Do Bible verses on 'welcoming the stranger' apply to the U.S. immigration debate?
- Christ is clearly concerned about how the poor are treated. His teaching in Matthew 25:3146 says that to mistreat the "stranger" is to mistreat Christ. To care for the stranger in our midstwho is also our neighboris not to condone everything the stranger has done. It is to treat the stranger with mercy and to do everything possible to aid our "strange" neighbors. The question becomes, "How can we manifest the love and mercy of Christ in this particular situation?"
- Verses on welcoming the stranger apply at the level of the local church. At the level of national interest, for a country whose President talks so loudly about Christian values, other verses apply: "Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt" (Ex. 22:21); "Do not oppress an alien: you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens" (Ex. 23:9).
- In verses dealing with welcoming the alien and the stranger, there's no distinction about how they arrived in the country. It's sad that some of the strongest anti-immigration sentiment is coming from conservative Christians who are otherwise "pro-life."
- How complicated is "feed the hungry, give to those who ask"?
- Too simplistic. Personal moral exhortations often prove inadequate for complex social dilemmas.
What policies should the government adopt?
54% A path to citizenship
- Does the plaque at Ellis Island, "Give me your tired, your poor ," still guide those of us who are only a generation or two removed from immigration ourselves?
- The government should:
1. Empower the Census Bureau and law enforcement to better identify the people who are in this country illegally.
2. Notify illegal immigrants that the U.S. government is ready to offer citizenship.
3. Require illegal immigrants to fulfill everything demanded of legal immigrants.
4. Require illegal immigrants to receive instruction in English.
5. Immediately deport any illegal immigrant who refuses to cooperate.
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more