Does Christianity demand Open Borders?
0 comment Tuesday, August 12, 2014 |
These days, in all the debate and rancor over mass immigration and ethnic division, Christians are getting battered from both sides: I have heard many people who are opposing multiculturalism and the breakdown of nations condemn Christianity as the cause of the West's self-immolation. And then the Open Borders fanatics and the multicultists have pummeled Christians with our Bible, telling us that God wants us to open wide our gates and welcome the immigrant, illegal or legal. Michael Gerson's article in the Washington Post, (H/T Lawrence Auster at VFR), excoriates Christians who are 'nativists' for their 'national chauvinism' and 'rage.'
Those of us who are Christians, with a traditional perspective sometimes find it difficult to give Biblical answers to the liberals like Gerson, who are brazenly Bible-thumping in support of their political agenda. I think they believe they can shame us out of our 'nativism,' and sadly, maybe their tactics succeed with many Christians who tend to go along with social trends. And believing in a soppy egalitarianism and universalism is popular these days, especially for many ostensibly conservative Christians who have fallen in with the 'emergent church' movement.
But here is one Christian perspective on the Bible and immigration. Rev. Childress talks about the religious activists' support for illegal immigrants based on their interpretation of the world 'sojourner'. For example, there are Biblical passages which God enjoins the people of Israel to welcome the sojourner:
The Bible is full of stories of sojourners, strangers without homes, whom God called people to protect. The Israelites "God's chosen people" were themselves sojourners for 40 years after the exodus from Egypt as they entered the promised land. God did not let the Israelites forget that they had been without a homeland for such a long time; the ethic of welcoming the sojourner was woven into the very fabric of the Israelite confederacy. It was more than an ethic, it was a command of God. 'Do not mistreat or oppress a stranger; you know how it feels to be a stranger, because you were sojourners in the land of Egypt' (Exodus 23:9)." p. 1
As these excerpts point out, the Bible in a great many places uses "sojourner" to refer to those who are in a location which is not their original homeland. However, it is clear that while a sojourner shares some characteristics with an immigrant, the two are in very different pursuits.
Using the term sojourner as a kind of proof-text for political statements about immigration clouds the issue because many people of faith find it hard to "argue against the Bible." Paul W. Lewis, an author on Christian engagement of social issues and a former missionary, admits "I have been greatly bothered by the way some people have used the term 'sojourner' to back up their own idea about immigrants. It was a totally different situation back then. We could also use the word 'traveler' today."
Childress says that the class of people called 'sojourners' were mainly temporary guests or travelers, in some cases refugees who were fleeing some troubles in their homelands. These sojourners who would be more like today's 'refugees' were not expected to stay permanently. In fact, even in our country, refugees were at one time in our history considered only temporary guests until they could be repatriated to their homelands. It's odd how even in my lifetime the attitude has changed; it used to be a given that most people, given a choice, would prefer the land of their birth. It was just assumed that a people would be happiest and most suited to their homelands, among others of their own people. At what point did we discard that most basic human assumption? Don't we all feel, deep down, that home is the preferred place to be? We have so many proverbs and folk-sayings which indicate our attachment to 'home.'
Be it ever so humble... and 'East or West, home is best.' And in the past it was implicit that home meant not just the house we live in, which may not be a permanent address, but our homeland, and for many of us our home state, our hometown, where our attachments are. What happened to that regard we once had for the natural ties which bind us to our people and our homeland? Now, everybody, regardless of political leanings, seems to accept this liberal notion that people are innately nomadic, searching for the cushiest and easiest conditions. Home and kin are now regarded as trivial; what matters is, apparently, A Better Life, which it seems can only be found in our country. How did we come to this? We Americans are in the unfortunate position of living in a country which is seen as the world's cornucopia, the dispenser of goodies and Better Lives for the whole world. There is no longer any need or desire, apparently, for anybody in the less prosperous countries to better themselves there, or to improve their homeland; far better to get an airline ticket to America, or pay a human smuggler a bundle of money to bring them to the Promised Land. This situation is not what the Bible is talking about in those passages about 'sojourners.'
Our country is THE destination of choice for most of the world's covetous have-nots. And the last time I looked, the Bible forbids us to covet our neighbor's goods. Poor people don't get a pass on that; coveting is not justified by being less fortunate, and stealing and defrauding are also sins. Yet we excuse the coveting, stealing, and bearing false witness and defrauding of the illegals because they are poor. This is not Biblical; we don't have two sets of commandments, one for the wealthier and one for the poorer people. Wrong is wrong, and there is no respect of persons. And before somebody brings up the issue of charity, Americans can and do give a great deal of money not only by foreign aid, but via private charitable groups. We do our share for all the poor countries, and it is not our fault that their leaders often steal the aid or misuse it. It is not justice to demand that we take in all the world's peoples who are less well off than we are.
However, the open-borders zealots, religious and secular, always seem to imply, as I've said here before on this blog, that America has some kind of monopoly on 'democracy' and 'freedom' and 'a better life', and that it is our responsibility to spend our substance and our young people's blood to make other people free, regardless of their capability for it. And it is our obligation, so they imply, to essentially hand our country over to the masses of immigrants because we alone have the keys to the 'better life' and the 'American dream'. And it would be greedy and selfish to want to keep all freedom and prosperity to ourselves. So we are being forced to turn our country over to all who would come here, or otherwise we stand accused of greed and selfishness, as well as 'racism' and 'xenophobia.'
Rev. Childress says:
...Our religious rhetoric and practice often imply that only the United States offers the kind of life that's worth living in the world today. That's a national arrogance which can bear no positive effect.''
He is right, unfortunately. The neocons are just as guilty of that 'national arrogance' and self-flattery as are the liberal left. The left, as much as they denounce America, paradoxically think the whole world should come here. This country is not the only place where people can live decent lives; people can and do live good lives in their own countries. We are being duped into believing that we hold the keys to the whole world's prosperity and happiness and freedom. Wrong! And realizing that it is just not true would take the weight of the world off our shoulders. We are not responsible for making everybody rich, or for giving them the 'American dream' or for bringing them democracy all wrapped up neatly and deposited in their laps.
America is the best country on earth -- for Americans, for those Americans who love her, that is. But America is not required to gratify the wishes of the whole world; America cannot be all things to all people.
Yet another Christian commentator, Steve Marr approaches the illegal immigration question from a justice perspective. After all, although Marr does not say this, the Bible tells Christians to obey the laws of the land. If our illegal invaders are such devout, religious Christians as their apologists claim they are, they are disobeying God's command to follow the laws of the land. And if some leftist Christians aid and abet the illegals, and encourage 'civil disobedience', they are disobedient to God's laws too.
Many open-borders zealots, both secular and religious, claim or imply that the illegals are 'starving' in their countries, and come here out of 'desperation' or hunger or the 'need to feed their families.' To them I issue this challenge: show me evidence, solid evidence, of starvation or famine in Mexico and Central America. And the fact is, Mexico's poverty is always cited, but factually speaking, Mexico is not one of the poorer nations, being rich in natural resources, including oil. The problem in Mexico is that the upper classes control a great percentage of the wealth. This fact notwithstanding, it has been determined that many illegals had jobs in Mexico, and left those jobs to come here. They are not 'forced' to come here, contrary to what they and their defenders say.
This Christian commentator takes a conservative approach, and cites the Biblical fact that God sets the bounds of nations, Yet at the end, the writer gives in to liberalism and what sounds very much like a Politically Correct sermon on 'hatred' towards immigrants of other races.
When considering this issue, from a Christian perspective, I ask the same question I ask on most issues: are we wiser than our forefathers? My answer is almost always NO. How is it that today's Christians can see things in the Bible which our ancestors for the last 2000 years never saw? Did previous generations of Christians ever imagine that God wanted us to surrender our countries to any and all invaders in the name of kindness or charity? Did any past generations imagine that the Bible tells us to lay down our arms and passively let ourselves be conquered? Did our forefathers believe that God wanted to erase borders and create a single world system in which all peoples mingled willy-nilly together? If all these things are found in the Bible, why did our ancestors fail to realize that and abolish borders and nations 2000 years ago? Are we wiser than our forefathers?
I think too many people, even people who claim to be conservative, have this very radical liberal notion that we are the first enlightened generation in the history of humankind. Our ancestors were racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and generally ignorant, whereas we, we are the wisest and most enlightened and 'tolerant' generation in recorded history. Now the fact that our world is so chaotic and troubled does not seem to create any doubt about our wisdom and enlightenment. And the fact that in many ways, past generations lived much safer, saner, serener lives than ours, does not trouble these people. We still persist in thinking we are the moral betters of our ancestors. Again, this is arrogance.
If our ancestors, who were generally much more Biblically literate and plain old commonsensical than we are did not see fit to establish multicultural societies, then that should give us a hint that we are on the wrong track. But our upstart generation is like a know-it-all adolescent, thinking himself wiser than his backward parents.
Here's another thought on the Bible and nations: God seemed to have divided us into nations, after the Tower of Babel incident in Genesis 11, as a way of keeping people from uniting in rebellion. Nations are a kind of system of 'checks and balances' to keep flawed human beings from excessive concentration of power. Most conservatives, religious or not, sense that the greater the concentration of power in the fewer hands, the greater potential for tyranny and evil.
Nations, kindreds, peoples, tongues: the Bible talks about these units of humankind. Nowhere in the Bible is it recommended that these things be abolished or that they are bad. The idea that such ordering of humanity is wrong and that the divisions and separations should be broken down is pure leftism; it has nothing to do with the Bible.
And if we allow millions upon millions of people into our country under the guise of charity or altruism, or whether we imagine they can help our economy, the fact is, the American people are disregarded and left vulnerable in such a situation. Multiculturalism and division within only weaken us. And it was Jesus Christ, not Abraham Lincoln, who first said that "a house divided against itself cannot stand."

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