The Divide between Protection and Compassion
By Eric Francis
President Trump’s travel ban is creating lots of divided opinions in our country even among Christians. According to Pew Research Center conducted on February 7 through 12, 2017, 51% of Protestants approve the travel ban, 45% disapprove and 4% did not have an opinion. How is it possible to have such a divide among Christians on this issue?
Are you ready to give a biblical answer to the travel ban that the president issued this year? We need to stand ready to give our opinions based on our Christian worldview and not merely subjective feelings.
There are two issues at stake here. One is the protection of American citizens against terror and the other is having compassion on those coming to America from other countries who need help. If we do not look at these issues through a Christian worldview we will have subjective prejudices that may favor one issue over the other. We need to filter these issues through our worldview to give a comprehensive answer to the protection and compassion questions that is dividing our country at this moment.
The book of Romans defines government as an institution that has been ordained by God. It also teaches us that one of the roles of government is to ensure the safety of its people as described in Romans 13:4 which states that rulers are ministers of God who avenge those who practice evil. Ensuring safety means that we have to secure our borders and enact strict vetting processes for people coming from countries that are breeding grounds for terror. We can learn from our 9/11 experiences that being negligent with the vetting process of foreign travelers will affect the security of our country. According to Acts 17:26, every man has been determined by God to live on all the face of the earth and God has determined the boundaries of their habitation. What is the purpose of having a border if government cannot secure it?
Having compassion is also part of our Christian worldview. In Matthew 25:42-46 Jesus reminds us to feed the hungry, cloth the naked and visit the sick in prison. We see from scripture that God stands with those who are in need, which includes refuges that come to us from other countries. We have to respect and care for them as they too are made in the image of God.
We need both compassion and protection. Compassion without protection will endanger our safety. Imagine a loose convict roaming in your neighborhood and he stops by your home asking for something to eat. Will you invite him in and feed him knowing that he was a convict and jeopardize the security of your family? You would not and God would not expect you to do so. But in contrast if you see a genuinely hungry person who is need of food and water, you are mandated by God to take care of them. The principle here is to know when to protect and when to show compassion.
Government needs to exercise both protection and compassion as part of the agenda for the well being of our country. We cannot just have one without the other. It is the function of the government and its leaders to use their God given gifts to find a balance between compassion and protection. There has been a division in our country today because we have been on either one side of the fence between compassion for people in need or on the other side of the fence for protection against evil people. We need to support our government for doing both. We need to unite as Christians and be ready to explain that protecting our citizens and showing compassion is part of the same worldview package. You cannot have one without the other.
1. Gregory Smith, February 27, 2017, “Most white evangelicals approve of Trump travel prohibition and express concerns about extremism”, Pew Research, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/27/most-white-evangelicals-approve-of-trump-travel-prohibition-and-express-concerns-about-extremism, (accessed March 14, 2017).
Eric Francis is an engineer and a graduate apologetics student at Houston Baptist University. He has a passion for mission work and is currently serving on the board for Living Water International. In addition he also serves with the board of trustees on the Student Life Committee at Houston Christian High School. He lives in Houston and enjoys reading, spending time with friends and enjoys the outdoors.