Every Christmas liberals have tried to make the Christmas story about some Leftist program. The Bible is convenient when Leftists and their fellow Democrats want to snooker the religiously naïve public. We’ll see more of it this year because of the border and immigration issues that energize the Democrat Party. Leftists have little regard for the Bible unless it can be used to scold Christians for judging righteously (Matt. 7:1-2; John 7:24) and supporting socialism based on voluntary giving (Acts 2:42-45; 4:32-35). “Love your neighbor” means supporting every type of sexual perversion that can be dreamed up.
In the same breath they refuse to acknowledge the Bible teaches that unborn babies are human beings (“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb…”: Luke 1:51) and afforded protection by the law (“so that her children come out”: Ex. 21:22), the practice of same-sex relationships is prohibited (Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Rom. 1:27; 1 Tim. 1:10), and same-sex marriage was never intended by God (Gen. 1:27; 2:24; 5:2; Matt. 19:4-6).
But don’t you dare quote passages about the evils of abortion and same-sex relationships. That, as some former-Christian nations have concluded, is most likely a “hate crime.” Taxation is another weapon in the Leftist arsenal. Georgia Democrat Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock attacked Republican senators who passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 claimed their vote was a “vicious and evil attack on the most vulnerable people in America” and compared the tax cuts to Herod who was “willing to kill children” to preserve wealth and power. He failed to mention that it was a tax edict that sent Joseph and a pregnant Mary to leave their home and livelihood and register for a tax to fund the corrupt Roman Empire (Luke 2:1). Let’s not forget the despised tax collector Zaccheus who used his position to rob his own people.
The political opportunist Jesse Jackson was one of the first Leftists to turn Joseph and Mary into a “homeless couple” when he claimed that Christmas “is not about Santa Claus and ‘Jingle Bells’ and fruitcake and eggnog,” of which all Christians would agree, but about “a homeless couple.” He repeated his “homeless couple” theme at the 1992 Democratic Convention.
Hillary Clinton, in comments critical of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s homeless policies, claimed that “Christmas celebrates ‘the birth of a homeless child.’”
Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths
The rejection of any type of "this-worldly" application of the Bible has resulted in the proliferation of man-centered worldviews that have steadily drained the life out of our world and left behind a spiritual vacuum. Will the church of Jesus Christ be prepared with biblical answers for the millions who will be ready to follow the light of the gospel as the folly of humanism and Islam is made manifest? (2 Tim. 3:9). Now is the time to make the necessary theological preparations.Buy Now
Like seasonal clockwork, some have tried to make Jesus, Mary, and Joseph into a refugee family since refugee wokeness is the new cause célèbre. The first item I saw was this: “If only we had a seasonally appropriate story about Middle Eastern people seeking refuge being turned away by the heartless.”
It’s shocking to learn how ignorant people are about the Bible. Joseph and Mary were neither homeless nor refugees. Mary went to live with her cousin Elizabeth upon hearing about her pregnancy and “stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home” (Luke 1:56). Presumably, her parents owned a home and did not throw her out when they learned of her unusual pregnancy with an unbelievable story since she was welcomed back home.
An edict from the centralized Roman government forced Joseph and Mary to spend money and time to return to their place of birth to register for a tax (Luke 2:1-7). Their place of birth—Bethlehem—was in Israel which was occupied by the Romans. They were not fleeing persecution.
Typical of governments that make laws without considering the consequences, there was not enough housing for traveling citizens (Luke 2:1).
The fact that “there was no room in the inn” (a disputed translation: see below) (Luke 2:7) did not make them homeless any more than a family that takes a trip is by definition homeless if they encounter “No Vacancy” signs.
In fact, the inns were full to overflowing in the entire Holy Land because of the Roman emperor’s decree that everyone be counted and taxed. Inns are private businesses, and customers are their lifeblood. There would have been no reason to turn away this man of royal lineage and his beautiful, expectant bride. (Source)
The best of what was available was offered to Mary and Joseph. They weren’t told to go back home. No one stopped them from entering Bethlehem. There is nothing in the text that shows they were treated harshly.
Here’s a new wrinkle to the story as presented by Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC:
A recent study by Stephen Carlson makes the case (a compelling one, I think) that the Greek word normally translated as “inn” (καταλύματι) in Luke 2:7 is best translated as “place to stay.” So the passage isn’t saying there was no room in the inn, but rather there was no room for baby Jesus in the place they stayed. In what place were they staying? Carlson argues it was probably in the home of Joseph’s family in Bethlehem, perhaps in an adjacent guest room (which would have been small).
The Greek word kataluma is also used to describe the place where the Last Supper was held (Mark 14:14; Luke 22:11) before Jesus was set up by the corrupt religious leaders who declared that Caesar was their king (John 19:15) and crucified by the Roman government.
Sometime later, the Wise Men came “into the house” where Jesus was “with Mary His mother” (Matt. 2:11). They came with the very valuable commodities of “gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” While Roman was into taxation, the visitors to Mary and Joseph’s home brought gifts. It’s possible the couple and returned to Nazareth by this time. Joseph was warned to escape from the treachery of Herod by going to Egypt.
[A]n angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON” (Matt. 2:13-5; Hos. 11:1).
Here’s the latest example from former John Kerry and Ted Kennedy advisor Mary Anne Marsh:
In this season of Christmas as Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus, it is important to remember the journey Jesus, Mary, and Joseph traveled. Their journey is recounted in the Gospel of Matthew where Mary and Joseph flee Judea for Egypt fearing Jesus would be murdered by King Herod. That journey, in an effort to save the life of Jesus, makes clear they were refugees.
First, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were living within the confines of the Roman Empire. Egypt was part of the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus’ birth and their escape to the Roman Province of Egypt. The Roman Empire extended to Britannia. Paul had plans to go to Spain (Rom. 15:24, 28).
Second, there was a large Jewish population in Egypt in the first century. “In Josephus’s history, it is claimed that, after the first Ptolemy took Judea, he led some 120,000 Jewish captives to Egypt from the areas of Judea, Jerusalem, Samaria, and Mount Gerizim. With them, many other Jews, attracted by the fertile soil and Ptolemy’s liberality, emigrated there of their own accord. An inscription recording a Jewish dedication of a synagogue to Ptolemy and Berenice was discovered in the 19th century near Alexandria. Josephus also claims that, soon after, these 120,000 captives were freed of their bondage by Philadelphus.” (Wikipedia)
This isn’t much different from companies like Goldman Sachs and Tesla leaving the high tax states of New York and California for the low tax states of Florida and Texas. Are they refugees because they are leaving oppressive regulatory and taxing states?
Third, the angel could have warned Joseph to go to other parts of Israel where Herod had no jurisdiction, except that there is the typological significance for Jesus being “called out” of Egypt. Peter J. Leithart’s comments explain Israel’s reversal of fortune and why Joseph was commanded to go to Egypt. You see, Israel had become the new Egypt (Rev. 11:8):
All along the way, the exodus gets reversed, inverted, subverted, turned inside out and on its head. The murderous king is not an Egyptian Pharaoh, but Herod, “King of the Jews.” The threatening land is not Egypt, but Israel. And the land where the Son finds safety is not Israel but Egypt. The new Moses comes to deliver His followers not from Egypt but from an Israel that has become no better than Egypt.
Fourth, there is a second part of the command given by the angel. They were to remain in Egypt until the angel told Joseph it was safe to return. After the death of Herod, they returned to Israel and avoided Judea because another Herod was ruling there. How many aliens and refugees return to their home nations after entering the United States?
Fifth, from Nazareth to Bethlehem, to Egypt, and back to Nazareth, Jesus, Joseph, and Mary never left the Roman Empire.
Sixth, let’s assume that Egypt was an independent nation at the time and not under the authority of the Romans. Does anyone believe that its leaders would not have protected its border if 10,000 Israelis demanded entry? What we are seeing in the United States is an invasion, many of whom are military-aged men.
Seventh, it’s possible that Joseph and his family were scrutinized by Roman officials in Egypt. Since Joseph had a marketable skill as a τέκτων (tektōn), artisan/craftsman/carpenter (Matt. 13:53-55), he was permitted to stay.
There’s enough in the Bible to support the care of sojourners, strangers (Lev. 19:34), widows and orphans (Ps. 146:9), and resident aliens (Ex. 22:21) without making up stuff.
The modern refugee question is not about whether the United States should permit foreigners to enter. Some type of “shibboleth” (Judges 12:1-6) is needed to weed out terrorists, gangs, sex traffickers, and drug smugglers.
In addition, there needs to be an overhaul of our welfare system, not just for immigrants and refugees but for all Americans. The welfare State is a magnet for corruption and dependency to keep politicians in power. “Vote for me, and I’ll vote to give you free stuff!”
Restoring the Foundation of Civilization
There are many Christians who will not participate in civilization-building efforts that include economics, journalism, politics, education, and science because they believe (or have been taught to believe) these areas of thought are outside the realm of what constitutes a Christian worldview. Nothing could be further from the truth.Buy Now
As reported in The Atlanta Journal/Constitution (December 28, 1991), A9.
Quoted in “Washington” under Politics in USA Today (December 1, 1999), 15A.
See Craig S. Keener, “Birth of Jesus,” The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament.