The separation of children from their parents at the United States border is unconscionable. The fact that this policy is being justified by the Attorney General using scripture is gross biblical malpractice. Here’s the real kicker- the Attorney General was appointed by a President who received 80 percent of the vote from Christian evangelicals. I’m wondering how many of those who support the President and his policies do so believing this is how God would have those who follow Jesus live in this world.
How does a piece of writing that is part of a larger work that seeks to challenge unjust laws, unjust empire, and unjust government end up being used by a public official to justify horrific, unjust actions? Make no mistake, this administration and its merry band of religious advisors knows they can rally people around unjust policies and actions by misusing scripture. They have no qualms about using the Bible as a weapon.
How did we get here? Children separated from their parents and sent to detention centers. These are God’s children. These are our children, fellow human beings entrusted to our care by God. A dear friend and mentor’s mantra comes to mind, “my kids are your kids and your kids are my kids.” What have we become?
As an ordained minister in a mainline church tradition, I recognize that I’m part of the problem. At some point, the mainline church ceded the Bible over to those who read the Bible literally. We become fond of claiming, “we take the Bible seriously, not literally. We went so far as to display this phrase on our church signs for all to see. I know WHY we did it. We wanted people to know that we were different. Our church wasn’t the narrow-minded church up the street that’s working on converting a depraved culture to their view of Christianity. We wanted you to know that perhaps Jesus isn’t the only way and that we play and pray well with others. However, we neglected to let you know that we learned this from reading and studying the Bible.
We became so busy not taking the Bible literally, that we failed to take the Bible seriously. The overarching story of the Bible is God’s love for all people and God’s desire for justice, peace, and wholeness for all of creation. IT’S GOOD STUFF. We failed to engage in deeper study. We neglected opportunities for reflection and tough conversation together. We stumbled taking this Good News into the public square and public discourse. “I don’t want to talk politics at church” was a common refrain, even though we weren’t talking politics, we were talking Gospel. We allowed Franklin Graham to became more of a biblical authority that those gathering in our churches each week.
We are now seeing the cost of not taking the Bible seriously. Racism, homophobia, economic injustice, nationalism, violence, and the like is on the rise. In some circles, the Bible has been used to justify and excuse these behaviors. This needs to stop. We need communities of Christians who believe that the kin-dom of God is rooted is inclusive love, grace, mercy, peace and justice proclaiming this as the story of the Bible. We don’t believe these things because we progressive or liberal, rather we believe these things because this what we’ve learned about who God is through the Bible. We take the Bible seriously, which leads us to believe and act the way that we do. Fortunately, some have received the wake-up call. Movements such as the Poor People’s Campaign are rooted in scripture. Faith communities are rediscovering the wonder of studying scripture together. Individuals are developing daily reading habits and allowing the Spirit to shape them as they read and study.
We’ve seen the cost of not taking the Bible seriously. It’s a steep cost. God’s children suffer. We all suffer. God’s realm becomes even further away.