Recently, the migrant crisis has caused a lot of Christians to display their holiness by calling other people to let migrants in to rape their daughters. Generally, as with this example, these are rather vague allusions to the exodus or Christian charity. I’ve written about Christian ethno-nationalism before, but what does the Bible actually say about allowing hundreds of thousands of invading immigrants into your country?
First, in Levitical law it is repeated often and is very clear that the sojourner is to be fairly treated; he is not to be oppressed, he is to receive fair justice, and he is to given charity and love.
You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.
(Exodus 23:9 ESV)
For the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you, a statute forever throughout your generations. You and the sojourner shall be alike before the LORD. One law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you.”
(Numbers 15:15-16 ESV)
And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.
(Leviticus 23:22 ESV)
He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.
(Deuteronomy 10:18-19 ESV)
On the other hand, the sojourner is to be forced to assimilate. There are repeated commandments that the sojourner must follow the laws and customs of his hosts.
Whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death. Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death. Whoever takes an animal’s life shall make it good, life for life. If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him. Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, and whoever kills a person shall be put to death. You shall have the same rule for the sojourner and for the native, for I am the LORD your God.
(Leviticus 24:16-22 ESV)
For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread.
(Exodus 12:19-20 ESV)
but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.
(Exodus 20:10 ESV)
This assimilation is not absolute though. He is not to be forced to engage in religious sacrifice/ritual, although he is free to join.
Thus it shall be done for each bull or ram, or for each lamb or young goat. As many as you offer, so shall you do with each one, as many as there are. Every native Israelite shall do these things in this way, in offering a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD. And if a stranger is sojourning with you, or anyone is living permanently among you, and he wishes to offer a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD, he shall do as you do. (Numbers 15:11-14 ESV)
The foreigner is different from the citizen, though. The sojourner could not own land.
And Moses commanded the people of Israel according to the word of the LORD, saying, “The tribe of the people of Joseph is right. This is what the LORD commands concerning the daughters of Zelophehad: ‘Let them marry whom they think best, only they shall marry within the clan of the tribe of their father. The inheritance of the people of Israel shall not be transferred from one tribe to another, for every one of the people of Israel shall hold on to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers. And every daughter who possesses an inheritance in any tribe of the people of Israel shall be wife to one of the clan of the tribe of her father, so that every one of the people of Israel may possess the inheritance of his fathers. So no inheritance shall be transferred from one tribe to another, for each of the tribes of the people of Israel shall hold on to its own inheritance.’”
(Numbers 36:5-9 ESV)
Here’s an interesting passage though:
And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the statute of the Passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, but every slave that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him. No foreigner or hired worker may eat of it. It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.”
(Exodus 12:43-49 ESV)
This suggest a difference between foreigners and sojourners. I’m not a Hebrew scholar, but this Hebrew scholar deals with that verse and states that the sojourner is someone who who is essentially a naturalized citizen. I looked up the words Brian Webster mentioned. Ger (often sojourner) is the one to whom all these protections apply. On the other hand, nekar (often foreigner) is used almost entirely negatively. The protections above are only for the ger and are not given to the nekar.
Foreigners (nekar) are to be barred from Israel’s religious practices and there is a constant stream of warnings to Israel against adopting the religious and cultural practices of foreigners:
“Thus says the Lord GOD: No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, of all the foreigners who are among the people of Israel, shall enter my sanctuary.
(Ezekiel 44:9 ESV)
And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the LORD only.
(1 Samuel 7:3-4 ESV)
There are warnings against intermarriage with foreigners:
In those days also I saw the Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and they could not speak the language of Judah, but only the language of each people. And I confronted them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair. And I made them take an oath in the name of God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters to their sons, or take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin on account of such women? Among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was beloved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel. Nevertheless, foreign women made even him to sin. Shall we then listen to you and do all this great evil and act treacherously against our God by marrying foreign women?”
And one of the sons of Jehoiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was the son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite. Therefore I chased him from me. Remember them, O my God, because they have desecrated the priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites.
Thus I cleansed them from everything foreign, and I established the duties of the priests and Levites, each in his work; and I provided for the wood offering at appointed times, and for the firstfruits.
(Nehemiah 13:23-31 ESV)
As well, God explicitly discriminates between different foreigners.
“No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the LORD. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the LORD forever, because they did not meet you with bread and with water on the way, when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. But the LORD your God would not listen to Balaam; instead the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God loved you. You shall not seek their peace or their prosperity all your days forever.
“You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother. You shall not abhor an Egyptian, because you were a sojourner in his land. Children born to them in the third generation may enter the assembly of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 23:3-8 ESV)
Aliens with whom have dealt kindly with Israel should be treated well, but Israel was actively commanded not to pursue the prosperity or peace of aliens that dealt poorly with them.
He also repeatedlt orders the extermination of foreigners and refers to those not exterminated as barb and thorns:
And the Lord spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you pass over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you and destroy all their figured stones and destroy all their metal images and demolish all their high places. And you shall take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given the land to you to possess it. You shall inherit the land by lot according to your clans. To a large tribe you shall give a large inheritance, and to a small tribe you shall give a small inheritance. Wherever the lot falls for anyone, that shall be his. According to the tribes of your fathers you shall inherit. But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell. And I will do to you as I thought to do to them.”
(Numbers 33:51-56 ESV)
Although, these were specific to genocidal conquests, not to immigrants, the thorns and barbs remarks would likely still apply to hostile migrants.
Also interesting is that among the mountain of curses listed for violating the covenant is this:
The sojourner who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, and you shall not lend to him. He shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.
(Deuteronomy 28:43-44 ESV)
I might be mistaken, but as far as I recall, there are no specific commandments to the treatment of foreigners or immigrants, beyond the basic love your neighbours and help those in need commands which apply to everyone.
So, from all this, what’s the biblical Christian position on refugees:
Migrants you allow into your country as naturalized citizens and permanent residents are to be treated justly and charitably, but treating them justly also means applying the law against them (ie. the death penalty) when they commit crimes. All foreigners are to be assimilated into the dominant cultural and legal practices, although they can be exempted from strictly religious practices. They are not allowed to spread their religious practices to citizens. Although you can do so, there is no command to allow migrants into your country but there is a command to keep those migrants that would be harmful to your religion and traditions away from the assembly. You are to treat foreigners of friendly nations well in your country and can let them in, but you have no obligation to foreigners of hostile nations and should not let them in. Being ruled by naturalized foreigners is a curse and having hostile minorities is a thorn and a barb.
So, here is the biblical positions as applied to the current migrant crisis:
The foreigners migrating are generally from countries hostile to us, so we have no obligation to them, but, while we are inviting them to stay here, we should be treating them justly. Should they commit crimes (such as Rotherham) against our people and we should execute them. The current migrants have generally been thorns and barbs in our nations’ sides, so extermination is not out of the question. They are bringing foreign gods to our nations and should not be allowed to do so. Any we decide to keep should be forced to assimilate.
So, in sum, the biblical position is to feed the migrant horde, then send them back home, except for those who have committed crimes who should be executed. We should consider taking in Christian refugees and maybe Kurds and other allies who are friendly to us, but are not obligated to. Those foreigners who we’ve already allowed in should be treated justly, which includes expelling those groups who are committing crimes against our people and leading them to worship foreign gods.
Now, having said all this, it is debatable whether these laws cited are to apply only to the specific state of Israel or are more broad guidelines for all nations. I’m not sure myself, and probably, not being a theonomist, lean towards the former, but whatever the case, it is clear that the ‘let them all in’ doctrine is definitely not commanded by any honest reading of scripture and is in fact contradicted by many passages. In fact, scriptural remedies for the migrant crisis might be quite the opposite of what many Christians are now preaching.