“Texans against Amnesty- Stop Illegal Immigration NOW”
Immigration and immigration policy have been an integral part of American politics since the early years of the American Republic. The faith principles of many Americans inform their politics and public policy. And the United States has a long, historical connection with Christian influence, dating to the country’s earliest days. Some of the most prominent recent examples of faith-influenced politics are freedom of religious expression in public life, abortion, same-sex marriage, Immigration and a respect for a nation’s border. What we will be discussing in this issue of the Examiner’s “Grassroots Politics,” are the issues of Immigration, both legal and illegal, the issue of our borders and the safety of its citizens, from a biblical perspective as well as modern ideas on the issue.
Is there a Biblical role of Civil Governments on Immigration and our borders?
First, let’s take a look at the Biblical role of Civil Governments regarding Immigration and our borders. Both policy makers and private citizens who are Christians may wish to consider how Scripture might inform their views on immigration. While Catholic bishops have called for amnesty for illegal immigrants, and as some liberal religious leaders have re-initiated a “sanctuary” movement to harbor illegal aliens, including inside their churches and as a Southern Baptist official has sided with amnesty proponents. Yet it’s interesting to find that such self-described “compassion” among religious elites differs from the perspective of most rank-and-file Christians. The vast majority of most congregations generally opposes legalization, also called amnesty, and support enforcement of immigration laws.
Scripture clearly indicates that God charges civil authorities with preserving order, protecting citizens, and punishing wrongdoers. A prime passage is Romans 13:1-7:
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but too bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”
Another Scripture that we should take a look at is the teachings such as: I Peter 2:13-17 and Titus 3:1, which urge citizens to obey secular authorities, because they hold godly agency, whether the individuals in charge are personally characterized by godliness or not. This conduct of good citizenship is one means of revering God. Earthly governors “bear the sword” on behalf of those under their authority — for instance, preserving law and order, fighting off invaders, and meting out punishment to those who break the law.
The authority God delegates to civil government focuses on justice, not mercy, though this is not to say laws should not be tempered by mercy. Biblical teachings of mercy generally apply to individual conduct, not to civil authorities. Further, standards of justice are not fully moral if they are not accompanied by judgment and punishment. These two elements, judgment and punishment, are integral, or else justice is not just. So, to put this in a proper light, civil government has been delegated authority to use force because government fulfills the role of protector of a specific body politic and the members of that political society. The reason the sword of justice has been delegated to earthly governments is for protection of a defined set of people who live under a government’s jurisdiction. It is not power for power’s sake, but power to protect and defend a state’s own people and resources. Earthly rulers are to guard their own citizens against evil in the world and in the hearts of men.
And we should not doubt that God holds rulers accountable for their official conduct as seen in Deut. 17:14-20. Christians understand this delegation of authority to protectors in the civil realm to be a tangible safeguard against the consequences of the sin nature that inherently resides in every person. Hence, national defense and police powers manifest the central role given to the government. A given government’s responsibility under God is to safeguard its citizens. Is this being done for our citizens today? God regards borders as meaningful and important! Consider Deuteronomy 32:8: “When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.” Ezekiel 47:13-23 details the Promised Land’s boundaries. Numbers 34:1-15 describes the borders the Lord established for each tribe of Israel. Deuteronomy 19:14 commands against moving a neighboring tribe’s boundary stone marking a given tribe of Israel’s inheritance in the Promised Land. Resident aliens who had children and settled in Israel (largely because of Israel’s failure to complete the mandate to remove them) were allowed private property in Israel (Ezek. 47:21-23). However, numerous times Israelites are warned against letting the aliens’ pagan practices corrupt God-given moral standards. Moses gathered the people and stated the corporate blessings and curses the nation would receive based on whether the people obeyed God’s commands. Deuteronomy 28 spells out the blessings and curses. Verses 43-44 list among the Lord’s curses the resident alien’s rise above the natives: “The sojourner who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, and you shall not lend to him. He shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.”Does this apply to today’s thinking on Immigration and our border? From the perspective of most it should, but in the eyes of many it doesn’t!
Lastly, the biblical standard for immigrants is that they obey the laws of a nation, the general standard for all, discussed above. Obviously, this relates to abiding by a nation’s decision whether or not to admit an alien, and on what terms and conditions. It also includes an assimilationist ethic. Foreigners duly admitted into a particular society are expected to assimilate, not impose their own customs, language, etc. and remake the receiving society in their own image! This is Gods own words.+++