I’ve been reflecting on a statement I heard a few months back. A trusted friend said, “we (Christians) are the average of our five closest friends.” When I pressed him for details, he couldn’t explain why. He simply has observed that to be true in his own life and in the lives of other Christians he’s known. It’s a variation of an old adage that, “Birds of a feather, stick together.”
I think my friend is right. And here’s why that may be true.
Last weeks blog was on the topic of Sanctuary Cities. These are U.S. cities who’ve made the decision to not co-operate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal agency whose responsibility it is to enforce U.S. immigration laws. If you didn’t read that blog, you may want to because much of my rationale for Sanctuary Churches is based on many of the same premises.
What is a Sanctuary Church?
These are churches all over the U.S. who are taking in undocumented (illegal) aliens and their families to protect them from deportation. These churches are viewed by some to be safe havens, where law enforcement officials cannot enter, like mini embassies. That’s a falsehood. Churches have no safe haven privilege for law breakers, legally. However, most presidents from Bush to Obama, have been reluctant to enter churches to arrest and deport families. That’s a political decision, not necessarily a legal one. No politicians want to mess with churches. But since President Trump has taken office, the number of these sanctuary churches has exploded to more than 400.
So, is it wrong for those churches to defy the law and take in illegal aliens?
What is a sanctuary city?
There’s no official, legal definition of a sanctuary city, because various so called “sanctuary cities” have different policies regarding illegal immigrants. But here’s the general idea;
Local law enforcement in sanctuary cities or counties don’t ask, or report the immigration status of people they come in contact with.
Enforcement of that idea can vary from city to city. Technically, and legally, what the Trump administration wants is that anytime a law enforcement agency comes into contact with a person, which can be anything from a traffic violation to an arrest for serious felony, that they inquire about that person’s immigration status, report any illegal immigrant to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and hold that person in custody until ICE can investigate.
Some sanctuary cities will do that, but only for serious, violent felonies. Others refuse to ever call ICE. Why? Why would some cities not want to co-operate with ICE? The answer to that question varies as well.
A few weeks ago, I spent time with two friends, one of whom has a gay brother. I was asked, “How should I respond if I’m ever invited to his wedding?”
To begin with, there are no easy answers. The Bible doesn’t speak directly to that question. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit, with the Bible as our guide, does give us some guidance on this question.
One of the responses you’ll hear from gay Christians is that the church seems to be very forgiving with the high rate of divorce and remarriage in the church. (Setting aside, that the Bible does allow divorce for some reasons.) And many pastors are marrying people who have been living together prior to marriage. It seems very hypocritical to them that heterosexual Christians draw the line on same-sex marriage, even attending a same-sex marriage ceremony. I think their charge is valid. Notice I did not say, their observation validates gay marriage. It’s just that they have a point.
However, they (some LGBT+ Christians or their families) try to make this comparison; If you’ll attend a re-marriage of someone who’s been the cause of an unbiblical divorce, which you acknowledge was a sin, why won’t you attend my wedding, which you also think is a sin?
My short answer? I wouldn’t. I have in the past but, I now regret it. It is inconsistent and hypocritical. But back to my friend’s question about his own brother’s wedding. What is a reasonable Christian response?