Mercy, Justice, Order, and Law…


On this date when this blog article is posted, the following article is the big news of the day, sparking much discussion and controversy.

http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctpolitics/2012/06/obama-halts-prosecution-of-some-immigrants.html

I’m of two minds about this news.

First, as a nation of laws and of a constitution that describes a separation of powers this troubles me. On the law said, the message this seems to give is that people who break the law and come here illegally with their kids only need to hide long enough for a friendly administration to take notice and then reward their patience. While this policy only applies to residents currently in the country, it could set precident. Add to that essentially the executive branch circumventing the elected congress and enacting what is effectively a new law simply by an act of “decree” rather than by the legislative process and now we have a problem on the constitutional level.

However, as a compassionate follower of Christ, I also see the intent behind this policy. The limitations placed in this policy clearly outlines this to apply to children brought here under the age of 16 by their relatives who are upstanding people, acting essentially as good citizens (even if they aren’t so officially), and applying a policy of grace so they do not have to feel the penalty that their elders’ wrongdoing requires. It is welcoming and gracious and merciful, much like Jesus.

My fear: That there will be no real reform to follow to make such measures unnecessary. That there will continue to be unfairly enforced laws where those desperate people who wish to come here cannot because of the immense paperwork trail and fees required leaving them no recourse but to break the law, while those with “connections” in the halls of power manage to find their paths greased through either legally or through shady means. That the only way for people who are simply seeking new lives in a new country is for them to break the law and live in fear rather than find a country that truly welcomes with words like:

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

What is the answer for US Jesus Followers?

I don’t think there is an easy answer. We are called to be compassionate and merciful, but we are also called to be good citizens in the land where we sojourn. Where do we draw the line for acting justly according to the Kingdom of God and allowing the state to keep the order for which it was established?

Wish I knew… God help us as we try to live in these confusing times.

Edit 6/15/2012 1:28 PM: Here’s another person’s attempt to wrestle with this.

Thinking Christianly On Illegal Aliens

Edit 6/15/2012 3:42 PM: Another consideration that adds a twist is that this is a presidential election year and the incumbant is struggling to maintain his base. The timing seems suspicious in light of the context.

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3 thoughts on “Mercy, Justice, Order, and Law…

  1. Here are some of my reactions to this:

    First, to speak to the compassionate intent, there is an apropos adage which says, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” There’s a reason why this phrase has survived as long as it has. Intentions, no matter how good, with no consideration for the broader or long-term consequences rarely turn out for the best.

    Second, our government has made it easier and faster to come illegally, and stay illegally, than to immigrate legally. Case in point: The Brazilian pastor hired by my parents’ church. It took them several years, a lot of money, and a lot of hassle and heartache to get this pastor into the States legally. Every time there was a missing signature, or a box not clearly checked, this man had to go back to Immigration and start the process all over again. However, if you come over the border illegally with your family, work (or not), pay taxes (or not), take advantage of our public schools and health services, and evade deportation for five years, you’re free and clear. How, exactly, is this justice? Sure, it’s compassion for the children who had no choice, but it is extreme injustice towards those who are trying to follow the rule of law.

    Finally, we have somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 million Americans currently unemployed. We have over-crowded schools, and a severe burden on our social services and health care systems. We have institutions of higher education with tuition costs that are increasingly prohibitive, without major reliance on the federal government for loans which will keep students in debt for decades. How is it just to those who are citizens to permit – even encourage – undocumented immigration which puts even more burden on employment lines, schools, social services, and health care, particularly when there are now universities which are allowing the undocumented to pay a lower tuition than American citizens?

    Compassion is all well and good, but a compassion that creates a wealth of injustice in its wake is only a compassion with “good intentions,” and we’ve already discussed where those lead.

    • Honestly, I agree with all those points…which is why I’m wrestling with this… I really disagree with the means. As I mention elsewhere, just because he ends are good does not mean that the way to the ends are therefore redeemed.

      And you raise some good points concerning whether or not the ends are totally good when you consider the existing employment problems in the US and the injustice towards those who are trying to make the journey legally.

      Where do we make the stand?

      Perhaps after your comment here, I added an edit with another perspective, also trying to strike a balance between a nation needing to protect its borders and Christians living in that nation seeking compassion and mercy.

      Not an easy road and I claim no easy answers, just mercy and grace to try and live righteously where I am…

  2. Pingback: Making Space « Abnormal Anabaptist

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