I want to share a personal story with all those following Breakfast In The Basement.
When I was a child, I heard of something called the Rapture. This is the moment that Christ comes and takes those who have accepted him as their personal Savior away (believed to be described in I Thessalonians 4:16-17), and everyone else is left to endure the seven years of Tribulation meant to judge humanity. In a moment, a twinkling of an eye, all those who are true Christians will simply vanish, to meet Jesus in the clouds – everyone else, faces the horrors of God’s judgement with no escape.
This was a very traumatic thought to me as a child! It shaped much of my childhood. It scared me to panic, the thought that my mother would be taken from me and I would be left alone in this world. I tried to be “saved”; I went forward in church, I prayed all the prayers, I read all the Bible verses – it never helped. I still could never really be sure; and when my mother was just a couple minutes late coming home, I would be in panics until I saw her walk in the door. I would pace the floor, I would cry, my thoughts would be overwhelmed by the terrifying feeling that my mother was gone – and I was alone.
When my mother would finally come home, I would often run and hide; I would wipe my tears, and try to gather myself. I never told her my feelings, even after I grew up she never knew; I never told her how this idea had affected me. She never knew about my panics or my tears. Not because my mother would have been anything but understanding, caring, and compassionate. It was not out of fear of being scolded that I did not tell her, it was because I was ashamed. You see, to doubt your salvation is a sin in the way I was raised – you must trust unquestionably the Word of God, these verses that had given me no comfort. You simply had to accept it. To do otherwise is to call God a “liar”, that is a sin – and I sinned a lot!
It was unashamedly taught by churches that families would be torn apart by the Rapture; “one will be taken, the other left” (Matthew 24:40-42). It was the thought and teaching I grew up with, and believed for most of my childhood. Looking back on these teachings, I can begin to understand (NOT condone mind you) how Evangelicals today can look the other way, or even openly encourage, how our country is taking children away from their parents at the border. To those who were not raised in this environment, this acceptance may seem a mystery, but the answer, at least in part, lies in this teaching. To the Evangelical who believes that someday Jesus himself will rip apart thousands, if not millions, of families all over the globe in this way, the current crisis on the border may pale in significance.
This teaching of the Rapture has the effect of removing responsibility for the hurt and suffering in the world. If you are “saved”, you will be taken away before all the bad stuff happens, you have no reason to worry about the suffering in the world today; it will get much worse, but that is not your problem. By removing responsibility, a kind of callousness to others suffering ensues. Their suffering is after all, their own fault, they did not follow God’s law and accept Jesus as their personal Savior. That callousness in turn can bring about a disdain, contempt, and even hatred of those who one does not believe will be part of the Raptured few. While the Evangelical may claim a “burden for lost souls” while they remain hopeful of being Raptured, their anticipation is that, once Raptured, they will sit in Heaven looking down the judgement of human beings saying “those dirty sinners will get what’s coming to them!” That “burden” only extends to the time when they leave those lost souls behind.
To far too many Evangelicals today, what is happening on the border is these peoples own fault, they broke our laws, they get what’s coming to them. It is the Rapture attitude in miniature. It is without responsibility, it is callous, it is even hateful; but it is essentially no different than what the Rapture will do to many more children. The results are the same, except the judgement God rains down on human beings will be much worse. It is then no mystery why the Evangelical will accept and condone such actions so readily. These actions have much in common with one of their most dearly held beliefs.