The Minutemen commit Sodomy

"The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt."
— Leviticus 19:34

I should have been more precise in the previous post: The ethics of immigration policy can be complicated. Immigration policy, by definition, has to do with borders and boundaries, with drawing lines that distinguish one group of people from another and establishing rules for treating these different groups differently. These things are an inescapable part of statecraft, of governing. They are also morally perilous since pretty much every kind of evil begins with the drawing of boundaries between groups of people in order that these others can be treated differently.

Christian ethics can, in a way, be viewed as a prolonged argument between us humans and God in which we're always trying to create boundaries of moral obligation, to create concentric circles beyond which the duties of love and justice do not apply. "Am I my brother's keeper?" "Who then is my neighbor?"

Jesus saw where this was going and cut to the chase: "Love your enemy."

So apart from the hard questions of policy and statecraft, the ethics of how we should respond to (or even talk about) immigrants is not at all complicated. They deserve justice, and more than justice, they deserve magnanimity. The stranger and the alien are our neighbors, our brothers.

Throughout the books of the law and the prophets, as well as the New Testament, the refrain of "aliens and strangers" is impossible to miss. This is inescapable in Judeo-Christian ethics, but it is hardly unique to this tradition. Hospitality is an ancient and universal obligation. And it is never optional.

Think of Procrustes. Or, getting back to the Judeo-Christian tradition, think of Sodom. The men of Sodom did not offer hospitality to the strangers in their midst, but instead sought to prey on them with violence.

The actions and rhetoric of the Minutemen are no different than the actions and rhetoric of these men of Sodom. The Minutemen are sodomites; they are abominable.

* * * *

The infuriating thing about reading someone like the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins advocating inhospitality as a "Christian" virtue is that Perkins and his group are among those advocating most loudly for the public display of the Ten Commandments.

Here is how the Ten Commandments begin in Deuteronomy 5: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery."

This, again, is an inescapable refrain throughout the law and the prophets. Treat aliens with justice and kindness, for you were aliens in Egypt. Do not take advantage of the weak, for you were weak and taken advantage of in Egypt. Liberate the oppressed, because the Lord God liberated you from oppression in Egypt.

It is astounding that people like Perkins want to use the Ten Commandments as a club to beat down the stranger and the alien and anyone else they deem outside of the boundary, the concentric circle they have drawn around their idea of Christian America. Perkins seems to have forgotten that he, too, was once a slave in Egypt.

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  • PK

    FhnuZoag: We aren’t trying to deport you. We aren’t issuing you with ID cards. We aren’t even banning you from marriage. We are saying that you are being stupid. I don’t think the bible says anything against denouncing hatred and idiocy.
    Reactionary flaming like this just reinforces my previous point. Again, what exactly was ‘hateful’ about what I said? Please show your work.
    FungiFromYuggoth: PK – you haven’t really demonstrated that Genesis 19 means what you think it means. It seems that the language in the initial Hebrew was nongendered – i.e., a crowd of men and women gathered around and asked who (non-gendered) was inside. That definitely implies hostile intentions toward strangers, with a strong forecast of sexually violent ones, but doesn’t do anything to back up the common Christian reading of Genesis 19 as meaning the crime of Sodom was homosexuality first, last, and always.
    When did I say anything about homosexuality? I don’t think you’ve demonstrated that you know what I think Genesis 19 means.
    Think about it ;)
    All I’m arguing against is the position that Sodom was violently and utterly destroyed because its welcoming committee wasn’t peppy enough. IMHO, things like, I dunno… city-wide organized gang rape seems a tad more brimstone-worthy.

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  • Duane

    Maybe S&G was just in the wrong place at the wrong time like Pompeii or New Orleans and God didn’t have anything to do with it at all. Maybe later generations created vocal narratives in an effort to ascribe some meaning or lesson to such a horrific natural disaster.
    Now that we have science to tell us how natural disasters happen we don’t really need Pat Robertson or his ilk to tell us how to pacify supernatural beings. Welcome to the 21st century folks. Check your mythical baggage at the door.

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