I could scarcely believe what I was hearing a week ago when evangelical leaders, including many otherwise lucid voices from the Hispanic community, tried to rationalize providing amnesty to potentially tens of millions of illegal aliens in America.
Worse yet, they cited the Bible as their basis for doing so.
Talk about confusion …
Talk about not understanding what the Bible actually says about a subject …
Talk about misinterpreting Scripture to make it fit in with your political views …
The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, pleaded for “comprehensive immigration reform” by saying: “It’s about our Christian faith. It’s about Matthew 25 and Leviticus 19. It’s about finding a way where we can reconcile Romans 13, ‘respecting the rule of law.'”
So what does the Bible actually say in those verses?
For the benefit of those who believe that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is a God who doesn’t respect borders and an orderly immigration process, I have offered four previous Bible studies on the topic of illegal immigration:
- Why amnesty is not compassionate
- The biblical position on illegal immigration
- A Bible study on illegal immigration
- And another Bible study on illegal immigration
Here’s a condensed study. I encourage you to review all the material before forming your conclusion.
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.
Let’s review some of the verses most often cited by those who believe the Bible suggests open borders are His way:
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 do 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.
What about Matthew 25 and Romans 13?
Matthew 25:31-46 is about the judgement of nations at the end of the age. It’s a specific warning to the world that the nations will be judged according to how they treat “the brethren,” meaning His people – Israel. It has nothing to do in context with illegal aliens – though, again, Christians all believe they should be treated compassionately as individuals.
Romans 13 is a treatise about government and how we should respond to it as believers. Certainly, the Bible does not advocate revolutionary actions. But in America, where we are supposed to have a government of the people, by the people and for the people, we all have an obligation to set the government straight when it gets out of line. And that’s exactly what government is doing in America today – illegally and immorally – with respect to borders and immigration and many other issues.
The Constitution of the United States lays out a process for lawmaking. But the laws are being ignored and broken by government officials. Barack Obama has even violated the Constitution by using his executive position as a lawmaking one.
I would expect Christians not to cower in fear of illegal activity by their government but to stand up, resist and use their power to reform – in other words, to be just and faithful to the law of the land. That’s what Romans 13 seem to suggest.
The Bible can be twisted to justify all kinds of evil. There are real Americans being hurt by illegal immigration. They need a remedy. They require justice and truth. America simply isn’t big enough to absorb all the tens of millions – or even hundreds of millions – who would like to come here. We can’t live in a fantasy world in which we welcome all the “strangers” who want to move here. That’s not what the Bible suggests in any way, shape or form.
Instead, the God of the Bible is a God who recognizes the need for borders and talks about them 169 times in His Word. Maybe it’s time to figure out what He is really telling us.
Maybe He’s telling us we should respect borders, too.
Media wishing to interview Joseph Farah, please contact [email protected].