I am not afraid

My faith informs my politics. I think the same can be said of anyone. That is why I welcome refugees to this country. The thought of another 9/11 or attacks like the ones we saw last week in many places around the world can be scary, but I am choosing not to respond out of fear, but of love.

We can read in 2 Tim 1:7 that, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind,” and in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” And we all know that the two basic commandments of the gospel are to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. This tells me that while the natural man may be afraid, that response does not come from God.

God commands us to love everyone, for who is our neighbor? When questioned about this, Jesus responded with the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritans and the Jews were enemies, and yet according to Jesus, they were still neighbors. It is easy to love your fellow citizensĀ or your fellow religionists. As Jon Bytheway said in a memorable talk from my youth, “Even Skeletor has friends.” But the call of the gospel of Christ is to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” (Matt 5 44-45). God requires a greater effort out of us than only loving the people that love us. God requires us to actively do good to those who hate us. God requires us to love.

But what if we let them in and something happens, you may ask?

To which I respond with careful boldness, “So what?”

Beyond the evidence which has repeatedly shown that refugees do not turn to domestic terrorism but quickly become productive members of their adopted countries, so what?

So what if we bring in 100,000 suffering children and women and men and a handful of them turn to terrorism? Yes, people could die, but so what? From a utilitarian standpoint, the number of people we have benefited and saved is greater than the number of people who have suffered and lost. From an egalitarian standpoint, it isn’t fair to make others suffer to protect ourselves when those who are suffering are not the creators of their suffering. And from a religious standpoint, the last thing I should be afraid of as a Christian is death.

I believe in Christ, and I believe in the idealized America that I was taught in kindergarten, and whether it’s the call inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty to

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” (“The New Colossus,” Emma Lazarus)

or the call of Christ to

Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matt 25: 35-40)

the message is the same.

There is no justification for turning away refugees seeking safety and a better life. Whether we are a golden lamp or a city on a hill, if we owe our loyalty first to the Kingdom of God or the United States of America, as Christians we cannot look away from the suffering and expect God to approve of our actions. We have an obligation to succor those in need of comfort, to strengthen the weary knees, and to care for the widow and the orphan. We have been commanded to love everyone.

I am a Christian. I am an American. And I am not afraid.