On nearly every front, in every realm of society, there is confusion and upheaval. Most of the controversy and dilemma we currently face is the result of having destroyed the moral foundation upon which proper behavior and a healthy society can be built. Along with the destruction of our moral foundation, we have abandoned the intellectual foundation that compliments it. Lack of morality and intelligence is a sure-fire way to destroy a nation. It is my conviction that both morality and a proper use of one’s mind is related to our knowledge (intellectual and relational) of God. The prophet Hosea states, “…there is no faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of God in the land. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:1 & 6. Of course, we have replaced these with a substitute morality and intelligence which have previously been aptly described in ancient text. “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight!” (Is.5:20-21).
If we learn anything from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein it is that the monsters we create will eventually destroy us. The outworking of the sexual revolution has produced such massive confusion that we do not know how to identify men and women. Those that encourage immoral sexual practices cry foul when a movie producer or politician practices sexual immorality; when they assume they can have their cake and eat it too. But those who cry foul seem to want it both ways – people should be allowed to do whatever they want to do but not allowed to do it if you don’t want them to do it. This manifestation of pluralism (include everyone’s opinion and preference) works until someone’s opinion and preference is contrary to what your opinion and preference prefers their opinion and preference to be.
The one contemporary controversy that I would like to consider in this article is national border control. It seems the wild and extreme representations being vomited forth by most media sources only add fuel to the fire of a destructive blaze.
Before making a more direct statement about the national border control issue I would like to direct our thoughts toward an initial distinction of importance. Consider the difference between one’s personal, individual approach and action / reaction toward a situation and, on the other hand, having a governmental role and responsibility that impacts the lives of others as a result of one’s decisions / choices. An apt illustration of the difference between choices made as an individual as opposed to a government official is a Judge dealing with a thief in his judicial and legal position as a Judge as opposed to dealing with theft as a homeowner who has been robbed. In both cases, his reaction toward this crime has consequences but as a private citizen, he is not bound by duty or obligation to press charges. However, in his judicial position, he has an obligation to guard and protect society as a whole. His compassion for the individual criminal (possibly as friend or relative) must not lead him to put society at risk. Further, a judge who oversees the case of a crime that has been committed against his own person or property (which should never happen) might personally practice forgiveness toward the criminal, not harboring resentment and bitterness but, at the same time, hand down an appropriate legal sentence due to judicial duty.
To build on this, consider how the national border control issue can be understood by way of comparing it with other aspects of life that involve the demands of different roles (governmental responsibilities).
If someone came to the door of your house and demanded that you leave them in, are you indiscriminately required to do so? Would it be appropriate and wise to evaluate the demand (have a vetting process)? As an individual, the decision one makes will, most likely, only effect the individual in question. However, if you have a wife, the role of protector is an added factor to your decision-making process. To consider this from another angle, operating in the role of a husband, the borders of your bed are exclusively for your wife. There are border issues in all aspects of life. If you are a father the role of protector increases and you will want to have a way to screen who does and does not have access to the interior portions of your house, including your children’s bedroom. Decisions made by one with governmental responsibility have an impact on the lives of others. This being the case, forming a judgment involves considering the well-being of the one at the door and the ones in the house. In some cases, allowing someone into the house (friends, family, fire fighter, etc.) poses no threat to those in the house but, other occasions (drug crazed maniac, known thief or murderer) would prove to be an act of irresponsibility and foolishness to allow someone to enter the house of those you are to protect.
Many Christians, failing to make distinctions, will apply the parable of the good Samaritan or James 2:15-16 (“If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?”) as support for unmonitored compassion and, potentially, open borders. It is true that we should be willing and seek to deal with the needs of those in need, but 1) it is appropriate to discern if and why they are in need if we are to help them effectively, 2) we must consider if helping them will put someone else in need or treat them unjustly (have a negative effect upon others) and 3) we must avoid enabling and producing dependency and an entitlement mentality.
is a good trait when exercised with wisdom. I am confident that criminals who
stand before a Judge hope that he / she will have compassion, but, I am just as
confident that the people in society who the criminals behavior will effect
would like the Judge to have compassion on them, as well, and exercise wisdom
in his verdict. Compassion and mercy must be tempered with wisdom and justice
and justice must not be conceived of as simply leveling the playing field – it
is finding a way to deal correctly with all parties / subjects involved. Such
issues are more complex than our emotionally driven, micro-wave, knee-jerk, Biblically
illiterate, pop culture realizes.
 In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the goal was to convict a Jewish religious leader of his lack of understanding and practice of compassion while someone he found to be despicable humbly did so. Consider, it was a personal issue, not a governmental issue and, though compassion was exercised, he “brought him to an inn” and “took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him…’” As well, the one in need was not simply demanding something from someone but was completely at the mercy of the one deciding to help. This did not involve bringing him within his own borders. There are many ways to address real needs.
The statement in James pertains to our personal reaction to a personal request for help. Many who talk about compassion for others do not so with no intention of being personally involved but simply expect the government to address the issue. Again, distinctions are important.