This might be an oxymoron.
It likely is.
But nevertheless, I feel I should write about national interests and national security from a Christian perspective(at least an attemptedly Christian perspective).
The idea of a sovereign nation with the power to control its own borders isn’t what’s at stake in my questions, because governments will do as they do, and while we may speak our critiques, shouting them from the rooftops, we cannot assume that directing the actions of this country with our voice is an act of justice. Nor is such action advisable if all it ends up doing is outsourcing Church for government. I think this is what the civil rights movement in America forgot. Just because we’ve modified legislation or changed this or that aspect of social life does not mean everything is “cheeseburgers in paradise.”
But that’s off topic a bit, so my real question is: what should Christians do towards national security and immigration in a way that is charitable, and expresses the Lordship of Christ?
Step One: Reject Nationalism in place of Religion
I think too often Christianity in this country legitimates the power structures already intact, without minding the eschatological reality of the now. Too often compromised Christianity preaches the escapist message and allows for abuses of power that have no bearing on our faith or faithfulness because, for many American churches, their low ecclesiology in churches is outsourced to a high ecclesiology in national security and national interests.
Too many of America’s churches breed Americans, who are nominal, marginally concerned Christians. They should be developing Christians who are Christian first, and American second. That’s because, I’d like to suggest, these churches are fulfilling their plan to a “T”. They fight hard trying to produce faithful Christians, but having rejected the heart of the Christian story and its properly religious expression, they cannot help but do what they do. Their low ecclesiology creates a spiritual vacuum devoid of real spirituality and symbols of faith. They are replacing real church life and real church devotion with a sort of universal sentiment that God exists and he is loving. This is the heart of the American project.
Step Two: Dogmatic Answers to Difficult Questions
America’s freedom of religion was and is largely an attempt at freedom from religion. If you study the faith of the founding fathers, they were deists, they were nominalizing the faith in order to embrace a more universally appealing God, and the sad thing is that this god has found his way into the heart of American life. These beliefs are important, but they are not the central beliefs of the new testament writers, and they are certainly not the central beliefs of dedicated Christians throughout the ages.
That God is Triune, and Jesus Christ is Lord has everything to do with a Christian approach to national security. The incarnation and Crucifixion mean an alternative politics, and thus a different way of imagining security. They mean God has broken down our borders and without apology conquered all our kingdoms and countries. He has done so to establish a truly universal kingdom whose power center is not military might or social status based on birth certificates, but a crucified rabbi who establishes a new humanity, a new nation, whose security is not in weapons of destruction, but in the gathering around Christ Himself at a common table, and the death and new life brought about through baptism.
National Security is opposed to the gospel, our first task is to establish a truly universal people, whose borders begin and end with baptism communion and discipleship. If we do not place these above our ideas of national purity and a sort of “master culture of the white elite” then we are no better than the National Socialist party of World War II.
Communion and Covenant are all the power we need to imagine security, a people shaped by cross and resurrection are the backbone and power of our hope. All else is a hopelessly empty pretender.
So, when we think of what to do as Christians, we must as a collective harbor the aliens, caring for them first and foremost as the good creation of the Triune Lord.
When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. -Leviticus 19.33-34 NRSV
It’s a matter of tragedy to me that so many good “Christians” in this country prefer to side with national rather than ecclesial allegiances. This is the tragedy of much popular Christianity. Our culture is too shallow to sustain the gospel so that any form of actual Christianity seems to be a gnosticism. The catechesis of initiates is so weak that when someone makes an ecclesial allegiance over against their national allegiance, they are considered extremists, or radicals.
We do well to remember that Jesus solely desired us to be the people of new creation, a creation without borders. A Creation equalized and hurled collectively into the already-present-future through the sacraments and especially the Eucharist. However, many people would like to hold onto temporary and asinine borders over against the liberating power of the gospel.
I don’t believe it is a matter of concern to me what the country decides to do, so long as it’s not killing these people, insofar as they are not being violated I can remain uninvolved on a political level because my first testimony and politics here is the politics of Jesus. A politics of weakness, caring for outsiders, aliens widows and orphans. Churches are important places of worship, but we have for all our talk of social justice socially weak church locations who have outsourced their works of charity and justice to extra-curricular locations.
Architecture and space are a matter of prime importance for this debate and what may be necessary, at least insofar as a young insolent whelp like myself might offer in suggestion is churches that return to medieval structures in terms of social work.
Imagine adoptions, hopsices, clinics, research facilities, orphanages, food banks, shelters, all happening in and through the Church Universal. But take it one step further and imagine one or more of these facilities being part of the mission of each local church.
I think such a thing is not only possible, I think it’s crucial to the future of a robust Church in post-Christian societies. Not to outsource the gospel to these things, but to consistently remind the world that we are a community of faith and reason, of worship and good works, that they may see our deeds and glorify our Father who is in Heaven.
Those are my proposals on the matter, I hope to hear some questions and concerns as always.