Note: This is the first installment of a two-part series discussing the reconciliation between Christian faith and a pro-security immigration stance.
If you know a Christian or are one, chances are you've heard or said the following: “The loving or ‘Christ-like’ thing to do is to let immigrants in, welcome them with open arms, and open our borders. We just need to love people.”
I’m all for love - but that’s not all I’m for - which puts me at odds with a large swath of American Christians and other religious folks in the United States. I'm talking about those who think that merely adopting “a loving posture” toward immigrants is a magic elixir for what ails us (and them).
This is shallow thinking at best.
And, here’s why: it’s an oversimplification of a very complex issue. It's something called causal reductionism and is embraced by people who, intentionally or not, are avoiding critical thinking on immigration, American national identity, and national security.
It’s easy to reduce everything in the Bible to one thing: love.
But, here’s the reality: Jesus said a lot of things. If you’re going to stick to one of his teachings, you have to stick to them all to be consistent. He said we should “turn the other cheek,” but does that mean we’re supposed to turn the other cheek to criminal activity in our own country, state, and even our neighborhood?
Let me break it down further. You've heard the commandment “Thou shalt not steal,” and every good Christian boy and girl would say that they agree with it. But the cognitive dissonance drilled into the heads of many Christians in America would have them give criminal behavior a free pass (as long as the criminals come from the Middle East or Mexico).
Because let’s face it - most immigrants aren't coming here to assimilate. We’re not a melting pot. We’re a smorgasbord. If you live in the Southwest you see this when you meet Mexican immigrants who have lived here for decades and still refuse to learn English. When you go to Dearborn, Michigan, you feel like you just stepped into Yemen. And, let's not forget the large Somali population in Minnesota as well as the countless other places in the Unites States where white Americans aren’t welcome.
Our National Identity
What’s at stake in the current immigration and refugee debate is our identity as a nation. The integrity of America’s borders is important, because our borders draw a line in the sand saying “you’re in" or “you’re out.”
When you're in, you’re (supposed to be) one of us. An American.
Immigrants who come here are invited into our “community.” As George Washington said, “The establishment of our new Government seemed to be the last great experiment for promoting human happiness." To open our doors to those who want to join our community (like we always have) is the most loving and compassionate thing we can do, which is why we do it.
But, this doesn't mean we should put a “love label” on unchecked immigration and ignore criminal behavior “in Jesus’ name.” Didn’t Saint Paul instruct Christians to “...be subject to the governing authorities” in his letter to the Romans? Is that no longer applicable in 2017?
Because if we look through our fingers at illegal immigration and let everyone come in, (like we’re seeing all over Europe) the country’s identity will begin to change. And it already has. The experiment will fail, and there’ll be no happy community to invite people into anymore. At least, not one where they can flourish. Open borders lead to further segmentation of our nation, not unity.
So, how are Christians supposed to think about this?
There’s the “just love people” way, but there could be a better way; we seek what's best for America, because if America prospers, the people in America prosper as a result. And, I’m not speaking financially here. We see this paradigm in the Book of Jeremiah. When the Jews were taken captive and brought to Babylon, they didn’t segment themselves and hide in the corner, they integrated and became one with the nation they were living in. Even in captivity.
To seek the well-being of Babylon was good for Babylon and for them:
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. (Jeremiah 29:4-7)
Now, they could have walled themselves off, refused to integrate, and tried to maintain their “culture” in Babylon, but that isn't what God wanted for them. He wanted them to make the place they were living a better place for everyone there.
But, this isn't what we’re seeing in America. We’re not seeing people who want to come here, learn English and fit in. In some instances, we're seeing people who are coming here, taking advantage of the American safety net liberals have established, creating mini-nations within our nation, and trampling on the idea of American Exceptionalism.
So to them, I say, stay put.
* Make sure you check out Part 2.
Author Bio: Brian Lenney is a copywriter who helps startups create conversion-friendly marketing campaigns. He has a B.A. in Political Science, an M.A. in Philosophy of Religion & a penchant for debunking humanity.