Yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions had the audacity to justify the separation of vulnerable children from their parents at the southern border with words from Romans 13, a portion of an epistle in the Bible. That portion says,
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement.
Of course, just a few sentences later, the same passage says,
Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
But since he referenced only the first part, I suppose Jeff Sessions means that parents and other caregivers should simply accept family separation because the government is doing it, and the government has determined they have committed a ‘crime.’ You know, the government instituted by God. (Sidenote: Remember when the same leaders held an ideology that government needed to be reigned in?) Likewise, I suppose he is implying that the rest of us shouldn’t question what is happening on the border. We should accept his God-given authority and his definition of ‘crime’ (among other things, it is not a crime to seek asylum).
This just in, Jeff Sessions: I do not accept your authority to traumatize children.
Likewise, when confronted during a briefing yesterday, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders justified these practices at the border, saying, “It’s very Biblical to enforce the law.” Which law? Whose? For what? For whom?
Because these words are also in the Bible,
Woe to those who make unjust laws,
to those who issue oppressive decrees,
to deprive the poor of their rights
and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
making widows their prey
and robbing the fatherless.
What will you do on the day of reckoning,
when disaster comes from afar?
To whom will you run for help?
Where will you leave your riches? (Isaiah 10:1-3)
You shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know the feelings of a stranger, for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)
You shall not pervert the justice due an alien or an orphan, nor take a widow’s garment in pledge. (Deut. 24:17)
Thus says the LORD, “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place. (Jer. 22:3)
And so many more passages just like this.
Of course, this nation is not set up to be a theocracy. People have human rights apart from the words written in the Bible, and it’s clear that Border Patrol and ICE are inflicting severe trauma on the southern border. I don’t think it’s a stretch to call this emotional and developmental torture.
So we are angry and devastated, recognizing that those directly impacted are ravished with anger and devastation beyond words.
I will say this,
When I feel this way, I try to remind myself that people are really taking action, and we really can join that action. Otherwise, it’s easy to feel despair and assume nothing can be done. We can keep moving to pressure and protect.
We keep questioning. We keep speaking. We keep giving. We keep donating. We keep speaking the truth about human worth. We keep uplifting the needs of children. We keep looking at the problem. We keep caring for ourselves and others in sustainable ways. We keep fighting. We keep praying. We keep working in the direction of a better vision.
And perhaps we keep asking, what am I specifically called to do?