Loving God but Hating His Image, or How Our Attitude Toward Illegal Immigrants is Reprehensible


Photo Courtesy of Voice of America

This article is not about how the U.S. should handle the massive influx of children illegally crossing the boarder.  I do not pretend to understand all of the variables involved in this complex issue and it is not my intention to argue in favor of any particular form of legislation or promote any one solution.  In fact, I’m not interested in politics at all (at least within the context of what I’m about to say).  This article is about our attitude toward thousands of impoverished at-risk youth living in conditions so bad they’re willing to risk their lives just to make it to our boarder.  More specifically, it’s about Christians who allegedly love God yet make disparaging, heartless, and down right selfish comments about illegal immigrants.  It’s about those who claim to know the Lord but, through their actions (or lack thereof) and attitudes hate His divine image. 

Let us begin with a self examination.  Do you find yourself looking down on those who illegally cross our boarders?  Do you find them an inconvenience or a nuisance?  Do you resent them?  Do you find yourself indifferent to their plight?  Do you feel they are underserving of your charity?  Are you angry or embittered by their presence?  Do they annoy you?  Do you believe their plight is no business of yours? . . . If you answered yes to any of these questions it’s important for you to realize these feelings stand in complete opposition to the Gospel.  They are selfish, prideful, heartless feelings.  They are, in short, sinful attitudes unbefitting a follower of Christ (oh yes, I went there).

Let’s review three crucial points of theology to help us understand why:

 (1) Man Is Made in the Image of God

Christians believe every man, woman, and child has objective value, dignity, and worth because everyone–no matter their age, race, culture, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation–is made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-28; Wisdom 2:23).

(2) We are Commanded to Love our Neighbor

Christ states that the first and greatest commandment is to Love God, “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37).  Interestingly, our Lord follows this by stating that the second commandment is like the first: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.‘  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:39-40).  Why is loving our neighbor with all of our might like loving God with all of our being?  Because man is made in the image of God.  Therefore, anyone who truly loves God will truly love His image and likeness.  This is why Jesus also taught that to discard, belittle, or ignore those in need is to discard, belittle and ignore Him.

(3) If We Don’t Love our Neighbor, We Don’t Know God

The Bible teaches it is impossible to know God–to have saving faith or a personal relationship with Him–and harbor ill-will or hate in our heart toward our neighbor (I John 2: 9-11; 4: 20-21).  St. James, echoing the teaching of our Lord, states that a faith without love (i.e., works) is dead (Matt. 7:17-23; 25:31-46; James 2:14-26).

Take a moment and seriously dwell upon these truths.  In fact, take time to look up the passages I’ve cited and let them sink in.  Then, ask yourself if your attitude toward illegal immigrants (not the impersonal concept “illegal immigration” but the actual people: the helpless children, the father’s desperate to be with their families, the women fleeing sex traffickers . . . ) is truly a Christian one.  Forget your political affiliation, forget your nationality, forget your social status.  If you profess to be a Christian you claim, first and foremost, to be a citizen of the City of God; a part of the Kingdom of Heaven; a member of the Body of Christ.  Your deepest and truest loyalties transcend all worldly categories and all worldly affiliations.  Your chief duty is to love, to serve, and to lay down your life for your neighbor (including your enemies).  This is your chief duty precisely because the greatest commandment is to Love God; but it is impossible to truly love God and hate His image.

As I peruse Facebook statuses, read comments on news articles, and listen in on conversations, I grow disheartened.  I am appalled and embarrassed by the reprehensible attitudes of professed Christians toward illegal immigrants.  I feel disgusted by those who, in virtue of their attitudes, fail to empathize with or care for those suffering and in dire need of help; and I wonder how long we shall ignore the sound of their voices screaming for help?

My American brothers and sisters, please stop.  Stop speaking heartlessly; stop acting selfishly; stop worshiping your country; stop discriminating based on nationality; stop discarding, belittling, and ignoring your neighbors; stop your crummy attitudes.  My dear brothers and sisters, love your neighbor as you love yourself; for without love you are nothing.




Random Musings: The Value of a Sex Slave

1) what is the value of a sex slave?

2) picture in your mind a young girl, sold by her parents into the sex industry when she was but eleven years of age; her body and her mind ravished by drugs and hordes of foul men.  Perhaps the value of such a girl is merely a matter of utility.  If this is the case, she is only as valuable as she is useful.  But what is her use to society?  She is uneducated, she is addicted to drugs, she is psychologically damaged . . . how useful to society is such a person?  Perhaps, her usefulness is tied to the only job she has ever known?  Perhaps the only thing which shall ever define her is one word: prostitute.  Is this her identity?  Is this her fate?

3) tell me, dear ethicist, does such a girl cease to have value when she ceases to be useful? Do your ethical theories align you with the slave drivers–those dealers in human flesh?  When the slaver deems his product useless, the product losses its value–and it is only fitting, in the mind of such a business man, to destroy what has become a worthless commodity.  After all, this is only good business.

4) how wretched is this thought!  How degrading!  How base!  That a human life should be reduced to mere utility . . . but, if God is dead, if we are simply the endless motion of atoms, what else shall we conclude?

5) I thank my Father in heaven, the Creator and sustainer of all life, that such is not the fate of this young sex slave.  For she is made in your ineffable  image–in the likeness of Beauty, and Life, and Goodness Himself.  I thank you that she has value and dignity–that she is worthy of love and compassion–that she is worthy of our respect.  For her identity, her nature, will never be destroyed because her circumstances do not define her.  For as long as she has being, no amount of torture or abuse can destroy the image of the invisible God that constitutes her essence.

6) I extol the wonders of our Lord who loves this young girl, who bled for this girl, who died for this girl–that she might have life.  Truly you ground our being; our very existence depends upon You.  Truly, it is in you that human beings find their eternal value; and, in turn, their usefulness.

Random Thoughts for June 16, 2011 – Concerning God and Morality

* If God doesn’t exist, then how do our moral actions matter? A man brutally murders a child and can escape justice. Even if given justice, 200 years from now it will not matter.

* What hope exists for those who suffer in this world? While the evidential problem of evil poses a challenge for theism, it is only in theism that we can recognize suffering as a tragedy (thus, the paradox in the problem of evil). Without God, such suffering is simply a part of nature and nothing to fret about.

* The skeptic will shout about the crimes of the Old Testament, but what objective moral code can the atheist point to in order to justify his rage? The best he can do is show that the Bible presents an incoherent view of God, but he cannot attack the morals of the Old Testament (or Bible in general) because he lacks any foundation to do so (again, another paradox).

* “Why act morally?” Atheism is left without an answer. “To survive” they say, but how shall we survive? What methods are best for survival? Why should we accept those methods. And finally, why should we desire survival? Is our survival necessarily a good thing?

* That one can be moral without God isn’t an argument against God, it’s an argument against atheism. That we somehow possess the ability to make a free and conscious decision to go against our nature and do what is right, even if it is against our own survival or self-interests, is something that simply cannot be naturally explained.

* Christianity has caused a lot of ills – certainly such a statement is true, but how do we know they are ills outside of having a moral code based upon God?

* The saddest part of people still using the Euthyphro dilemma is that there are hardly any Platonic religions around to which such a dilemma would apply. Regardless, it’s a flawed syllogism anyway and is guilty of begging the question (it doesn’t allow for a third option and forces an unnecessary either/or).

* Morality must be objective, but that objectivity cannot be abstract; it must be relatable. Yet, only persons are relatable and personable. Thus, objective morality must be found in a person, not in an abstract. Ultimately, much to the chagrin of the skeptic, objective moral truths are found in God.

Peter Singer Sees the Light?

It’s no big secret that ethicist Peter Singer doesn’t exactly agree with Christian ethics. That’s what makes his recent revelations so surprising. He has acknowledged that he has serious doubts as to whether or not his utilitarianism can provide an adequate foundation (or even adequate answers) to the problems the world faces. But he doesn’t stop there, rather he goes on to state that theistic ethicists have an advantage in having a foundation.

The article provides the absolute shocker, however, when it puts:

“He described his current position as being in a state of flux. But he is leaning towards accepting moral objectivity because he now rejects Hume’s view that practical reasoning is always subject to desire… Neither is he any more inclined to belief in God, though he did admit that there is a sense in which he “regrets” not doing so, as that is the only way to provide a complete answer to the question, why act morally? Only faith in a good God finally secures the conviction that living morally coincides with living well.”

I think this says quite a bit for Singer both as a person and as a philosopher. As a person it shows he doesn’t have much invested in himself as he’s willing to essentially turn against his entire life’s work and say, “I no longer have confidence in it.” It says that as a philosopher he’s willing to listen to other positions and contemplate them. As Edward Feser wrote (where I found a link to the original article):

But again, this is progress.  The moral positions Singer is usually associated with are odious, but it takes some courage and intellectual honesty for someone with Singer’s extreme views to admit that Christian morality might have something going for it.

What is most important in all of this – aside from the hope that Singer will abandon his extreme views on infanticide and euthanasia – is it shows that Christian morality is ultimately tenable and reasonable. It provides a response to the question “Why be moral” and contains truth within it. If Christian morality is viewed as a rational response to ethics, then certainly its metaphysics must be equally, if not more, rational.

The Simplicity of Complex Christian Ethics

It seems that I’ve run into two types of Christians lately when it comes to ethics; those who believe in the “no harm no foul” ethic and others who believes in restrictive ethics. Let me explain.

The “no harm no foul” group says that so long as what you’re doing doesn’t harm anyone, then it’s not wrong. If there is consent, who is to say the action is immoral?

The restrictive crowd, however, has a long lists of “do this” and “don’t do that.” In short, it’s legalism, but in a watered down form.

Christian ethics, however, doesn’t need to be so confusing. Though our ethical system is virtue based, it has its foundation in two things: Love for God and love for man. The key word in this then becomes “love.”

Biblically, love means to be self-sacrificial. It means to put your wants and desires aside for the object of your love. Thus, if we are to love God (with all our being), this means that we must love Him both in our deeds and in our thoughts. If we think properly about God and toward God (that is, we have the right doctrine), but don’t back it up with our actions, then we aren’t loving God self-sacrificially. The opposite is true if our actions spill over with love, but we think the wrong things.

Likewise, when it comes to our fellow humans, unless we treat them as we would want to be treated, we are failing them. Now, this doesn’t mean we affirm them, but instead that we love them and when they are in error, we gently move them toward loving God (as loving God is primary – all actions must go back to our love for God).

So the question of any act then becomes, “Will this action anger God or go against His nature?” If so, then no matter what that action is wrong. If we know the action won’t go against God’s nature, we must then ask, “Will this hurt my fellow man?” If so, then we must abandon such action (unless God has commanded it).

This is the simplicity of Christian ethics. The difficulty is in following such ethical codes and also figuring out what does and does not violate the nature of God.