Obama’s illegal amnesty, the humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied children across our southern border, the refugee crisis in the Middle East, and Trump’s beautiful wall have made immigration a hot topic. It is a third rail of politics sure to alienate the best of friends.
Therefore, I will attempt to address this third rail of politics and cause all of my friends to hate me and quietly call me a bigot behind my back.
I’m going to be honest with you: I don’t care what the majority opinion on immigration in this country is because, if it’s not biblical, then the majority is wrong. But the majority seems to have stumbled on the correct view. Although most Americans seem to agree at least in sentiment with President Trump’s platitudes of a beautiful wall and enforcement of immigration laws, they have only stumbled upon it because nobody reads the Bible anymore.
I know, I’m guilty of not reading the Bible as often as I should either.
Biblical law clearly promotes the ideas of free markets, wealth creation, property rights, and individual rights. It establishes a radically libertarian society under God’s sovereign authority with economic liberty and limited government. The free flow of labor and immigration across international borders is biblical, but only within the context of God’s rule of law and the general principles of national sovereignty that God’s civil magistrate is charged with keeping for our good.
The more recent immigration and refugee crises have intrigued the interest of the Church and Christian leaders to get involved and offer an alternative to the partisan divides. We should give credit to these Christian leaders for what appears to be a sincere attempt to address immigration biblically, even if their solution is thoroughly unbiblical.
The problem with the Evangelical Immigration Table in 2013 and Christian leaders today is their view of “biblical” is a nebulous view of “biblical compassion” grounded in their human emotions, not Scripture.
What exactly is the biblical perspective on immigration and refugee policy? It is true that we, as Disciples of Jesus Christ, are to care for the sojourners and oppressed. Nevertheless, are we biblically obligated to care for covenant-breakers masquerading as refugees? It is also equally true that the civil magistrate, as God’s minister for justice, has a sovereign obligation to the security of his people for our good and protect against evil.
Now, the Sabbath, sacrificial, and land laws are generally discontinued because either they were specific to Old Testament Israel or Christ’s atonement covered them. If you read the Old Testament and the whole of Scripture regarding the historical migrations, they all convey the same general principles and respect for the national sovereignty of the city-states or kingdoms of their time.
Two historical migrations are when Moses led the people of Israel through the wilderness, and God’s command to Mary and Joseph to migrate to Egypt from Israel.
In nearly every migration with Moses, he requested permission to enter the kingdoms or city-states. The kings (civil magistrates) frequently deny their legal requests for entry, which ultimately led to the Israelites conquering them. In these cases, the kings were the covenant-breakers because they were not following God’s charge for them as His minister for justice by denying entry without just cause.
I believe it would be wholly inappropriate to assume these migrations were equivalent to illegal border crossings. Therefore, Moses and the Israelite's were the covenant-keepers by respecting God’s rule of law and sovereignty of the civil magistrate, while obeying God’s command for them to migrate to the Promised Land.
In the New Testament, God commanded Mary and Joseph (with young Jesus) to flee Israel and migrate to Egypt in order to avoid Harod’s wrath. Scripture doesn’t say much about their actual migration to Egypt. However, to assume that Mary and Joseph illegally entered and crossed into the sovereign land of Egypt to flee oppression would be to read something into Scripture that isn’t there, which would be a theological faux pas.
I believe it is more accurate to assume the silence on the actual migration means God opened the legal doors into Egypt without any civil resistance. In this scenario, both the civil magistrate in Egypt and Mary and Joseph were covenant-keepers. They both honored what God had commanded from each of them within their divine positions and circumstances.
Therefore, the Israelites, Moses, and Mary and Joseph were covenant-keepers. They were the legal immigrants, or the sojourners and refugees. However, Christians should be careful about viewing illegal immigrants as sojourners or refugees because they are covenant-breakers.
Our obligation to care for the oppressed is a command from God, and we must follow it in obedient faithfulness because God commands it. We are obligated to obey God’s command for the covenant-keepers who are legitimately in need of aid and refuge, and we must respect the sovereignty of our nation-state if they cannot honestly verify the status of refugees. I believe we are not required to care for the covenant-breakers for they are receiving their just consequences by disrespecting sovereign nation-states laws through their illegality.
As the Church, Christians must honor God’s commands to us to care for the widows, orphans, children, and oppressed, but we must also honor His commands to respect the authority and obligations of His civil magistrate. Our praying and hearts for immigrants and refugees must not contradict the general principles of sovereignty that God commanded the civil magistrate to secure for our good.
We are covenant-keepers when we honor what God has commanded of us, but also when we respect others who are honoring what God has commanded of them.