“I think the biggest change hasn’t been in the pulpit. It’s been in the pews. Our faith has always been about compassion and it compels you to do something. If you took compassion or the principle of compassion out of the Bible, it would be in tatters because it’s all over the place.”
– Sen. Marco Rubio on why amnesty for illegal aliens is morally right
Is Sen. Marco Rubio correct when he says providing a blanket amnesty for illegal aliens is the “compassionate” response for Americans?
Is he correct when he says it’s the biblical response to America’s problem with immigration laws being broken?
While Rubio is right about the word “compassionate” being found frequently in the Bible, it is not found in the context of excusing lawbreaking, non-enforcement of duly enacted laws or borderless nations.
Quite the contrary.
The Bible clearly and consistently speaks to the opposite agenda.
For the benefit of those deluded into the belief that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is a God who doesn’t respect borders and the rule of law, I have offered three previous Bible studies on the topic of illegal immigration:
As Rubio leads another national effort for amnesty, this time wrapped in citations of the Bible, it appears it is necessary to explore this topic for a fourth time.
For starters, I challenge anyone to check an exhaustive online or offline concordance for the word “border” or “borders” to get an appreciation of how many times God’s Word references these terms. While not all of them are relevant to our discussion, I count 169 references, most of them making the point that God cares about them. He cares about boundaries between nations. In fact, as I have previously pointed out, it is God Himself who invented nation-states back in Genesis 11.
Why did He do it?
It seems He scattered the world’s population and created the diverse languages in an effort to subvert man’s efforts to unite in a global kingdom under a false universal religion.
Interestingly, one of the prime motivations of those behind the promotion of borderless societies is this very same notion of regional government and global government and the breakdown of nationalism.
What was wrong at the time of the Tower of Babel remains wrong today. That should be clear to anyone and everyone whose standard of morality is the Bible.
So, where’s the confusion?
Some misguided Christian clerics cite a handful of random, out-of-context verses that might, possibly, in some way, maybe, be interpreted, if you use your imagination, to suggest we should just forgive and forget all transgressions and trespasses against our national sovereignty and our laws regarding our nation status.
Countless Bible studies have been conducted in America in recent years using some familiar citations about “strangers” and “aliens” and applying them to our current controversy:
Leviticus 19:33-34: And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
Exodus 22:21: Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Exodus 23:9: Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Deuteronomy 10:19: Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Some churches have stopped right there after reading that last verse and decided they know all they need to know about their duty as Christians to illegal aliens.
“We’re supposed to treat them just like one born among us, according to the Bible,” they proclaim. “That means amnesty. It means all the benefits of citizenship.”
Not so fast. You can develop some really bad theology – not to mention politics – by reading the Bible out of context, by not fully understanding what is being said to whom and about whom.
Strangers that sojourn with you or live with you does not equate with illegal aliens. In fact, the corollary here, in each and every case, is that the children of Israel were “strangers” in Egypt. That’s why they were to treat their own “strangers” well, because they knew what it is like to be “strangers” in a foreign land.
Clearly, then, what it means to be a “stranger” is to be a foreigner. In the case of the children of Israel in Egypt, they were invited and, at first anyway, were honored guests. Later, they would be oppressed by a generation who “knew not Joseph.” But they were certainly not trespassers. They were certainly not in Egypt illegally. They were certainly not breaking the laws of the land by being in Egypt. In fact, they were commanded not to offend their hosts in any way (Genesis 46:28-34).
So, we must conclude that “stranger” does not equal “illegal alien.” Even when the term “alien” is used in the Bible, it seems to have the exact same meaning as “stranger.”
God loves the stranger, we’re told. You should, too. They should be treated with respect and dignity. They should not be mistreated. These foreigners should be given food and clothing when they are in need. That’s the clear message of the Bible – treat law-abiding foreigners and aliens with love and compassion.
The aliens and strangers of the Bible were expected to obey the Hebrew laws, though they were exempt from some. They were also treated differently than the children of Israel in that they could not own property; they could be bought as slaves and charged interest on loans.
Only if these aliens and strangers were fully converted as Jews – and that included circumcision – could they be landowners, partake of the Passover and be fully integrated into the nation of Israel.
In other words, even though the aliens and strangers of the Bible were not illegal aliens, they were still expected to fully assimilate into the Hebrew religion and culture before they could receive all the blessings and all the responsibility of full citizenship.
Further, keep in mind these godly instructions were meant not just for the governing authorities in Israel – the judges and kings – but, more importantly, for the people. These were personal instructions. And they are clearly good instructions for us all today.
If we want to be compassionate to the strangers and aliens of our world today, those law-abiding foreigners who desperately want to come to America and are patiently awaiting their turn, we need to be certain they don’t get squeezed out unfairly by those who broke the law and pushed ahead of them in line.
We shouldn’t be mean to those lawbreakers, either. We shouldn’t mistreat them. We should even forgive them. But they have to leave.
They haven’t been invited. They are not our guests. They are not just strangers; they are trespassers. They need to go back home and get in line like everyone else waiting to enter our country lawfully. They are victimizing others – both citizens and those legally awaiting citizenship opportunities. There’s nothing compassionate about enabling that kind of behavior.
Lastly, I want to introduce one more verse I think is very relevant. It is Deuteronomy 27:17: “Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour’s landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen.”