Holy Defiance

Holy Defiance

Many people have written many wise things about our new policies at the border. Which impresses me, because I have a swirl of thoughts and they all basically boil down to “No! We can’t do that! This is horrible!” What does someone even say when our own leaders want to torture children with separation from their parents? And when they defend their actions with the Bible? It just inspires a long string of “no” interspersed with weeping and rage. How do we even speak to such a thing? How long, O God, will we traumatize children and parents in the name of the law?

I can tell you that what’s been happening at our border is an atrocity. That separating children from their parents is torture and will cause trauma that these kids will spend the rest of their lives dealing with. That the new proposal of locking them up with their parents isn’t much better. That these immigrants aren’t criminals but simply people looking for safety or something else their home can’t give them. That domestic violence is, in fact, a reason to grant asylum.

I can tell you that as Christians we worship a God who values the full humanity of each person no matter where they are from or what their life circumstance, and we worship a God who calls us to do the same.

I can tell you we need to weep for these families just as they weep for the ones they love. I can tell you we need to fight for them because our own government has taken their voice.

I can tell you a very small piece of their sadness and anger and fear. I can tell you an even smaller piece of their grief and rage and horror.

You don’t need me to tell you those things, though. You already know. You probably know this too:  God’s dream for us is justice and peace. God’s dream is for all people to have what they need, to live in freedom and love with full bellies in lands that welcome and care for them.

You probably know, too, that we subvert this dream in order to protect our own and to hoard our treasures. Our subversion comes at the expense of God’s dream. Our subversion comes at the expense of the humanity of our neighbors. Our subversion, in this case and in many cases, comes at the expense of infants and children.

Christians like to talk about obedience. In fact, we had the opportunity to hear our attorney general, Jeff Sessions, cite a piece of scripture in order to browbeat us into compliance, calling on us to obey the law.

Christianity has never been about obedience, though, except in those cases where those with power were looking to solidify their power. Christianity is not about obedience, it’s about defiance. To follow Jesus is to walk into grave defiance. Jesus pushed against the government until they felt threatened enough to kill him. Then, after they killed him, he defied death. Jesus calls us to stand against those who would enslave and imprison, separate and traumatize. To stand with Jesus is to stand in defiance.

But again, our problem here is not a knowing problem. We know better than to set up internment camps. We know better than to separate children from their parents (except, obviously, when parents are a risk to their children). We know better than to blindly obey cruel laws. Even the people who instituted these practices in the last several months knew this. Even Jeff Sessions knew this. We know this.

Our problem here is not a knowing problem. Our problem is a doing problem. Even as we know those children are as important as our own children, we act to protect ours at the expense of theirs. Even as we know that used wisely, there is enough of everything we need to go around, we hoard our own privilege and wealth and safety at the expense of theirs.

Maybe our real problem is that we don’t believe God’s dream is real. We don’t believe Jesus’ call for justice will work. At least, we don’t believe it enough to live it. Even this so-called “Christian nation” doesn’t believe that loving our neighbors is actually a possibility.

The good news, though, is that some of us do believe. Enough of us, if we can keep it up. Some of us have yelled and screamed and fought. And inch by inch, through defiance and a demand for justice, we grab hold of God’s dream. God uses our resistance to achieve justice. God’s dream becomes reality when we join our defiance to Jesus. Our borders become a place of safety and welcome when we join our voices to the voices of the stones beside the road.

We cannot rest. We cannot slip into complacency. We cannot obey. We cannot close the border on God’s dream.

May we continue in our holy defiance. May we continue to dream God’s utopian dreams. May we welcome the immigrants in their full humanity.

God’s Peace and All Good, Kayla

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