To take in and offer sanctuary for Syrian refugees or not? Perhaps that is not even the right question.
“If I gave you ten grapes and told you two were poisoned, would you eat any?”
If your newsfeed is anything like mine, you’ve probably noticed that Facebook is swimming in a sea of opinions in the aftermath of the recent bombings in Paris. A good many of those opinions seem to be focused on President Barack Obama’s plan to resettle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the United States in 2016. And it’s not just Facebook—30 U.S. governors have expressed strong opposition to President Obama’s plan.
~ Life Hope & Truth, “When the Stranger in Your Gates Wants You Dead“, Jeremy Lallier, November 20, 2015
Should we take in and offer sanctuary for the Syrian refugees streaming out of the Middle East? The above article was a timely commentary on the situation where refugees are streaming out of Syria and overtaking many European nations. As a result, President Barak Obama wishes to take in thousands of refugees within our borders, but the Paris bombings have made many in both parties balk.
Having said that, many commentaries, including this one, seem to skim right over the one definitive reason we should be taking them in. First, though, let’s review some background and then what the above article says. Then, I want to examine both a mostly unstated reason why we should and why it probably won’t matter in the long term.
Diversity: Iron Mixed with Clay
We in COG circles have often remarked upon the prophecies of the ten toes that King Nebuchadnezzar dreamt of and how they were iron mixed with clay. Iron is strong and fired clay can be nearly as strong, but they do not cleave together.
Strong societies have shared values. America has been strong for many generations because of the values of freedom and equality. Many had a shared background, but even if they did not, America was a “melting pot” of heritages, which meant they melted and mixed together.
By contrast, Muslims as a general rule do not integrate well into the societies they go. This can cause many problems, including the invitation of suspicion and conflicts. Most of the time, such things are small, but it stands in opposition to the integration into society that immigrants are typically expected to engage in.
An overwhelming majority of French society attributes the failure of Muslims to fully integrate to Muslims’ refusal to integrate themselves. While it would be easy to write this off as unfounded prejudice, it is important to examine the roots of these beliefs. Our research suggests that two factors distinguish Muslims from French society in a way that feeds French discrimination: Not only are Muslims in France less secularized than the average French, they also support more conservative views and behaviors toward women. In other words, Muslims in France are culturally distinct in ways that deeply threaten French society today; for they challenge France’s century-long commitment to the separation of church and state (what the French call “laïcité”) and its 50-year struggle for gender equality.
~ “Terror in France: implications for Muslim integration“, The Washington Post, January 14, 2015
Amazingly, the authors go on to the usual pandering to diversity instead of critically analyzing their own assumptions. Unlike many groups in previous generations, Muslims simply do not integrate well into western societies and even find themselves at odds with their host cultures.
This might be the basis for the iron mixed with clay we see within Scripture. We often view things as the King of the North being dominated by Catholicism and the King of the South being dominated by Islam, but the real truth is that the Beast power (King of the North) will declare a new religion by eventually proclaiming himself as God.
38 But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.
~ Da 11:38
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
~ 2Th 2:3-4
In order to deceive the whole world, it will have to take on characteristics of Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and other major religions. Being based in Europe, it will likely have Catholicism as its base, which is appropriate for the Catholic religion itself is a syncretic mesh of various pagan beliefs with real Christianity thrown in as a pretense. However, it will have to mutate enough to deceive “all” in the whole world (Rev 13:15-17; cf Rev 12:9)!
However, the coalition cannot survive, for it will be iron mixed with clay. Real unity involves a shared system of values and a shared vision.
Don’t believe me? Just compare two current world artificial nations: India and China. Both were forced to band together. India was forged during the British Empire days, and it still is an amalgam of different cultures that never really have integrated together. In spite of its size and population, it is far down the list of developed nations. China, however, has managed to exercise central control and power over its entire region, and it has become a force to be reckoned with. They overcame their differences by forcing a shared ideology and vision upon its population. As a result, China is an economic, political and even to some extent military power to be reckoned with.
Strong nations have a shared culture, and especially a shared vision and shared value system. That is why America is now weak. It has become dominated by two extremes so far apart that it threatens to rip the nation apart. In fact, there are very few in power today that are working to heal this breach but rather most in power are agitating the extremists on both sides for their own gain.
Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!
If that were all, perhaps time and tolerance could compensate for it. However, the news is full of images and stories about bombings, beheadings and other violent acts carried out in the name of Islam.
As the LIfe Hope & Truth (LHT) article goes on to say:
Now, it’s important to clarify: The Islamic State does not represent the views of all Muslims everywhere. Not all Muslims interpret the Quran as a divine sanction to slaughter nonbelievers—but some do. And the fact that those “some” exist at all is, in the eyes of many U.S. citizens, a cause for concern. Their reasoning is, if some Muslims believe it is their duty to kill infidels, and if the U.S. accepts 10,000 refugees from Syria, isn’t it likely that a handful of jihadists will slip in with them?
Even if a minority of Muslims want to kill and maim members of the “Great Satan”, they still pose a danger. However, what is a “minority”?
World Public Opinion: 61% of Egyptians approve of attacks on Americans
32% of Indonesians approve of attacks on Americans
41% of Pakistanis approve of attacks on Americans
38% of Moroccans approve of attacks on Americans
83% of Palestinians approve of some or most groups that attack Americans (only 14% oppose)
62% of Jordanians approve of some or most groups that attack Americans (21% oppose)
42% of Turks approve of some or most groups that attack Americans (45% oppose)
A minority of Muslims disagreed entirely with terror attacks on Americans:
(Egypt 34%; Indonesia 45%; Pakistan 33%)
About half of those opposed to attacking Americans were sympathetic with al-Qaeda’s attitude toward the U.S.
~ from “Muslim Opinion Polls – Challenging the ‘Tiny Minority of Extremists’ Myth”
OK, but what if the polls are wrong? What if it is just 10%? 5%? 1%? There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. Even 1% of them would still be 16 million wanting to do us harm!
“Mr. Obama has raised the number of Syrian refugees who will be offered legal status to at least 10,000″ for this year (The New York Times, “Paris Attacks Intensify Debate Over How Many Syrian Refugees to Allow Into the U.S.“). So, if our threshold of “minority” is 1%, we are still talking potentially about 100 terrorists coming to the US!
Remember, the Paris attacks were carried out by 8 people.
The fear is not simple paranoia. It is real, and it is based upon very real concerns.
So, the real question becomes: Does this fear justify not helping out?
Compassion Requires Risk
I become ashamed at times when I consider the parable of The Good Samaritan. The example given is much higher than the risk most that I know are willing to take.
We are given a few details about him in the story, but notice what we are not told:
- We are not told that he knew the wounded man.
- We are not told that the wounded man had any extraordinary reputation.
- We are not told that the Samaritan knew that the thieves were departed. We are given this information, but we have no reason to believe that he would have known this.
As far as we know, the Samaritan not only took care of a complete stranger, but he risked his very life in order to do so (for all he knew, the thieves were still nearby robbing people).
What are we to do?
37 … Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
~ Lk 10:37b
Yes, reaching out with compassion is risky business. Are we willing to trust in God for the ability to carry out compassion, including being under His protective care? Is our level of risk avoidance higher than our willingness to obey Him?
Love of Many Shall Wax Cold
The LHT article also points out that we are to have compassion upon the stranger. However, God’s commandment toward the stranger was upon the condition that the stranger submits to the same rules and laws that Israel does. IOW, we are to have compassion upon others, but not upon their rebellious natures. The stranger was required to integrate!
That is part of the problem, isn’t it? In some cases, Muslims simply are not willing to integrate.
There is a bigger issue at stake, though. Are we as a nation willing to submit to God?
God wants us to have a humble and caring heart. God does not want us to have cold and hardened hearts. We look at this situation today, is it any wonder that Jesus said:
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
~ Mt 24:12
Yet, when you hear of stories of brutal crimes taking place in broad daylight and crowds of people ignoring them, how can we say our love has not grown cold as a nation?
When you look upon our national sins, how can we say we are righteous? How can we expect submission of immigrants when we ourselves are not even willing to submit to human standards of decency?
We Are ISIS
Should we offer sanctuary for Syrian refugees? Consider that we should be morally willing to fix what we break.
I wrote last time that “We are ISIS“. We created the mess over there by stirring up the hornets’ nest without thinking through the consequences. We have blinded ourselves by our arrogance by believing we can solve all of the world’s problems.
Most kids know that when you spill something, you clean up the mess. From an early age, most children are instilled with the moral precept that you do what you can to fix something you broke.
That is the largely ignored portion of all of this: In our arrogance and pride, we created this mess, and thus we are morally obligated to try to make up for the suffering of the millions of lives we have disrupted.
Does It Matter?
It matters somewhat whether or not we take in and give sanctuary for Syrian refugees. It is just one yardstick of our national ethical standards. Yet, in the long run, it may not matter so much as some might think because our entire sense of morality is built upon sand.
Just as our arrogance and pride created the current situation, our arrogance and pride of thinking we know it all and know what is right is the root of the problem. As long as we look to ourselves and not to God, we will suffer the consequences as a nation, eventually including subjugation, slavery and extreme national suffering.
In the beginning, Adam and Eve took the prerogative of the knowledge of what is right and what is wrong to themselves. They disregarded divine revelation and divine assistance in their affairs. The result is the great evil in the world today.
Only God has the answers. Only God can fix them.
However, instead of turning to God, newspapers unashamedly state that “God Isn’t Fixing This“, implying that offers of prayers were ineffective. That anyone could be so insensitive as to suggest that words of comfort were offered as solutions and so arrogant as to imply that God is impotent to fix the world’s problems is beyond the pale.
God will eventually come and fix this world. He is the only hope, because we humans are only breaking things further and faster than before. It is only through God’s will that we have not killed ourselves off already.
In fact, if we do not turn to God, and if we do not submit to His will, then it really won’t matter what we do about the Syrian refugee problem because we as a nation are doomed. Worse, we have done it to ourselves.
We are simply continuing on the same destructive path that we humans have always been on.
However, if we truly want to be righteous, then we will turn to God in obedience and submission. Then, and only then, will we be truly righteous and be able to reap the benefits of His blessings. Then, and only then, will terrorism subside and our fear of strangers amongst us go away. We will be protected as we lend a hand to the unfortunate and struggling of this world.
Indeed, our righteousness would translate into righteous deeds rather than the corrupt and despicable deeds of covert wars, backroom deals and selfish, thoughtless and short-sighted actions of “protecting our interests abroad”. We will again rise in the ranks of respectability among the world’s nations.
God’s word made all of these promises to ancient Israel — our ancestors! Many do not realize this, but we are Israel in prophecy, whose ancestors were taken away by Assyria and never returned to the land of Palestine. However, those promises were conditional upon obedience to God. We can either live according to them or die according to their consequences.
The choice is ours.