From the Handlon campus: Immigration through a Biblical Lens


Graphic by Yolanda Chow

As the immigration debate rages on, noticeably lacking and outright absent, at times, is the presentation of the biblical view (God’s voice) on this issue. To fill this void, I present the following for the reader’s reflection.

First, I want to remind my fellow Christians that our Lord and Savior was himself a refugee. According to the biblical narrative, Joseph and Mary fled with the two-year-old Jesus to dodge King Herod’s decree for all Jewish boys two-years-old and younger to be massacred (Matthew 2:13-18). Thus Jesus and his parents were themselves part of a crisis. This is analogous to refugees today fleeing from persecution in their own countries. What if Jesus and his parents were among today’s refugees? I’m dismayed at the prospect of the treatment that they would receive in this current milieu.

Sadly, refugees today are summarily detained and deported without serious consideration to their petitions. This is done in the name of expediency and the upholding of law. However, are there instances where the exigencies and urgencies of a condition should prevail over the force of law? What does the Bible offer on this topic? God expressly issued the Law of Sabbath. Yet, Jesus was found in violation of that law by the Pharisees. Jesus, by his very actions, exemplified and articulated that no law should bind one from the doing of good (Mark 3:1-5). Living out the spirit of the law is more important than strict adherence to the letter of the law whenever those two dynamics should ever come in conflict (2 Corinthians 3:6). To what extreme should laws be enforced — should refugee children be separated from their mothers? To date, were the deaths of those two or so refugee children who died in detention centers defensible? For the earnest, here are some relevant scriptures to ponder: Exodus 22:21-23; Leviticus 19:33-34; & Deut. 10:17-18.

Critics of refugees put forth the argument that refugees would take up American jobs and exhaust resources. This concern is understandable. But, as Christians, should we not encourage others to live up to Christ Jesus’ ideal of denying ourselves so we can be in the position to help others? (Mark 8:34-37; Deut. 24:19-21; James 1:27) It is no easy endeavor living up to Christ’s example, but I fear the day when we no longer even put in the effort. It is by exercising our faith in God that our faith of God is demonstrated, winning others over to Christ.

In closing, the immigration issue is indeed a complicated one with no easy, quick-fix solution. But any attempts at a solution should include the biblical view. As Christians, that task falls upon our shoulders. This is my humble effort to contribute to that end. God bless you all.