Friday, March 12, 2010
Before I'm a daughter, a teacher, a writer, or an Latino-American, I'm a Christian and I'm committed to the call of the Church. In other words, I'm concerned about how the Bible can orient the way the broader Christian community, denomination, and individual Christians understand their identity and role in the world today.
When it comes to the issue of illegal immigration, the topic is huge and extraordinarily complicated. I do not pretend to offer solutions contested issues or to propose some sort of political cure-all for the many problems. I simply want to raise dialogue and discussion about a serious situation. Once we can develop an appreciation of how complicated the situation is, it can help us move us beyond emotional attachments or simplistic positions that often dominate the media and current politics.
Too often discussion defaults to the passionate ideological arguments (It's not their land, It's not fair, It's illegal), economic wrangling (Immigrants are taking jobs and money), or racial sentiment (I just don't like Chinese people, I don't like Mexicans, I hate when people can't speak English).
According to Dr. D. Carroll, the number of immigrants, documented and undocumented, who have entered the country during the past thirty years has made this phenomenon the focus of national debate at many levels and in all sorts of arenas. The debate is heated, and it has generated interesting alliances that cross ideological lines.
He also notes Christians in our society locate themselves at different points along this broad spectrum of opinion. Carroll discovered that the conversation about immigration has more to do with ideological commitments, personal background, and experience rather than Christian convictions.
So--what do we do? How can we gently (and in love) discuss fear, apprehension, justice, power, forgiveness, and LOVE? Let's start the dialogue in love...
Scriptures to support both sides of the arguments:
Abraham welcoming foreigner (Gen. 18), Elijah welcomed by the Shunammites ( 2 Kings 4), sojourners not following or integrating in Israelite life (Duet. 17:15) and rituals (Exod. 12:43, Ezek. 44:7, sojourners must do hard labor (2 Chron. 2:22), aliens could be day laborers (Duet. 24:14), commanded to love the alien/foreigner (Lev. 19:18, 34, Matt. 22:34-40), Jesus as refugee (Matt. 2:13-14), sumbit to authorities and laws of the land (Romans 13:1-7).