Thursday, November 01, 2007

A conversation about 'illegals'

I have been having this online conversation with a conservative guy. I don't really know him. I do know we are very different and yet I really respect the way we converse. Here's a bit of our conversation this week: Solameanie: Let me throw a few questions into this maelstrom? Should one justify bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavior? Randy: ~ No. Here is something to try to get our heads around in regard to this question though: Is being an ‘illegal’ bad behavior? It was an illegal act to enter or stay in this country for most of these people. But to suggest that their behavior is constantly ‘wrong’ doesnt' make sense either. Solameanie: What part of "illegal" don't we understand? What does the Gospel have to do with cracking down on lawbreaking and border security? Randy: I have no problem with cracking down on these things. As I said – I’m quite conservative. I do think that we are unfair to believe that they are constantly breaking the law because they broke it once. When Scriptures mention setting the captives free or the Year of Jubilee then loans were forgiven and slaves were freed and those who did wrong were forgiven. What might it look like to forgive the illegals who pick a significant portion of our fruits and vegetables simply so that we don’t have to pay a lot more for that food. What if we began to think of it as a forgivable offense if these people can show their ability to work/raise families/ get a good education/whatever the criteria. Yet some people want nothing to do with forgiving illegals. It was even proposed that serving time in the military should allow someone to become legal. Yet that was even shot down before it hit the real discussions in D.C. In other words even if someone willingly risks their very life for this country they will not be forgiven of this transgression. Solameanie: How is the Old Testament statement on the "aliens in our midst" being distorted from its original meaning and purpose? How do we know that illegal aliens are our brothers and sisters in Christ? Have they been born again? Have they come to a saving knowledge of Him? Would people who name the name of Christ as their Lord and Savior violate His Word by breaking the law? Randy: I do know people who I suspect are illegally here in the USA. I also know their faith. Are they saved? I believe so. Would they violate the Word of God by breaking our laws? How many times have we gone over the speed limit this week? How many people have we not treated people as Christ demands of us? I think we’re all guilty on this one. _____________________________________________________________ For those of you serious about finding what the biblical text has to say about the 'aliens' among us. I suggest that you go to a place like Bible Gateway and use the keyword 'alien'. It will take you a good hour to read the texts though. Here are just a few... Exodus 23:9"Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt. Leviticus 19:34The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.Leviticus 25:23" 'The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants. Deuteronomy 10:18He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. Malachi 3:5"So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me," says the LORD Almighty.


Anonymous said...

Is an alien in Scripture someone who entered a country illegally? Isn't entering a country illegally a form of lying? Isn't it wrong for someone to tell a lie and then continue living in the benefits of the lie without attempting to come clean?
Several of the passages you quoted link an alien in Israel to Israel's alienness in Egypt. Yet, remember, they entered Egypt legally.
I'm not sure the connection you are trying to make.
Additionally, just because Christians believe those who have entered the country illegally and continue to live here need to be accounted for, our borders protected, and perhaps people who have willfully broken our laws and show little interest in obeying them need to be returned to their home countries, does not mean that those same Christians would not be up for showing great compassion on those in need.

Randy said...

Illegal entry into a country may be deception. BUT to suggest that it continues on a daily basis has NO biblical basis.

I can state that if we are all totally depraved as I believe to be the case - then we all continually fall short of the glory of God and our own salvation.

It's not our position to make people good enough so that they are o.k. with God or with neighbor.

It's our position to show grace & mercy & love.

As for showing great compassion to those in need: Neary all illegals are in great need.

I am not suggesting that we can't close borders. I'm suggesting that we can't break their backs for minimum wages and then kick them out at the same time. That is NO kind of justice.

To suggest that illegals have NO interest in our laws is essentially saying that you have a racist attitude toward them.

Because they broke a law to get here or stay here doesn't mean they have no interest in our laws.

Because I drive too fast doesn't mean that I'm not a good citizen of this country.

Because you cheat a bit on your taxes doens't mean that you have no regard for our laws...

Finally. To suggest that the laws of this land are more significant to our faith than the way we treat the 'least of these' seems to miss the entire message of Jesus.

He came to heal the crippled/set captives free/invite the poor to the banquet. He came to restore human relationships. He came to heal broken relationships between human and himself.

He did not come so we could simply get our butts into heaven when we die while also treating the 'least of these' like shit.

I suggest that we have very little to proclaim to our world if we treat people like shit and claim to follow Jesus... that's no gospel at all.

Anonymous said...

Couple house keeping items. I did not say they have NO interest, what I wrote is that "show little interest in obeying them". I think this is evidenced by illegally entering the country.
Secondly I don't cheat a bit on my taxes as you suggest.
Thirdly you cannot justify someone else having broken a law by pointing out that others break it as well. THey are two separate issues and it seems they should only brought in if there are character judgments being made against those in this country illegally, rather than honest discussion on the issue.
If I were to cheat on my taxes (to take your comment) and keep an extra 4,000 dollars I would say I am living sinfully until I rectify my sin because I am living in the benefits that I gained sinfully. If I stole 1 million dollars from someone (or $10 for that matter) then again I would be living in sin until I rectified it. It is not always possible to make things right with a person, but what is necessary is that I have a heart that seeks to make things as right as I can and that I do what I can to make it right.
I have no problem showing mercy and love towards someone who is in this country legally or illegally, but that is a separate issue than saying whether people who have illegally entered this country ought to be returned to their home countries.
This is a very complex issue, especially when children are included in the story. I'm not suggesting a simple solution.
However the issues is not solved by quoting Scripture on the 'alien' when the discussion there is not about how a country protects its borders, but about how individuals are treated.
I think you are mixing two issues:
1. Illegal immigration
2. What is a fair wage to pay someone for work.
Harry J

Randy said...

These are not two seperate issues. These things ALL have to do with justice & mercy & walking humbly with God.

To suggest that I have rights to this land over & against someone from Mexico suggests that I have some God given ownership of this land.

The Scriptures make it clear that I have no real claim to this land. We are all simply caretakers of God's creation. To suggest that we have some God given right as individuals couldn't be further from the truth of the Scriptures.

As for the alien: I don't care HOW the alien comes to be in my midst. Neither do the Scriptures.

Some of them were aliens because they had been carried into slavery. Since they were allowed to have slaves and thus the aliens then we can use the old arguement that the Scriptures support & even encourage slavery. PATHETIC!!!

As for your arguement regarding illegals not being without this particular sin until they return home: I refer back to the case for total depravity.

People are born into this world as sinners. We don't 'commit' any sin. We simply are sinners by our being. Nothing takes this sin away. We can't do good works or wish the sin away.

It was the work of Christ and thus we are welcomed into his presence.

IF we are to hold to this idea of total depravity we can agree that the alien is illegal. If you want to believe he/she is continually sinning against God -- fine. Yet. A believer (aka illegal alien) will be forgiven of this sin.

You can argue that he/she needs to stop the sin so he/she needs to return to Mexico or wherever.

Here's the thing: You and I also continue to sin with each and every breath. The only way to stop offending God is to stop your existence.

So in reality - if you believe in the doctrine of total depravity - you are no further ahead than the illegal alien within our gates.

As I think of this Thanksgiving day -- we need to recognize that justice & mercy & Christ-like humilty are not three different issues. The prophet Micah saw them as intertwined as do I.

In His Grip.