As the shrillness of this debate increases, I think we are going to find many pastors and Christians who are going to insist that we must condemn lawbreaking. Therefore, we must not give citizenship or even legal residence to people who have broken our immigration laws. In this way, Christians will be able to evade the plain teaching of the Bible that a nation whose God is the Lord is supposed to welcome immigrants. (I am not going to insult the reader’s Biblical literacy by arguing for open borders from the Bible. The truth is too obvious to anyone who has read Scripture.)
It is true that we are instructed to submit to our rulers. It is also true that the Bible shows us many times when godly people were right not to obey their rulers.
God has told people to labor diligently with their hands to provide for themselves and others who have needs. Husbands are supposed to provide for their families. Parents are supposed to provide for their children. In many times in history such a duty has entailed migrating from a place where one is prevented from working and saving to a place that allows you to work and save. It seems quite plausible that, for many South of our nation, they are living in one of those times. Are they really supposed to be held back from basic life and work by the government who says that they are not permitted to come–while at the same time providing many signals that they are free to do so as long as they aren’t too obvious about it?
Furthermore, if it was a sin to move into the US, then it is a sin in the past. It does not follow that exiling people to another nation away from their home, for the crime of having been born there, is a commensurate punishment. Even less is it right to punish their children with exile. People who commit real crimes like robbery receive much less severe sentences.
In my other blog post, I mentioned the Boston Tea Party before America’s revolution and also the Underground Railroad before the Civil War. Another case comes to mind. I remember watching a movie about a family that made a hot-air balloon to escape from East Germany. Christians thought these people were heroes for breaking the law to live in a different country where they could make a better life.
How different is illegal emigration from illegal immigration? If Christians are supposed to never allow disobedience to unjust laws to be rewarded, then shouldn’t we demand that all people who break the law to come here, even the law of their home country, be returned? Christians should oppose “lawlessness” by demanding that our country cease and desist granting refugee status to people who came here illegally to escape persecution and death–if they want to be consistent with this (bad!) principle.
If you applaud people who break the law to escape harm in another country, then you are a faithful Christian. Now be consistent, argue for open borders, and stop railing against “amnesty” as rewarding law-breakers.
Cross-posted on The Kuyperian Commentary