Monday, April 10, 2006

Blessed is the Law—Up to a Point - Christianity Today Magazine

Blessed is the Law—Up to a Point - Christianity Today Magazine:

A gentle challenge—and invitation—to the critics of our recent immigration editorial.
by Mark Galli, managing editor of Christianity Today

"We expected a fair amount of criticism for portraying sympathetically the plight of immigrants in "Blessed are the Courageous." We did not expect one complaint to be repeated in nearly every email:

'Your article "Blessed Are the Courageous" misses the point. People, regardless of their beliefs, nationality, good or bad are illegal if they do not follow the law to enter the country. If we are a nation where the rule of law is supreme, then it is wrong to only obey the laws we believe in, and disobey those we don't.'

Since nearly every critic expressed this exact sentiment, we thought some clarifications were in order, as well as a challenge for our law-and-order brothers and sisters. While legislation has been temporarily scuttled, we nonetheless want to encourage conversation about issues surrounding immigration...."

I have been following this discussion and have been disturbed by the rhetoric that pervades this issue. It is even more disturbing when Christians, who should know better, adopt the same rhetorical style as those whose motivations are purely ideological.

Christianity Today is not condoning lawlessness, nor is it minimizing the very real issues of social services that are stretched to their limits, but it is promoting Christian love toward those whose desperation drives them to seek a better life. This editorial goes on to point out some uncomfortable facts to any who see the law as "supreme":

"...This is nothing less than a biblical principle, as witnessed in Daniel's determination to worship his God despite "the laws of the Medes and Persians," in Rahab's betrayal of her people to help Israeli spies, in Jesus' unwillingness to submit to Sabbath laws when they harmed people, in the early apostles' refusal to cease preaching despite the authorities' command. As Peter put it to them, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God" (Acts 4:19). In each instance, the law of man was superceded by the law of love—of God and of neighbor...."

We seem to have forgotten that we ALL are of immigrant stock -- even Native Americans. We are here because our ancestors sought a better life. We seem also to have forgotten that our nation was founded in a massive (and bloody) act of civil disobedience -- because the law was unjust.

Christianity Today has shown considerable courage itself in speaking clearly to us in ways that do not resonate with the public at large, let alone many Christians.

Perhaps a little Christian compassion and mercy ought to temper our desire to uphold the law.

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