13 July 2014
Must a lifeguard drown to prove compassion? Or would we call her wise if she kept her distance by extending a pole to save a thrashing swimmer? Evangelical believers desire to show Good Samaritan love toward the needy. Yet is the Samaritan parable the right lens for viewing our duties in the border crisis? Or does the present invasion swarming our southern states invite a larger biblical perspective? Consider the possibility that we are dealing with another biblical concept known as judgment. Deuteronomy describes national consequences which today’s religious leaders neglect as they use the charged language of “compassion,” “love,” and “keeping families together.” It’s time to peel away emotive labels and examine this crisis afresh in light of Scripture.
The respectable signatories of the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT) hold that our “national immigration laws have created a moral, economic and political crisis.” Consequently, some evangelicals choose to urge Congress to enact so-called “bipartisan immigration reform.” Nevertheless, the problem is not the law - it is the law breakers who are creating the crisis. Laws are stationary markers to show where the lines are (just as Paul taught in Romans 7).
The above EIT phrase blames the system (immigration laws) and shifts blame away from the law breakers. It reads more like a social science construct than a biblical worldview that expects personally responsible behavior. Immigration laws are broken when people cross the line - it’s not the line crossing over people. The failure to enforce the law or obey the law involves persons deviating from the law. One cannot blame the thermometer’s grid for the fever.
Former Governor Jeb Bush opines that illegally crossing the border is an “act of love.” Mr. Bush omits mention of human traffickers (sex trade or slave labor), drug cartels and terrorists. This Presidential hopeful misrepresents the whole with the part. Yes, some people violate our border laws for a better life for their families. But, a desire for a better life is not a free pass to break border laws. Sadly, the process too often sets other lawless acts in motion such as identity theft and false oaths to name two. The “Otherwise Law-Abiding Illegal Alien” is a myth ably debunked by the Center for Immigration Studies (http://www.cis.org/myth-law-abiding-illegal-alien).
While not all border violators carry equal risk we cannot overlook the following probabilities: porous borders enabling new diseases to orphan and widow American citizens and resident aliens; cartels decimating our families through drugs and gun battles; sex traffickers stealing the innocence of children, and terrorists leaving more vacancies at our dinner tables. The pictures on our mantels of deceased children, husbands and wives will make us feel that “keeping families together” was a ruse similar to, “If you like your doctor you will be able to keep your doctor.” When tragedy strikes, we can count on the policy makers who were responsible for the security breach to deflect accountability away from themselves. As masters of public relations they will conceal their negligence by redirecting the media spotlight to the heroism of first responders. In light of this coming scenario we must act now.
As evangelicals we are the children of the Reformation. The cry ad fontes “to the sources” drove Luther and Calvin to shed the shackles of tyranny and translate Scripture so they could lead people to feed themselves. Over the years Popes and Bishops have worked steadily to influence U.S. immigration policy. But are the proclamations from these prelates the best guide? The Reformation leaders rejected Vatican sources as authoritative in favor of sola scriptura “Scripture alone.” Prayerfully, evangelicals must reason directly from the Bible.
While we thank Rome for working with us on pro-life issues and standing up for natural marriage, we evangelicals must do our own thinking. What incentive does the Vatican have to care about our U.S. Constitution or borders? Rome might see the alien deluge into the U.S. as a quick road to bigger parishes regardless of the form of government that survives. Catholic Bishops claim, “Persons have the right to immigrate and thus governments must accommodate this right.” To the contrary, “We the people,” not Rome, decide who is constitutionally welcomed and under what conditions. Beyond this we must remind our friends that Vatican City employs Swiss guards who take a dim view of breaching their boundaries.
As we return to Scripture we see that God warned Israel that an overwhelming flood of aliens would be a curse upon them for disobedience (Deut. 28:43-45). Too many religious leaders oversimplify our overrun borders as an “opportunity for evangelism and ministry.” Of course we should lovingly minister and evangelize, but the border crisis raises a variety of godly duties such as love, justice, holiness, and covenant keeping with neighbors (Deut. 27:17). We need to ask a larger question, “Could God be judging our nation?” Surely, we are not Israel, but are ancient sins still an affront to God’s holiness today? The Puritan John Flavel put it this way:
“When the same sins are found in one nation, which have brought down the wrath of God upon another nation, it is an evident sign of judgment at the door, for God is unchangeable, just, and holy. He will not favor that in one people which He hath punished in another, nor bless that in one age which He hath punished in another, nor bless that in one age which He hath cursed in another.” To paraphrase Flavel, God does not outgrow holiness like a teenager outgrows acne.
Does our nation gain God’s favor if officials advocate for children crossing the Rio Grande but fail to guarantee safe passage through the birth canal? Such carnage in the womb occurs within our U.S. borders daily. Additionally, in 2003 Justice Scalia predicted that with the repeal of sodomy laws, sodomy would become institutionalized. Today our little children learn a new euphemism in school, “same-sex marriage.” At the university level, academics are paving the way for pedophilia to be viewed as one more sexual orientation. Closer to home, we have tolerated emergent church leaders who undercut God’s justice by eroding hell. With this modeling, is it any wonder that policy makers undercut just laws and erode U.S. borders?
If the alien invasion is a sign of divine judgment, shouldn’t we still act to minimize the effects? If we experienced a judgment of drought we would still dig wells; if famine, we would still forage for food. While our first task is to humbly call people to repentance through Christ, we should unashamedly cry out that U.S. borders be secured. Exclusion has appropriate precedents.
God is comfortable with exclusion when the higher governing principle is in focus. His word speaks of a narrow gate (Matthew 7:13), turning away unwelcome guests (Matt. 22:13), fixed boundaries (Luke 16:26), and dividing families (Matt. 10:34-37). Granted these contexts involve salvation but exclusion is for those who reject God’s terms. Person to person, Jesus spoke of expulsion (Matt. 18: 15-17) and the presumption of protection from home invasion (Luke 11:21). He also taught that the waters of poverty will never evaporate in this life (Matt. 26:11). The point is that if we naïvely adopt a doctrine of inclusion that guts the rule of law then our nation’s future is grim.
Ponder some other Bible passages pertaining to our rights and responsibilities to earthly governments. Romans 13 exhorts us to obey the governing authorities. The Constitution of the United States of America is our governing authority, yet how many of us actually know what it says? Article 4 Section 4 provides for the protection of each state’s borders as well as protection from domestic violence. Why have Texas, Arizona, California, and New Mexico been denied protection under Article 4 in the current invasion of illegal immigrants?
U.S. Citizenship is precious. The Apostle Paul employed his Roman citizenship first to avoid a flogging (Acts 22) and later to appeal to Caesar (Acts 24). Not once does Paul argue that Rome’s aliens (legal or otherwise) should receive amnesty and become citizens. Paul doesn’t push lowering the requirements for citizenship, even as the Roman Commander whined of having been price gouged for his (Acts 22:28). Paul prized his citizenship on earth and in heaven.
Still, some act as though citizenship means little. We allow terrorists to become Mirandized, illegals to receive defense counsel (at taxpayer expense) and unbeknown to many, most states do not require a photo ID to vote. How do our military men and women feel about our lax border security and cheapening the requirements for citizenship?
The top public policy issue today needs to be securing the borders now. We have immigration laws. Let’s first restore equilibrium. Secondly, we must insist on a photo ID at the polls. If we lose the integrity of elections, conservatives will lose any chance of winning the pro-life, marriage and religious liberty issues. Losing elections through voter fraud will likely cost us our rights to free speech and assembly. With dagger in hand, political correctness awaits that day.
So is this God’s judgment? Perhaps we will know in time. For now, we need evangelicals confident in a biblical basis for limiting the border deluge. No false guilt trip need dissuade us. Our nation needs protection from lawlessness. Let’s love our alien neighbors with the prudence of a savvy lifeguard who won’t allow herself to be pulled under in the rescue. Let’s enforce and obey the present Constitutional laws of immigration and welcome as new citizens those who respect our laws. Put the “protest” back into Protestant and insist that we secure our borders!
Ken Carozza has taught at Cornerstone University for twelve years. His background includes business, pastoring, and serving in the public policy realm with a Focus on the Family State Policy organization and as Director of Programs at the Acton Institute. He is a Professional Member of the Evangelical Theological Society, holds the Master of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary and the Doctor of Ministry from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
Copyright 2014 © Kenneth L. Carozza All Rights Reserved
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