The Syrian Refugee Crisis and the Biblical Morality of Border Enforcement (Part 4)

Our Highly Charged Political Environment

Americans are talking about immigration! The recent terrorist attack in Paris is largely believed to have been instigated by at least some unvetted Syrian War refugees that had crossed the national border.1 Similarly, “Two federal agents operating under the umbrella of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are claiming that eight Syrian illegal aliens attempted to enter Texas from Mexico in the Laredo Sector.”2 If ISIS, which claimed responsibility for the Paris attack,3 can infiltrate the unvetted Syrian refugees coming into Europe, then the great fear among Americans is that ISIS has similarly infiltrated the Syrian refugees now pouring across the American border and into the United States. The recent shooting deaths in San Bernardino, CA have only exacerbated the issue.


Presidential contender Donald Trump has even made altering America’s present lax immigration enforcement as well as the need to deport a plethora of illegal aliens the signature issue of his widely popular national campaign. Donald Trump recently made national news by calling for a complete ban upon Muslims entering the United States, “…until our country’s representative can figure out what the hell is going on. We have no choice…”4


Consequently, in this present highly charged political climate, Americans are now involved in a national dialogue concerning the legitimacy of America’s current lax immigration policies. Many on the political left are questioning the morality of denying the Syrian refugees unfiltered and unvetted access to America. In a recent Presidential Republican debate, even one of the Facebook questions related to the morality of border enforcement through a generic appeal to the Bible:

BLITZER: We have another — we have another question. We have another question from Facebook. Let’s listen. QUESTION: My name is Carla Hernandez. I’m from the University of Texas at Austin. And my question is directed to all the candidates. If the Bible clearly states that we need to embrace those in need and not fear, how can we justify not accepting refugees?5

The key question that needs to be asked is, “is it really un-Christ-like, unbiblical, and immoral to call for tougher and more consistent enforcement of our existing immigration laws?”


In actuality, as we began noting in prior posts, it is entirely Christian and biblical to oppose illegal immigration, amnesty, and a porous borders policy. First, the Bible teaches that believers should obey the laws of the land (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-17; Titus 3:1). Illegal immigrants by definition are violating the American immigration laws. Why should we support any illegal activity when the Scriptures are very clear that we should obey the government whenever possible? Second, beginning at the Tower of Babel, God Himself has established national entities and their existing borders (Gen. 10:32; 11:1-9; Deut. 32:8; Acts 17:26). Consequently, the United States, just like any other country, has both the right and responsibility to determine for itself its own immigration policy consistent with its own best interest and those of its own citizenry.


What Saith the Scriptures?

Bible_paperSometimes open borders advocates, such as Obama, quote scriptural passages that admonish God’s people to be kind to the foreigner who was living amongst them (Exod. 23:9; Lev. 19:34; Deut. 10:19). However, these exhortations are merely referring to basic compassion towards the less fortunate in our midst. These less fortunate were those who are foreigners and yet legal citizens of the nation of Israel. Proselytes, or those who voluntarily swore allegiance to Israel thereby coming under the nation’s protective custody for religious reasons, would be examples of such foreigners. Ruth the Moabitess is perhaps the Bible’s most famous proselyte. Regarding her Jewish mother-in-law Naomi, Ruth proclaimed, “…for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16). Notice Ruth’s expressed respect for, and promise to submit to, both the religious and national customs of Israel. Nowhere in the various Old Testament passages exhorting kindness to the foreigner is it ever even hinted at that these foreigners represent those who entered the country illegally and for nefarious purposes. These oft cited verses are not advocating illegal activity or porous borders.


In addition, when these injunctions were given, they did not contemplate dangerous realities that we see today, such as terrorists carrying weapons of mass destruction across porous border for the purpose of doing physical harm to others within the host nation. Any nation has a right to enforce its borders if for no other reason than the self defense, protection, and preservation of its citizenry. David French elaborates:

Indeed, Scripture draws a clear line between the responsibility of the individual and the role of the state. Individuals are to forswear vengeance, leaving justice to earthly rulers as God’s “agents of wrath” who bring “punishment on the wrongdoer.” The state has an affirmative responsibility to protect its citizens, even to the point of bringing a sense of “terror” to those “who do wrong.” There is no contradiction between personally welcoming the “strangers” among us while our leaders endeavor to protect us from a genocidal terrorist force that uses refugee status as a shield and disguise to perpetrate brutal attacks against innocent civilians. This is not to say that Scripture creates a paradigm of compassionate individuals and heartless governments. Throughout the Bible, entire nations — not just individuals — are condemned for injustice, including unjust treatment of the poorest and most vulnerable members of society. But to say that the only way to meet that standard is to open our doors to migrants when we know our enemy intends to plant terrorists within their ranks is once again to read far too much into Scripture.6

In Old Testament times, God Himself enforced Israel’s existing border against Moab, which was Israel’s immediately eastern geographic neighbor. Bran Fischer well explains:

It emerged over the weekend that there are a staggering 1000 active, ongoing investigations into ISIS-affiliated Muslims right here, right now, in the United States. There are active ISIS investigations in all 50 states. Simple prudence dictates that until those cases can be wrapped up, all of them, we should not add to the caseload by bringing more possible jihadis into the country. It is a form of political insanity and suicide to do anything else. While some may argue that this is cold-hearted, let’s not forget that God did exactly the same thing with the ancient Moabites. “No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the 10th generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the Lord forever; because they did not meet you with bread and with water on the way … and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor…” (Deuteronomy 23:3). Because of their ancient and abiding hostility toward Israel, God banned the Moabites, along with the Ammonites, from the assembly of Israel for 10 generations. Since a biblical generation was about 40 years, this was essentially a permanent ban on Moabite immigration, even though they shared a border with Israel. Bottom line: if banning immigration from hostile nations was acceptable to God, it certainly ought to be acceptable to us. Now rare exceptions certainly can be made. The Moabitess Ruth was welcomed in Israel, in part because she committed herself to full cultural and religious assimilation. “Your people shall by my people, and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16).7

Concluding Thoughts

In sum, three reasons make tough border enforcement a biblically justifiable concept. First, not enforcing America’s existing immigration laws involves illegal activity, which the Bible does not condone. Second, respecting borders also involves respect for the concept of the nation-state, which God Himself created. Third, God Himself is on record enforcing Israel’s borders in Old Testament times. Thus, when examined in its totality, rather than in a highly selective and piecemeal fashion, the Bible can best categorized as anti-illegal immigration document. This truth is something that needs to be consistently pointed out in our day as the religious left is busy making selective use of biblical passages to promote an open borders political agenda.


(End of Series)



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