A great cry rises up from San Ysidro to Brownsville as mother’s weep for their children. In Calexico, Nogales, Santa Teresa, and Laredo children live in terror of being torn from their families as pawns in a political game. If Donald Trump is Cyrus, he’s acting more like Herod, who ravaged families in Bethlehem over his political interests. The Word of God is distorted in the highest halls of American power as justification for unjustifiable crimes. The situation is worsened by the tacit approval of Trump’s border policies by a large contingent of American Christians, and rots even further by the silence of Christians who know better and fail to speak up against these dark, draconian measures that deprive children of justice and equity to the poor. At the end of the day, this is a human issue, political ramifications be damned.
No amount of interpretive gymnastics on the part of the Religious Right, who seek to make a case, however tenuous that the Bible ought to inform politics can absolve themselves of the clear ethical commands of Scripture:
“For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome… executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. So, show your love for the alien…” (Deuteronomy 10:17-19)
Now, I am not one to argue that the Bible is a handbook for secular statecraft, but it does place clear and pressing demands on Christians, regardless of prevailing politics. We are called, commanded actually, to love our neighbor, to do justice to the oppressed. This is the quintessential expression of the Christian’s love for God – to love who he loves. So, is it loving to consent to the barbarities happening on our own borders, or to stand aloof in complicit silence? Can we possibly approve of the shattering of families on the grounds of policy? Can we say Trump is Cyrus when he acts with Herodian malice?
There are many who hail Trump as the new Cyrus, especially on account of his policies in the Middle-East and Israel, which is an issue I won’t address here. They seem him as an integral part of the coming Millennial Kingdom, and wrap him in a mantle of prophetic approval and certitude that is preposterous. God causes the rise and fall of kings and Kingdom’s to suit his purposes – he needs none of them, and his purposes are inscrutable. Until such a day as the Kingdom of God descends upon the Earth in all of it’s glory, Christians are called to serve and love the world, not to rule it. The Caesars demanded unquestioning loyalty and to be revered as gods, but the power of the ancient Church was in their dissent against such political hubris and all the while they continued to serve the people of the very Empire that often maligned and killed them. Such loving, self-giving service and courageous dissent is hard to find in our day. Christians long for the Second Coming of Christ, and are eager to see portends of his return in the present state of affairs. The issue isn’t whether or not Trump is Cyrus, or if the Second Coming is at hand (because it always is). If we think in apocalyptic terms, the far more pressing issue is whether or not the Son of Man will find faith on the earth when he returns, and at this we should tremble.
The underlying hypocrisies of conservative Christianity in America are being brought up to the surface in this political moment. If there is any hope for conservative Christians, of which I am one (tenuously at least), to regain the credibility of our witness to the dying love of our Savior, we had better start loving those whom he died for. The love of God in Christ for all men compels me, I will not be silent. I do not consent. I choose love, not fear. To my immigrant friends, and students I have a pleasure of teaching, regardless of your legal status, I stand with you because God does.