Why a Muslim Ban Is a Bad Idea for Christians

 

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This administration has already done some wonderful things through actions taken and statements made to restrict abortion. I pray these continue. And I desire to the best of my ability to follow the guidelines of Romans 13 and 1 Timothy 2.

But there comes a moment where I cannot stay silent. I care too deeply and know too many friends affected to just blindly go along with what many other Christians are applauding.

I am aware that the President’s executive order signed this weekend was NOT in fact a “Muslim ban.” Instead, it banned citizens of certain countries from entering the US. I use the term “Muslim ban” loosely to describe both what the President desires to do and this executive order, which is the first step toward that.

I firmly believe a Muslim ban and this executive order are very dangerous to global Christianity. Let me defend that statement:

1. A Muslim ban could lead to a Christian ban.

Christians may have just voted in their own persecution. I do not mean to say that this current administration will persecute Christians in America. But think of this – if this administration puts forth a law that allows religious identification as a Muslim to play a role in “filtering” humans entering the US, why couldn’t another administration do the same for Christians?

If the courts uphold a Muslim ban, what would stop a Democratic administration from issuing a Christian ban? And if they can use religion to restrict people in one area, why couldn’t they in another? The President has proposed having a database on all Muslims and having surveillance at mosques. Why couldn’t a future government do the same for Christians?

2. This executive order has already stopped Christian refugees.

Did you know that a Syrian Christian family, coming to America with VISAS in hand, were stopped by authorities at the Philadelphia airport and told to get back on a flight to Doha? CHRISTIANS – our brothers and sisters who managed to escape the clutches of ISIS to finally get access to America – sent back because of this executive order!

I’m glad he did not ban all Muslims from any country. But banning citizens of whole countries is almost worse. Because that means that Christians fleeing for help are denied access along with Muslims.

This executive order is unclear, at best. If green card holders have been denied, will American citizens be denied? What about the American missionary who becomes a legal citizen of one of these countries in order to not so easily be deported? When he comes back to give a report to your church, will you support denying him entrance?

It’s time we Christians pushed for some clarification on this order for the sake of our dear brothers and sisters.

3. These actions will lead to more attacks, not less.

If the administration communicates that it believes all Muslims from certain countries are terrorists, what will Muslims in these countries do? Become terrorists! “If that’s what they think I am, I’ll show them!” There’s already enough American hostility festering in these regions.

What about Muslims already in America? No doubt many ISIS fighters lie hidden among us. Such a ridiculous overstepping on the rights of Muslims could lead to Muslims – even moderate ones – rising up to commit great acts of evil.

Both abroad…and on our soil.

4. Safety should not be our top priority – the Gospel should.

Let’s stop and ask ourselves – why are we as American Christians so obsessed with our safety anyway? Show me where in the Bible Christ calls us to be concerned for our own safety above everything else, much less concerned for the safety of our country? Patriotism is fine and good, but not if it puts country above God.

Ethnocentrism is a sin. We ought to pray for our country and enjoy and respect the freedoms we have. But we are not of this world! This is not our home!

Our priorities lie with the eternal kingdom.

Here’s a radical thought – let’s sacrifice our own personal safety for the advancement of the Gospel.

Let’s let the refugees in! May it lead to terrorist attacks? Maybe, but it’s too late anyway – they’re already here. Let’s sacrifice our precious Western culture for a nation where Spanish and Arabic are spoken all over and yet the Gospel has been shared with more Muslims than ever before!

It is not our chief concern to worry about terrorist attacks. What will stop attacks from occurring is not radical political actions but radical Gospel transformation!

If you’ve spent more time complaining about Muslims on Facebook than sharing the Gospel with the ones in your neighborhood, then your priorities are off.

To close, picture this conversation between two Christians:

“We should let Muslims in, so we can share the Gospel with them!”

“No, that’s too dangerous.”

“Then we should go over to Syria and Iraq and share the Gospel with them there!”

“No, that’s too dangerous.”

“Then at least let’s share the Gospel with the ones who are already here.”

“No, that’s too dangerous.”

 

“Then let’s pray for others to share the Gospel with them.”

“I don’t have time for that…”

You, Me, Trump, and Twitter

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This election has been crazy.

That’s an understatement. I, like most (if not all) Americans, am just ready for it all to be over. I have a feeling Wednesday will be a pretty depressing – albeit relieving – day.

But one interesting trend from this election is the power of social media – particularly the little thing known as Twitter.

I’m a big fan of Twitter. Though it is mainly used by politicians and celebrities, it can also be good for the average Joe who wants to keep up with the news. I appreciate the conciseness of the tweet limit, which encourages wit and proverbial thoughts.

But sometimes, it can get discouraging – and even downright dangerous. At least psychologically.

David French of National Review writes a stunning piece about the price he paid for opposing Trump. While I don’t want to get in to a discussion of the election (since I vowed in an earlier post to not mention it until Election Day), I do want to draw attention to this article.

Because it speaks to the power of Twitter this election cycle – for good occasionally. But most often for very, very bad.

We laughed when Nikki Haley retweeted at Trump’s denigrating tweet by saying, “Bless your heart.” We smiled at the banter between Hillary’s “Delete your account” and Reince Priebus’s “You would know about deleting, Hillary.” And we probably had a good joke with friends about Trump’s late night tweet firestorm at the “chockers” and “leightweights” of Cruz and Rubio.

But what about the tweets back to David French with a picture of his African-American adopted daughter in a gas chamber with a Nazi-like Trump pushing the red button? Or tweets claiming they had sex with his wife while he was serving our country in Iraq? What do we do about those?

Especially those that are tweeted from people on “our side.”

Don’t get me wrong – both sides contributed to this madness. But one side in particular has contributed an immense amount of vileness. They are called the alt-right.

Make no mistake: however you vote this election, you must stand against these people. It is not pro-life to tweet for Ben Shapiro to be made into a lampshade. Or tweets calling Democrats or media figures vile or sexist or racist names. Or even tweets saying we should “Lock her up.”

Brothers and sisters, we must not contribute one tweet to this horrid conversation.

As Paul said, we must walk (and tweet and retweet) wisely (Eph. 5:15).

This Wednesday may be a day of great temptation for Christians to tweet against our first woman president. Resist that urge. Submit to our new president, whoever she is.

And remember 1 Peter 3:16: “Having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”

Happy voting (or not voting)!

Your Life Matters

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A Time to Mourn.

I don’t often cry on my way to work. Normally it’s just a dull drive in, weaving between the slow drivers while trying not to get rear-ended by the fast ones. But this past week, I found myself sitting in traffic with a tear on my cheek.

I was listening to a panel discussion at the Village Church. Pastor Matt Chandler was interviewing four African-American believers about how they reacted to the shootings in Minnesota, Baton Rouge, and frankly every state in America at this point. As they shared how they felt,  I found myself weeping with their pain.

I guess I was fulfilling Romans 12:15:

Weep with those who weep.

In our world, this means we must weep with African-Americans AND with law enforcement officers.

In our world, this means we must be weeping a lot. Almost unceasingly.

Yet, it’s so easy to get callous toward these events. They’re happening so often, and the rapid fire of shooting tragedies has caused my heart to grow hard.

To move on so quickly. To not really care about those who are hurting. To maybe tweet, “Thoughts for Minnesota” or “Prayers for Dallas.” But most of the time, it means to forget to even pray…

A Time to Do.

I don’t want to be unmoved by death any longer. Death is the most gruesome creature to roam this earth. We cannot quench its appetite nor stop its reach. It stalks unchallenged across our country.

But I want to challenge it. Because my Savior has already challenged and defeated it! And together, His army, the church, can march against these tragedies with the power of His love and grace.

It’s time we stood up. It’s time we did something.

There is a part for Christians to play in tragedies such as these. That part is not to be the loudest screamer on social media calling for one side or the other. It’s not even really to take to the streets.

A Time to Feel.

Let’s face it – we don’t understand what our African-American brothers and sisters are going through. Why wouldn’t they have distrust toward authorities when their grandparents tell them stories of being beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge during a peaceful rally! They walk into church to find that they are the only African-American – due to years of supposed “Christians” segregating them out. We can never understand what these people feel when they read of another shooting of an innocent African-American.

My brothers, I do not understand how all this must feel to you. But I want to learn…

Let’s also face this – we don’t understand what our law-enforcement brothers and sisters are going through. After listening to that panel, I listened to another sermon from the Village Church on law enforcement. Again, it made me want to weep. I had no idea what it was like for a police officer to be the first one on the scene of every grisly murder, every rape, and every gut-wrenching tragedy my town has ever faced. And then to have to go home to dinner with his family after seeing such death? We can never understand what these people feel when they read of another shooting of an innocent police officer.

My brothers, I do not understand how all this must feel to you. But I want to learn…

I want to feel – both for the African-American and the police officer. I want to hug them. I want to cry with them. I want to pray with them. I want to be used by God to bring some small measure of healing to their lives.

I’m sorry for being so hard-hearted. For criticizing one or both groups unjustly. I want to learn from you both. I love you.

Your life matters, African-American. Your life matters, police officer. Individually. Christ died for you. You were once far off – as was I. But now we have been brought near by the blood of Christ!

And guess what? The wall that once stood in between us has been broken down! And now, in the body of Christ, I can relate to you. I can feel your pain.

So above all, I think these times are a time to remind ourselves of Ephesians 2:14:

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility…

-M@

#NeverUnity

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I’ve been trying of late not to post about politics – even though I’m a political junkie and the son of a political junkie (it’s really an addiction. I need help).

I’ve just been convicted about all the hate and vitriol I’ve been spitting out about candidates and people groups. It’s really not befitting of the loving Savior I claim to represent.

The Lord, through His patient Spirit and life-altering Word, has been changing my political perspective. And I just want to share what He’s been doing in my life. I don’t want this to come across as controversial or looking for debate. In fact, PLEASE don’t start a comments war over this. I’m specifically writing against such things.

I’m also going to try not to wade into my own opinions – although, as a sinner, I can’t be completely unbiased. I’m an opinionated person. In fact, my fiance gets onto me for being so critical – and she’s right (Did you read that, Carissa?). So in the spirit of truth, I just want to lay out a reminder – first to myself and then to all Christians – of what we must keep in mind in the midst of this crazy presidential election.

Sick of hearing blown-out-of-proportion perspectives? Sick of reading Christians reviling each other on social media? Sick of so much #NeverTrump and #NeverHillary that you think all Christians have become #NeverUnity? Here’s a helpful and refreshing dose of biblical truth to calm our weary souls.

1. All Christians MUST vote their conscience.

Wow. I can’t believe I just agreed with Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz – both of whom were some of my least favorite politicians at the beginning of this cycle. Now, I understand some people’s angst over this statement since it seems to encourage not voting for the Republican nominee. They raise good points. But in our quest for partisan unity, we cannot afford to deny biblical truth.

As Governor Mike Pence (a great guy, really) pointed out, “I’m a Christian. I’m a conservative. And I’m a Republican. In that order.” We’d be wise to follow that standard.

And as Christians, we must firmly believe in Romans 14 – an oft-neglected passage but one that speaks directly into this political firestorm. I encourage you to study this complicated passage (as well as parallel passages in 1 Corinthians 8). Don’t argue over who is the weaker and stronger brother – that misses the point. See Paul’s main argument: “We cannot cause our brothers to stumble.” What he means by that is not to cause our Christian brothers to sin against their consciences.

Our consciences can be wrong. They need education – as some in Corinth needed about meat offered to idols. But it’s not our job to yell at “weak” brothers and change their minds. Especially not on social media.

I don’t know what your conscience is telling you in this election. If voting for Hillary Clinton would go against your conscience because of her liberal policies, don’t vote for her. However, if voting for Donald Trump would go against your conscience because of many of his statements, then don’t vote for him. To vote for him when your conscience says no would be to sin. However, if NOT voting for Trump would be a sin against your conscience because it would help promote a liberal to the White House, then by all means vote for him.

Whatever you do, and however you vote, DON’T VOTE AGAINST YOUR CONSCIENCE. To do so would be to sin, even if your conscience is wrong. And at the same time, don’t encourage a fellow believer to vote against their conscience.

Some things are more important than an election.

For a better analysis of this passage and issue, see Andy Naselli’s brilliant article.

2. All Christians must refuse to hate people.

The whole “Love trumps hate” thing has been hijacked by the liberals (particularly as a slogan for Clinton) to be used to promote a “do-what-you-want” lifestyle that is pointedly anti-Bible. But the fact remains: the New Testament calls us to love more than anything else! And it’s at the core of our salvation – God loves all sinners.

In the midst of the craziness, let me state a fact: God loves the world (John 3:16).

Therefore, God loves Hillary Clinton. God also loves Donald Trump.

Jesus died for them both – and all their supporters, even the racist and abortion-loving ones. God wants to save them.

Therefore, things like chanting “Lock her up!” or “Hillary for prison” do not strike me as things Jesus would say. Similarly, calling Trump an “idiot” or even taunting his wife with cruel comments are things that are clearly anti-Christian. And I’ve been guilty of saying these sorts of things of both candidates! In fact, I even wrote a blog article a couple months ago apologizing for the choice words I’ve had against Trump. Unfortunately, since then, I have again gone back and committed sin by saying many more rude things.

Once again, Mr. Trump, I apologize. I pray God protects you, your wife, and children. I apologize to you as well, Secretary Clinton. I hope you and your family are spared from any attacks and that your new grandchildren can grow up in safety. May Christ draw both of you to Himself. I strive to pray for you both (hopefully not imprecatory prayers!).

Titus 3 is another good passage to read before Election Day. Verses 1-2 always convict me:

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”

3. All Christians will not agree on who to vote for.

And that’s okay! The beauty of the church (as I wrote on my other blog) is that there can be differences in opinion and still unity. So that when the world looks at the church, they see amnesty supporters and Trump supporters working together to win souls. They see people not voting at all, people voting third party, and people voting for the Republican all worshiping the same God. IN UNITY.

We’ve got to admit – there are good Christians on every side of this presidential election. I even know good Christians voting for Hillary! A good friend of mine for whom I have the greatest respect could not vote for Romney in 2012 because he was a Mormon – and he voted for Obama! I don’t agree with him, but that’s okay. We don’t all have to agree to be united.

If we are all called to vote according to our conscience, we WILL be voting differently. No matter what we do, let’s keep in mind Romans 14:19:

“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”

4. All Christians should refrain from heated debates, particularly on social media.

If good Christians can disagree, if we are called not to hate people, if we are called to vote our conscience, then getting into a comments war with a fellow believer – for all the unsaved world to see – doesn’t strike me as wise or edifying.

In fact, I’d like to give you a challenge that I plan to do from now till Election Day:

DON’T POST ABOUT THE ELECTION AT ALL.

Is that so hard? Is it really worth posting your #NeverTrump view if you know good and well it will only lead to arguments with people in your church? Is it really worth posting something about the foolishness of third-party-voting when you know your brother in Christ is going to do that?

I’m trying to take a fast from posting about the presidential race – hopefully until November. Now, I’ve retweeted some things. I’ve liked some things. But I’m trying not to make my position abundantly clear. I don’t want people to look at me differently because I’m voting a certain way. I want to be able to shake the hand of my Christian friends at church and not have to think, “Oh, he’s not voting how I am.” It’d be better to just not know at all.

And social media is never really a good place to debate anyway. If you want to have a peaceful discussion, recognizing that good Christians can differ, do so in person or at least over private message.

Maybe it’s time for us to delete some posts. I know I had to go back through my Twitter and delete a bunch. I finally gave up when I realized I’d have to delete my entire feed (so please don’t go back and read my tweets from awhile ago).

If Paul said he wouldn’t eat meat because it might cause his brother to stumble (1 Cor. 8:13, Rom. 14:21), then I’m not going to post about an issue if all it’s going to do is stir up disunity in the body of Christ. In fact, I plan to recant from an earlier position and not put out any endorsement at all this election cycle – at least on public social media. I’d recommend the same for all Christians. I think you can vote for Trump or not and have a clear conscience. But maybe it’d be best for our unity and for our Christian witness if we didn’t tell everyone one way or another.

Some things are best left unsaid.

(NOTE: I do plan to share my views on my political podcast. However, unlike previous episodes, I’m going to strive to do it in a more loving and balanced way.)

I think another passage is good to read this election cycle – er, actually a whole book! 1 Peter was written to Christians living in a turbulent time – worse than even what we’re facing! And Peter, throughout the letter, encouraged the Christians to be careful how they act before a watching (and oftentimes hateful) world.

So I’d like to end with God’s words, not mine. Words we should read over and over until November. 1 Peter 2:12-17:

 “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

#MakeChristiansUnifiedAgain #ImwithChrist

-M@