The Bible and Immigration
From Wednesday Night at Crescent School:
There has been much hubbub about President Trump's "Muslim Ban." Without going into a debate about the rightness or wrongness of this policy (as if anyone really has an idea what to do with this very complex issue), I would instead like to focus on some stuff I've heard people say in relation to the Bible.
I have heard many Christian and non-Christian types explain how this Ban is a violation of Scripture. I have seen people go so far as to say "If you support this you are not a Christian." My ears always perk up over such statements. It is amazing to me how often these statements are made about issues the Bible isn't even talking about, yet we tend to drop off very specific things the Bible says without much problem at all!
But alas, that's another Bible Study entirely.
Here are a list of "Biblical Proofs" that banning immigrants violates Scripture.
1. The Sermon on the Mount! We're supposed to love our enemies and go the extra mile. How can a person hold to the Sermon on the Mount and yet support a ban on immigration?
The Sermon on the Mount was not written for nations as policy directives. The Sermon on the Mount is direction for a follower of Christ. If America ran itself on the Sermon on the Mount, there would be no America. We would turn the other cheek our way into oblivion. The Sermon on the Mount is not intended as a rule for governing a nation, nor should it be read that way. A believer can fulfill the Sermon on the Mount regardless of any national policy. And, incidentally, the Sermon on the Mount would allow you to turn the other cheek if you view President Trump's policy as an enemy attack!
2. The Old Testament had cities of refuge!
This is true, and they were for other Jews to go to in case they accidentally killed someone. This has nothing to do with immigration policies of America.
3. There were provisions in the law to leave the corners of your field ungleaned for the poor and for strangers.
True. America has been and continues to be one of the most generous nations in the world in caring for the poor and strangers. From what I understand of the policy, this is not a forevermore turning from helping immigrants, but a temporary ban on immigration from a few countries notoriously known for sending over really bad people. If this ban turns into not helping immigrants of any kind at any time in any way, there may be a point to be made.
4. Exodus 23:9 and Deuteronomy 10:18-19 both say to look out for strangers as Israel was once a stranger in Egypt.
True. There are plenty of immigrants in America and there will be more whom we can help. Israel was also told to charge interest to strangers and not fellow Jews. Furthermore, Israel was also told not to let any strangers in their land when they first moved in, and instead were commanded to wipe out many nations. We should be careful not to adopt policies governing the nation of Israel as instructions for running America.
5. Jesus was an immigrant!
Oh dear. Yes, I suppose that is true. Jesus was also crucified and through His crucifixion salvation's plan was perfected. Shall we crucify immigrants as well?! OK, I will admit I have no idea what this point means. "Jesus was an immigrant" Is one of those arguments that lets you know the Bible has very little to say on this subject.
6. Christians are described as strangers and pilgrims! Do unto others as you'd have done to you!
We are strangers and pilgrims, and we are also told not to make our homes here and to set our affections on things above and not get entangled with the affairs of this life. I suggest we do that on this issue.
I personally have no idea what to do with America's immigration problem. Many nations around the world are struggling with this issue. There are bad people out there. Governments have a right to defend their borders. The one nation who I have heard defend President Trump's policy has been Israel of all people!
One thing I have noticed in the last couple months observing President Trump, is that he leads with an extreme offer, it’s part of negotiation. He later backs away and comes back to the middle. The worst thing Christians can do is flip out every time the president says something. Chill. Relax. It is entirely unhelpful to badger people about the Bible on something which isn’t permanent anyway and probably little understood by most pontificators. Freaking out about everything is a sure sign your affections are not above but rather very much here.
The NT says nothing about how nations are supposed to do things. Stop using it to say otherwise. The NT is about how Christians are supposed to live their lives as individuals and as a church. Nations are irrelevant in God’s current plan of redemption. Treat them that way.