What is the biblical position relating to those who would be immigrants? Have they the right to impose themselves on a sovereign nation, an established society?
First, the biblical standard for immigrants is that they obey the laws of a nation (the general standard for all, discussed above). Obviously, this relates to abiding by a nation’s decision whether or not to admit an alien, and on what terms and conditions. It also includes an assimilationist ethic. Foreigners duly admitted into a particular society are expected to assimilate, not impose their own customs, language, etc. and remake the receiving society in their own image.
Scripture passages such as Deuteronomy 16:9-15 illustrate the biblical assimilation ethic. Here, the Lord establishes for the Israelites the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. These were religious observances, but also civil laws. In both cases, these laws required resident aliens to participate in the observance of these holidays. Likewise, the Fourth Commandment, calling for observance of the Sabbath day, also binds the resident alien (Deut. 5:14). Thus, in their public life, those aliens granted permission to reside in a nation owe a moral duty to the accepting nation to abide by its laws and assimilate to its customs. Such is morally responsible individual conduct in the context of immigration.
Second, forcing oneself on an existing nation is both unjust and unjustifiable. In other words, illegal immigration is morally wrong. Lawbreaking aliens bear moral responsibility for their unlawful actions.
-The authority God delegates to civil government focuses on justice, not mercy (though this is not to say laws should not be tempered by mercy). Biblical teachings of mercy generally apply to individual conduct, not to civil authorities. Further, standards of justice are not fully moral if they are not accompanied by judgment and punishment. These two elements (judgment and punishment) are integral, or else justice is not just.
-In short, the Old Testament teaches fair treatment of resident foreigners, with certain requirements of the aliens related to religious and civil legal standards. It also instructs that aliens were to assimilate to the Hebrew culture. Boundaries are meaningful, as well, and foreign presence among the Hebrews on several occasions was a curse. Few details of immigration procedures, standards, or other policy prescriptions appear. To infer some open-borders or mass-amnesty mandate from what actually appears in Scripture is wrong.
-Advocates for illegal immigrants like to blur moral lines. They offer up illegal aliens who purport to be Christians. Yet, wrapping their lawbreaking in Christian terms stands at odds with the clearer teachings of Scripture. It becomes all the more curious when a supposed Christian justification overlooks conduct that might be regarded as inconsistent with biblical standards. For example, purportedly Christian illegal aliens set the poor example of a criminal life, often abandon their young children to grow up without a parent’s daily guidance, and leave their community back home without the influence of “salt and light.”12
Read more on Immigration from a conservative Biblical POV…
A Biblical Perspective on Immigration Policy By James R. Edwards Jr.
VERSE: “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD” Psalm 150
QUOTE: “A person who loves his job, will never work a day in his life.”
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