Tag Archives: immigration

Christians at the Border (Part 3 of 3)

immigration 2In Parts 1 and 2 we looked at a number of biblical passages that require God’s people to display a spirit of hospitality to citizens of all nations. I encourage you to peruse, if not carefully study, those as a backdrop to this final post.

But all these “illegals” are breaking the law, right? So what about Romans 13? 

Regrettably, Bill Maher was right when he said, “You Christians have been lawyering the Bible for 2000 years!” The most common way to get the Bible to speak for our self-centered benefit is to lift select passages from their context and make them say what we want them to say. That’s how popes and emperors justified the crusades and Bible thumping bigots supported slavery. Continue reading

Christians at the Border (Part 2 of 3)

immigration 2“You go online and at any moment, FedEx can tell you where that package is. Yet we let people come into this country with visas, and the minute they come in, we lose track of them. We need to have a system that tracks you from the moment you come in and then when your time is up. However long your visa is, then we go get you and tap you on the shoulder and say, ‘Excuse me, it’s time to go.'” Candidate for president, Chris Christie

In Part 1 I said:

We should peer through the lens of Scripture and develop biblically informed consciences rather than parroting the politics of shock jocks and evocative propagandizers. As we do we’ll notice that while God’s Word doesn’t provide detailed guidelines on each sociopolitical problem, it does give us a backdrop for how we’re to live together in God’s world. And though I propose no simple solutions to the “border crisis” I do offer a reminder about how God tells us repeatedly to love our neighbor and care for immigrants along with widows, orphans, and the poor. So, the question is how do we shape our attitudes and opinions about immigrants – or anything else for that matter – by God or by greed?

I encourage us to put aside our predispositions we might have about immigration and just look at what the Bible says about how we’re supposed to treat our neighbors from outside of our borders. So, let’s do some of that now…

Beginning at the beginning…

“Let us make people in our image, after our likeness…” Genesis 1:26

As Christians we are called to view all other human beings, not through the lens of national allegiances or ethnic origins, but through our allegiance to our Creator (and theirs). What makes us neighbors is his image that he installed in all of us in the Garden. The neighbors that Jesus told us to love not only include the ones on our side of the border or the ones with our same skin color or whose language and culture match ours.

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On being neighborly (Who do I have to love and how much?) Part 7

love your neighborIn 1911 a Senator Dillingham reported to congress that “certain kinds of criminality are inherent in the Italian race” and that “the high rate of illiteracy among the new immigrants was due to inherent racial tendencies.”

Once the railroad was finished, so was our country finished with the Chinese they’d conscripted and enslaved to finish it. For instance, Californian legislators began passing ordinances designated to drive out the Chinese. They passed bills making it illegal for Chinese to get a business license, to fish, or marry a white person. In Santa Cruz (where I lived for 20 years) there was an ordinance that stated, “No person shall carry baskets or bags attached to poles carried upon backs or shoulders on public sidewalks.” In 1876 a congressional report in order to halt Chinese immigration to the US stated: “There is not sufficient brain capacity in the Chinese race to furnish motive power for self-government,” and, “There is no Aryan or European race which is not far superior to the Chinese.”

Neighborly: Characteristic of a good neighbor, especially helpful, friendly, kind, obliging, helpful, hospitable, civil, generous…

I obviously miscalculated how many words it would take me to unburden my soul on this topic. Even though I have not nearly said all that’s on my mind about neighborliness, I really must bring this provocative essay to a close – to no one’s disappointment, I’m sure. My principle hope is that I’ve offered what I consider to be a biblical perspective, yet one that some might not have considered before. I trust that we’ll be able to parse out the humanitarian from the partisan and just let the Spirit speak to us through his Word.

I wanted to scream bad words when I read about a certain church (not a hypothetical one), which, in order to look its best during its televised services, selected well-dressed and good looking individuals to sit in the front where the cameras would pan them instead of their less desirable-appearing worshipping counterparts! Continue reading

On being neighborly (Who do I have to love and how much?) Part 6 of 5ish

love your neighbor“I won’t mix in politics. War is the fruit of politics, and so I don’t involve myself, that’s all. If I get stuck in politics, I will stop loving. Because I will have to stand by one, not by all.” Mother Teresa

Neighborly: Characteristic of a good neighbor, especially helpful, friendly, kind, obliging, helpful, hospitable, civil, generous…

Okay, so I miscalculated! Six doesn’t fit neatly into five, but that’s the beauty of the “ish.” I had a sneaking suspicion that I’d get a little longwinded, so I covered myself with the all-purpose “ish.” No promises, but my new best guess is 7ish.

We’ve been doing a passage perusal of the oft repeated command to “Love our neighbors as ourselves” from Moses to Jesus to Paul and now to James. If you’ve been following along with each post, you’ll undoubtedly have noticed that the “neighbors” referred to in these passages are people who come from everyplace on the planet and will include, not only those who look and act the same as us, but those who are quite dissimilar from us.

I’ve made no secret that we Christians have a responsibility to rethink, in light of Scripture, our view of the discarded dregs of our own society as well as people who come here from other places fleeing from bone crushing poverty and/or brutally oppressive regimes. Though our neighbors live near and far, this is the aspect of neighborliness I felt compelled to highlight. I admit my grief about many of my fellow Jesus followers who seem to hold too narrow a definition of “neighbor” and carry little to no sense of duty for hospitality to our international neighbors. Continue reading

On being neighborly (Who do I have to love and how much?) Part 5 of 5ish

love your neighbor“For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved.” Richard Stearns

Neighborly: Characteristic of a good neighbor, especially helpful, friendly, kind, obliging, helpful, hospitable, civil, generous…

In earlier posts we’ve been talking about God’s expectation that his people be, of all the people in his world, especially hospitable, otherwise known as “neighborly.” Now we’re examining the passages in which the biblical command to “love our neighbor” is found. We’ve looked at some of the teachings of Jesus and now transition to what the apostles – beginning with Paul – said about this neighborliness. Continue reading

On being neighborly (Who do I have to love and how much?) Part 4 of 5ish

love your neighbor“Human beings can be beautiful or more beautiful. They can be fat or skinny, they can be right or wrong, but illegal? How can a human being be illegal?” Eli Wiesel

Neighborly: Characteristic of a good neighbor, especially helpful, friendly, kind, obliging, helpful, hospitable, civil, generous…

In his speech yesterday, President Obama said: “Are we a nation that kicks out a striving, hopeful immigrant like Astrid (a young woman to whom from Mexico to whom he refers in his speech) – or are we a nation that finds a way to welcome her in? . . . Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger – we were strangers once, too.”

Believe it or not, I began writing this multi-part essay on neighborliness a couple of months before I even knew the President was going to make a speech about immigration reform and sign an executive action delaying deportations of millions of undocumented immigrants. I’ve held the views that I’ve posited in these last several posts for a decade or two, but have just now finally put a few of my convictions into words. Continue reading