From today’s ELCA daily bible reading:
For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt, then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors forever and ever.
I know what your first thought is – those dirty Lutherans read the bible? No way. But yes, they do.
God is speaking to the Hebrew people regarding establishment of a covenant with them for the nation of Israel. Not America. However, the words still ring true to us all as an example of how God wants us to live as followers of Christ. Indeed, since we are now all one in Christ, these commands should apply to all of us as followers of Him.
Do not oppress the alien.
This isn’t ET Jeremiah was writing about. He was speaking of the refugee, the seeker of asylum. Now, I’m no biblical scholar, but I’m pretty sure “do not oppress the alien” would preclude locking children up in dog kennels in abandoned Walmart buildings.
Look at the way so-called “leaders in Christ” in our Government, as well as the people who elected them, refer to immigrants. Racial slurs. Lies about the theft of jobs. Slanders of laziness. Telling them, even if they are now legal and naturalized citizens, to “go back to where they came from.”
This is not how Christ, a refugee himself, would treat others. These people are coming here to share in our bounty. There is more than enough for all of us.
Do not oppress the orphan.
In addition to the modern-day definition of orphan (a parentless child), Biblical references to orphans include children being raised by single mothers. Fatherless children, if you will.
Look at all the demands placed by society on single mothers. Arguments of personal responsibility on the mother’s part fail to account for the innocent child affected. Should we avoid, or at the very least be cautious in extra-marital intercourse? Yes. However, in a sin-filled world, surprises will happen. And it does a great disservice to the child raised in less-than-ideal circumstances to say “your mother should have kept her legs shut.”
Regardless of what you think of the mother and her actions, the child is the result, not the cause. In the words of King Solomon, “Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.” (Prov 22:6, NRSV) How can we expect a mother working three jobs to adequately care for her child or children? In a country with such wealth and resources as America, there is no reason we cannot provide adequate food and shelter resources and assistance to our nation’s children.
Do not oppress the widow.
Medicare and Social Security are lifelines to the elderly in our nation. Without these programs, a vast percentage of our aged would live in extreme poverty. Yet, in the sake of “fiscal responsibility” and “tax reform” we have “Godly” leaders who want to cut these programs. Why? If the private marketplace had a means to care for the elderly, it would. But it doesn’t.
How is an octogenarian supposed to “earn their keep?” Do you want your near-crippled grandmother having to work 2nd shift at a gas station to pay for her medicine and the one can of Alpo she can afford after? Is that ten bucks that gets withheld from your paycheck really that big of a deal?
Do not shed innocent blood in this place.
We are weekly told of innocent children of color being shot by police, for “crimes” as harmless as running from them. Since when is fleeing a police officer a capital offense? In no other nation on Earth, even in the supposedly barbaric Muslim nations, are citizens killed by their protectors at such high rates. Yes, deadly force is sometimes required by police. But we also need to realize that deadly force is frequently overused and misapplied, taking the lives of innocents.
Don’t forget the children being killed overseas daily in our “war on terror.” Do you want to know how to stop terrorism? Stop flying drones into children’s birthday parties. Stop assisting Syrian rebels who are gassing neighborhoods full of innocent children, women, and men. Stop supporting Israel’s turning of Palestine into a virtual prison state.
Conservative Evangelicals in America like to call ours a “Christian Nation.” It was never intended as such, and given the way they govern and act, it certainly isn’t now.