As I was watching a debate on the immigration problem, the “build a fence” participant appeared to lose considerable moral ground when his liberal counterpart said, “There is a high moral ground … I would like to have an open border situation. It would be good for this country …. “ She summarized by saying we ought to be a “compassionate nation.” So, the “high moral ground” suggested in her argument was that of “compassion.” After all, how could anybody turn away little children?
The “compassion card” is frequently used as an “end-all argument” in a number of social issues. However, there is another value which trumps compassion. It is commitment to established law. Law must be predominant. While compassion can be exercised under law, it must be shaped by the parameters of law. Ultimately, law defines compassion. Without commitment to the law, compassion fades. This is easily seen in our daily, social experience. Legislatures pass laws for the good of their respective citizens. Criminals violate those laws. Is it compassionate for a judge to ignore the law and allow a criminal to go free? Suppose, your family member was the victim of a crime? Does a judge’s leniency toward the criminal display compassion? That culprit, who victimized your family member, is free to strike again throughout the community. Thus, the judge, who may have reached his decision because the criminal had a loving wife, children, etc., was not exercising compassion at all. It was an act of hostility toward the community which now can be described as “victims.”
The supreme illustration of the law’s relationship to compassion is seen in the gospel message. Many are familiar with John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” What a wonderful statement of love! Jesus, coming to earth, leading a sinless life, dying on the Cross for sinners, and rising the third day conquering death. That is the grandest declaration of love in human history. However, while it was an act of love, what necessitated His coming, His suffering, and His death? Our first response might be, “He came because I am a sinner.” That is true, we are all sinners. But, what is sin? It is a violation of God’s law. What does the Law demand? The Apostle Paul answered the question in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death …” The law demanded we die. Justice required a price far greater than we could pay. How is it possible for us to be delivered from the law’s unflinching consequences? The reason Christ came was to fulfill or satisfy the very law that condemned us. The law was never set aside. Compassion did not dictate to God that He should shut His eyes to our “lawbreaking.” Rather, law dictated the most compassionate solution to our problem. The satisfying (or honoring) divine law was the preeminent display of love. Christianity is a message of hope because it cries, “There is deliverance through faith in what Christ has accomplished.” Yet, that message can only be understood within the boundaries of law.
True compassion can only be exercised under the supervision of law. There are times when the honoring of law seems hard and unforgiving. But, in reality, it is the best way to demonstrate love to all who are affected by the immigration problem.