Earlier this week, we all witnessed an example of misappropriating scripture with the immigration and family separation issue that occurred Friday. In a press conference, Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the following statement, ‘I will cite…the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for His purposes.’ When asked about the Attorney General’s statement, White House Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders was quoted as saying, ‘I can say, it is very biblical to enforce the laws. That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible.’ CNN reporter, Erin Burnett, asked Jentezen Franklin, Senior Pastor of Free Chapel Church and member of the Evangelical Advisory Council, about their statements, to which he replied that the Attorney General used it out of context to which she responded that, ‘…the verse is a controversial one. Perhaps, because of its reference to governing authorities, it’s been used in the past. And it has been used specifically to…justify slavery and the Civil War, apartheid in South Africa, and even Nazi Germany.’ Her next question is where a clear delineation was needed to explain how Mr. Sessions used that verse. Ms. Burnett asked, ‘…Do you think Sessions or Sanders are unaware of what this verse has been used to justify such horrific things like slavery and genocide?’ To which he responded that we had to find some middle ground by honoring the law of the land but showing mercy to the immigrants.
Misappropriation of Scripture
The question she asked was a dangerous in that it was loaded. Meaning, in order to get to the answer, you had to disassemble it and then reassemble it; all while explaining the reassembling process. By asking if the Attorney General and Press Secretary were aware of the devastating effects of the verse, seemed to me as another way of saying that this was the purpose for scripture. As if it’s only use is to destroy, imprison, and oppress. Not saying that Mr. Franklin didn’t do an outstanding job responding to her questions, but if you watch her show a lot, and I do, then you know you have to get to the heart of your position – quickly. So much so, that you have to convince her of your knowledge in under 15 seconds; otherwise she, like much of the world, will tune you out. Another way to also address Mr. Sessions misappropriation would have been to explain how scripture is supposed to be used. For example, you don’t enact a policy, then find a scripture to justify it. The right way is to pray, go to the Word, see what the Bible already has said specifically about immigration, then enact the policy based on what the Bible has already established. So does the Bible say anything about immigrants?
Aliens and Mexican Immigrants
The Bible speaks at length, about immigrants in the Old Testament. Throughout scripture, immigrants are referred to as ‘aliens’, ‘foreigners’, or ‘strangers’. In Exodus 22:21, during the giving of the law of Moses, ‘…God spoke...these words, saying…[to the children of Israel to]…’not mistreat a stranger’, while in Exodus 23:8, He commanded them to, ‘…not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Ex 20:1, 23:9) The Hebraic definition for ‘stranger’ means ‘a temporary inhabitant, a newcomer lacking inherited rights.’ Therefore, according to this verse, Mexican immigrants would qualify. But because the Bible says, ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses, the matter shall be established’, (Dt. 19:15) let’s locate one more verse to establish what the Bible says about immigrants. Deuteronomy 14:21 says, ‘You shall not eat anything that dies of itself; you may give it to the alien who is within your gates, that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner; for you are a holy people to the Lord your God.’ Notice the verse says, ‘…give it to the alien who is within your gates.’ This would be the same as saying within your borders. Therefore, we have an Old Testament biblical stance on immigrants. But what about Mr. Sessions New Testament statement and Romans 13?
Government Policy and Biblical Authority
Romans 13:1, 2 says,
‘Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.’
His use of this verse was correct, but it was misappropriated; meaning it was used out of context. His use of the verse was to announce the government’s ability and authority to take a zero-tolerance approach to immigration. Therefore, he was defending their approach with Romans 13. But the approach is not the issue here. The issue is what does the same Bible say about the policy? Though we only touched on immigrants and not immigration specifically, we will do so later on. For now, can you please... Pray this with me: Heavenly Father, please forgive our leaders. Lord, I pray that You give them wisdom to extract an immigration policy out of Your Word. I ask that they do it quickly and under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. And in the meantime Heavenly Father, can You please comfort the children and parents? Please give them peace of mind and provision to do what they can in their home country until this issue is resolved. In Jesus' name. Copyright 2018 © Real Issues Publishing®. All rights reserved.