[Part 1] Immigration is a hot button topic in America. President Trump’s recent executive order that temporarily restricts entrance into the United States for travelers from certain countries has further added to the feelings and fury. The executive order calls for a 90 day halt entry into the U.S. from those living in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It also calls for a 120 day suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. The stated purpose of the temporary ban is to allow time “to determine the information needed from any country to adjudicate any visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA (adjudications) in order to determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat.”
This purpose of this Reflections is not to argue for or against the executive order. The goal is to begin to explore the question, “What guidance, if any, does the Bible give on the issue of immigration?” Any view that Christians hold should be informed and shaped by the Word of God.
In the Old Testament God gave Israel both religious and civil law. Those outside of Israel (referred to in scripture as strangers and aliens) were not to be mistreated or oppressed. They were to be welcomed and loved as though they were part of the people of God (Leviticus 19:33-34). God’s people were even told to assist them with their daily needs (Leviticus 19:10).
Outsiders were allowed to participate in the religious ceremonies of Israel, as long as they adhered to God’s law. God’s people were not to change God’s law to accommodate outsiders (Exodus 12:48, Numbers 15:14-16). Additionally, there were religious laws placed on God’s people that were not imposed on strangers (Deuteronomy 14:21).
In Numbers 35, God gives His people instructions for establishing cities of refuge for natives and for strangers. These cities were to be safe places for aliens.
God’s expectations regarding the treatment of outsiders did not change after Christ died. The principles in the Law are reinforced in the New Testament. Christians are commanded to be hospitable. The Greek word translated as hospitality means to be friendly to strangers. We are also instructed to love others as we love ourselves and to do good to all people (Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 6:10).
The verses above suggest that Christians should seek to build bridges, not barriers. We must remember that we are Christians first, and then Americans. Whether we identify ourselves as Democrats or Republicans, our politics and patriotism must be shaped by the Prince of Peace.
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