The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Why I Don’t Believe Christians Should Condemn Illegal Immigrants For Breaking The Law

statue liberty immigrantsI wrote this yesterday for another blog:

Rand Paul Is Right On Immigration.

As the shrillness of this debate increases, I think we are going to find many pastors and Christians who are going to insist that we must condemn lawbreaking. Therefore, we must not give citizenship, or even legal residence, to people who have broken our immigration laws. In this way, Christians will be able to evade the plain teaching of the Bible that a nation whose God is the Lord is supposed to welcome immigrants. (I am not going to insult the reader’s Biblical literacy by arguing for open borders from the Bible. The truth is too obvious to anyone who has read Scripture.)

It is true that we are instructed to submit to our rulers. It is also true that the Bible shows us many times when godly people were right not to obey their rulers.

God has told people to labor diligently with their hands to provide for themselves and others who have needs. Husbands are supposed to provide for their families. Parents are supposed to provide for their children. In many times in history such a duty has entailed migrating from a place where one is prevented from working and saving to a place that allows you to work and save. It seems quite plausible that, for many South of our nation, they are living in one of those times. Are they really supposed to be held back from basic life and work by the government who says that they are not permitted to come–while at the same time providing many signals that they are free to do so as long as they aren’t too obvious about it?

Furthermore, if it was a sin to move into the US, then it is a sin in the past. It does not follow that exiling people to another nation away from their home, for the crime of having been born there, is a commensurate punishment. Even less is it right to punish their children with exile. People who commit real crimes like robbery receive much less severe sentences.

In my other blog post, I mentioned the Boston Tea Party before America’s revolution and also the Underground Railroad before the Civil War. Another case comes to mind. I remember watching a movie about a family that made a hot-air balloon to escape from East Germany. Christians thought these people were heroes for breaking the law to live in a different country where they could make a better life.

How different is illegal emigration from illegal immigration? If Christians are supposed to never allow disobedience to unjust laws to be rewarded, then shouldn’t we demand that all people who break the law to come here, even the law of their home country, be returned? Christians should oppose “lawlessness” by demanding that our country cease and desist granting refugee status to people who came here illegally to escape persecution and death–if they are to be consistent with this (bad!) principle.

If you applaud people who break the law to escape harm in another country, then you are a faithful Christian. Now be consistent, argue for open borders, and stop railing against “amnesty” as rewarding law-breakers.

Cross-posted on 2k+

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8 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Believe Christians Should Condemn Illegal Immigrants For Breaking The Law

  1. Pingback: Why I Don’t Believe Christians Should Condemn Illegal Immigrants For Breaking The Law | 2k+

  2. Abigail Gross on said:

    What persecution are they facing in Mexico? Why should people who come here illegally get to butt in line ahead of people who come here legally? It won’t work to send them back, but I certainly don’t want to reward them for coming here illegally. Our country has a right to have immigration laws. Also, illegal immigrants are being given benefits, paid for w/taxpayer money, even though they are here illegally. That is outrageous. They are not entitled to my money. I support Rand Paul’s ideas about giving them work visas AND making them get in line to be admitted legal. I want our borders secured.

  3. Abigail,
    Please defend the statement “Our country has a right to have immigration laws.” Life is a right. Liberty is a right. But I don’t see how keeping peaceful people out of our country is a “right.”

    The welfare state is outrageous on its face, no matter what the citizenship status is of the recipient. No one has the right to another’s property.

  4. I don’t harshly condemn those who come to the US to gain a better life, especially considering our duplicity in the matter of illegal immigration. However, we have to begin enforcing laws at some point. Otherwise, we are undermining our own law and slapping the face of those who perilously navigated our immigration system to become lawful immigrants, waiting over a decade in most cases, in order to do the right thing.

  5. A few thoughts:
    A. Mark is arguing that they are bad laws. We should change them to allow for open borders, not double down on bad, unjust laws.

    B. Mark is arguing that biblically those with a monopoly on force do not have a right to set criminal sanctions on free, peaceful people against traveling across arbitrary man-made boundaries. God never gave Israel such a right… To the contrary he gave them rules requiring them to treat such people with generosity and hospitality.

    C. There is no line to butt in, it’s a construct. If I come in illegally it doesn’t push someone else back a space (unless there are some bizarre, unethical rules about how many people can be in this massive land, which would be the fault of those who make such capricious, warrantless rules).

    D. The fact that illegal immigrants (or anyone else) receive your redistributed wealth is primarily the fault of the government/ruling class. Cutout the welfare state and you will both pop the immigration bubble and not have the pretext for opposing immigration that they, quite part from their volition, are eligible to receive your confiscated goods. You don’t go after the purchaser of stolen goods, you go after the thieves… if the actual goal is to stop the theft. Our government doesn’t want to stop the theft. They want the dependent, and they want them afraid. They are easier to control that way.

    E. Just to name one instance of persecution in Mexico (besides ubiquitous corruption and violence): gun ownership is virtually forbidden even as government thugs, gangs, and other organized crime savage society.

    F. I fail to see how allowing people of minimal education, no credentials, foreign language, and a vast number of other obstacles to remain in a place they risked life and limb to come to (presumably because the situation was so bad it was worth it) to remain here and become full members of society as opposed to deporting them to where they fled from or consigning them to permanent serf status is an inordinate reward.

  6. Gregory Yankey on said:

    I was once a deacon in the Reformed Episcopal Church. One of the Scripture readings for “Independence Day” is as follows:

    For the Epistle. Deuteronomy 10:17-21

    “THE LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: he doth execute the judgement of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name. He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen.”

    I made the statement in the sacristy that morning to one of the priests that this scripture shows us we need to have compassion on immigrants–even illegal ones–because we are commanded so in Scripture.

    Father Robert’s response was this: “They are lawbreakers as soon as they cross the border.” From that day I was convinced that this priest knew neither God nor the Scriptures.

    This is just one example of why I left the REC. I believe the Christian faith calls us to compassion. And what a gospel ministry we could have to immigrants if we would really show concern for them and do as Deuteronomy suggests!

    Unfortunately the bishop tolerated this biblical ignorance and lack of compassion among his priests, and chalked up the whole thing as a problem he inherited from another bishop who ordained that man who didn’t even have proper biblical training. It is very sad that Christians have such a bigoted attitude toward others.

    I could be that immigrant needing refuge because I wanted to escape the problems of crime and drug cartels. Anyone could be in their place.

  7. Mark, I really appreciate your attitude and approach on this issue. If I may add my two pesos. I was born and raised in Texas, but I have lived in Mexico and Colorado. Now I am back in Texas and serving a pastor of a cross-cultural and bi-lingual church near Dallas. We are starting to make conscious and deliberate efforts to reach immigrants (whether documented or not) with the gospel. I agree with M. Daniel Carroll R. who says “When I have engaged Christians in conversation about immigration, I have found that more often than not their choice has had little to do with Christian convictions and much to do with ideological commitments and personal background and experience.” His book *Christians at the Border* offers a biblical and theological framework for looking at immigrants, aliens, and strangers in light of the gospel.

    • A pastor’s first priority will be reaching people with the gospel, no matter their legal status. Next, it will be discipling them, after they’ve come to the faith. I believe that if we are honest and patient with them, over time, they will come to the conclusion that they need to be reconciled to the laws of Caesar. If they take God’s instruction seriously to “honor the King”, they will do what it takes to comply with the law, even if this means returning to the home country. It’s what Christians do.

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