No, the Bible Does Not Command America to Take in Syrian Refugees

No, the Bible Does Not Command America to Take in Syrian Refugees November 18, 2015

As Americans, we want to welcome immigrants and refugees.  As Christians, we’re told to take care of the poor and downtrodden.  So if we apply the WWJD to our strategy for dealing with Syrian refugees, does that mean we welcome them with open arms?

The Left (and “progressive Christians” – oh, but I repeat myself) believe that anything less is unChristian, bigoted, and hate-filled.  David French, at National Review, collected some of the criticism:

Writing in the Guardian, Giles Frazier declared that there is “no respectable Christian argument for fortress Europe, surrounded by a new iron curtain of razor wire to keep poor, dark-skinned people out.” His theological argument is that both the Passover and the Eucharist are a call to “re-live basic human solidarity” with the refugee “in the face of existential fear and uncertainty.” Indeed, Jesus’s flight to Egypt was “deliberately sampling” the “basic foundational myth of Exodus.”

Mark Woods, a Baptist minister, referred to the “stark and terrifying parable of the sheep and the goats,” where Jesus decrees, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” because “I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me.” Think Progress used this same scripture to condemn Christian governors who oppose allowing Syrian refugees into their states. President Obama himself used biblical imagery to taunt opponents of his refugee resettlement program as “scared of widows and orphans.”

As a general matter, advocates of open borders often refer to Mosaic law requiring the Israelites to treat the “foreigner residing with you” as if foreigners were “native-born,” and to “Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” The laws of Israel, they point out, applied equally to the “foreigner” and the “native-born.”

In other words, WWJD?  Open the borders.  But is that the right Scriptural conclusion to draw?  Not so fast.

First of all, David points out that the Mosaic law that people are not quoting, would “prohibit refugees from worshiping Allah, demand the death penalty for many of the core activities of the sexual revolution, and impose dietary restrictions that the latté Left might find a bit onerous.”  More importantly, people are conflating the responsibility of the individual versus the responsibility 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.

In other words, it’s a false choice.

Americans have welcomed, clothed, and fed refugees by the hundreds of thousands in camps and cities overseas. In the past we have established and protected vast safe havens that allowed persecuted people to live and thrive (e.g., Iraqi Kurdistan after the Gulf War). America is the most generous, most compassionate nation on earth, expending vast amounts of treasure and spilling its precious blood to protect millions of poor and oppressed.

The true scandal is not that we’re turning our back on the poor, but that our Christian president has utterly forsaken his God-ordained duty to be an “agent of wrath” against our sworn enemies, allowing evil to thrive and placing America under direct threat. By failing in his God-ordained duties, Obama is failing in his constitutional duty to defend our nation — we are far weaker and more vulnerable than when he took office.

Many times, people allude to the quote on the Statue of Liberty to stir up emotions and to infer that those who don’t want to welcome the Syrian refugees are somehow unAmerican:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

However, Americans are some of the most generous people on earth… and we will continue to take care of refugees, the poor, and the downtrodden.

Refusing to accept a group of people who we know will include those who want to kill us and our allies does not invalidate our kindness and does not violate our Christian duty.

God instructs us to be as “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”  We can’t forsake one for the other.

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