NOTE: The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate a dissenting view of a recent Executive Order as informed by a faithful and coherent reading of Scripture. This is not intended to be a comprehensive theology or a political directive. 

On Friday, January 27, 2017 President Trump issued an Executive Order titled, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” [1] That order has effectively suspended travel for visa-holders, green-card residents, and refugees to the United States based on nationality and religion.

I am neither a politician nor am I a constitutional lawyer. I am a pastor and a citizen of this country. And from that limited perspective, I feel compelled to demonstrate my convictions based on my commitment to Scripture and appreciation for the historic Christian tradition.

Scripture was written and preserved by the historically oppressed and marginalized nation of Hebrews, and as such, it has much to say about the treatment of the most vulnerable in society. [2] If history is written by the winners, Scripture is an alternative view from the side of the conquered and landless. Because of their vantage point of history, the Hebrew understanding of God was one that defended the orphan and the widow and created home for the foreigner. [3]

Out of this understanding of who God is, the care of orphans and widows is repeatedly used as a marker of right relationship with God and others. [4] It is significant that such care and compassion was prioritized by a community marked by scarcity and struggle. Even in the most desperate situations, their belief in the eternal provision of their Creator was enough to compel their practice of hospitality. In continuing to the New Testament, we see this principle of care practiced, though imperfectly, faithfully. [5]

More importantly, this practice of care is demonstrated across the boundaries of culture, religion, class, and gender. Although the Hebrew community was predominantly ethnically homogeneous, dignity and care was to be afforded to the foreigner, out of the Hebrew experience of Egyptian slavery and wilderness wandering. [6] Jesus models this principle of welcoming foreigners into the Kingdom regardless of social, religious, or cultural stigma [7]. This model was again, imperfectly, but faithfully practiced by the Early Church. [8]

The witness of Scripture reveals a heart of the Creator God to restore the dignity of the oppressed. The witness of Scripture reveals God’s call for the equitable treatment of the marginalized. The witness of Scripture commissions the community of faith to welcome the stranger.

I am a citizen of the United States, and I cherish the rights and privileges that affords me.

I am also bound to another law as a citizen of God’s Kingdom, which at times challenges us in counter-cultural ways.

The protection of our country and citizens is important. But it should not come at the expense of lawful rights or our God-given dignity because these two things are not mutually exclusive.

The Kingdom of God transcends national borders. In fact, it is meant to obliterate their existence, rather than to reinforce them. As followers of Jesus, we must seriously contend with this reality.

As a follower of Jesus, I believe that that this Executive Order—in its justification, assumptions, and application—is not congruent with my understanding of Scripture.

I grieve with the men, women, and children who are affected by this mandate.

I commit to doing the work of the Kingdom in tearing down borders, beginning in my own heart, to love my neighbor as myself.

Find the link to the document version of this White Paper on the Resources Page.

[2] Micah 6:8, Proverbs 31:8-9
[3] Deuteronomy 10:12-22, Psalm 68:5
[4] Deuteronomy 24:17, Deuteronomy 26:13, Isaiah 1:17
[5] Acts 6:1-6, James 1:27
[6] Leviticus 19:33-34
[7] John 4:1-42, Luke 10:25-37
[8] Acts 10:9-48, Acts 15:1-35, Colossians 4:11