Immigrants, Immigration, and the Abuse of Scripture

Stop it… just stop!

What? Quit abusing Scripture to affirm your viewpoint and agenda – especially in the hot-button issue of immigration. I don’t care if your view point may very well be the “moral one” – if you are abusing Scripture to prove it – I can’t support you.

Here in the US, we have a problem – one that is growing in severity. A problem that has been rightly described as a crisis. One that side of the political isle claims is of recent manufacture (even thought their own party used the same terminology prior to our current President taking office). The problem is that of illegal immigration. You see – we hear often that America is a land of immigrants. There is some truth to that statement, and all but those who are Native Americans are at least descendants of immigrants, if not immigrants themselves. Indeed, in many ways, much of what has developed into this great “experiment” of a “melting pot” has been a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities coming together to build what was once called the ‘American Dream” – a former ideal that America was where one could come (through the proverbial front door), work hard, and become part of the culture.

But over the last several decades, an organized effort has been underway to literally stuff cities and towns with people who do not come in the “front door”, who choose to climb or cut fences, swim across waterways, risk their lives and the lives of children (in at least ⅓ of the cases, children not related to the adults they are apreheded with, many PURCHASED or abducted for the purpose– ie: human trafficking). A well-funded and organized campaign has been launched more recently by characters raging from George Soros, to state sponsors, and even a handful of US politicians – to train and equip migrants from Central America to cross the border illegally, and how to then play the system to delay deportation when caught (the word “asylum” is among the first words they teach them). These campaigns help fund busses and guides and provide aid along the way.

And as politicians from both political parties have talked big games regarding “fixing” the problem, neither seem all that willing to actually talk about it and to take real action. Those on the Left are primarily “Open borders”, no barriers, and give those who come here any way but the legal way a free pass to the front of the line, even before veterans and our own citizens who we are still falling short in helping with medical care, housing, and other needs. On the other side of the isle, we have politicians who want to build a wall along as much of the border as is possible, and to then re-build the immigration system to point all who want to come here through the front gate – like most past generations of immigrants from around the world were ushered through (think Ellis Island).

Sadly, these people – whether you see them as targets of social justice – people who should be able to come here to make a better life, or you see them in a far more nefarious light – have become political pawns. From the recruiting for the “caravans”, to the media-engineered “horror stories” of children dying in the wilderness or after being caught and detained. It is all being built up to divide, all while those who have the power to actually FIX the problem just sit back and use the issue as a weapon.

Real people, legally here or not, are suffering. Human beings – who every bit as much as I, are made in the Imago Dei – Image of God. And whether a person is here in direct violation of the law (which does make them a criminal – thus subject to criminal proceedings), or they are citizens, or they are legal immigrants – all people deserve to be treated like human beings.

That being said – there are many, especially professed Christians (or those who hate Christ, but try to use the Bible as a weapon against Christians) who are throwing Bible verses at this like a baseball bat. Sadly, they are abusing Scripture by doing so. The most common use is Leviticus 19:33-34

‘When a stranger resides with you in your land,you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.

There are many problem with applying this passage to the current immigration issue – in fact too numerous to post in a single blog post. But I will address the biggest ones:

  1. The context: This was a set of instructions given to the young NATION of Israel. This is not a blanket rule for the world.
  2. Definition: stranger -from the Hebrew word גֵּיר (gêyr) meaning most literally – “guest”. It is the same word used to describe the Hebrew people themselves when they were “sojourners” or strangers in a foreign land. This is a reference to their time in Egypt. Were they unwelcome immigrants? No – they were invited guests, by the hand of God’s Providence in placing Joseph in the highest position in the country (other than Pharoah). But in a practical application, the concept is – those who are visiting, those who are your guests (hosptiality was considered an understood trait), treat them with respect – treat them fairly, just as you would want to be treated – like your own. The point being – this passage was not about those who were not invited, those who were not welcomed guests. But there is one bit of phrase in verse 34 that DOES point to a Scriptural basis that DOES fit our situation today:

Love your neighbor…

Jesus said “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” (Luke 10:27)

This goes back to what I wrote near the beginning of this – Immigrants, whether here legally or illegally, should be treated humanely. At the same time, they are violating the law, and they are not “welcomed visitors” as the term in Leviticus refers to. But prisoners also are to be treated as human beings. But breaking the law, is breaking the law. Endangerding children by dragging them across harsh wilderness and in horrible conditions is not good parenting. In fact, a case can be made that this is abuse, especially when 1/3 of the children being drug through these conditions are not even related to the adults bringing them.

So – where does this leave us, at least those of us who professed Christ? Can we find biblical prohibitions against national borders or the expectation that those entering a nation do it through the civil law of that nation? No. Is it immoral or even sinful for Christians to insist that our national borders be enforced and that said immigrants be expected to enter a nation legally, and to follow the laws of the land? No.

We as Christians should seek the welfare of those apprehended until the day they are deported. WE should seek “humane” treatment, especially of the children who had no voice or choice in being brought here. But even more human would be to insist that the borders be protected and that the entire immigration system be overhauled in such a way that it encourages immigration through the legal channels, and empowers those who come legally to find their place in the “American Dream” as productive members of the society.

But please – STOP abusing Scripture in an effort to shame Christians who just want things done legally and in a way that doesn’t further promote and reward lawbreaking.

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