Christians and Social Justice: Part V


Immigration

So a few months ago I was posting about Christians who spout the “social justice” dogma.  They can be found here, here, here, and here.  As stated before, the term “social justice” is a silly term in the first place.

(Note:  As a Christian, I feel a special “in house” privilege to reprove fellow Christians who I believe to be wrong.)

In dealing with the subject of immigration, liberal Christians I’ve talked to, like many liberals when talking about conservatives, seem to have the idea that we conservatives don’t care about our fellow man and want to hurt people.

Once that straw man is set up, they then point to those scriptures that say we should treat foreigners with dignity and respect.  They especially like the scriptures from the Old Testament Law that deal with foreigners, such as Exodus 22:21 and Leviticus 19:33-34.

First, the Bible teaches us to treat EVERYBODY with respect and dignity, not just foreigners.  So using those scriptures is really just “proof texting,” where we force the Bible to say what we want it to say.  Using scriptures that basically say “Don’t be a jerk” as an argument for your entire political agenda on immigration is not tenable.  No real argument is being made.  You are just wasting air and everybody’s time.  Immigration, especially illegal immigration, is a complex issue and quoting a few “be nice” scriptures will not solve anything.

The truth is we conservative Christians are not advocating exploiting immigrants.  We also believe in caring for our fellow man.  We are not neglecting those scriptures.  The difference is we want real solutions to real problems, not just good heart-felt intentions. 

Second, while I believe the Old Testament Law has some universal principles we can learn from, we need to keep those scriptures in their historic and cultural context.  The issues with foreigners in ancient Israel are likely very different from our issues in modern America, especially with illegal immigration.

Respect for the Law:

With that said, when I looked into it more, I discovered the Old Testament Law not only required certain things from the citizens, but also required certain things from the foreigners.  They were not exempt from the Law.  Foreigners had to act in certain ways too and respect the Law.

Leviticus 24:22 says:

There shall be one standard for you; it shall be for the stranger as well as the native, for I am the Lord your God.

Exodus 12:48-49 says:

The same law shall apply to the native as to the stranger who sojourns among you.

A foreigner in the land was still required to obey the law.  He was not exempt to do as he pleased with no consequences.  Did that include deportation?  Further study is needed to answer that for myself but I don’t see why not.

Another example, foreigners were not allowed to take part in everything in the country.  Just because foreigners were to be treated with respect, that did not mean they got complete access to all parts of society.

Exodus 12:43-45 says:

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘This is the ordinance of the Passover: no foreigner is to eat of it; but every man’s slave purchased with money, after you have circumcised him, then he may eat of it. A sojourner or a hired servant shall not eat of it.’”

On the flip side, the foreigner had to respect the laws of the land by taking part in certain things.  The Law said no work was to be done on the Sabbath and the law required the sojourner to respect that law.

Exodus 20:8-10 says:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.

So what?

God required of the Hebrew people a great respect for the Law.  It’s hard to believe God would allow the foreigner living in country to disrespect it.  As shown above, He didn’t.  While I believe God would have us treat the illegal immigrant with respect, I doubt those passages required the Hebrews to keep people in the country if they were a danger or not allowed to be there in the first place.

No serious Christian conservative is advocating treating immigrants (legal or illegal) like trash.  We’re not advocating beating them up or stealing their money or whatever else liberals seem to think we want.  As I read it, the Bible is simply saying to treat the foreigner like a human being.  That is how we are supposed to treat everybody.  But using those scriptures as if they support your entire political agenda verges on “proof texting.”

In a civil society we need law and even foreigners in the Old Testament were required to respect the Law.  How we as a nation deal with immigration is a topic for debate with specific issues on the line.  But to my fellow Christians, let’s stop using ambiguous scripture in ways that don’t even contribute this complex debate.

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