Last night, President Trump removed his acting attorney general after she refused to defend his executive order restricting travel from seven Muslim-majority nations. Sally Q. Yates was deputy attorney general under President Obama and was serving until the Senate confirms Trump’s nominee for the post, Sen. Jeff Sessions.
This is just the latest news in the ongoing controversy over the travel ban. Immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia are directly affected by the president’s decision.
The administration notes that these nations were listed on the Obama-era Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015. President Trump blames the airport chaos that followed his executive order on computer outages at Delta Air Lines and political protests. He noted in a tweet that only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning. An additional 173 were denied entry on flights to the US from the seven countries listed in the order.
Arguments in favor of the ban:
• A four-month restriction on travel from these countries is needed to keep Americans safe.
• The chaos that resulted was a temporary consequence of preventing terrorists from traveling into the US.
• If advance warning or a grace period had been announced, terrorists could have traveled before the ban took effect.
• The order is not against Muslims in general—it does not affect more than forty other Muslim-majority countries.
Democratic leader Chuck Schumer saw the controversy very differently, calling the executive order “mean-spirited and un-American.” The New York Times called the ban “illegal.” Critics note that none of the 9/11 terrorists came from the seven banned countries. Protesters in many other countries are registering their opposition as well.
My purpose this morning is not to argue for one side or the other. Rather, it is to think biblically with you about three issues central to the debate.
One: Scripture encourages security.
The Bible consistently teaches the priority of self-defense (Luke 11:21; Exodus 22:2; Proverbs 25:26; Nehemiah 4:17–18; Psalm 82:4). We are told to respect landmarks (Proverbs 22:28; 23:10). Moses noted that when God “divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the people” (Deuteronomy 32:8). The Promised Land’s borders are clearly delineated in Scripture (Ezekiel 47:13–23; Numbers 34:1–15).
Two: Our government is responsible for our safety.
Paul called the governing authority “the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4). Our oath of office requires our president to “preserve, protect, and defend” the Constitution and those who live under it. While we can debate the degree to which the travel ban enhances or endangers our security, we must recognize the post-9/11 reality that meeting the needs of foreign travelers can come at the expense of American citizens. For this reason, by a ratio of 48 percent to 42 percent, American voters support suspending immigration from “terror prone” regions.
Three: Compassion expresses the heart of God.
Scripture consistently calls us to care for immigrants and foreigners (Exodus 22:21; Leviticus 19:33–34; Deuteronomy 10:18–19; Ezekiel 47:21–23; Zechariah 7:10; Malachi 3:5; Hebrews 13:2). Many professionals, children, and refugees are affected by the ban. Jesus stands in solidarity with those who are persecuted (Acts 9:4–5) and considers our service to those in need as service to our Lord (Matthew 25:31–40).
Balancing borders, safety, and compassion is, of course, the challenge of our day. However we view this divisive issue, the most practical way we can respond is to pray for our leaders and those affected by this controversy and to find ways to serve the 40.7 million immigrants and others in need where we live.
Can we truly say we love our Father if we don’t protect and serve his children?
NOTE: For an unusual way to view the challenges of our time, please see my latest website article, Albert Einstein and the hand of God. Also, I encourage you as the Lenten season approaches to consider encountering God through one of my devotionals. You can order my latest book and download previous versions here.
ALSO: I invite you to join the Dallas Baptist University Institute for Global Engagement and the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture for the Leadership Lecture Series featuring Matthew Dowd. Mr. Dowd is a political analyst for ABC News. He will reflect on the 2016 presidential election as well as the current state of American politics. I will then lead a time of discussion with him.
We will meet on Monday, February 6, at 7 PM in Pilgrim Chapel on the DBU campus. Tickets are $5.00 per person. For more information or to register for this event, please visit www.dbu.edu/ige.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotots.com
Publication date: January 31, 2017
For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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