When I talk to Christians about immigration, most conservative hardliners root their philosophy in Romans 13, where we find the theological basis for a government’s duty and right to enforce their law. Ironically, I completely agree with this assessment, because in a fallen world (described in great detail in Romans 1), just governments are needed.
But when we talk about immigrants themselves—the flesh-and-blood people with families, hopes, and God-given dreams—we have to root our approach, not in Romans, but in the very first book of the Bible.
Because I believe Genesis to be a literal account of the origin of the world and because I believe it to be God’s inspired, infallible world, I find in Genesis the theology that sustains our a biblical worldview of the value and the worth of every human soul. This is where we find the basis for our deep, pro-life convictions. Life is sacred at every stage of development because human life was created, purposefully, intricately, by a wise and loving Creator.
God created man distinct, different than the rest of Creation. While the animal kingdom, the plants, the ecosystem, everything was created by the Word of God’s mouth, the man and the woman were created with special care by God’s own hands. In man, God breathed the breath of life. Man was given a soul and given stewardship over God’s creation. Man was created in the image of God.
This is why we value life at every level. The convicted murder must serve his just sentence, but treat him with dignity, because he too has worth in God’s eyes. The helpless fetus may not survive outside the womb, but we fight to protect it, because this life is precious. And so it must be with the illegal, undocumented soul who lives on our shores. Sure, they have broken a law that the government has the right to enforce. But we must not and cannot view them as less than human, because they were made in the image of God. If I’m to uphold biblical theology, rooted in Genesis, I’m to see that undocumented person as a soul created by the careful hands of God and for whom Jesus came to rescue from sin.
I cringe when I hear Christians talk flippantly about “those illegals” as if they are animals or lesser people. I wonder if they’ve ever looked into the eyes of one. If our hearts are to melt for the orphans in third-world countries, if we’re to fight for the rights of the helpless unborn, then we should at least value those whose status may be illegal, but whose worth before God is precious.
Romans 13 does give a government the right to enforce its borders. I’m not sure anyone disputes that. But the question Christians have to ask themselves is what is the proper solution for those who are here? And is Romans 13 the sum total of our theology, so much so that we ignore the theology of God’s love for man, rooted in Genesis, fulfilled at the cross, and ultimately consummated at His return?
Our opinions of immigration policy may differ, our view of the immigrant (illegal or not), should be shaped by the Scriptures, not popular, cultural, or political considerations.
Daniel Darling is the Senior Pastor at Gages Lake Bible Church in the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. His writing has been featured by Christianity Today, Focus on the Family, and On Faith (Washington Post/Newsweek). He is a regular columnist for Crosswalk.com, Enrichment Journal, and Lake County Journals and is a blogger with patheos.com. He is also the author of several books, including, most recently, iFaith: Connecting with God in the 21st Century (New Hope Publishers, 2011).
Please note that the views expressed do not necessarily represent those of everyone associated with G92 or any institutions with which the blogger may be affiliated.
If you’re interested in writing a guest blog, contact [email protected].