In 1973, Jean Raspail published a novel The Camp of the Saints, about Muslim immigrants overrunning Europe. Another novel had a similar theme, this one by Charles Williams, but I don’t remember which one. Since I read that book it has been lo, these many years — but enough years to make Williams seem really prescient in my fogged memory. The title of Raspail’s book is taken from Revelation 20:9, which gives you some idea of his slant on the whole thing.
Refugees and immigrants are in the news again, this time because of Syria. Presented with this problem — almost entirely of our own making — we divide into two hostile political factions. One says that of course we should take in the refugees, you heartless beasts, and the other asks if the first group is crazy, because what about the terrorists?
But there is a third group — I am among them — that says that if these are the judgments of God, then there is no political solution. Every experienced counselor knows what it is like to be giving advice to someone, knowing that no advice whatever will be of any help to him. The reason for this is that the counselee’s only hope is to stop being him.
What should “we” do about the refugees? Should “we” extend hospitality? Or should “we” be firm and say no, we can’t risk it? Both sides have a point. Our feckless foreign policy created the refugee column, and so doesn’t that mean we have to take in the refugees? But the opposition has a point when it says that if we admit tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, there will be terrorists in their ranks, and we don’t want a replay of Paris here. Both sides are right, which means that neither side has the solution.
So then, the first question to ask is, “Who are ‘we?'” The reason this is not a “camp of the saints” scenario is that we are not the saints. Because we have turned away from the biblical foundation for law, our remaining liberties are largely diseased. We now talk about liberty as though it were a subsidized housing shelter for pot-smokers and fornicators.
Of course a healthy society has nothing to fear from immigrants. A free society is therefore one with open borders. So in the abstract, the question is easy enough to settle biblically.
“One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you” (Ex. 12:49).
“But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Lev. 19:34).
A healthy society has nothing to fear from immigrants but — and this is the rub — we are not a healthy society. And that means that if we say yes to the influx, they will pour in and we will not be able to assimilate them — we will become Dearbornistan. But if we say no, and build the Great Wall of Trump, we will find at the end of the day that walls can be used to keep people in as well as out. The Berlin Wall was not meant to discourage excessive tourism from the West. The Berlin Wall did keep out Mexicans, but that is not what it was for.
The problem with our immigrants is not the fact that they are coming, but rather what they are coming to. Some of them are coming to a long retold story of what America used to be. Some of them, like the terrorists, are coming the way diseases are attracted to a person with immune system deficiencies. Many of them are old fashioned refugees, fleeing persecution and death. But regardless of what they think they are coming to, they are actually coming to a nation that has lost its way. They are coming to a nation that has rejected Christ, and so whatever they think they are doing, they are not coming to a place of blessing.
If you are the tail and not the head, then whatever it is that is happening is no good (Deut. 28: 13, 44). If you are the head and not the tail, then it is simply a blessing when people are attracted to it. Let them come. The queen of Sheba came, and the spirit went out of her when she saw it. But what is necessary for that to happen? You must “hearken unto the commandments of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them.” And to ask, eyes darting left and right, if there mightn’t be any other solution apart from such repentance is like asking if we could please have salvation without a Savior, forgiveness without a cross, deliverance without a God. We want to be saved from drowning but don’t want to leave the bottom of the pond. It doesn’t work that way.
And so this is why it is irrelevant to ask if you are in favor of letting them “in” or keeping them “out.” The pressing need is for us to settle some other questions first. Into what? Out of what?