What the Bible Says About Borders (Part 1)

Wallace Henley is an exclusive CP columnist.
Wallace Henley is an exclusive CP columnist. | (By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)

"We will build a great wall along the southern border!" declared Donald Trump on August 31.

"Borders are the worst invention ever made by politicians," said European Union (EU) President Jean-Claude Juncker on August 22.

Who is right — Trump who wants tight borders or Juncker who wants no borders?

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People serious about the biblical worldview must not allow pragmatics, panic, pretense, or Pandora-like idealism to shape their immigration philosophy. Rather, they must look to the Bible for the core principles and build policy upon that foundation.

Two women reveal the importance of getting immigration right — which means balanced between one extreme that might keep constructive, contributive people out, while allowing in those who would destroy us.

"Anya" (not her real name) is a lady I met three weeks ago. "Tashfeen" is the actual name of the woman who, in company with her husband, Syed, slaughtered 14 workers and injured 21 more at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, in 2015.

Anya appeared like an angel at the bedside of a 16-year old dying of cancer at Houston's M.D. Anderson Hospital. As the teen's pastor I had watched the gallant girl and her family battle the disease for five years. Now the young woman was in her last hours.

As I stood in the room at the foot of her bed, a nurse entered. The mother was on one side, at the head of the bed, and the father on the other. Anya slipped in quietly to check her patient. Anya was a small woman with a graceful air and kind smile, clearly a medical professional who understood the humanity of her patient. Her accent revealed that English was not her native tongue. This is not unusual in Houston, arguably the most cosmopolitan city in the United States.

But there was something else about Anya. When she finished her work with the child, she slipped her arms around the grieving mother. Anya was aware that the family consisted of committed Christians. She began praying for the mother, whispering Scriptural comfort, and even singing softly. The mother rested in Anya's embrace, and peace flooded the room.

I eased over to hear more, and be part of this special moment. Afterward, I spoke with Anya. She had come to America as an immigrant from a region in India where there are large numbers of Christians. She was professional enough not to intrude her Christ-centered spirituality, but sensitive enough to know when ministry would be received gratefully.

Anya came to the United States to contribute. She brought her gifts, talents, and skills to edify individuals and society. This is what the Bible she had read from childhood taught her. However, Tashfeen came to kill and destroy.

The left-progressive idealists on the college campuses, the amoral corporate bosses who see only cheap labor, and the power-craving politicians who dream of a new demographic that will keep them in power perpetually either don't see that subtle question, or don't care about it. Or, perhaps they are simply determined to do all possible to oppose the idea that policy must address immigration fairly on the one hand, and warily on the other.

The "theology of immigration" revealed in the Bible, rebuts Juncker's belief that borders are a bad human "invention." The Scriptures also provide the answer to just how wide-open the gates of the nation should be.

It would be wise for even the most secular of policy-makers to consider the "theology of borders" — while they still can.

To be fair, there are many Muslims who are unfairly labeled, as were Christians during the Protestant-Catholic conflict in Northern Ireland. Those Muslims themselves have been persecuted by those who share Tashfeen's cruel strategic view. The nation's gates should be open enough for them to find refuge.

"We felt very sad about what Tashfeen had done," said Mohammad Jamil, who lived near her family in Pakistan. Her actions were "shameful for us all," he lamented.

However, wariness recognizes that some of the populations now being allowed in are spiritual kin to Tashfeen. They share the aim of destroying the freedom to consult the Scriptures that are the source of the Judeo-Christian worldview at the foundations of America. All movements working feverishly to silence the biblical worldview in Western culture should hope they and their causes lose. Otherwise, they may find themselves without the liberty of dissent or even existence.

"Christianity is the soul of the West," wrote Catholic philosopher Christopher Dawson in the 20th century. And it is that "soul" that allows other religions and belief systems to breathe within the national "body" they all share.

As Tashfeen shows — and the progressive left has such a hard time accepting — there are many others who want to suffocate that freedom-producing soul. To them, the gates of the nation must be shut tight.

I rejoice that Anya got in; I weep that Tashfeen was allowed entry.

We will not have a coherent immigration policy until we have a principled immigration philosophy. For a nation founded on a Judeo-Christian basis, the logical source is the Bible. There we discover — as we describe in the next installments — the "theology of borders" that gives the balanced understanding between "fairly" and "warily" so desperately needed.

Wallace Henley, a former Birmingham News staff writer, was an aide in the Nixon White House, and congressional chief of staff. He is a teaching pastor at Second Baptist Church, Houston, Texas. He is a regular contributor to The Christian Post.

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