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What to say to those who use the Bible to defend anti-immigrant positions

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited the Bible to justify the government’s practice of snatching children from immigrant families on the border. Let’s analyze the validity of that argument.

What is one of the worst nightmares a parent can suffer? That their children are taken by force, without knowing if they will be okay or if they will see them again. This is an extremely cruel act, and it is being used deliberately by Donald Trump’s government as a political tool to discourage the arrival of immigrants. This is not an unjustified interpretation; various government officials, including Sessions, have confirmed it.

The government has begun to receive a barrage of criticism from its own allies. The United Nations, businesspeople, Republican legislators, and religious leaders such as the Rev. Franklin Graham have questioned this practice. Faced with this, on June 14 Sessions said:“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”

To analyze Sessions’ argument, we must consider the legal, historical, and theological context.

Legal context

The Bible teaches believers that there is an obligation to observe civil laws as a demonstration of good moral character. But what happens when the government imposes laws that are contrary to divine principles? Under the biblical perspective, the moral law (the law of God) is above civil laws.

“Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!” Acts 5:29.

Historical context

In the Bible there are multiple passages in which faithful children of God openly defied orders from civil authorities. Let’s look at some examples.

The midwives disobeyedtheEgypt’s Pharaoh(Exodus 1:17); Rahab did not follow the order of the king of Jericho (Joshua 2);the people resistedthe order ofKing Sauland saved Jonathan (1 Samuel 14:45);Obadiah hid prophets despite the decree of Queen Jezebel(1 Kings 18);young Jews refused to eat from the royal table (Daniel 1);Shadrach, Meshachand Abednegodid not follow the order of the King of Babylon (Daniel 3); the prophet Daniel openly challenged the lawof the Medes and Persians (Daniel 6);and the apostles Peter and John refused to obey the civil authorities (Acts 4:19-20), among other instances.

Additionally, consider that atrocities such as slavery, the Holocaust, and racial segregation were perfectly legal, but were rejected by faithful children of God.

Theological context

The use of biblical passages out of context is unacceptable. Since Sessions quoted Romans 13:1 to justify a cruel act, we invite him to read Romans 13:10: “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

The family unit is a prevalent theme from Genesis (with Adam and Eve) to Revelation (symbolizing the union between Christ and the Church). Loving foreigners is another recurring theme. In fact, it will be one of the considerations on Judgment Day. “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). To go against these principles is to distance oneself from the biblical teachings.

The powerful message of love and mercy taught by Jesus has attracted millions of souls to the foot of the cross of Calvary. But using the word of God to justify an open act of cruelty– far from attracting the masses– will alienate people from the true gospel.

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Con más de 25 años de carrera profesional, Diego Barahona, es un destacado periodista quien ha incursionado en múltiples campos de la comunicación tanto en su natal Ecuador, como en Estados Unidos. Actualmente es el editor de La Noticia. Ha recibido múltiples galardones a lo largo de su trayectoria, entre ellos, el año 2016 y 2017 fue nombrado como el periodista de un medio impreso en español más premiado en Estados Unidos, al recibir una docena de Premios José Martí. Es autor del best seller en Amazon.com “¿Cómo leer a las personas?”

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