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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#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@

Trump, Scrooge, and the Rest of Us

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Why Christmas Shatters Our Scroogeness

Trending Topic: #WhitesAgainstTrump

‘Tis the season to be jolly—and to be Donald Trump. The man is soaring in national polls as things spiral out of control for the Republicans. Trump continues to spew out controversial remarks with no seeming retaliation from his supporters. A campaign that started on labeling illegal immigrants as “rapists” has now reached a zenith by labeling all Muslims as “terrorists.”

At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear Trump say, “Bah humbug!”

Now, the comparison is not one of greediness—although that could be argued. Rather, the point of similarity between Mr. Trump and Mr. Scrooge lies with their perception of people. Calling somebody a “Scrooge” is tantamount to doubting their Christmas spirit and perhaps being too miserly. But there was something more at play that Dickens was getting at when he wrote his classic tale. He presented Scrooge as more than just greedy—he was anti-people.

Let’s view the story from my favorite adaption: A Christmas Carol starring Jim Carrey. In the beginning scenes, Mr. Scrooge is visited by some gentlemen who wish to take a “collection for the poor.” Scrooge declines, insisting that since there are “prisons” and “work houses,” his charity is not needed. In fact, he goes so far as to say that these poor should “die to decrease the surplus population!” He’s reminded of these words when the Spirit of Christmas Present takes him to Bob Cratchit’s house.

"DISNEY'S A CHRISTMAS CAROL"

Scrooge knew Bob Cratchit—but not as a human. Scrooge knew him only as a tool in his hands to get his work done. In fact, Scrooge did not know much about anyone except what he needed to use them for his own benefit. He perceived people as labels—the lazy poor, the irresponsible young man, the employee taking advantage of him. But his labels are shattered when the Spirit shows him inside Cratchit’s world—a world full of pain. No doubt, Scrooge didn’t even know that Bob had any children, much less that he had a sickly child named Tiny Tim. The animators did a masterful job—I’ll never forget the look on Scrooge’s face when he hears of Tim’s illness. His eyes are opened—he’s seeing Bob as a human now. A human with a lot of pain. And he turns to the spirit and begs that Tim not die. The Spirit replies…

“He better do it! To decrease the surplus population!”

That same look was found when Scrooge is taken back to the house in the future, and Tim is dead. Bob pauses on the stairs and seems to look right at Scrooge through swollen eyes. That’s the moment when things start to click for our covetous old sinner.

I only wish Trump and his supporters could be taken on that same journey. Where can you order three haunting spirits in time for Christmas Eve? Now, I’m not suggesting that Trump and his supporters are all racists. I don’t know what’s in their hearts. However, I can accurately surmise that Trump is playing off people’s ethnocentrism—that their culture, their way of seeing things is the only right way. Anything that is different is bad. Thus, “Mexican illegals and Muslims are all evil—and it’s about time someone had the guts to call them out!”

They’re seeing people as un-people. As tools or burdens. As labels and not lovable. This is the Scrooge-syndrome.

And we all have it. It’s not just Trump. As much as I like to hate his campaign, I see many of its flaws in my personal life. My tendency to promote my way of doing things above anyone else’s. To put people in boxes. To see them only as statistics or polls. To insist that my culture is best.

I see a man with a turban and avoid him—he could be a terrorist. I see a homeless man and avoid eye contact—he could be a druggie. I see a group of African-American kids—they could be a gang. I see Mexicans working on a house—no doubt illegals.

Unfortunately, I won’t be visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve to show me that my perceptions are wrong. If only we could all be taken behind the scenes for the people around us. But God is not going to make it that easy for us. And even if he did, would we really change?

I think not. Instead, I think we need to spend some time meditating on the Word, on the Christmas story. And come away in awe of God’s universal grace. I think we lose sight of how expansive His message was—“good tidings of great joy which shall be to Americans only.” No, that’s not right. “Great joy to Southern, church folk.” No, that’s not it. “To the cleaned-up, tie-wearing, upper-middle-class citizens who speak good English.” Not quite.

TO ALL PEOPLE.

To the illegal immigrants. To the Muslim immigrants—even the ISIS members! To the poor who are mooching off welfare. To Mr. Trump. To Mr. Scrooge. To me and to you.

We get so lost in our politics that we forget why we’re here—not to get a conservative elected (though I hope that happens). Not to preserve our American system till kingdom comes. No, our job is to spread the “good tidings” to all people! Regardless of their job, their ethnicity, or their legal status. The Gospel will sort all the rest out. We don’t need to make “America great again”—we need to make our Savior great! To spread the Gospel to all nations. I think that’ll keep us busy enough to not worry so much about our culture’s demise.

Don’t be so caught up railing against certain people that you forget who they actually are—people! Not labels. Not what you perceive from a glance—not outward characteristics. Rather, stories…often, stories of pain. The people you encounter this season are just that: people. People who need the “good tidings of great joy!”

-M@