Illegal Aliens and the Bible

I find myself sometimes automatically drawn to some topics, even when I know I should just stay out of it because I can guess what the outcome will be.  But this whole debate on illegal aliens in this country really bugs me, mostly because the Republicans somehow need to find scapegoats when they don’t have policy.  Gays and lesbians are good examples and just before this last election, illegal aliens became the new target. 

When the new target came onto the scene, my first thought was the verses in Leviticus 19.  Lev. 19:33 states:

When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien.  The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt:  I am the Lord your God.

I think this statement by God is pretty clear, and you would think that those fundamentalists who support the Republicans on kicking out the aliens and making them criminals in this country, who ALSO use the Bible as their yardstick, would know these verses.  It is possible that they do, and they disagree and therefore they don’t bring it up.  Or if someone brings it up, then they use every excuse in the book to say, ‘but the aliens here are not the same as the aliens in Egypt’ and they go on to give numerous reasons. 

I’ve been involved in this debate over at Chesterstreet today.  Mark gives the following quote the Dumbass quote of the Year, Third Place:

"Jesus was an illegal alien and that ought to shape how we enter the current debate. But too often political ideology clouds good theology."

– Rev. Shaun Casey, assistant professor of Christian ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary

So what exactly is the problem with this?  Shouldn’t Christ and the Old Testament be used by the very same people who want the Ten Commandments put up on every square inch of this country?  Oh no–not when it disagrees with their politics.

One response to this was by a guy named Darnell.  He said:

Regarding the third, if they want to play like Jesus was an illegal alien, than he, Hillary Clinton and all others playing that game should keep some illegals in their homes. If that’s some revelation they see, than how come they don’t act on it and put the illegals in their house to sleep on their furniture?

Notice how he didn’t respond to the actual problem of illegal aliens and how it relates to Jesus, but instead makes a comment that is unrelated.  My guess is that he probably saw this quote and then instantly rejected it because it disagreed with his political views on illegal aliens in this country. 

I left him a comment:

Darnell, I suggest you read Lev. 19:33-34 "When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress him. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt: I am the Lord your God." Now how do you think you should treat aliens and how should this country treat aliens, especially those who want to use religion in public policy???

Darnell never responded, but Mark did:

Kevin:  Does the word illegal mean anything to you?
How many illegals are staying at your house? and why do you keep using the Bible to reinforce your points? Has there been a revelation in your life that I am unaware of?

Mark and I disagree on just about everything, so I said:

Mark, yes, I am well aware of what ‘illegal’ means. Do you know how that applies to, say, the timeperiod that the Old Testament was written? Illegal is a name we have given to these people. These same people from the OT would be considered illegal as well. Would you kick them out despite what the OT has said? And being a Christian yourself, and believing in the Old Testament, you should be asking yourself how many aliens are on your own couch…
And I can use any of the verses from the Old and New Testaments to prove a point. Just because I am not Christian does not mean that I can’t and it does not mean that the texts are off limits to myself. If Darnell isn’t familiar with the texts, then I am more than happy to point out passages that he might not be aware of. He did not seem to be aware of the passage from Leviticus that deals with the treatment of aliens.

Mark responded:

No Kevin, you have missed the Biblical point of aliens. Were these aliens breaking any laws, did they leave or were they forced to leave their homes? Or were they strangers perhaps in a strange land that should be treated with God’s grace? Naturally you have chosen to ignore the light once again. The verses and the ones before 33,34 speak of the care we should give the vulnerable and weak. Do you understand that Kevin?
Now, if you want to take the leap and compare Lev 19 to supporting Open Boarders, allowing people to stay here illegally, pay for their health care, their education, feel free. Doesn’t seem fair to all the others who came here legally now does it?
and to answer your question, yes I would kick out anyone here illegally, hence the word illegal. If you have a problem with that, work to change the law. Stop drawing ridiclous conclusions about how caring we are of those in need.

My last comment was this:

Who is talking about ‘open border policy’? God told the Israelites not to abuse aliens or strangers living in their land because, as he reminds them, they were aliens/strangers in Egypt. The meaning of that is pretty clear–and that I understand.

And please tell me in Lev. 19 what verses refer to "the vulnerable and weak" and the care they should receive? You are adding more to this chapter than what is there. If you say the aliens are the vulnerable and the weak, then you will need to tell me how you came to that conclusion.

And people are working on getting the law changed, thankfully, with the new change in the government (although Bush is for aliens becoming legalized who have lived here). So I’ll let them change the laws and I’ll keep reminding them of the Biblical texts that they like to ignore when they disagree.

What is so horrible with helping people out?  Did Christ say:  "Let the legal children come to me, do not stop them, because the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these." (Mt. 19:14).  These people are not in this country to piss off the fundamentalists.  They are here to make their lives better and the lives of their families better.  It is good that Bush, to my great surprise, wants to help these people out, although the idea of spending 7 billion on a worthless fence it just such a disgusting idea and a disgusting waste of money!  Fences never work, never, never.  Wouldn’t it be a better use of 7 billion to maybe spend it in Mexico (if we are talking about aliens from Mexico) so that they wouldn’t have to try and risk their lives by coming here?  Nah–it is probably easier to ship them home, let them starve and pretend that God is on your side…

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10 Responses to Illegal Aliens and the Bible

  1. Unknown says:

    Kevin, I am one of those fundamentalists who share your insight on the Scripture.  Not only is your reference in Leviticus a correct interpretation but there some 20+ references throughout the Scripture with regard to the treatment of aliens.  It is a sad day when those who are following God forget the heart of God and assume the way they feel/think is just like God\’s.  But this is not new.  God\’s people in the Old and New Testments often miss the heart/mind of God.
     
    I think I understand somewhat the hypocrisy that is demonstrated by our current policies on immigration.  First of all, the illegal aliens are only illegal because we have declared them to be.  It is not that they are here because our government does not want them to be.  In fact that is the dirty little secret.  We want them here and we want them undocumented because they will not be able to assert basic human rights (protection under the law, equality in society, fair wage for services render, etc.).  Social injustice did not end with the freeing of slaves or the liberation of women.
     
    To maintain a lower rate of inflation we depress overall wages by inserting cheap labor into the equation.  No one complains that their grass is cut, houses roofed, painted, framed, dry-walled, produce is available and cheap, etc. but then when the illegal alien is injured providing these and many other services we complain that his health care is provided.  Of course, we also object to their children being educated at our expense, howbeit, we have saved thousands on their services.
     
    I can feel you really leaning in at this point so I know I am about to most likely lose you.  The fact is we have a labor shortage in our country and corporations really enjoy having employees they do not have to pay fairly or provide health care and other benefits to.  So how did we get in this position, the destruction of over 40 million of our children through abortion over the last 35 years.  I know, I know, it is another debate entirely, but the connection of devaluing life in the womb and then repeating injustice in the walking/breathing cannot be ignored.
     
    For the record, I am fundamental, evangelical and yes even Republican…but get this, I am above all Christian…not perfect in the least, not even interesting attempting to assess where I think others rate with God, but simply aspiring to being more like the Jesus Christ I read about in the Scriptures rather than an imitation of others who carry His title.  Just as you found the Bible to rightly add to the discourse on the subject of illegal aliens, I have found there is not a subject that is not better understood through the lens of inspired Scripture.
     
    Here\’s the clinger, I found your blog by mistake searching for Biblical references on the subject of aliens.  I am a pastor of a fundamentalist, evangelical church and am researching background on the subject because I will be helping my congregation (who most likely will not agree with me) see through the lens of Scripture as we seek "to be transformed and find a new way of thinking about life."

  2. Kevin says:

    Hi!  Thanks for your nice comments.  I enjoyed reading what you wrote.  You didn\’t really lose me very much (except for the abortion statement–but I have said before that I think abortion is a bad thing, but I don\’t think it is my right to tell a woman what to do).  I think you are correct that people don\’t mind the cheap labor.  This country has a long history of asking people, especially Mexicans, to legally come into this country when there are labor shortages (during WWII) but then telling them to leave when the troops come home.  I feel sorry for those people since they see what it is like here and naturally they don\’t want to go back (and some didn\’t).
    And good luck with putting together your sermon!

  3. Leta says:

    Hey Kevin!I want to let you know that I think you are a lot farther ahead then most "Christians" are. When you can see past a persons status as Legal or "illegal" and just love people for who they are where ever they are, I\’m finding that that is something most people in the church won\’t do. Jesus is very clear on the topic He never said "love your legal neighbor as your self" he said to love every one! God bless you!

  4. Kevin says:

    Hi Leta,Thanks for that. I find it hard to believe that Christians want to get rid of these so-called illegal people .

  5. Richard says:

    I commomly find Christians willing to let mans law trump God’s law.

  6. Richard says:

    I find Christians commonly take the side of man’s law’s over God’s laws.I mean no disrespect.

  7. kkaatz1 says:

    Hi Richard! Thanks for your comments.

    • Richard says:

      I hope this blog is civil and provides gracious discussion .I would like to participate in a conversation without anger and hate as many conversations do these days.

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