Pastor Mike's thoughts

Thoughts on today's Christian world and how it fits into secular society.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Illegal Immigration: A Biblical Perspective

The past few weeks has been full of huge debates regarding the Illegal immigrant situation. I recently ran across the following article regarding this topic, and would like to pass it on to all of you. Please read it, and I would love to get some feedback from you. No matter how you think, it’s sure a hot topic, and I wrestle with it daily. I look forward to your feedback.

Pastor Mike

Illegal Immigration: A Biblical Perspective
Note: This commentary was delivered by Prison Fellowship President Mark Earley.

Throughout America last week, more than a million illegal immigrants poured into the streets. They took the day off from work, forcing many businesses to close for the day.

They got everyone's attention. However, it appears they only inflamed an already overheated debate. And the early polls are not showing any change in public opinion.

We need to pause and take a good look at the roles of the Church and the government here. They are different and, in some ways, conflicting. But this is not the first time such a conflict has arisen, and it is possible to formulate a thoughtful Christian perspective that takes both roles into account. Many Christians are giving it serious thought and coming up with good analyses.

First of all, as Christians, we are to care about the poor, widows, orphans, strangers, and that means aliens in our land. That's explicitly commanded in God's Word. Leviticus 19:33-34 is a good example. It says, "When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born."

That settles the question of how we personally, as Christians, and how the Church at-large treats illegal aliens in our midst. But what about the other question of their legal status in the country? Those are two different things.

The Bible has something here to say as well. It states that government's job is to preserve order and do justice. St. Augustine famously said that peace flows from order. As a former attorney general, I can tell you that enforcing the rule of law is very important to order and peace.

Congress needs to provide the resources for proper immigration control and establish a program that enables us to process those who have earned the legal right to stay as citizens. In the meantime, we must abide by the law. If thirty years of prison ministry have taught us anything, it's that we can't cave in to those who take the law into their own hands. Such disrespect for the law sets a terrible example to everyone. We have to look at what the law says and enforce it.

The hard truth is, if people come here illegally, they cannot be granted amnesty. That simply encourages millions more to cross our borders. Of course, securing the borders is vital to national security. It's also important that immigrants come here, but through an orderly, established legal process. And employers cannot be allowed to continue to ignore the law against hiring illegal aliens. If we do not enforce the law, we are teaching millions a terrible lesson. We are telling them the law does not matter.

Failure to enforce the law has created this problem, and the ironic aspect is that the very blessing illegal aliens come here to secure for themselves is precisely a result of an economy and society made strong by the rule of law.

It's true that an unjust law is no law at all, as Martin Luther King famously said. But this is not a case of an unjust law. To secure our borders and to provide for an orderly process of immigrants is a just law, and the Church needs to respect that law even while it administers aid, compassion, and love to those in our midst.


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