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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