Why Building a Border Wall Is a Morally Good Action

We should eagerly welcome numerous immigrants into the US every year. But they must come in legally, through the gates in the wall, not illegally and dangerously across an open desert.

A US border patrol truck is seen next to US President Donald Trump's border wall prototypes from the US-Mexico border in Tijuana, northwestern Mexico, on April 3, 2018.

By Wayne Grudem Published on July 9, 2018

Is building a wall on our border a morally good action? As a professor who has taught biblical ethics for 41 years, I think it is. In fact, the Bible itself repeatedly views protective walls with favor.

Walls Gave Peace and Security

In the world of the Old Testament, people built walls around cities to protect themselves from thieves, murderers, and other criminals, and from foreign invaders who would seek to destroy the city. People could still enter the city, but they had to do so by the gate, so that city officials would have some control over who was coming in and going out. Today’s debate is about a larger area — a national border, not a city — but the principles are the same.

A strong wall gave peace and security to the city. One prayer of blessing for a city was, “Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!” (Psalm 122:7). There was also a spiritual component. The Lord himself strengthened the gates in the walls so they would protect the children and the peace and prosperity of a city:

Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your children within you. He makes peace in your borders; he fills you with the finest of the wheat (Psalm 147:12-14).

After King David established his capital in Jerusalem, he prayed, “Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem” (Psalm 51:18). God’s blessing would include strong walls! After David came King Solomon, who finished and strengthened the wall around Jerusalem (1 Kings 3:1).

But the people of Israel strayed from God, and he brought judgment in the form of Babylonian invaders who broke down and destroyed the city wall: “And they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem and burned all its palaces with fire and destroyed all its precious vessels” (2 Chronicles 36:19; cf. Jeremiah 52:14). God’s judgment removed the walls! As long as the wall around Jerusalem was broken down, it was a mark of shame and derision: “The remnant … who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire” (Nehemiah 1:3).

The pathetic shame of a city without walls is also evident in this proverb: “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Proverbs 25:28). The implication is that such a man and such a city are both headed for destruction.

A Blessing to Rebuild the Wall

After 70 years of exile in Babylon, the Jewish people were able to return and to rebuild Jerusalem’s wall. Nehemiah asked the Persian king Artaxerxes to give him the timber needed to build the wall and its gates. “And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me” (Nehemiah 2:8). In this case, God’s blessing was evident when the leader of the government authorized the allocation of materials to build the wall.

Then Nehemiah needed laborers for the massive task of rebuilding the wall. He challenged the people, “Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision” (Nehemiah 2:17). Fortunately, “the people had a mind to work” (Nehemiah 4:6). An entire chapter of Nehemiah is devoted to recording the names of people who rebuilt the wall, specifying the section that each person repaired (Nehemiah 3). Such a record — having their names forever in the pages of the Hebrew Bible — was a significant honor for those who repaired the wall. It was a morally commendable act.

The pathetic shame of a city without walls is evident in this proverb: “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Proverbs 25:28). The implication is that such a man and such a city are both headed for destruction.

There was a great celebration when the wall was completed. “And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites … to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and was singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres … Then I … appointed two great choirs that gave thanks” (Nehemiah 12:27, 31).

There is another wall in the Bible — at the very end of the New Testament. The apostle John has a vision of the New Jerusalem, a great city that comes down from heaven, and it includes a wall. “It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels” (Revelation 21:12). Whether this is literal or simply part of a symbolic prophetic vision (I don’t know), it is clear that the wall protects the peace and security of those who are within.

Wayne Grudem is Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary. This article expresses the opinion of the author and should not be understood to represent the opinion of Phoenix Seminary.

The article originally appeared on Townhall. Reprinted with permission.

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  • Sapient

    Excellent article! Nation-states are Biblical. Borders are Biblical. Walls are a Biblical. A border wall system is essential to controlling the massive flow of aliens and narcotics across the Southwest border. All greatest successes in border control the world over (Israel, US, parts of the EU, etc.) have made use of significant wall infrastructure. We cannot hire enough Border Patrol agents to deter, let alone interdict and arrest, the thousands that cross nightly. And if we tried, maintaining that compliment of agents would be far more expensive in the long run than the construction and maintenance of a wall system monitored and patrolled appropriately by our Border Patrol. Securing the border in any meaningful way requires the wall—no question about it. And, no Bible-believing Christian should allow themselves to be guilted against it!

  • Nick Stuart

    Tanned, rested, and ready from his recent turn re-litigating the nature of the Trinity, Grudem rushes in where angels fear to tread: the debate over illegal immigrants and building a border wall.

    Pass the popcorn.

    I agree with Grudem BTW. I’ve bookmarked this article for future reference.

  • longtermconservative

    The wall is a nice thought and should be done. However, it takes too long. Enforce E-Verify with fines to begin with $5K/day/illegal employee and they will be hustling for the next exit as their “American” employers will avoid going out of business inside of the next few days or weeks due to the compliance burden being placed where it belongs. While at this point, ratchet up education/net worth requirements for HB-1 Visas so those that receive them are actually needed, but can’t be easily found within the US. America first.

    • Sapient

      I like E-Verify, too. But wall is still critical. Even if aliens can’t get jobs here they still come and get on various welfare programs, healthcare, education, etc. They also come to have children and falsely claim credible fear and request amnesty. And, the narcotics smuggling won’t be addressed by E-Verify. If Govt waives environmental laws, as they’ve done before, and if they dedicated significant funding to allow construction starts in multiple locations, it could be accomplished much more quickly than most would think.

  • David Hess

    THANK YOU Professor Grudem – you have demonstrated Biblically, as have others, that Leftist Christians are misusing, if not abusing, Scripture. From Hoffmeier’s work, and now to your own. Neo-Marxist ideas, and an Open Border ideology have made far too much headway into Christian circles. Thankfully, Evangelicals like yourself and conservative Catholics like Zmirak are dismantling weak arguments and exposing the Christian Left’s poor Hermeneutics.

  • tz1

    The US currently admits over 1,000,000 immigrants per year who come legally and stay permanently. That’s far more than any other nation. If you think that number should be even higher (as I do), then suggest a higher number to your congressman and talk to your fellow citizens. Persuade people to agree with you, and work for a change in the law. But don’t oppose a border wall. That is just promoting more lawlessness.

    I don’t think that number shoudl be higher.
    I want people who know and respect the CONSTITUTION, not Sharia, not the Chinese Mandarin system, or anything else. Even if they are smart and hard working.

    You want more MUSLIMS from parts of Africa where they practice FGM?


    And you suggest we increase the number? I’d like to tie you down near a malarial swamp and let the various insects bleed you dry and leave whatever diseases they have as that seems to be your idea of control.

  • 0pus

    Gotta love Grudem. Common sense plus the Bible is the perfect one-two punch.

  • gigi4747

    Many great points here, but I wish the author had explained why he would like to see more immigration. Seems to me we have an excess of unskilled labor as it is, which has had the effect of keeping wages low for many working class people, including previous immigrants. I think we need to slow immigration down if for no other reason than for the sake of assimilation.

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