Harry Monroe, Jr., a licentiate of North Texas Presbytery (PCA), has posted this piece on the current influx of unaccompanied children from Central America into the U.S. He is understandably cautious about the church allying itself to particular causes where Scripture is not explicit, but he encourages individual believers to arrive at well-informed positions rather than simply toeing the party line (whether left or right).
I would only raise one question here: was it right for the 19th-century Northern Presbyterian church to ally itself with abolitionism, even though Scripture was not explicit on that issue either? I would personally argue yes. I believe that Scripture provides us with sufficiently clear principles to conclude that the institution of slavery (and certainly the race-based chattel slavery of the American South) should have no place in our society today. And when Scripture is sufficiently clear, the church should speak and act.
So I wonder if there really is anything wrong with the institutional church carefully studying and speaking into the current issue of child refugees. Like Israel in the Old Testament, the church’s responsibility is to serve as a prophetic voice to the nations of the earth, calling them to recognize the God who is sovereign over all. If Amos was able to indict the ancient kingdoms of Syria, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab—pagan nations that were not in covenant relationship with the Lord (Amos 1:3-2:3)—how much more so should we humbly admonish and exhort our own political leaders?
Now it is certainly possible for the church to abuse this prerogative and overextend its reach, like when it starts endorsing particular political candidates or when it becomes a de facto PAC. The Westminster Confession of Faith 31.5 tempers our zeal for social and political activism:
Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or, by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.
Nevertheless, insofar as public issues become moral issues, the church can and should make God’s will known. And when 52,000 children come pouring over our southern borders to escape the rampant crime, corruption, and poverty in their own countries—a situation for which we might be partly to blame (see news article here)—shouldn’t we regard that as one of those “cases extraordinary?”