Let’s start this discussion with a Texas-sized caveat: I do not intend to take a political stance on this issue or ignite a partisan discussion. As with many social issues, people’s thoughts on President Trump’s plan to build a wall are varied and passionate.
We should celebrate that we are created in the image of the Lord, with unique personalities and the God-given free will to make choices and form opinions. And what a privilege it is to live in the United States, where we have the right to participate in the political system and have a voice on social issues and the direction of our country.
When it comes to immigration and potentially building a wall on our borders, it’s a gross understatement to say that reasonable minds differ. People who love Jesus are on both sides of this issue with reasoned biblical support for their position. One look at the news tells you most of what you need to know about the issue: it’s controversial, it’s not clear-cut, and, more importantly for our discussion today, it’s not going away.
You may be like my husband, who loves politics and is well versed on the issues and arguments on each side. Or, you may be like me, who tends to shy away from politics and the divisiveness that oftentimes accompanies it. Either way, our children live in a world inundated with news and social issues. We’re missing great teaching opportunities if we don’t talk about current events around us and how to biblically digest them.
What’s the question? The Bible speaks to that
Before they leave our home, we want our kids to understand that whatever they are facing, there are answers in the Bible. Sometimes the answers are very clear and unequivocal. On these issues, we are led by God and should not decide whether the Bible’s command or answer is convenient or popular; we should just obey.
But other times—and immigration and building a wall is one of those—biblical principles guide us because the answer is not clear-cut in the Bible. On these issues, it’s important for our kids to know there are lots of different arguments for and against it.
As Paul reminds us, God’s Word is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). As with most things in parenting, teaching comes in the everyday moments that often happen on the fly when you are least prepared. Nonetheless, we’ve got to take the opportunities as they come to teach our kids in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6).
Present both sides, then open your Bible
You don’t have to be a political expert to give a general overview of the positions (preferably without biased commentary—ha!).
For example, you could say some people support building a wall because it will make it harder for people to cross our border illegally. In doing so, it could help prevent some of the smuggling of illegal drugs into our country and also reduce the risk of terrorists gaining entry into our country.
However, those opposed to building the wall feel it will be very expensive and ineffective. They also believe it is unjust and cruel to individuals looking for a better life, some of whom are refugees fleeing dangerous conditions. They also argue that it sends the wrong message as a “free nation” to tell well-intentioned people looking to make a better life that they can’t come here.
Once our kids have a grasp of the issues, we can pull out our Bible and talk to them about how relevant God’s Word is on these issues. We can look at passages that talk about caring for foreigners (Deuteronomy 10:18–19; Leviticus 19:33–34; Hebrews 13:2), and then go to Scripture that talks about securing borders (Deuteronomy 32:8; Numbers 34:1–15; Nehemiah 4:17).
Let’s be clear: This is an overly simplistic discussion on the pros and cons of these issues and the biblical applications. But, for purposes of talking to our kids, the bigger goal is to teach them that the Bible is pertinent to the discussion as opposed to teaching them every argument on a given social issue.
Care less about your position and more about your posture before the Lord
Although it’s important to help our kids understand the realities of what’s going on in the world, it seems all too often we’re more concerned with teaching them our “position” on the issue rather than the importance of our posture before the Lord.
I’m reminded of Joshua when he saw a man standing outside of Jericho with a sword. Joshua asked the man, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
The man (believed to be an Old Testament sighting of Jesus) responds, “Neither, but as a commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.”
Joshua immediately fell to the ground in reverence of the Lord (Joshua 5:13–15).
I love the response that he was on “neither” side, but rather on God’s side. This is such a great reminder not to get caught up in being on this side or that side of an issue at the expense of being led by God and making sure we’re on his side. The battle is the Lord’s, and the only right side is his.
So, when our kids ask us which side of the issue we are on, how about we just tell them we’re on God’s side, which always starts with a heart of love and submission? In other words, let’s talk less about which side of the issue we’re on and instead follow Joshua’s lead on our knees before the Lord in reverence.
There will always be hot topics and political issues to be debated, and we will always feel like our view is the “right” one. But for many issues, our position becomes a lot less important when we take a posture of reverence and submission to the Lord and ask for guidance on how we should respond to an issue in practice rather than in rhetoric.
Don’t build a wall that ruins your witness
Excuse the pun, but, for some of us, the bigger wall we need to consider is the one that impacts our witness.
Sometimes we get so passionate about a subject that we harbor anger and resentment in a way that detracts from our faith and witness. We end up building a wall around us with our big opinions rather than pointing others to the Lord. Bob Goff said, “It will be our love, not our opinions, which will be our greatest contribution to the world.”
The things of this earth are temporary (2 Corinthians 4:18). We are just a mist that appears and then vanishes (James 4:14). Every minute of every day is a gift and great opportunity to further the gospel. We’re called to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19–20). The greatest commandment we’re given is to love God and our neighbors (Matthew 22:35–40). It’s hard to do any of these things well when we are so consumed with being right that we have alienated those around us.
Regardless of our thoughts on immigration and the wall, the reality is that there are immigrants everywhere around us. The question for many of us needs to become less of “What do you think of the wall?” and more “What is my role with immigrants around me?”
You name the social issue and behind it there is a face that needs Jesus. Immigration, same-sex marriage, abortion—real people created and loved by Jesus are involved.
I don’t have all the answers on immigration, but I’m thankful for my adopted son’s immigrant grandmother. I don’t condone teenage pregnancies, but I’m thankful his mother chose life. The face behind the issue makes my need to be right less important than God’s command to love his creation.
Let’s teach our kids the real truth of every social issue: we serve a just God who redeems and restores.
The battle is not ours.
Whose side are we on?
For a more comprehensive discussion on the issues of immigration, see Jim Denison’s Daily Article, “The border wall: Pros and cons and 3 biblical facts.”