This week I was surprised to hear a portion of President Bill Clinton’s 1995 State of the Union Address (It’s less than 2 minutes in length).
As you can see, President Clinton’s remarks received a bipartisan standing ovation from the members of Congress in attendance at the speech.
I really don’t know what to say about this. There is so much that could be said.
For one, Clinton sounds just like Donald Trump.
A search of Hillary Clinton’s former statements regarding illegal immigration are similar. Mrs. Clinton’s current positions and comments sound nothing like this.
Given that both the Republicans and Democrats applauded President Clinton in 1995, it is logical to assume that the American people agreed with President Clinton at the time.
Mr. Trump, with Ted Cruz in a close second, made the strongest statements regarding illegal immigration in the primary election. Most professional pundits and most common people with whom I speak have credited Mr. Trump’s position on illegal immigration as the reason he won the nomination. Therefore it is safe to say that most Republican voters considered illegal immigration an important issue.
This issue is a challenge for the Church, including the SBC.
Immigration reminds me of issues related to war and poverty.
With regard to war, Christ was peaceful. The Prince of Peace. He had no sword. He urged his followers to be peaceful. That is something to reflect upon, especially when so many leaders, even religious leaders, are remembered for their military conquests.
But Christians have always wrestled with their calling to be peaceful, and their obligations to the City of Man.
Even in the 20th Century in the U.S., politicians such as William Jennings Bryan and Jimmy Carter were criticized for sometimes being naive when it came to leading a nation. Critics said that their Sunday School simplicity often ignored the larger context of war and peace, and actually put more people in danger.
With regard to poverty, Christ encouraged his followers to help the poor. But translating that into governmental or national policy is also a tricky thing.
Does the Bible command Communism or Socialism? What are we to make of the failure of Marxism as an economic system? The ongoing collapse of Venezuela is only the most recent example.
Has Marxism just not been tried by the right people or in the right way?
Can a simplistic approach to concern for the poor, which may seem compatible with Christ’s teaching, actually lead to more poverty? And to the denial of human rights that have occurred historically as plans for centralized economies are implemented, and always fail, and then the leaders double down on the central planning, and harm more people in the process?
And as for immigration, is it actually biblically mandated that countries have no boarders? Or that they must “welcome” those who enter or remain in the country illegally?
If so, what are the consequences? Is there no limit on the resources in terms of housing, jobs, welfare payments that can be taken from the productive in a society and given to those who are entering the country illegally? If there is a limit, what is it? And who gets to set the limit? And on what basis?
Can too much immigration over too short a period of time result in the eroding of the economic and social fabric of a nation? And if so, is that simply a cost that must be born because the Bible commands it?
These are difficult questions. And as the YouTube video shows, sometimes people agree, sometimes they change their minds and disagree.
Does the church have a clear mandate on all of these questions?
How do we uphold our values but avoid the dangers and pitfalls of naive thinking?