A draft of a bilingual column is sitting in my folder of rough drafts. A Spanish-speaking Jesus was going to speak to the reader about DACA through a translator as planes carrying deported people flew overhead. It was going to be very distinct — italics and everything. The problem is, I don’t think anyone would have read passed the first few lines.
To a degree, that was the point. Writing it in Spanish (y si, yo hablo un poco espanol pero no mucho y soy muy mal a escribir en espanol) was a relevant way to convey a sense of a cultural viewpoint we don’t necessarily get here in our daily lives. But, it does no good if no one reads it. So I'll be more direct. As I’ve written before, I’m having trouble with the intersection of three things conservatives hold dear — Jesus, fiscal responsibility and law.
We are all well aware the law of the land spells out the legal way to enter our country. Conservative values say we must follow the law. Enter Jesus. The leaders of his time tried to corner him, saying he broke the law of his day. He and his disciples were called out for working on the Sabbath. Once for picking stray bits of grain to eat and another time when Jesus healed a man’s hand.
Let’s review Jesus’ response.
“Which is lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save life or to kill?” he asked.
If you really look at his question, he’s asking if the law is really benefitting the people it’s supposed to. To put it more simply, he’s asking if man’s law is actually resulting in justice. Answering his own question, Jesus broke the law and healed the man because it was the compassionate and moral thing to do. Which set the powers that be in motion plotting against him. Imagine that, people were upset he helped someone in need.
But, you may say, illegals and their dreamer children are a financial drain on our country’s economy and a burden on our tax payers. There’s a debate on that too, but let’s assume for the sake of argument that’s correct. Fiscal responsibility would dictate any strain on the accumulation of surplus be squashed. But, as before, that’s not the example set by a conservative’s supposed number one value. It’s rather the opposite.
You’ll probably recall the story about a young man who had followed God’s commands (and I’ll thank you to note the difference between God’s commands and man’s laws) all his life and wanted to know what he was lacking. The answer was to give his wealth to the poor, but he couldn’t bear to do that. So he walked away and stayed separate from Jesus. Compare that with the early Christians in the book of Acts, “They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.”
Before this goes too far, I will admit this is the part of following Jesus I’m worst at. I too have developed a callous over that soft spot in my chest charities tend to prod at. I too have given nothing to a moral cause when I should have given something, but I would ask you to consider how the belief that someone doesn’t deserve your compassion compares with the biblical model. I will go so far as to say the concept of fiscal responsibility does not appear in Jesus’ teachings. The concept of unconditional generosity does. If we are going to go around calling ourselves a Christian nation or one nation under God, I don't see why we think our wealth is ours and ours alone.
So, I challenge us all to sit and consider the DACA debate and the larger immigration issue in depth. Consider how our arguments stack up against what we claim our values to be. Whether it is the financial cost or the legality of the matter, Jesus has an answer. And it’s not an easy one, as is his custom. The tricky part is, we can’t purport to serve both him and our own laws. They don’t always intersect. Perhaps that's why he told us we can't serve two masters.