Friday, February 8, 2008

Immigration Policy Based on 2 Nephi 1

Warning: Do not discuss in Sunday School Lesson #6

As a hard core pacifist, I've always wondered why Mormons don't put greater faith in Second Nephi, chapter 1. In this chapter, Lehi tells his sons that he has obtained a promise from the Lord. Whoever has been led out of the land of Jerusalem and brought to the land of promise (which we are told is the American continent) will prosper as long as they keep the commandments. In fact, no other nations will be able to molest them or take them into captivity. They will not be overrun by other nations, and they will always have a place for an inheritance.

A more careful reading of these verses reveals that this promise applies to more than just the Book of Mormon peoples. "None shall come into this land," prophesies Lehi, "save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord." God promises to give the American continent to ALL THOSE who in the future shall be led out of other countries by his power. Thus, the promise found in verse 7 is quite comprehensive. Anyone who lives here, who is keeping the commandments shall be protected. The land is a land of liberty, and as long as we are righteous, we will never be brought into captivity.

In the past, I've wondered why Latter-day Saints who live in the U.S. support war as a necessity for protecting and defending our country. If we really believe this promise, wouldn't it be much more effective to protect our country, our homes, and our families by concentrating on our personal righteousness rather than espousing military action?

Today in Sunday School, I realized the scripture has an additional application. Lehi is told in verse 8 that the Lord is keeping the Promised Land from the knowledge of other nations, so that they will not overrun the land and keep the branch of Israel which has been led there from having place for an inheritance. Should we not apply these verses to ourselves also? Does a careful reading of this chapter suggest that we should allow the Lord to bring to this land whom he will? Will he not keep them from overrunning the land if we are righteous? If we keep the commandments, shall we not maintain an inheritance, be safe and protected, and even be blessed and prosper upon the land?

What applications does 2 Nephi 1 have to the immigration policies now being discussed in the United States?

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses
yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of
your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless,
tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp
beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazarus, 1883


SilverRain said...

Interesting thoughts, but I don't see how it ties in with the immigration policies now being discussed. This is probably because the only one I know is currently being discussed is illegal immigration, and what you've written doesn't seem to fit.

Could you clarify for this politically unsavvy person?

The March Hare said...

I can only tell why I personally support those policies in a very general way:

By Lehi's standard, by God's standard, we are very, very unrighteous people. Many Mormons, myself far too often included, may include themselves in that.

This is a point of interest for me, because I don't know what course of action to take when I live in a nation I'm pretty sure is headed to the dogs.

Recommendations, anyone?

(My own is to simply try to get and keep my own life in order, such that at least my eternal investments are secure. :D)

Bored in Vernal said...

SilverRain, I hope everyone realizes that this post is just a little bit tongue-in-cheek. All immigration policies have as their aim controlling the flow of people into the country. If, as it says in 2 Nephi 1, ALL who are entering the country are brought here by the Lord, who are we to try to keep them out?

SilverRain said...

Ah - but the primary problem with illegal immigration comes from Mexico. Mexico is already part of the land to which Lehi is referring. It's the classic "equating America with the promised land" line of thought that most LDS Americans fall into. In the sense that Lehi is prophesying, our current problems are internal migration, not immigration from other lands.

Additionally, those who are brought by the hand of the Lord would respect the laws of the country they are seeking to enter (now that the land has such laws.) There are many willing to submit themselves to due legal processes. Those who don't have time to do so are still generally accepted into the country under asylum.

aaron said...

I agree with silverrain in that the policies now being discussed are about illegal immigration. My opinion is that the Lord brought Lehi and company over as inspiration, the Book of Mormon says Columbus was inspired by God to come here, as were the founding fathers of our nation. Those are all entirely different than the illegal immigration that's being discussed as a political issue now.

ronda said...

I love your Statue of Liberty Quote here

Carl said...

I wish we could go back to an open border policy. Part of the problem is that we don't live in a libertarian America anymore. The reason they could let anyone in was because the country depended on private charity to take care of the needy and did not have a strong federalized social welfare program. Those were the conditions that allowed many of our grandparents and great-grandparents to enter the middle class. Now we don't want to let these people in and we disdain immigrants, failing to realize that without them our hamburgers would cost twice as much and we would all be less well off.