Of God and Borders

Of God and Borders March 5, 2019

I came across this recently.  Where to begin.  When I read things like this, I often wonder how it was possible I spent so much time in that world.  Was I really that obtuse?  Was I really that impervious to logic and a proper hermeneutics?  Yes, yes, I was.  And I am still often obtuse and still often unmoved by logic; and yet, even I can see these sorts of arguments for what they are: Nonsense.

Let’s work our way through this:

…there are clear, biblical principles on why no one should be confused about God’s position on immigration and borders. Let’s look at borders first. In Acts 17:26, Paul says that God established nations and borders. Daniel 2 says He raises up leaders and nations, and He puts them down.

First, notice it is “God’s” position, not the writer’s.  He’s just agreeing with God.  He’s not interpreting Scripture, he is telling us the very position and mind of God on these matters.  Wow.  A direct line to God.  It must be nice.

Second, that God provided an initial framework or order to human communities, does not mean that those same human communities cannot change them, for good or ill.  We know Hitler moved borders.  We know Stalin moved borders.  We know the Western powers, including America, moved borders.  Borders, even if allowed by God, are artificial boundaries.  Was God working with Hitler when he moved borders?  The writer has clearly not thought this through.

Third, no one is saying we shouldn’t have borders (another question entirely).  The question is this: Are borders, the articulation of their use, and walls, the result of our fear, nationalism, and racism?

Moving on…

Without borders there’s no order, no law, no justice. Without borders, God’s promise to bless the nation whose God is the Lord could never occur. God’s plan of redemption revolves around nations. In time, God will judge all nations who reject Him. Is it any wonder that the coming anti-Christ and globalists demand open borders?

Wait, what?  Of course there could be order, law, and justice, borders or not.  And, of course God could bless a people, borders or not.  Does the writer think God that stupid that if “he” couldn’t make out the artificial lines on a map, he could not bless certain people?  And God’s plan of redemption doesn’t revolve around nations.  The plan revolves around Jesus, the one who represents all nations, all people.  You know, the one who ultimately shows no partiality, who sees hearts, not skin color, ethnicity, nationality, nor borders or boundaries.

And where are we told the anti-Christ demands open borders?  And globalists?  I think most reasonable globalists are talking about international cooperation, more than open borders.

If borders or walls are immoral—as even some religious leaders contend—then Nehemiah was wrong. And even more so, God Himself is wrong, because heaven has walls and gates, and Jesus says that whoever circumvents one gate and climbs in another way is a thief and robber.

I wondered when the “wall” would come in.  Well, borders and walls are two different things.  A border or wall is not intrinsically immoral, obviously.  The question is how they are being used, or the motive behind their existence or articulation.  Was the Berlin Wall immoral?  Yes.  Thus, some walls and borders are immoral.  None of that makes Nehemiah wrong or God wrong—it makes people wrong.  And Jesus was talking about himself, not actual gates or walls.

Also, the city that comes down in Revelation 21, which may be mystical rather than physical, has, “gates” or doors, that will never “be shut.”  So, the idea any wall is moral because of this picture in Revelation is wrong, logically, and doesn’t even comport with the writer’s point (keeping people out), as the door is always open.  Here, the writer is committing hermeneutical malpractice.

The writer then cites some Bible passages having to do with strangers, or foreigners, noting the Hebrew word, ger.  He misses the point.  Whether or not the passages he cites pertain only to those immigrants who assimilate, or come legally, such has nothing to do with how we are supposed to treat the, “least of these” or the fact we are supposed to treat others the way we would like to be treated.

If the situation were reversed and for whatever reason we found ourselves having to flee this country and seek refuge somewhere else, even if it meant entering illegally, we would do whatever we could to protect ourselves and our families.  And we would pray to God the people in the land to which we were fleeing would show us mercy and help us.  If the writer, as a purported Christian, cannot see that, then I can’t help him.

Jesus summed up the law, including every verse the writer cites, and his summation (love God, love neighbor) goes completely against the way the writer is trying to use those passages.  In other words, even if an immigrant doesn’t assimilate well, or enters illegally, they are still a human made in God’s image.  Many of them are Christians.  Such trumps any artificial boundary, man-made law or immigration policy.

The issue is not walls or borders.  The issue is how we treat people who we view as different, whether they are here legally or not.  It’s clear Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric (see here and here) has given too many people a green light to harbor ill-will and racism toward immigrants, whether legal or illegal.  The writer is buying into that same sentiment and using the Bible to justify it.  Shameful.

Finally:

Our government has a unique duty to God and to the citizen—one might even call it a moral duty. Different from the Church’s duty to care for the sick and reach out to those who don’t yet know the God of heaven, government’s duty according to Romans 13 is to enact justice, enforce the law and protect the citizen.

Here the writer shows the influence of the, “two kingdoms” theology, which has been debated for some time now (see here and here).  Regardless of where one comes down in that debate, to use that type of theology for the reasons the writer does here is dangerous.

After all, what type of “justice”, what “laws,” and what type of “protection?”  Certainly, the writer must know that every tyrant or corrupt state in history has argued they were protecting their people through their own laws and understanding of justice.

The writer wants the Church to act like Jesus, but he absolves the state of any moral duty to treat others as they, whether institutionally, or as individual people working for a government, would want to be treated.  This view has allowed Christians and the institutional Church over the centuries to either conspire with tyrants or look the other way as those tyrants worked their destruction.

Finally, the writer forgets himself.  According to 1 Peter 2:11, where the word, paroikous is used, we have more of a reason to identify with the immigrant, and those in exile, than we do with our country of birth.  According to Norman Hillyer:

“In the [Old Testament], parakoikos is regularly used as the LXX translation of Heb. ger, a foreigner living among Israelites as a resident alien.” (Pg. 75)

He goes on to quote from the Epistle to Diognetus; Anon., 2nd cent.:

“The Christians dwell in their own countries, but only as sojourners.  As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as foreigners.  Every foreign land is to them as a native country, and ever land of their birth as a land of strangers.” (Pg. 75)

These are words the writer should reflect upon and try to understand.  He clearly doesn’t.

The writer of this essay, these voices, are one of the reasons I no longer identify as an evangelical.  These are the ignorant, biblically illiterate and insensitive voices of those who are sure they know who we should fear and exclude.

We should oppose these voices at every opportunity.

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