Jeff Sessions is Right… Kind of.
As a Christian, Jeff Sessions’ bastardization of Romans 13 upset me, as it should any Christian. Attorney General Sessions used Romans 13 to justify separating children from their parents. In a recent statement, he said explained how God calls on us to obey whoever our rulers may be. In this scripture, the Apostle Paul says: “Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” Sessions is right — TECHNICALLY. Yes, the Lord calls on all Christians to obey the laws of Man. But, he doesn’t call on us to be cruel. In fact, as many men and women of the cloth have pointed out, Romans 13 is taken out of context. In fact, this same chapter has been used to justify slavery and Nazism.
On either side of Romans 13, Paul calls on Christians to serve and to love others, especially those in need. And, while it is important to follow the law, it is more important to obey God’s Great Commandment, “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:28). No one would want to be separated from their family forcibly, so how does our treatment to our southern neighbors love them as ourselves?
Enforcing this immigration policy is not “biblical,” as Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, it’s actually quite the opposite. Earlier in the Gospel, Matthew says, “Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19). These words come during the Sermon on the Mount. A famous sermon where Jesus first gave the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…”
Sessions’ selective choice of scripture ignores the history of God’s people. The stories of the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are ones of migrants. God’s people have always been migrants. The Jews migrated from Egypt; Christians from Israel through the Western world; and Islam spread from the Arab peninsula through Asia and Africa. God chooses those who seek a better life. Or, to use another Beatitude: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” God always has blessed migrants.
Since the Attorney General is fond of the words of the Apostle Paul, I’d like to end with his words, less than a chapter before his choice of Scripture: “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice Hospitality” (Romans 12:13).