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As an Evangelical Christian I believe that we need to enforce our laws, but those laws also need to be first of all moral.  I say moral in two senses.  One there are Moral laws that need to be distinguished from “rules.”  Moral laws are those that are defined in the Bible like thou shalt not… and rules are those laws that are necessary for an ordered society but not universally binding.  The Bible calls for us to obey the moral law first and then to submit to the “rules.”  We have no right to question God’s moral law, but rules are adjustable.  Obviously, when we have to choose between Moral law and “rules.”  We are commanded to obey first and foremost the Moral law.  I think that this the very question we as Christians grapple with.   Is there conflict between God’s Moral law, and the “rule of law” in the Immigration law.  I believe there is conflict and that as Christians we should be asking that question.

There are two bodies of law in the United States currently, civil and criminal law.  Criminal law is a poor attempt to reflect the moral laws, and Civil law is an attempt at the “rules” to order society.  Breaking of civil law does  not make one a criminal and usually carries with it a monetary penalty as it is not as severe as the breaking of criminal law which makes one a criminal.  An example of a civil law is speeding, and entering without inspection.  Both of these break the same body of law and do not make the law breaker a criminal.  We do not destroy a person's fortune, family, and life for civil infractions!

For a society to have a “rule of law” basis there must be the concept of proportionality.  By that is meant that the punishment should be proportional to the crime committed.  This is why we do not live under the lex talionis system.  But equally important in a “rule of law” society it the concept restoration.  Punishment is meant to be restorative.  An example of this would be bankruptcy.  After one has been in bankruptcy for more than 7 years the record in wiped clean, so one can move on with their life, even if they never paid back the debt.  Another example would be the driving record, after payment of the fine and after a certain number of years that infraction falls off your record, even if you commit more infractions.

Some of the questions that we as Christians should be asking is:  One, is the immigration law moral? Two, is it proportional? Three is it beneficial?  People need to grapple with the issues

In terms of the first question I would respectfully ask each of us,  are we being taught what the Bible has to say about immigration, both Old and New Testament? By that I mean when is the last time you heard a sermon on what God says about how to treat the alien in your land? Do we even know what is moral when it comes to immigration.  Slavery was the law of the land at one time, and even after abolition there were many related laws that were not morally correct, but many Christians of the time supported the laws.

As to the second question I would ask do we hold immigrants to a higher standard than we hold ourselves. What they are doing is no different than what I know that you and I have done many times in our lives by breaking civil law almost daily. Entering without inspection is a civil offence.  Is the church ignoring this question in a Pharisaical way, in part by calling it a political issue.

Immigrants do need to read  Romans 13:1-2, as well as 1 Timothy 5:8. I do not suggest that I know the right answer to each case, but what I am suggesting, is that the answers are not as clear cut as we often think they are. There are dear brothers and sisters in the Lord who are undocumented and have wrestled before the Lord about what they should do about their immigration status and have come down on either side. These believers would love to get right with the law if there were a way to do so. But under current law there is no way to do so. Some of them are in mixed status families where some part of the family belongs to different countries. If they were to "go home" their family would be torn asunder even their marriage vows would be at risk. Some of these families no longer have a home or even a neighborhood in their native country, and their US born children would become immediate targets of kidnap or murder. Some would have no way to provide for the needs of their family like 1 Timothy demands. Romans 12:13 gives us a personal command to show "hospitality," which literally is philo-zenia - to show love to immigrants. Are we being obedient to direct clear command of God?

 


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