You Have the Right to Remain Silent

Strangely… I have had several opportunities to be arrested.  Wait… opportunities?  Is that a tricky way of saying “I-have-broken-the-law-and-not-been-caught”? 

Oh, no. I could never handle the guilt of evading the law. I’m more a “turn-yourself-in-while-crying-hysterically” kinda girl. 

Nevertheless, because I have encountered so many passionate, deeply caring people in my life, they have often made decisions to engage in civil disobedience.  Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. are often cited examples of leaders who encouraged groups to nonviolently disobey unjust laws in a stand of protest against injustice. 

I have never chosen to get involved in these actions, and part of my reason is because some of the opportunities have not been focused on breaking unjust laws, but rather organizing mass arrests of a minor law in order to draw attention to an important issue.  I understand the premise, but I have abstained.

Lately, though, I cannot get away from punitive, mean-spirited state laws passed in Alabama and Georgia this summer.  I think about them often.  (Is this not normal?)  My heart aches that states have chosen to deal with this complex, intertwined, personal issue with such broad-sweeping, bitter strokes.

But I have also started thinking about the unintentional opportunities of these and any future harsh laws. It turns out I may get arrested after all…

Because I will not follow any law that says I cannot welcome the stranger into my home (aka harboring an illegal alien) or drive friends in my car (aka transporting illegal aliens).  The Bible told me to care for my neighbor and to welcome the stranger.

If I have to choose between God’s commandments and man’s… well, I choose God’s.  I try to respect the law, and I am in no way advocating all law be ignored.  Immigration is an issue that does need to be addressed on a governmental level.    

However, I will not check the papers of guests on my doorstep as if that screening will determine how I treat you.  No, I will not.  And if that’s breaking the law… well, there you go…

It is my hope that the “lines in the sand” being drawn by politicians will actually have the unexpected result of mobilizing formerly silent or unengaged peoples in the church to stand up against injustice.  Now we’re starting to have some laws worth breaking!

I might just wait a minute before turning myself in, though…

Photo Credit: Penny Mathews

1 comment

  1. Anonymous12:54 AM

    beautifully said, Sarah. Thanks for shining the light on the subject we love to ignore, our neighbor the immigrant...

    Pastor Danny


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