Thursday, August 18, 2011

Immigration and the 6th Commandment

The western nations in particular are struggling to keep pace with the implications of increased immigration of foreigners coupled with lax immigration policies. Anders Breivik’s July 22nd 2011 murder spree in Oslo, Norway was fueled largely by anti-immigration fury. Problematically, his perspective was endorsed by Francesco Speroni, a leading member of Italy’s Northern League.[1] 

Jacques Coutela, a member of France’s National Front party, referred to Breivik as an “icon.”[2] Clearly, immigration of Muslims throughout Western Europe, and of Hispanics mainly to the U.S., is fostering a new cleavage in societies in the move toward globalization. As the protectionist mindset of mainly the nativistic “right” entrenches itself in ethno-nationalistic and cultural fervor, the national and cultural identity of “outsiders” is viewed suspiciously if not contemptuously. If some reports are correct that the drift toward multiculturalism and religious syncretism is actually helping groups such as The Muslim Brothers of Europe in their quest for “Eurabia,” and the Reconquistas to take back part of America’s great Southwest, then suspicion is warranted, but not contempt.[3]

What can the sixth commandment offer Western countries that are to a greater extent worried about this issue?  Theologian John Frame goes right to the Scriptures to say that “The Mosaic law does extend the commandment of love to ‘strangers,’ people sojourning within Israel (Lev. 19:34). But it is the New Testament that extends the covenant community to all nations. The Great Commission mandates love to all peoples as we bring good news to them.”[4]  Frame does not mean to diminish the need for strict immigration policies. He means to augment our mandate by divine law to share the Good News of Jesus with strangers, regardless of their legal status or motives. 

In our haste to criticize illegal immigrants, let us remember, as Frame has said, that the commandment, because it speaks universally to all “sin and righteousness” and thus to all life and death issues, points first to our own sin; that we were all at one time without life in God, “strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (italics added, Eph. 2:12). The human response ought therefore to be one of shard identity with our Lord: I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in” (italics added, Matt. 25:43). 

Moderns see the biblical remedy as a castle in the air. But history proves that the gospel alone can tear down walls of suspicion and contempt between severely divided people groups. Can anyone reading this present a comparable solution from history?

[1] John Hopper, Ex-Berlusconi minister defends Anders Behring Breivik, (July 27, 2011).

[2] Associated Press, French party suspends man over Oslo suspect praise, (July 27, 2011).

[3] On the motives of the Muslim Brotherhood, see Brigitte MarĂ©chal, The Muslim brothers in Europe: roots and discourse, (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2008). For a general overview of European perceptions of the Muslim advance across Europe, see Raphael Israeli, The Islamic Challenge in Europe (New Brunswick & London: Transaction Publishers, 2008). A book that includes a large section on the Reconquista movement is Patrick J. Buchanan, The Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil Our Country and Civilization (New York: St. Martin’s Press. 2002), esp. 123-146.

[4] DCL, 691.