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Robert Jeffress, President Trump’s Evangelical adviser and pastor of First Baptist Dallas, used the Bible to justify ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects from deportation young adults who entered the country illegally as children and allows them to work.
He did this in response to a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan from 3,400 church leaders urging that President Trump keep the program.
Jeffress agrees with the letter in that “we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.” But he argues that “The Bible also says that God’s the one who established nations and its borders.
God is not necessarily an open borders guy as a lot of people would think that he is.”
Jeffress and this letter, however, contradict themselves by stating that the Bible should not be used to determine immigration when it says, “While Christian compassion is one consideration, it’s not the only consideration in the immigration problem.”
In historic Judaism, welcoming strangers into your land was more than just compassion.
Jews were to welcome strangers at the gate, then provide them with a bed and food.
This practice is the reason you see Lot waiting at the gate of Sodom in Genesis 19.
The passage shows the dichotomy between how Lot treated the strangers and how the citizens of Sodom treated them.
This practice is enforced later on in Deuteronomy 10:19 when God reminds his people that they are to love strangers in their land because they were once strangers in the land of Egypt.
The strangers in a strange land theme can be followed up until the final chapter of the Bible.
It is one of those threads that can be followed from the beginning of the Bible to the end and therefore is vital to a Christian worldview.
Putting that aside, the Bible does indeed teach that God established borders and nations. It is hard to know what passage Jeffress was referring to, so to generalize the statement is the best approach.
Based on passages like Acts 17:26, which is the one he was most likely alluding to, and Deuteronomy 32:8, one can see that God does indeed claim to establish nations and borders.
The purpose of those passages however is not to say that “God is not necessarily an open borders guy” as Jeffress claims.
Instead, it’s to provide the people with security that regardless of who seems to be in power and what nation seems stronger, in the end God is in control.
Jeffress chose to use the Acts passage in order to push an anti-immigration agenda that pleases President Trump, knowing that it comes from a source of authority.
The most disturbing part in all of this is not his abuse of scripture but the intention behind it.
Jeffress’ motive is made clear when he said he wants a distinction between the roles of the church and government.
We should have a separation between church and state, since not everyone in the state is part of the church.
For Christians however, there is no such distinction. That is to say, there is something outside of the Christian that governs their morals, which influences their vote.
This outside governance is supposed to be above all other governing bodies. It’s what makes a Christian a Christian.
Jeffress has taken that out of the equation and is practically asking Christians not to act based on God’s law but on what he perceives is best for the country.
Based on his interviews and actions, Jeffress believes that he can and should persuade the president in a way that is not within Christian parameters because the state and the church should be divided.
This means he is not a Christian first and foremost, he is a presidential lapdog first and a Christian when it helps him have a platform from which he can say what the president wants to hear.
As Christians, we don’t have to support illegal immigration because the rule of law is a good thing. We do, however have the imperative to love foreigners, regardless of their legal status.
—Dan Luna is a reporter and an accounting major.