In the penultimate episodes of the "Star Trek: Enterprise" television series, Starfleet and the crew of the 22nd-century starship Enterprise contend with an organized group of terrorists who demand the expulsion of all non-human species from Earth under threat of civil war.
At one point, Commander "Trip" Tucker, chief engineer aboard the Enterprise, is taken hostage by the terrorists, along with the Vulcan science
officer T'Pol and the child cloned from their cells. While captive, Tucker confronts the leader of the group, a man named John Frederick Paxton.
TUCKER: You're behind this.
PAXTON: Behind this? No. I lead this, and proudly too. Before you ask, your child is safe and sound, finally sleeping through the night. I forgot how much trouble a newborn can be.
TUCKER: I want to see her.
PAXTON: No. And no is a word that Starfleet better get used to hearing from now on. Because up until today, it's always been yes, hasn't it? Yes, yes, go right ahead. roam the stars. Yes, inform potentially hostile species of the whereabouts of Earth. Yes, entrust the entire future of our world to non-human creatures who don't even feel like we do. Yes, promote the total degradation of mankind by encouraging alien-human relations. Well, yes is a word that ends here and now.
I'm returning Earth to its rightful owners. I am giving Earth back to humanity, back to human beings.
While manifestations of xenophobia (from the ancient Greek word "xenos" meaning "stranger" or "alien") may not seem so far-fetched for a science-fiction show such as "Star Trek," it is also not unusual to observe such
paranoia, suspicion, distrust, circumspection, even animosity in real life.
There are those who might be inclined to rely on Biblical text to justify injunctions against intermingling or integration between cultures and ethnic populations. After all, some might assert, in the Old Testament the Israelites were specifically directed to avoid intermarriage with the regional
inhabitants of the land (Exodus 34:12-16, Deuteronomy 7:3-4,
Additionally, there are instances prior to the exodus and following the establishment of the kingdom of Israel where it might appear that God was mandating a kind of segregation (Genesis 24:3, 37, Genesis 28:1, 6-9, 1 Kings 11:2, Ezra 9:12-14).
Despite that, anyone who is counting on a legitimately Biblical basis for any pretext for apartheid will be sorely disappointed. All those aforementioned references in the Old Testament exhibit, as their context and motivation, a desire and intention to maintain spiritual fidelity with regard to commitment to faith in God alone — the I AM of Mosaic revelation — as opposed to the prevalent idolatry and paganism.
While one could certainly distort Scripture to rationalize just about anything, nowhere in the text can one identify any indication that God considers any particular people or culture superior, or inferior, to any other. At no time does God ever decree a doctrine of segregation, prejudice, or inequity based on differentiation or distinction of ethnic identity.
God's concern for the integrity of faith comes further into focus in the New Testament, with verses such as 2 Corinthians 6:14-16, where the apostle Paul describes the lack of harmony on spiritual matters between believers and
unbelievers. Keep in mind this is the same apostle who wrote about there being no distinction regarding ethnicity, gender, or social class insofar as unity in Christ is concerned (Galatians 3:28).
Indeed, it has been God's desire from the beginning to impart his grace and blessings to all peoples of all nations (Genesis 12:1-3, 1 Kings 8:60, Isaiah 56:7, Matthew 28:19, 2 Peter 3:9, Revelation 7:9).
The Bible is clear on the imperative of generosity and kindness to all, even to those we may perceive as alien or outside our conventional expectations. There is no shortage of scripture which enjoins us to refrain from unfair treatment of foreigners in our land and to extend impartiality and justice to everyone, including those originating from outside our geographical and cultural borders (Exodus 22:21, Leviticus 19:33-34, Deuteronomy 23:7, Deuteronomy 24:14, Jeremiah 22:3).
Such passages serve to establish a premise of sympathy, courtesy, and goodwill, while also reinforcing the notion of equal treatment under the law (Exodus 12:49, Leviticus 24:22, Numbers 15:16), which was likely a peculiar notion in ancient times. The Biblical passages referenced here were somewhat revolutionary in that they affirmed, in contrast to other societies of the day, the inherent dignity and value of foreign sojourners equal to resident
inhabitants, emphasizing consistent application and adherence to legal obligations and expectations.
Ultimately, this indicates that those who wish to benefit from a society’s prosperity or blessings should be expected to abide by and satisfy the same legal requirements as anyone in that society. This would amount to equal treatment in the most practical manner — to paraphrase Scripture, “one law for all.”
While there may be those who would feel morally or spiritually justified and superior in defying what they consider "questionable" laws regarding immigration and naturalization, a cautionary counsel would be to be mindful of one's own motivations. Consider whether one might end up exploiting or abusing one’s fellow citizens and fellow believers merely to advance a particular social or political agenda under the pretense of presumed compassion or tolerance.
We are indeed called to love those who may be foreign-born, as much as we are called to love any and all; this is clearly an aspect of God's righteousness that we should strive to manifest. It may also be useful to contemplate the principle of submitting to governing authorities (Romans 13:1-7) as another kind of signification that our citizenship in heaven enables us to be the most ideal and honorable citizens of any earthly realm.
Insofar that any directive from any given earthly authority does not contravene our ultimate allegiance to Jesus himself, we can humbly offer, as the apostle Paul says, what is due: "tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; respect to whom respect; honor to whom honor."
We have all been foreigners and aliens in relation to God's kingdom. Thankfully, we are also beneficiaries of the same love and grace that he desires for us to demonstrate to everyone, including those who may not yet be fellow citizens of our community of accord. God, in his infinite sense of holiness and justice, provided one source of redemption for all: Jesus. May we discover myriad ways to express that equal treatment through this gospel of one-for-all.
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