How Should A Christian View Illegal Immigration?

Neal Pollard

One of the biggest news stories of the summer broke on July 29th with the temporary injunction set down by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton, stopping several measures in an immigration bill signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer and set to go into effect  Thursday.  Effectively, this injunction prohibits law enforcement from more easily detecting those who are in this country illegally.

For many, this is an issue they cannot divorce from politics or race.  But, how should a Christian view the matter of illegal immigration?  That is a different question than whether or not we should embrace those who seek to lawfully enter our nation from other nations around the world.  Bible truth is truth, recognizing no political party of skin color.  To ask how a Christian views any matter is also to ask what the Bible may have to say about it or issues involved with it.  While there is no verse that explicitly deals with illegal immigration, there are biblical principles to consider.

Lying is sinful.  There are no situations that make lying OK.  Paul urged the Ephesians to lay aside falsehood and speak truth (Eph. 4:25). The end for liars is most undesirable (Rev. 21:8).  If one claims something to an employer, landlord, or law enforcement officer that is not true, that one is lying.  How often do those hiring and harboring illegal immigrants knowingly lie or deceive?

Disobeying a nation’s laws is disobeying God.  Romans 13:1-4 says, “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.”  Many people go through the proper channels for applying for citizenship.  Even if a nation is lax in enforcing its laws, a Christian will not knowingly subvert the governing authorities in either harboring illegal immigrants or attempting to be in a nation illegally.  A Christian should be averse to being a party to anything rightly labeled “illegal.”

One is to submit to every human, governmental institution (1 Pet. 2:13ff).  Obviously, the only exception is if that entity seeks to get us to disobey the Lord’s commands (cf. Acts 5:27-29).  Otherwise, we must submit to them and in so doing we are “doing right” (1 Pet. 2:14-15).

I would never want to defend or advocate something that, objectively viewed, is termed “illegal.”  Perhaps the desire of some to rationalize on this issue is a product of a greater problem our culture has with law and authority.  The child of God, however, will be reminded “to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men” (Titus 3:1-2).

About preacherpollard

preacher, Bear Valley church of Christ, Denver, Colorado
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9 Responses to How Should A Christian View Illegal Immigration?

  1. stephanie says:

    do you work with mike benson? i got this exact same article in his “kneemail” today and would like to properly credit it when i post it. thanks!

    • Stephanie, if you will look at the bottom of the email you will see that he gives me credit for the article. I wrote it and I appreciate him for seeing it and reposting it in his Kneemail.
      God bless.
      Neal

  2. Betty Nelson says:

    Politics make every thing that God teaches us to be too harsh. Most think that any laws or rules of morality should be gone, but complete anarchy and total disregard for any laws will lead to a country of fighting on the streets with no control….I am praying we go to Under God We Rule..

  3. Pingback: The Faughn Family of Four » Blog Archive » Friday Links Roundup: LONG Day Edition

  4. ivan says:

    I’m an elligal immigrant here in the u.s. I was brought here to this beautiful country when I was 6 and started attending a Christian penecostol church when I was 8 at the age of 13 I started my relationship with Jesus christ. Today I am 20 years old I have seen the hand of God move so powerfully in me and in the lives of others I serve God as much as possible, but its not always easy. As an immigrant here I sometimes lose hope I have self pity but I now with all my heart that God is watching over me. I wish that I could become a citizen someday but all in gods timing. I can’t go to school because I can’t get a job to pay for it my hope is to become an sheet metal framer for airplanes but I can’t. What can I do when my heart and calling is here in the u.s. I know that if it wasn’t for God I would have never made it here and gotten saved I believe that God seek me out just to save me. So I guess my question is am I really not following the law when God first put me here.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Ivan, I love your story because it is very similar to mine. My parents brought me here when I was young although unlike you I have been able to go to college by the grace of God. I earned a Premed degree in a Bible institution where i also surrendered my life to Christ. I sometimes have the conviction to leave because some Americans sometimes make me feel that i dont belong, but even if i left, I have no idea where i would go. My family is all here and they have earned legal status, I have no one back home. There are no jobs there, I would be homeless. I disagree with this article because sometimes the term “illegal” is loosely used. I have never broken the law and Im sure hasnt either. Looking back i really wish my parents never brought me here, it is not the comforts of America that keep me here, it is the fact that it is the only home I have ever known. I have often found comfort in my church family, but when i read articles like this one i feel discouraged by the lack of compassion. I know justice is to be served, but where is the grace and mercy that should go along with it especially in the church. I would like someone to tell Ivan and I what we should do, where we should go…

  6. For Ivan and Elizabeth,
    I suppose I would want to know if you take umbrage with the main points made in the article. I’m aware that people have come here illegally and have been good, productive members of society. Compassion is important, and I’ve tried to practice it (including with those I’m certain were in this country without its knowledge). Would we say that lying is acceptable, that a country will thrive where people disobey the nation’s laws (which ones can we obey and which can we disregard?), or that it is OK not to submit to the government when it harmonizes with scripture? That was the point of the article. I am truly sorry if I offended you.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Oh no, I’m not offended, i guess things look different in writing. The question at the end of my comment is real, not sarcastic. I’ve really struggled with this because i want to do the right thing, and I’ve been wondering…..

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