A Door Unlocked

Immigration has become a hot button issue over the past several years. It was an issue long before the former President of the United States took office in January 2009. In the past election season of 2016 immigration has come to the forefront of American politics. I am a part of the political process but I am not a politician. I have no interest in the subject as a debatable forum. I vote and I speak to my representatives as it is a duty. I respect each office and pray for the office holders regardless of their views. My reason is that only God can change hearts to accomplish His will and I pray that His will be done here as in Heaven.

But in recent weeks I have become more and more upset with both the right and the left of the immigration debate. The debate is good, as that is our political system, but the fact less arguments do neither side good and confuse the whole of the populace. Further both sides of the debate quote Biblical Scripture to support their argument. God’s Word is truth but when is becomes twisted to say that which we desire it no longer is truth. God’s Word does not contradict itself, as it is unified as the triune Godhead itself. If one uses God’s truth to prove a lie, then you have made yourself a liar. Let us then not take God’s Word out of context, subtract or add meaning to it that is not there, and not remove or add our popular opinions to it. If one is to speak God’s Word, then speak it in the truth it was first spoken an eternity before any man was born. “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” (Deuteronomy 4:2)

There is no doubt that the United States is a nation of immigrants. None of us that live on this ground came from it originally. All our ancestors came from the Mediterranean area. Since Columbus sailed the ocean blue the New Word has continued to be populated by immigrants from the Old Word. Today the United States is wholly a nation of immigrants. In the past, and for the most part today, people who have immigrated here have assimilated into the culture of the United States and bring the flavor of their former country with them. This works well with the populace as we incorporate want fits in and shun that which does not. Hence the melting pot of the Americas.

Since 2000, legal immigrants to the United States number approximately 1,000,000 per year, of whom about 600,000 are Change of Status who already are in the U.S. Legal immigrants to the United States now are at their highest level ever, at just over 37,000,000 legal immigrants. This is a fair amount of immigration to the United States. If we allow over immigration to the point that we impoverish the present citizenry, if we allow over immigration to the point that we have offered them nothing more than to become beggars, then we have done two injustices. One injustice to the citizens of this nation and one to the ones who wish to seek a better life.

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has estimated that 11.4 million unauthorized immigrants lived in the United States in January 2012. According to DHS estimates, “the number of illegal immigrants peaked around 12 million in 2007 and has gradually declined closer to 11 million.” It is mean for me to say but it is correct that illegal immigrants are criminal invaders in our country. They have violated our country’s law by coming into our country illegally and usurping the resources of our citizenry. This practice presents an unsustainable growth which our economy cannot support. For which I agree that the solution is to seal the borders and return to controlled immigration as the law supports. Now hence forward let us recognize the difference between immigrants and criminal invaders.

As Christians we are called to be compassionate and merciful towards immigrants. We are to, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:29-31)

Immigrants in our land are strangers. Strangers are in need of a helping hand. We are to be ready to show them how to live in this society which is foreign to them. As our forefathers once had to learn the ways of America. “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 22:21) Our Lord Jesus made this point while teaching about the judgment that we all will be held accountable for the care of our neighbor. “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in.” (Matthew 25:35) With that said the immigrants that come to this country are to be welcomed and brought into our society with love, as they are our brothers and sisters working together for the good of our nation and for the Kingdom of God.

The argument in our country has been bundled into an argument on immigration, which it is not. It is an argument about illegal immigration. Should we allow people to cross our borders and remain without using the legal process of immigration that is established by the Laws of the United States which all citizens are to obey? In the Apostles Paul’s letter to the Romans it is abundantly clear that as citizens of a nation we are to obey the laws of that nation. “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.” (Romans 13:1-7)

Crossing the border of the United States without authority from the government is in violation of the laws of this nation and therefore they are illegal and have become criminals in our land. What then if they break the law to enter into the country will make them become law abiding once they are here? I have found nothing in the Scriptures that says a sovereign nation cannot have laws to control immigration. Therefor it is against God’s Word to unlawfully enter into another country. Illegal immigration therefore is sinful.

There are those who argue that our immigration laws are unjust and unfair. They say our laws are discriminatory, which gives the illegal immigrants justification to violate the law. If you as they believe that, then speak to you representatives that they would change the law to the majority view if you hold it. That is the process that was laid out by the founding fathers. Not violating the rights of other individuals with protest that disrupting the functions of the citizenry. Until that time we are obligated to obey the law of the nation by God’s Word. Otherwise we fall into sinful behavior.

The illegal immigration issue is complex. I know that the majority of the illegal immigrants that have come to the United States have come seeking a better life. They have come to better provide for their families. This is a good goal and it gives them their motivation to achieve them. But it is foolish to think that good can come from breaking a just law. They live in fear of having their lives disrupted by those who enforce the law. Many see that as a bad thing and it is. Perhaps they should have entered legally and they would not have to live in fear. That is easy for me to say, true, but why should one want to live in fear because they are a criminal? This is not an easy world to live in. Living in fear of the law is no better than departing from what you are escaping illegally.

Some Christians argue that we are commanded to care for the poor and unfortunate. We are to care for the widows and orphans. “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27) But doing good is not good if we break the law to accomplish it. In the same book of James we read, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” (James 2:10)

If we violate the law of our nation as professing Christians, then we have dishonored our Lord. As Christians we are to respect the law of the nation that we live in. But here is the heart of the matter. We are foremost citizens of the Kingdom of God and as His ambassadors we are to represent His Kingdom here on earth. In the power of the Holy Spirit we are to reflect the original image that we were created in, God the Father. We are committed to do right in the eyes of God. “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.” (1 Peter 2:13-16)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, February 28, 2017

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