While several issues have prompted the United States government to shut down, perhaps the most controversial is that of immigration and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Regarding DACA, many have argued that these young “dreamers” brought to the United States by their parents are a special category of undocumented immigrants and should be treated differently. According to the ERLC, most of these children do not know a home country other than the United States, did not consent to break immigration laws, and therefore, should not be punished for a crime they did not commit.
Concerning immigration reform, a LifeWay Research study showed the nation’s senior pastors:
- want the U.S. government to mix justice with mercy when it comes to immigration reform,
- believe it’s the government’s job to stop people from entering the country illegally,
- support reform that includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country, and
- think Christians should help immigrants, no matter what their legal status.
Today I simply want to address several aspects related to immigration from the viewpoint of Scripture, especially since this article from Christianity Today shows the Bible influences only 1 in 10 evangelicals on immigration reform.
Therefore, here is a brief overview of what the Bible says regarding immigration issues, specifically immigrants, self-defense, borders, and government authority.
God cares about immigrants. Throughout Scripture, we see God’s concern for immigrants who are referred to as “foreigners” or “sojourners.”
- “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:33-34 NIV)
- See also: Exodus 22:21; Deuteronomy 10:18-19; 24:19-22; Ezekiel 47:21-23; Zechariah 7:10; Malachi 3:5; and Hebrews 13:2.
- In the Old Testament, a “sojourner” was not in the land of Israel illegally. (Therefore, in the case of DACA, our modern-day challenge is to find a solution that respects the rule of law and provides justice for this special category of undocumented immigrants.)
When it comes to issues of self-defense, Scripture teaches that we should defend ourselves from those who wish to harm us.
- As the Israelites rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, they prepared for enemy invasion: “Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked.” (Nehemiah 4:17-18)
- In the Old Testament, a person was declared “not guilty” in cases of self-defense (Exodus 22:2).
- See also: Luke 11:21; Proverbs 25:26; Psalm 82:4; Mark 3:27.
The Bible affirms the importance of borders.
- Ezekiel 47:13-23 designates the borders of the Promised Land, and the boundaries of the tribes of Israel are described in Numbers 34:1-15.
- We also see that God does not want us to take advantage others: “Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your ancestors.” (Proverbs 22:28; 23:10)
Scripture is clear that we should obey authority.
- “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good.” (Titus 3:1)
- See also: Romans 13:1-2; 1 Peter 2:13-14; 1 Timothy 1:8-10; and Matthew 22:21.
The Bible teaches all life is sacred, calls us to defend ourselves, affirms borders, and instructs us to obey authority. Scripture also teaches us to pray for government leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Additionally, we should act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8).
Immigration is a challenging issue, and I ask you to join me in praying for both the lawmakers seeking a workable solution and the families caught in the middle of this complicated topic, particularly DACA.
Jesus taught that the way we treat others is also the way we treat Him (Matthew 25:35, 40 NIV).
Laura Lacey Johnson is a cutting-edge faith and culture writer who focuses on everyday headlines. In addition to speaking, she is a regular contributor to ChristianHeadlines.com and American Family Radio. To read Laura’s latest work on the headlines, visit www.lauralaceyjohnson.com, or to download your FREE copy of Why Jerusalem is Important to 3 World Religions, subscribe to her blog here.