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…”

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We Are Strangers: The Christian’s Priorities in the Refugee Crisis

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Trending Topic: #WelcomeRefugees

I was strongly tempted not to blog about this topic. I really didn’t want to—nor feel the need to after so many have already posted about it. But frankly, of all the current issues I’ve discussed thus far, this one strikes home the closest for me. This is an issue I know and care a lot about. Plenty of people have stated their opinions on Facebook or in articles—in fact, I deeply respect several of the perspectives I’ve read. Most notably, Kevin DeYoung’s piece in The Gospel Coalition, Russell Moore’s piece on the Washington Post, and David Crabb on Desiring God. They all take different perspectives that are helpful and convicting. Though I am by no means on the same intellectual plane as these gentlemen (not to mention, the same popularity plane), I do want to briefly assert my position, based not so much on a full understanding of everything going on…but on my personal experience with Syrian refugees.

Yes, I’ve met some. Unlike vitriolic politicians who are quick to jump on one bandwagon or another, I have actually sat down and talked with Syrian refugees. Unlike some of my friends on Facebook who are quick to post their opinions in CAPITAL LETTERS, I have actually discussed the horrors of the Syrian civil war with someone who’s been in it. And based on those conversations, I have a few things to share on how a Christian should engage this issue.

  1. I am not a politician, and thus my priority is not to make policy.

I don’t have all the answers—I’m not an elected official who can research all the data (or send an aide to do it). I don’t have access to all the facts of how many refugees can feasibly be let in, how likely they are to be terrorists, and on and on and on.

And that’s the point! We’re not politicians! At least, I highly doubt any of my readers are politicians (although you’re welcome to keep reading, Mr. President). We are in no position to make decisions on whether or not to allow refugees into our country—and we likely never will be (sorry to crush your dreams). We have no authority to decide how many and at what time. We cannot change the vetting process. That does not mean we should not offer suggestions or have an informed opinion. But we must realize that we simply do not have all the information. And even if we did, we do not have the power to change anything. Yes, we can vote, particularly in a primary, and make our opinions on this subject heard—coming up very soon! So what we believe about this issue does matter. But we still will not be running for President ourselves (cancel that announcement party!). We will not be signing the bill. We’re just citizens—no, more than that, we’re Christian citizens of a great nation.

But above all, we’re citizens of a “better country.”

America is a great nation, yes. But we’re by no means a perfect one. I think far too often, we get so wrapped up in American interests and American problems and American priorities that we forget the heavenly ones. We’re too focused on stating how we (or our favorite candidate) would solve the problem that we forget to consider what the Bible says.

  1. I am a citizen of America, and thus one of my biblical priorities is for my nation’s welfare.

Here’s a challenge—name a Scripture that says we are to be focused about the welfare of our current country. Give me some references to having patriotism and supporting our country. A bit more challenging than perhaps you thought, right? I struggled to think of one—at least one that is not taken out of context. Sure, the Bible talks plenty about Israelite patriotism, but does it say that New Testament believers ought to be concerned about their nation state’s welfare?

Lest you think I’m becoming unpatriotic, let me state the one passage I think does refer to supporting your country. In Jeremiah 29, the prophet writes a letter to those who have already been carried off captive in Babylon. He tells them not to think they’ll be coming home any time soon—they still have got 70 years! Rather, they were to focus on being the best people they could be where they were. And this includes his statement in verse 7: “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

That’s how the Christian is supposed to care for his country. We are “not of this world.” Our citizenship is in Heaven, Paul writes in Philippians 3:20—thus, we are “exiles.” Our primary responsibility is not to promote America. But it is a good Christian virtue to follow in the example of other “exiles” and seek the welfare of our country and pray for it. To support its troops. To pray for its success. To care about its protection from terrorists. Yes, even to pay your taxes—a highly Biblical concept!

But let us not overemphasize what the Bible does not spend much time on. Yes, we see a Scriptural priority to care about our country. But the Bible gives us as even greater priority—one that overrides all others!

  1. I am a citizen of heaven, and thus my overriding priority is to make more citizens of it!

Perhaps the simplest form of this priority is found in Matthew 28:19-20—go! Go and tell the world about the good news of Jesus. Make disciples of everyone you meet.

We are indeed exiles from our true home—refugees, one could even say. We have not fled from an oppressive government, but evil—our own evil—has pushed us away from perfection with God in the garden to wander this pitiless planet. Until we reach that real perfect home once again through Christ’s atonement and return.

So put yourself in the shoes of these refugees! God encouraged such a perspective among the Israelites when He gave them commands concerning the “stranger”—passages being used perhaps too heavily these days. Leviticus 19:34 reads: “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

The Bible clearly speaks of compassion for the stranger or foreigner who comes to your country. So, whatever you think about the policy of letting refugees in, you must at least admit that, as a Christian, you must show compassion to the refugees who are already here.

We have no power to kick them out. Our only power is to love them. Maybe some of them are indeed terrorists in disguise. It’s highly probable, in fact! But that does not change our priority AT ALL! Whether or not the government lets none in or two million in, our response to the Syrian refugees we meet is to be the same—share with all of them the love of Jesus!

All that being said, here’s my opinion on the subject, for what it’s worth…

Don’t just react to news stories on conservative sites—or liberal ones, for that matter! The question is not as cut and dry as you may think. Don’t react so hastily as to ban all refugees. That, I think, is clearly too radical a position, though many have taken it. There are differences of opinion that fall well within Romans 14 on how many to let in, what type of screening they should undergo, and even whether to let in certain types at all (like young Muslim men). My opinion has even changed in light of the Paris attacks to be a lot less open about accepting all of them. However, to argue that we should not allow Christian refugees in is ludicrous (although politically, if we let them in, we have to let anyone in). Similarly, the argument that we should not allow orphans under the age of 10 in is at the best misinformed. At the worst, dramatically unlike the Savior who “let the children” come to Him. What a golden opportunity to get these children away from Muslim influences and place them into Christian homes where they can hear about Jesus! There are many Christian organizations doing just this—join them, as you are able! Perhaps God would call you to adopt an orphan or house an old widow. These people are not terrorists—yes, some may argue they could still be trained to do so.

Migrant boy lies on the floor while waiting to leave Hungary outside a train station in Budapest

But come on now!? You’re in more danger of a shark attack than a Syrian orphan blowing you up!

Here’s a concept—have some compassion! I’m so sick and tired of hearing the quote all over Facebook: “To the people so eager to let the Syrian refugees into America: why don’t you host them at your house then?”

I will! I would if I could! No, not just any Syrian refugee—I understand the dangers and would never risk my family’s security. However, I have FRIENDS who are Syrian refugees, whom I would have at my house were they to come here. Why? Because I know them. I’ve spent time with them. I’ve developed trust with them and know they’re not terrorists. I’ve shared the Gospel with them—gotten them to read the Bible!

If more Christians spent more time witnessing to Syrian refugees and listening to their stories and befriending them, Facebook would be filled less with the word “security” and more with the word “love.” There are legitimate concerns that need to be addressed about security that many government officials do not seem to grasp. So do your research. Make an informed choice of candidate come your primary/caucus time. Well and good.

But keep your priorities straight. Make your priorities the Bible’s priorities.

Don’t let your love for America drown out your love for the lost. Jesus certainly never did…

-M@