Thursday, January 11, 2018

Searching for a Biblical-Political Immigration Solution

I have a great deal of respect for Oklahoma Senator James Lankford. I am aware of his ministerial past and I was appreciative of his presence at the MBC’s Great Commission Conference last year. Senator Lankford seems to apply his biblical worldview to his legislative work.

In a clip posted on his twitter page (, Sen. Lankford was puzzled that there used to be bipartisan agreement on border security, cracking down on illegal immigration and even bipartisan agreement on some sort of border wall (he references that there are already 650 miles of wall on the border right now). He laments, however, that it seems that since President Trump is for a wall and for tighter border security, there are people against a wall or stricter immigration reform solely because the president is for it. Could the president be to blame? Absolutely! His rhetoric has been fueled by fear and stereotypes (Mexican illegals “are bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”) If the president wanted to gain bipartisan support for border security, he would not begin with that kind of enflamed rhetoric and completely unrealistic promises, like Mexico is going to pay for the estimated $18 billion dollar wall. If he would ever put forth a policy statement that was based on the evidence of the harm that illegal immigration does to the security of this nation and our economy, he would win over moderates that he lost because of his fear and race baiting.

I want to interact a little bit with Sen. Lankford’s retelling of a conversation that he had with a pastor friend. The pastor stated that the church “has an obligation to reach out to individuals regardless of their legal status, but in government, there’s a different responsibility. The government has the responsibility to look at laws, what is legal and not legal and helping abide by those laws and enforcing those laws.” He is absolutely correct. We live in a pluralistic nation that is governed by laws enacted by a secular government. I wish conservative Christians were consistent with this viewpoint across a spectrum of political and societal issues. If I were committed to this separation of church and state (as this pastor just has laid out), then one of the laws of this nation is a woman’s right to an abortion at various stages of her pregnancy. Does that pastor, being consistent, say, “We as the church will work to provide abortion alternatives but it is the government’s role to enforce the abortion laws we have on record”? I doubt it. That pastor probably supports political candidates whom he feels will change that legislation. In the same way, if we want to heed Sen. Lankford’s call for a compassionate solution to the illegal immigration dilemma (or even the president’s desire to pass a “bill of love” concerning Dreamers), how should I, as a Christian who seeks to apply the Bible to my life and voting habits, petition my representatives to act? As a Christian, who wants to take part in the political process, then I need to support legislators who have a Christian view on immigration (both legal and illegal). How would, then, Jesus want us to deal with this issue? Since we are a nation of laws, can you see him advocating expelling over 200,000 immigrants who came to this country seeking Temporary Protection Status? Would he delay on securing the status of 800,000 Dreamers (people who came to this country by no choice of their own, but it’s the only home they have known)?

I do think that border security is an important issue. And if we are looking for compassionate solutions to our immigration problems, is a wall, or ending chain migration or basing policy on fear instead of the data the best answer? And, as a Christian, should I vote for candidates who want to pass non-compassionate (or unbiblical) legislation? As for me, I will petition my representatives to pass legislation (or change legislation) based on a biblical worldview of the issue and then expect our government to enforce those laws, keeping in mind how often the Bible talks about the issue of immigration and refugees.

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