Sodom, Gomorrah, and Illegal Aliens, Part 2

When the evangelical right considers the issue of illegal immigration, it’s rare for someone to bring up the word of God as somehow relevant. Instead, we conservative, right-wing Christians tend to think very much like conservative, right-wing non-believers. Our views are rarely distinguishable from those of the Republican Party’s National Committee. For example, Jerry Falwell wrote,

In fact, I truly believe government officials should consider an aggressive campaign to rid our nation of the estimated 11 million illegal aliens now residing within our borders. These people are here illegally. They should be sought out and returned to their home countries. They could then apply for citizenship the way legal immigrants have done throughout our nation’s history.

As a homeowner, I don’t open my doors and allow strangers to camp out in my living room. To do so would be a threat to my family’s safety. On a larger scale, our nation needs to weed out those who are not here legally.[1]

Now, it’s certainly true that illegal aliens are here illegally. But for a Christian, this is neither the beginning nor the end of the question. Yes, Christians are to obey the laws of the land, but this truth overlooks two other even more important truths.

First, God’s law is higher than man’s law. When the laws differ, Christians must obey God’s law, regardless of the price. Moreover, God’s law judges man’s law, and we are to declare unjust laws unjust, not simply bow our knees to Washington, DC.

Second, the question being debated in the US today is what should the law be. Therefore, what the law is is quite beside the point. When a Christian is asked what the law should be, he must turn first to the word of God for guidance, not his self-interest or the interests of his political party.

The conversation within the church must begin with the firm commitment that aliens, even those here illegally, are entitled to our love and concern. Nothing in the Bible requires us to welcome welfare cheats, criminals, and terrorists. Rom. 13 teaches that our government’s job is to protect us from evil doers.

I make no claim to have all the answers. I don’t. But I know that when Christians discuss this subject, most sound much more like Karl Rove than Jesus Christ. It’s time to start letting our principles affect our actions–and to flee the teachings of the American political institutions. After all, the goal of most, if not all, political institutions is to appeal to our self-interest so we’ll give them power.

As soon as Christians start making their decisions purely on self-interest, they take a big step away from being like Jesus. I’m just glad Jesus didn’t act solely out of self-interest. Rather, whatever the solution to the illegal alien problem is, like all other ethical decisions, our thinking must start with the Sermon on the Mount.

[1] Jerry Falwell, “The Rules Have Changed,” (June 7, 2002).

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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