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Apr 17 2012

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A “Christian view” of immigration?

By: William Cripe Sr.

A “Christian view” of immigration is challenging.  I openly confess, sometimes my “Americanism” clouds my Christianity.

Since the Scriptures tell the story of a nation whose very history is one of divinely directed immigration, the issue might seem pretty straightforward.  In reality, the Bible does not deal with it directly. By observation though, there has been a semblance of borders for nations, tribes, or clans since the beginning.  At the risk of sounding a bit crass, even God had an angelic agent at the border crossing, back into Eden.

In an ideal world, a practice of “open borders” would seem responsible and consistent with biblical notions of benevolence, compassion, and equality.  To say the least, we Christian Americans need to be cognizant of the fact that our prosperity, while enhanced by diligent creativity and hard work, is none-the-less, a by-product of God’s favor.

But we do not live in an ideal world and the New Testament book of Romans (chapter 13) says that God ordained human governments for the very purpose of constraining evil.

Is it then a stretch to assert, that at least in a post 9-11 world where evil people have an expressed goal of killing innocent civilians, that a policy of something less than open-border is not only permissible, but necessary?  Does it not also follow that any sovereign, governmental entity not having an immigration protocol would in fact, be derelict in its God-given role to constrain wickedness?

So while I assume that most reasonable people would affirm some kind of restriction on the movement of people between borders, the question is begged:  Is physical safety from individuals with murderous intent the only legitimate consideration for national oversight of who enters a country?

Every cost benefit analysis I considered, from the liability of healthcare subsidies to education usurped by illegals, tends to be as suspect as the figures on the other side of the issue like the value of contributions through cheap labor, and taxes paid by illegals.

But are such considerations (for the Christian) legitimate or just evidence that we are falling prey to a pragmatic view of immigration rather than a theological one?

When I am in such a quandary, I depart from the “unknowns” and return to the “knowns.”

So what do I know?

“‘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.’”  Leviticus 19:34

I know that as a Christian, I must emulate the compassion of my God.  But compassion does not necessarily forbid compassionate control of how many and for who my compassion is expressed.

There is a saturation aspect to what a generous person as well as a generous country is generously able to do without jeopardizing its ability to continue to be generous and compassionate.  While this consideration, is typically criticized as motivated by greed, it is not necessarily so.

I see little difference between a country equitably controlling entrance into a land of plenty and an individual tossing certain appeals for contributions for various “good” causes into the trash.  Neither individuals nor countries have the unlimited resources of God. There are limits to what people and even prosperous countries can do.

I also know that our current policy is broken if for no other reason, than it is wildly inconsistent, unfair and unenforced.  A system that, by design or default, tends to punish law abiding immigrants with costly, time-consuming stipulations, while rewarding illegals by enabling them to avoid the expenses and restrictions that must be observed by those here legally must be corrected.  And that is a consideration not only for a Christian but for any nation which claims, or at least desires, to be ethical.

 

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