Do Southern Baptists condone lawbreaking?
Dr. Richard Land heads the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “I’m told by the Hispanic community that perhaps 40 percent of all the Southern Baptist Hispanics in America are undocumented — which shouldn’t surprise us,” he says. “I mean, they come here to work, and we aggressively evangelize and they find Jesus as their Savior.”
It’s rare indeed to find an “undocumented” illegal alien. To the contrary, illegal aliens tend to be as documented as any American – it’s just that their documents are forged. Even those aliens not actively engaging in identity fraud – by that I mean taking the identity of an American citizen – they routinely break laws that Americans would routinely be fined or jailed for breaking.
Dr. Richard Land brushes criminal behavior off as “undocumented,” and essentially says Praise God! they’re being evangelized!
Well, I join him in celebrating when anyone – in any location – of any nationality – is saved. But part of that amazing transaction – when we become God’s subjects and members of His Kingdom – is repentance and a turning away from sin.
Imagine, for a moment, an SBC leader congratulating himself that 40% of Southern Baptist men are embezzlers, but praise God! they are saved! How about 40% of SBC children are pot smokers, but praise God! they are saved! 40% of SBC women commit adultery, but praise God! they are saved! That’s ridiculous, of course. Such a statistic would be reported soberly, with a fresh commitment to preach and teach on subjects that will help those people turn away from sin.
Everyone would rejoice when a drug dealer turns to the Lord. But no one would take his claim of salvation seriously if he carried on selling drugs. But if that’s too dramatic an example, try this one – the man who swears incessantly and indulges his temper does not undergo sanctification so that people who know him, over the course of time, see no changes in his behavior. They will reasonably wonder exactly what changes the Holy Spirit wrought in him, and treat his claims of being a new person in Christ with skepticism. As they should.
If 40% of Southern Baptist Hispanics are here illegally, they need to obey our laws, self-deport, and come back legally. Alternatively, what a testimony to send them back to their home countries as missionaries! “I went to the US illegally and broke many laws, but now I know Jesus and I’ve stopped breaking the law to come back to tell you about Him.” Get Lottie Moon to put those folks on the payroll.
But rather than acknowledging each person has responsibility for his own actions, Land blames the government for the fact that we have so much illegal immigration.
Suppose the government informed me that they had been monitoring my driving and now they were going to fine me for every time I had exceeded the speed limit for two decades. I would owe a tidy sum, whereas if they had stopped me the first couple of times, I would have slowed down permanently. Most Americans would reject such a policy as unfair.
Most Americans would be wrong to do so. Would it suck? You bet! But is it unfair? Not at all. I earned every speeding ticket I ever got and a lot more besides. Is breaking the law not a sin? Surely Richard Land is not proposing that a sin that goes unseen is less of an offense against God. As Christians, we are blessed with abundant mercy and grace. But “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein?”
Land continues on to propose a plan that most of us – as numerous polls have indicated – already think is rational, though not particularly fair or just: close the borders, enforce our laws so that only people legally entitled to work here can do so, and after those tasks are completed, provide a final amnesty – with fines and restitution and assimilation requirements – to those illegals who remain here. Except even then, Land cannot bring himself to call it the amnesty that it is any more than he can describe illegal immigration as the crime that it is. Is he just so desperate to keep people in his pews?