California is now a de facto borderless state, according to the pronouncement of its leading elder in the gates of governance, Jerry Brown. His reasoning is a vivid example of the wandering from basic doctrines that is so prevalent today.
Brown was introducing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at an August 25 event in Los Angeles. The Governor, according to the Los Angeles Times, declared that immigrants are "all welcome in California," and it didn't matter whether or not "they had permission to be in the United States."
Brown seemed to be conflating himself with the copper-clad figure in New York Harbor whose great proclamation reads:
"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."
What Brown and most of California's gate-sitters have forgotten was the context of the age in which the great declaration on the Statue of Liberty was written. Emma Lazarus penned the words in 1883 when the spiritual-philosophical-ethical-moral consensus that made America a sanctuary still held, though severely battered.
In our times a rushing tidal wave threatens Lady Liberty because a borderless region is no longer a sanctuary from those suffering under lawless regimes, but loses the very sanctity that makes it a safe and opportune place for the "tired... poor... wretched refuse... homeless, and tempest-tossed."
The most dangerous place on earth is a borderless land with no boundaries. The flood of antinomianism sweeps in, unchecked, washing away the foundations of all the institutions that make true freedom and opportunity – and the sanctity of sanctuary –possible.
The simple truth is that if we establish solid spiritual-philosophical-ethical-moral boundaries, the borders will take care of themselves. Healthy immigration policy that provides sanctuary for the "homeless" and "tempest-tossed" will grow in the rich soil of the worldview that sets those sacred boundaries.
Loss of the sanctity of boundary therefore leads to the collapse of borders.
Tsunamis first affect the boundaries of the seas, and then the uproar of the oceans washes over the land, and destroys everything they strike.
John, in the Revelation vision, sees a vast spiritual tidal wave that upsets whole nations. In the shocking images, John says, "I saw a beast coming out of the seas." (Revelation 13:1) Many interpreters identify the "beast" with the "Man of Lawlessness" Paul writes about in 2 Thessalonians 2. But what is the "sea" in Revelation's symbolism? Revelation 17:15 answers it: "The waters which you saw where the harlot sits are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues."
The oceans therefore in the Revelation visions are, as Emma Lazarus puts it, "tempest-tossed" nations, their particular people groups, and cultures. Out of such chaos lawlessness arises like a serpent whose ferocious appetite threatens the whole world.
But what roils the seas? What creates the vast flood of antinomian lawlessness?
The quake that ignites antinomianism – the lawlessness that rebels against the very character of God – is apostasy, a "falling away" from sound doctrine and its truths.
Paul writes, in 2 Thessalonians 2, that "the day of the Lord... will not come unless the apostasy comes first." (Emphasis added)
As stated in part one of this series, apostasy is the violation of the most sacred of boundaries, the "ancient" ones that should not be moved. (Proverbs 22:28; 23:10) The authentic Church is the conservator of those values that could make of every land a "sanctuary state." When the Church embraces doctrinal lawlessness all the structures surrounding it – Family, Education, Governance, and Business – begin to erode.
I am not arguing for a Christian theocracy, but for adherence to the basic doctrines of life, love and care described in Scripture. Winston Churchill argued that the great goal of the Second World War was the survival of what he called repeatedly "Christian civilization." Richard Langworth, a Churchill scholar, says that by "Christian civilization" Churchill thought that Christianity's "principles applied broadly to all of mankind regardless of religion." Thus, Langworth continues, Churchill
"did not mean to exclude Jews or Buddhists or Muslims, he meant those words with a much broader sense. Just as, to Churchill, the word 'man' meant humankind, his allusions to Christianity embodied principles he considered 'universal' and that 'applied broadly to all of mankind regardless of religion.'"
The great tragedy of the current immigration debate is that it has lost focus on those universal values. The contemporary brawl has shifted the core guiding principle from sanctuary to utility. Conservatives in big corporate structures want cheap labor, and leftist progressives aim at building an imperishable new voting bloc. Thus the "illegals" are pawns in commercial and/or political machines – indeed, making capitalist commerce and socialist progressivism strange bedfellows.
Sanctuary removes antinomian utility, and puts the focus on human beings. But it also emphasizes the responsibility of the sanctuary nation maintaining the principles and higher laws that give true security and opportunity to those "huddled masses yearning to be free."
Prudent watchers don't open the floodgates when a tidal wave is roaring in. California, perched at the edge of a frightful fault of antinomianism as threatening as the San Andreas, is not ready for the flood, and neither is the United States. The immigrants will be shoved into soulless residential buildings that crush healthy family life. Their children will be sent to schools who may have a "common core" but no grasp of the "common values" that once formed a national consensus and identity, and the "huddled masses" will be made the dependents of a welfare system that will perpetuate their poverty and rob them of their own enterprise.
Those truly in need of sanctuary must be able to discover hope. They need a nation that is vibrant with real freedom, not the delusion of antinomianism, a country that helps them anticipate and claim the future, not dread it.
Is there any hope left anywhere in the increasingly lawless world? We look at that question in the next installment of this series.