Today I give you the latest offering from everyone’s favorite systematic-theology-professor-turned-Donald-Trump-hack, Wayne Grudem.
Evangelicals have long been in the habit of diligently researching/analyzing chapter and verse when the answer is staring you right in the face, and this article is an example of that par excellence. Grudem argues that Donald Trump’s plan to build the wall is not only good and sensible but also biblical and therefore morally justifiable because the Bible speaks positively about cities with walls.
This is what passes for biblical thought/analysis in evangelicalism: Identify the issue at hand. In this case, a border wall. Get out your Strong’s Concordance and look up every instance of the word “wall”. Do a word study on the word “wall” in Hebrew and Greek. Collate and analyze all the relevant verses and come up with a definitive statement of what the Bible has to say about walls. Apply said statement to the issue at hand: namely, should we build the wall?
I am something of a realist on immigration, and I actually think that much of what Grudem says makes sense. I believe that lax immigration policies typically favored by those on the left are a luxury we simply cannot afford. In our present economic state, we need a more skilled immigrant pool and many of those who come via the southern border are not a fit for that. Improvements to the border fencing have long been discussed, and have actually been made in certain areas of San Diego and El Paso. These improvements have improved the safety and security of those areas. I will not argue with Grudem on that.
But sometimes it is possible to be completely right and yet completely in the wrong. This is one of those times.
In this cultural moment, building the wall is the wrong thing to do. The wall has been and is being used symbolically by our current president as a means to energize the worst elements of his base. He is using this to pick a fight over something that had been a non-issue until he made it an issue.
Grudem’s biblical analysis fails to take into account that in our age, walls are a symbol of repression. Walls have been built by repressive regimes to keep people out or to keep people in. The memory of the Berlin Wall and all that it represented is still very much alive and well in our collective consciousness, even though it has (thankfully) been gone for almost three decades.
There may be good reasons for making improvements to the fencing along the southern border. But in this cultural moment–when the wall has been seized upon as a symbol of hatred and repression and flung in the faces of certain people groups–people for whom Christ died, I feel compelled to note–by people who call themselves Christian yet believe the exact opposite as far as these people groups are concerned–building the wall is the wrong thing to do. You don’t need chapter and verse for that.