Wayne in Maine wrote:On one level there are obvious and perhaps universal laws that benefit all people and nations to adhere to. Murder is the perfect example - if a government is indiscriminately murdering people it is appropriate to speak prophetically against it. If a ruler does not speak truthfully or steals from his people, then it’s not inappropriate for anyone to speak against it. This of course becomes more ambiguous with other matters like abortion, divorce or homosexuality. There are grey areas.
I agree with this general approach, and appreciate your thoughtful post.
The Bible gives some examples of things that other governments - not just Israel - are accountable for, and these are helpful guidelines. For instance, here is what Daniel prophesied to Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:
Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.”
And here is God telling us why Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed in Ezekiel 16:
Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.
I do think that kings and nations are accountable for how they treat the poor and oppressed. Not just Israel. I also agree that no nation is the Kingdom of God, and no nation will live like the Kingdom of God.
Wayne in Maine wrote:On the other hand, the “hard” commands of Christ, such as requiring His followers to give to whoever asks or even to love one's enemy, cannot really be expected of non-Christian citizens of a nation. We can call for those citizens to become part of God’s Kingdom which abides by those rules, but we cannot impose them on those who refuse to join us. This is especially true if imposing those commands requires the state to create laws, for by doing so we are expecting the state to use the sword to impose the ethics of the Kingdom of God on its citizens.
Yes, but when other nations put us to shame by their generosity, and consider caring for refugees a universal obligation, that's not an extraordinary thing that only radical disciples of Jesus would do. This is the kind of thing that good governments do everywhere. And even some not-so-good governments.
Wayne in Maine wrote:In the immigration and refugee debate, we cannot expect the American people to open their borders unconditionally to any and all who want to live in this country, not to open the treasury to support them, even if we, as Christians, are obliged to forgive seventy-times-seven or let people take advantage of us.
And nobody does expect that. We are talking about a program that admits a tiny fraction of refugees after careful vetting that takes years
. We are asking the United States to continue supporting many, many fewer refugees than so many poorer nations do. Yes, these people start out on government assistance, but if we save babies from abortion, many of them will be on government assistance too.
Wayne in Maine wrote:Welcoming the foreigner and stranger is an obligation to God’s nation – America is not ancient Israel under the rule of the Law and the Prophets. I do not think it is the place of followers of Jesus to condemn a nation for making rules about whom it will allow into its territory. And I don’t think the prophetic voice that can condemn murder or decry destructive immorality can be applied to border controls or immigration limitations.
Most countries believe that they have some obligation to victims of war and catastrophes in other countries. Perhaps a nation with many Christians living in it can do as well as nations that do not have Christians. Perhaps Christians will be at least as willing to open our wallets, even if it involves paying taxes. We're willing to pay taxes to fight wars, and many of these people are victims of wars we started or fostered.
I don't think we are here to condemn nations, but to plead for the poor and oppressed and helpless. For the same reason that we want to protect unborn children from being murdered, we should also want to protect innocent victims of war and terror.
Is it biblical? Is it Christlike? Is it loving? Is it true? How can I find out?