As A Christian – How Should I View the Immigration Question?
One of the most controversial topics of our time is that of immigration – whether someone is immigrating to seek a better life or has been displaced by the ravages of war – how should a Christian view this phenomenon? Perhaps the first place to start your search for an answer would be in the area of discernment.
More than likely all of us in the United States today are a product of an ancestor who emigrated from another country. Being a nation comprised of immigrants, we find it difficult to reject a person who wants to have a better life in a country where opportunities abound. This immigrant more than likely has entered the nation legally and is probably taking steps to become a citizen. However, many Christians have questions as to what to do with those immigrants who have overstayed their visas or entered the country illegally – or those who do not share American values or who refuse to submit to governing authorities.
“Romans 13: 1-7 makes it abundantly clear that God expects us to obey the laws of the government. The only exception to this is when a law of the government forces us to disobey a command of God (Acts 5:29). Illegal immigration is the breaking of a government’s law”. (Biblearchaeology.org/post/2017/01/28)
But, wait! Romans 13:8 tells us that “love does no harm to a neighbor.. therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law”. And God speaks repeatedly of His special concern for aliens – and even puts them in the same category as orphans and widows. ( Matthew Soerens in blog of Rev Dr. Mark Roberts -Illegal Immigration – Seeking a Christian Perspective)
So back to discernment. “What exactly is illegal immigration? At its simplest, it is the movement of people from one area into another, such that this movement violates laws and regulations in place at any given time at the destination – laws intended to govern such movement and enforced by the political powers holding sway over the area. These laws can change with time, depending on who is in power and whether their governing philosophy has a globalist or nationalist flavor, so they are not set in stone. But, regardless of whatever policies are in effect, immigration is always the moving of people from an area of certain characteristics to another that is distinctly different.” ( Rev. Dr. Mark Roberts – Illegal Immigration – Seeking a Christian Perspective). Another question: what about the adults who were brought into this country as children and are studying and working here. Are they considered illegal? Are they working on obtaining citizenship? All questions which require prayer, study, and discernment.
Another factor in the decisions we must make as Christians is can we afford to add more and more families to our escalating debt. There is debate over whether illegal immigrants cause a burden to our financial system. Legal immigrants would, of course, pay their taxes but it is difficult to know if all illegal immigrants pay into the tax base. According to Kelly Monroe Kullberg, an InterVarsity minister, in christianitytoday.com - “ The Church is called to make difficult and principled decisions about stewardship and providing the conditions for healthy flourishing communities that can welcome strangers not with hostility but with hospitality; with kindness and grace…it is not wise to put ourselves deeper and deeper into debt in order to provide greater and greater benefits to more and more people. We’re first to put our own house in order.”
However we view this problem, we must remember our Christian principles. “Whatever solutions we propose for the problem of illegal immigration, Christians simply cannot compromise the divinely-created specialness of each human being.” ( Rev Dr. Mark Roberts)
Perhaps the answer lies in what we feel we can do to help that immigrant become a productive, viable citizen. They may need to learn English, how to balance a checkbook, the ins and outs of the legal system. They may need help for their child in school or with homework or something as simple as how to buy groceries in our stores. What about starting civics classes to teach the fundamentals of our democratic republic… Is it possible we have the answer to this heart-wrenching problem available through our Christian teachings and values? Christian churches are typically vigilant in helping house and clothe immigrants – let’s take it a step farther and help to assimilate immigrants into the United States and give them a reason to be proud Americans.