What About the Syrian Refugees?

My knee-jerk reaction to the idea of bringing thousands of Syrian refugees into the U.S. was “Don’t do it!” Muslim immigration in Europe seems to have caused an alarming increase in terrorist attacks, shedding innocent blood and threatening personal freedoms.

How many of our soldiers have fought, bled and died in order to secure and protect the precious liberties we enjoy in America? Is it not an insult to their sacrifice if we throw away our freedom and security by foolishly welcoming potential terrorists into our communities?

After the attacks in Paris on November 13, which claimed the lives of 130 and injured many others, the debate about immigration quickly moved to front and center. Some insisted that we should bring in thousands of Syrian refugees who are fleeing the death and destruction spread by ISIS, a radical Muslim group murdering thousands and pillaging an entire region.

The Bible is being cited as support for the idea of helping refugees by bringing them to America. God instructed his people not merely to be compassionate toward aliens, but to love them (Deuteronomy 10:19).

Therefore, since our society claims a Christian heritage, we should follow the admonition of the Bible. (Never mind the fact that we have been lectured to stop thinking of our country as a Christian nation.)

I welcome the opportunity to apply God’s Word to our current lives, including the immigration question. But let’s listen to the full counsel of God’s Word.

The Bible shows us that the Lord Jesus himself reached out to the marginalized and oppressed. His compassion is famous. But he had more in mind than alleviating suffering. Jesus was concerned about saving souls in addition to healing bodies.

I wonder if those who are quoting the Bible to support immigration will agree that conversion to Christianity should be an important goal when offering assistance to refugees.

If the Bible has the authority to urge us on toward compassion for immigrants, then it also has the authority to demand that spiritual goals be included. One cannot duck and cover behind “separation of church and state” when the Bible’s commands are unwelcome, but then turn and appeal to Scripture when it happens to support one’s political agenda.

In addition, Jesus did not endanger the lives of his fellow citizens in order to help others. The Bible places responsibility for keeping law and order and providing security in the hands of the state (Romans 13:1-6).

If the state adopts policies that endanger the lives of her citizens, then she is not fulfilling her biblical duty. We have a right to insist that our leaders take strong precautions against bringing terrorists into our neighborhoods.

Christian love compels us to work hard and find ways to help the Syrian refugees, but not by risking our neighbors’ children and grandchildren. It is not too much to ask that we help refugees, nor is it too much to insist that it be done wisely.

May the God of all compassion give us love for our neighbor,

Brother Richard Foster

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