Attorney General Jeff Sessions has attracted a firestorm of criticism by quoting the Bible in reference to illegal immigration.
He cited Romans 13:1 – a verse about obeying the laws of the land – in supporting the policy of separating parents who are illegally entering the United States from their children at the border.
Critics have come from predictable as well as unexpected places, including some clergy.
While some rebuke comes from people who advocate open borders, some other criticism may be attributed to an unfamiliarity with the original Hebrew words of the Bible.
In refuting Attorney General Sessions’ Romans 13 comments, some have been quick to cite Scripture that advises people to welcome “sojourners” into their land.
No one is disputing that “sojourners” should be welcomed into the United States.
Of course they should be welcomed because “Ger/Toshab,” the Hebrew words for “sojourner,” translates to legal immigrant, one who has the right to reside in a nation.
The verses that critics of Attorney General Sessions are citing do not dispute his point, they validate it.
No one, especially my personal friend, the kind-hearted Attorney General Jeff Sessions, desires that a mother or father be separated from their children.
The Bible is chock full of God’s design for parents to “bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4 KJV, cf. Proverbs 22:6). To achieve such requires parents being with their children.
But vocationally speaking, Jeff Sessions is appointed as the chief enforcer of the laws of our country. His job demands that he be true to the laws that Congress has enacted and presidents have signed into law.
In my Bible study on Immigration (click here for study), I point out that there are three classifications of people in every country, as was true in ancient Israel in the Old Testament (OT).
Note the three classifications (that are found in the study) below.
DISTINGUISHING VARIOUS PEOPLE IN ANCIENT ISRAEL
|DESIGNATION||KNOWN AS||HEBREW WORD|
No government should separate children from their parents who are citizens of the country, herein called countrymen. Nor should the state separate children from their parents who are migrating legally (sojourners). The remaining category listed above are illegal immigrants. Every country today follows these same OT distinctions.
It follows that when someone breaks the law of the land that they should anticipate that one of the consequences of their illegal behavior will be separation from their children.
Such is the case with thieves or murderers who are arrested and put in jail. The passage the Attorney General cited, Romans 13, bespeaks of this: there are and there should be serious, known consequences for breaking the laws of the land — otherwise the law becomes toothless and inconsequential and it is no longer a deterrent to harmful behavior, which is what God designed it to be.
The context of the Attorney General’s comments is in regard to illegal immigrants only — not citizens or sojourners; in fact, the Attorney General’s comments were informed by these biblical word distinctions. He was speaking only about those who are breaking the law when crossing our borders. He was not speaking about citizens or sojourners.
Every person who is thinking about breaking the law should consider the consequences. In this case, people who are breaking the law will result in their being separated from their children. Such consequences act as a deterrent to crime and curtail illegal immigration.
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of good to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Romans 13:1-4 (NASB)
President and Founder of Capitol Ministries