We are supposed to submit to the God-ordained institution of government at all times, even if we think it’s unfair or we disagree with the laws(Romans 13:1-2, 1 Peter 2:13-14). In America, we have the constitutional privilege to openly debate, petition, and vote to make changes in what we see is unfair or wrong. But biblically, we only have grounds to disobey governmental policies and institutions if they require us to disobey God.
Daniel is a great example to us all on how to respond to both situations. When the politicians of Daniel’s day presented a law that would require him to disobey God’s instructions he first looked for creative alternative (Daniel 1:12-13) and won them over. However, years later the authorities were trying again to coerce him to quit worshiping God – even in his own private life – and Daniel just ignored them and obeyed God rather than man (Daniel 6). Just like as a kid, when Mom said to clean your room and eat your vegetables with dinner, but the babysitter said you could watch a movie and eat ice cream for dinner instead – you know who you’re supposed to obey because you know who the higher authority is. The same goes for government.
With that understanding, how then are we to look at nations, borders, and legal and illegal immigrants through the lens of Scripture? First, we need to recognize that it is God’s idea that each nation would have borders. This is nonnegotiable!
God reaffirms His design for borders in the New Testament (Acts 17:26). Jesus reaffirmed it in the Great Commission “all nations” which is translated all ethnic groups or people groups. You can’t have an ethnic group without some form of borders. I’m an American because I was born within the borders of the United States of America.
Next, it is up to each nation to decide on its requirements of those temporarily visiting or permanently moving to America. Let me preface with this: I respect my Christian friends who hold to a different view, but in the same breath I want to remind them of this biblical account. In Deuteronomy 23, God temporarily suspended the Ammonites and the Moabites from entering the congregation of Israel. As Ammon and Moab met the Israelites with hostility and brought Balaam to curse God’s people, they also brought a curse upon themselves; they were to be forever excluded from the congregation of Israel. Israel was not to care for nor promote the welfare of these nations. Some may argue that Ruth, a Moabite, was allowed as an individual to enter the congregation of Israel. It’s true. She was. But she was a convert: “[Y]our people shall be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16). Ruth was an exception; she willingly accepted and assimilated to the ways and the God of the Israelites. The Ammonites and Moabites did not. They were enemies of Israel just as some have become enemies of America.
This suspension of the Ammonites and Moabites was temporary, but it was a suspension that God put in place. Therefore, it is compassionate for Christians to suggest that the American government should secure its borders, and improve the vetting of refugees and immigrants seeking to visit or move to America. One of the requirements the Israelites was to assimilate to the faith and values it was built on.
In the Bible, we also find instruction for excluding “strangers” who come with sinister motives and no desire to assimilate. Indeed, we often see the Lord’s stern rebuke for unwise leadership, notably in Isaiah 1: 7: “Your country is desolate, your cities burned with fire; your fields are being stripped by foreigners right before you, laid waste as when overthrown by strangers.”
The Bible does emphasize welcoming people from other nations as they pass through temporarily or immigrant permanently. This explains why America is the friendliest nation towards immigrants because of our Christian foundation and the fact that we were built by immigrants. Both compel us as a nation to allow others to come temporarily and permanently.
Approximately 1.1 million new legal immigrants arrive in the United States annually. America has opened her borders to more immigrants and refugees than any other country in recent history. From 1970-2013, America allowed 31.7 million immigrants to enter the U.S. As of 2015, America is hosting a national total of 45 million immigrants. This is four times the amount of any other nation in the world.
Let that sink in … four times the amount of any other nation.
Russia is second with a total of 11 million immigrants, and Germany and Saudi Arabia nearly tie for third with about 9 million immigrants in each country. Despite having large migrant populations, many of these nations do not have policies that actively support immigration. In fact, according to the U.N., the governments of Saudi Arabia, France, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates all promoted policies aimed at lowering the level of immigrants into their countries, as of 2011. Only one of these nations, Russia, actively promoted immigration into their country at the time. The sheer number of immigrants we have taken in over the past several years proves America is an immigrant-friendly nation. We have been and continue to be four times more generous than any other country simply because we were founded as a Christian nation.
It is and should be a privilege to visit or move to America. And it should be a privilege for Americans to visit or go to other nations! When I have strangers over to my house it is always a privilege.
One thing I don’t hear anything about from my generation is the concept of private property. That’s sad because God ordained private property in the 10 commandments which he wrote with His finger in stone, “you shall not steal”, implication: it’s not yours; it’s someone else’s. Therefore, if someone allows me permission to borrow or have something that is theirs, I should always treat it with appreciation and respect.
Finally, as a result of the Fake News and an incomplete perspective of illegal immigration, we are often lead to sympathize with illegal immigrants but never are we lead to sympathize with those who are without a job because of illegal strangers, or those who are affected by drugs and crime brought into our communities by illegal aliens, or in the worst cases, the Americans and the families suffering from the murder by illegal strangers.