The Widow and The Orphan

Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them from the grasp of evil people.

Ps 82:3-4

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

Jas 1:27

There are many arguing for bringing Syrian refugees into the United States. Some suggest that not everyone escaping Syria are terrorists, and we shouldn’t allow fear to drive us from being compassionate (or “being Christian”). On the fear part, I wholeheartedly agree. We can’t allow any fear to drive us to act or not act. We need to step back and be a bit more rational and pragmatic about any solution, without fear and knee-jerk reactions (yet with a great deal of caution). That includes taking into consideration compassion, economics, and national security. The first two I will expand on, but national security I will leave alone for now.

As the two scriptures above say, we are called to take care of the orphan, the widow and the oppressed. By those two verses alone, you’d think I’d be all for allowing the refugees in.

And you would be wrong.

Does that mean I’m a bad Christian? No (well, not entirely anyway), and here’s why.

The United States of America is a great country. In many ways we are rich, and we have a lot to give. And we do. Whenever there’s a crisis, Americans are usually one of the first to step up. And I’m not talking as a country through the power of government, but as individuals, charities and communities. Therein lies the rub.

Our country is $18 trillion in debt and it’s growing by nearly $1 million a day. Our overall unemployment (counting those who have quit looking for work) is over 90 million. Many who are working are struggling to pay the bills, because the only work available is at minimum wage or slightly over. Women abort their children at an astonishing rate, either out of convenience or because they don’t think they have a choice. Too many of our veterans are homeless and dying before receiving the treatment they need, because the government has refused to keep its promises to them.

Sometimes, as individuals and as a nation we have to take a step back, and fix our own house before inviting others to join us. How can a person who can barely feed and clothe his own children be expected to take care of strangers — without sacrificing the well-being of his children and himself in the process? That’s what many people are asking — no, demanding — Americans do, and that’s not right.

Yes we are to take care of the widow, the orphan and the oppressed. But nowhere does the Bible say we must turn to our government to further its own debt (and take more money out of our pocket) to do it. That’s not Christian compassion. It’s quite the opposite in fact; first, it’s shirking our personal responsibility and making others do it for us. Second, the government has to forcibly take from one person to give it to someone else, because government produces nothing on its own. That’s thievery. (Note: I’m not against paying taxes. They are necessary, but there has to be limits).

There are many widows, orphans and oppressed right here in our country. Why are we not doing more to take care of them?

All that said, if any American wants to sponsor a refugee person or family, and take them into their home, I’m all for it. If any American wants to fly half-way around the world to help refugees, I’m all for that, too. That’s the definition of Christian compassion. I am simply not for any government telling me I must pay to bring refugees over here, house them, clothe them, and feed them when there are so many already in this country who also need that.

I also think there are many other people and countries who are equally (if not more so) capable of taking in refugees, and they are much closer to the problem than we are. Whenever someone is closer to the problem, they can more easily find a solution. We are over 3000 miles away. Many countries are stepping up, such as Germany and France. Good for them. Telling America to take care of it is like me begging the California government (who is also millions of dollars in debt) to pay for my house because I lost my job. Especially when there are agencies, charities and individuals in my own town who can help me — and who can afford it.

It’s like I said in a previous blog: We can’t save the world, but we can make a difference a little at a time much closer to home — figuring out what we, as individuals, can do instead of trying to do what everyone is telling us what we should do.

Paul wanted to preach in Asia, but God told him no. He then tried to enter the province of Bithynia, but again God said no. God wanted Paul in Macedonia instead (See Acts 16). At one point Jesus told his disciples not to enter certain towns, because they were needed in their home of Israel (Matthew 10:5-6).

Far be it for me to tell anyone who they should or shouldn’t help, because the Holy Spirit is the one who should decide. Where I am meant to help is different from someone else. I believe, however, there are times when we must exercise our compassion at home first (like in Matthew noted above). This is especially true for the US government. Our nation — our house — is a mess, and it will continue to fall apart if we ignore it in favor of people and problems across an ocean thousands of miles wide.

Now for the meme that started it all:

Joseph and Mary As most of you know, I despise memes. They too often present a complex problem and “offer” a simplistic solution. In this case — as in many others of this type — it’s all designed to make Christians look like hypocrites, and try to shame them into doing what they think Christians should be doing to avoid looking like hypocrites.

As far as this meme goes, the entire premise is incorrect. Joseph and Mary were not refugees. They were returning to their hometown, because they needed to be counted for a census. The only reason they had no place to stay is because so many others also had returned to be counted, and all the inns were full. Joseph and Mary were neither homeless nor escaping from oppression (Luke 2:1-6).

The innkeeper took compassion on the couple and let them stay in his stable, because that’s all he had left to give. Neither he, nor the young couple forced a government official, or another innkeeper (with the help of a government official) to take care of the problem for them.

Yet this is exactly what the meme is implying. If you want to solve a problem, do so. It’s unfair to demand the rest of us do it by trying to make us feel guilty, or by using the government to make us do it.

If you think I’m heartless and as “un-Christian” as ever there was one now, stay tuned. My next entry will show you just how heartless I really am.

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