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Aug9ThuSeparating families is immoral and unbiblical. August 9, 2018 by Lieutenant Erin Metcalf
One night, after tucking my kids in bed, I sat on the couch and scrolled through Twitter. As they slept peacefully in the next room, I read about the horrible situation that, at the time, had been taking place at the United States-Mexico border, where families were being separated. But it was a story of reunion, not separation, that broke my heart.
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- Opinion & Critical Thought
The scene took place in an airport, where a mom waited anxiously, surrounded by official, but kind-looking, men and women. As a child entered the room, the mom ran to embrace her daughter, sobbing and falling to her knees. I watched, dumbfounded, as the child stood limp for what seemed like an eternity while the mom hugged her and cried. Finally, small arms reached up and the embrace was reciprocated.
It was like the child needed a moment to realize it wasn’t a dream—that her mom was really there, in person, hugging and holding her. It was hard to watch. Tears streamed down my face, but I couldn’t turn away.
So many pieces clicked. I don’t have a background in psychology, but I knew beyond a shadow of uneducated doubt that this child was hesitant to react because of unbearable trauma. She didn’t know how to respond because she had been ripped from the safety and security of loving arms and thrown into a cell, with no promise of resolution, no explanation of what would happen next and no one to console her as she struggled to understand all that was taking place.
As the pair crumpled on the ground hugging and sobbing—lament and gratefulness spilling out of the mother in her own beautiful language—the camera panned to the other people in the room. Something good had been done and they were part of it.
I’m not going to pretend I know all the ins and outs of what’s happening in the United States. The complicated politics are far beyond what I have the capacity and time to fully comprehend. I am, however, a follower of Jesus, and I know that the forcible separation of parents and children is evil.
Not every child will ultimately be reunited with a parent.The Salvation Army stood in opposition to this policy as well, issuing a statement on June 20, 2018, that included this bold message,“Separating children from their parents at the United States border has no place, directly or indirectly, in American immigration policy or practice, and the truth that this has happened already for thousands of mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, brings us to our knees in prayer for their well-being, a speedy return to one another, and an immediate stop of the practice.”
An Army on its knees is powerful and our prayers joined with thousands of others. Although this policy was revoked, the effects of its enforcement are still playing out in devastating ways all across the United States. Perhaps the most troubling fallout from the “zero tolerance policy” is that not every child will ultimately be reunited with a parent. Some parents can’t be found, some may already have been deported, some require further investigation.
Let us continue to pray for these families. Let us continue to be a bold voice in this battle against injustice. The united voices and prayers of hundreds of thousands of believers and non-believers who refused to simply stand by and watch this senseless policy tear children from parents’ arms were loud enough to force a change for the better.
In his book Love Does, author Bob Goff says, “I used to think I needed to pick sides, but now I know it’s better to pick a fight.” As Christians, we need to make sure we are battling injustice. Sometimes this means picking a fight.
And now I’m going to go hug my kids.
Lieutenant Erin Metcalf is the corps officer at Niagara Orchard Community Church in Niagara Falls, Ont.
Feature photo: © Suriyawut Suriya/iStock.com