives?   Maybe, just maybe, it would bear witness to a watching, confused and hurting world that God truly is the God of all nations, all tribes, all tongues – born and unborn – and loves them dearly.   After all, they will know us by our love.

 

 

 

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A Prayer for Sanctuary Cities

I try to avoid politics on this blog but sometimes it is unavoidable.   News this week coming out of the White House is that our current administration is considering busing immigrants into sanctuary cities.    Trump tweeted today:

Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only.   The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy – so this should make them very happy!

This probably amounts to little more than a childish taunt.   Setting aside the very well documented fact that Democrats are not advocating for “open borders,” the attempted dig towards a group of people or a city for having “open arms” should strike any follower of Jesus as unchristian.   Christians should be the most welcoming people on earth because we ourselves have been welcomed with grace upon grace.   Our adoption as heirs into a kingdom of which we were once alienated – based on no merit of our own – is a spiritual adoption to be sure, but one that Jesus insists should be reflected in how we welcome physical strangers both near and far.

Governments are not meant to be Christian.   They have a purpose which is different from that of the Church, but sometimes (by the grace of God) those purposes overlap.   Where the government fails to act justly – even giving preferential treatment to the poor, the marginalized, the stranger – the Church must and should be it’s conscience.    This is one of those times.

And so it is that these sanctuary cities may have in the near future an opportunity to live out in radical ways the grace of God.   Should Trump follow through with his threat, these cities will be inundated with people in need.    Often, our greatest ideals sound great on paper but in reality would overwhelm and sink us.   Who among us doesn’t give lip service to the goodness of Jesus’ command to turn the other cheek but when afforded an opportunity to practice it fall short of the glory of such an ideal?   We all have been there.   And without the power of prayer and the support of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, we would fall often.

So it is that I want to offer up a prayer for sanctuary cities.    This prayer is really for any city or church or person who determines they will have open arms extended towards the least of these – fellow children created in the image of God, the Father of every nation and tribe and tongue.

Most merciful God, we pray today for cities across this land  – land which is not ours but Yours – which have felt called to become and remain cities of refuge.   If the plans of some – plans meant to cause confusion and strife  – come to pass, we pray that in your power these places would prosper.   We pray that you would rise up in these cities men and women of faith who trust in a God who turns meager loaves and fish into abundance to supply multitudes.   We pray that they would not succumb to a theology of scarcity but live into one of abundance.   We pray that you would fortify them with wisdom, patience, and endurance to fight the good fight and not grow weary in doing good.

Father, we pray for those families being torn between political ideologies.  These are mothers and fathers and children whom you know by name.  Grant them every good gift, Lord.  Do for them instead of us this day.    Wherever they are planted we pray you would water the soil and produce abundant fruit.  May the cities that welcome them prosper. May creativity flourish.  May your favor shine upon them.   May their fields increase.  May the spirit of peace and love, which casts out all fear, abound.   According to your word, give them every good thing.  

Holy Spirit, raise up more cities like these.  May the love and goodwill shown to your nomadic children serve as judgment against we who have closed the eyes of our hearts from seeing them as Your beloved.  Stir up in Your church a revival where we will never again be known by our political party but by our love.    May your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven.  

We ask all of this in the mighty name of Jesus.    Amen.  

Acceptance is the key to all my problems and I’m angry about that

I both love and hate this:

Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.
When I am disturbed,
It is because I find some person, place, thing, situation —
Some fact of my life — unacceptable to me,
And I can find no serenity until I accept
That person, place, thing, or situation
As being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.
Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober;
Unless I accept life completely on life’s terms,
I cannot be happy.
I need to concentrate not so much
On what needs to be changed in the world
As on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”

(Big Book of AA pg 417). 

I know this to be true but it’s so damn hard and I’m struggling with it.    I have been agitated, angered, saddened, shocked, and hurt by what I have been watching on the news this week.   I want to say I am feeling all of these things about the children that are being detained because their parents – heroes in my eyes – dared to want a better life for themselves and their family.    I want to say that it is their cries that are breaking my heart and making me feel so agitated.  And to some extent it is.  But if I’m honest, it’s more than that.

The truth is, the real root of my anger is directed toward the people who are OK with that.   I’m angry that there are people who I know profess Jesus as their Lord who are OK with treating immigrants like they are trash.    I’m angry that there are people who lack mercy and empathy but seem to have plenty of law and judgment to dish out.

But more than that, I’m angry that I can’t change any of it.   I’m angry at myself that I have anger towards those people rather than mercy and love.   I’m angry that I cannot seem to accept the world as it is or people as they are.

And more than that, I’m angry that my refusal to be merciful and accepting of “those people” means I am no better than them and I’m left with nothing but my own self-righteous anger to stew in.

I’m angry that deep down I know the Big Book is right, and until I accept them as they are where they are for who they are that I will never be happy.

I’m angry that God is asking me to extend mercy to the merciless.

Mercy is that thing I want all the time from God and everyone, which I’ll give aplenty to those who demand nothing of me personally but will horde from those whom I think should know better.   Why can I have so much mercy for the addict who has lied a million times and ruined everyone’s life but none for the pious elder brother who has never left home?

If I don’t find a way to love the latter I’ll once more become the former.  I know this.

So I picked up Anne Lamott’s meddling book, Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy, and began to binge.  I knew I needed to gorge myself on mercy lest I die of thirst.    She diagnoses me on the first pages.

Mercy means that we soften every so slightly, so that we don’t have to condemn others for being total shits, although they may be that (Okay: are.)  If I do so, it makes me one.  As Father Ed Dowling said, sometimes heaven is just a new pair of glasses.  When we put them on, we see the awful person, sometimes even ourselves, a bit more gently, and we are blessed in return.  It seems, on the face of things, like a decent deal.

When we manage a flash of mercy for someone we don’t like, especially a truly awful person, including ourselves, we experience a great spiritual moment, a new point of view that can make us gasp. It gives us the chance to rediscover something both old and original, the sweet child in us who, all evidence to the contrary, was not killed of, but just put in the drawer.  I realize now how desperately, how grievously, I have needed the necessary mercy to experience self-respect.

All I have to do in order to begin again is to love mercy, if I am to believe nutty old Micah.

Micah. She is, of course, referring to the prophet whom God told only three things were required of us mortals:  Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God.    I am a pro at dishing out justice.   But if I’ve learned anything over the past few years, riding the justice train is my fastest ticket to relapse unless it is tempered with gargantuan doses of mercy (for both others and myself) while staying low, low, low to the earth.

The path for me is acceptance.   I can only get there if I remember to love mercy.

Mercy.

I’m struggling this week having any for some folks, but I’m crawling up to the table like a beggar famished for some crumbs and asking God to give me some.