Social Holiness Concerns: Reflections to consider as you enjoy Independence Day
July 2, 2018 / By Evelyn A. Woodring, Pastor, South Park UMC, Buffalo, Member CCORR and Conference Social Holiness Committee
Recently, we have experienced the words of Scripture (Romans 13) being used to justify the separation of children from their parents at our borders, and subsequent deportation of immigrants seeking asylum. Calls for denial of due process are in direct conflict with our laws. Historically, Methodists have had extraordinary concern for the wellbeing of children. Our Book of Resolutions references several social ills related to current events. The members of the Upper New York Conference Social Holiness Committee join with the College of Bishops in condemning the actions happening at our southern border.
As we celebrate the birth of our nation, we are reminded of the words of our own Declaration of Independence:
“When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth...We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…
We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; …. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”
These words, foundational to our identity as a nation, seem to be antithetical to the spirit expressed in support of a national policy which inflicts harm on others. While we do not tell any others how to reconcile these words, and the words of Scripture that we are to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” we must encourage each person to closely examine government policies (yes, all of them!) in light of this Declaration and the Gospel message of the King of Kings. We are blessed to be Americans, citizens of the nation that has for decades been a beacon of light and hope in a dark and threatening world. Each of you, as you enjoy a Fourth of July cookout, or watch a fireworks display, is encouraged to “think on these things” – the words of our own Declaration of Independence, the words of our Lord and Savior, and the ways in which they are either in agreement or at odds with one another.
Go to your Bible. Read Matt. 22:34-40 and Matt. 25:31-46, then reread those words from our own foundation as a nation. Then, “think on these things.”