March Prayer Partner: Should Christians Support Tougher Immigration Laws? Or Are We Asking the Wrong Questions?
Not long ago, I was invited to participate in a debate, responding to the question “Should Christians support tougher immigration laws?”
You can – and I hope you will – watch the debate, a part of The Gospel Coalition’s “Good Faith Debates” series, for yourself to see how I responded to that prompt, and you can decide whether your own views are closer to mine, those of my debating partner (Biola University political scientist Dr. Darren Guerra) or if you felt we both missed the mark.
What struck me in preparing for the debate, however, is that this question of immigration policy is too often the only question that some Christians ever ponder when it comes to immigration.
Of course, policies matter. Policies matter because they impact people, each of whom we believe is “fearfully and wonderfully made” in the image of God. We’ve long believed at the Evangelical Immigration Table that Christians ought to allow their biblical values to inform how they think about and advocate for changes to immigration laws and policies.
But if we start with a political discussion, we sometimes get mired in partisan talking points and divisions, and then we never move on to other important questions: How does the Bible inform how the Church should interact with its immigrant neighbors? How do we best listen to and care for the parts of Christ’s body who themselves are immigrants and affected by complicated immigration policies? What does immigration have to do with the Great Commission – Jesus’ parting instructions to “make disciples of all nations” – and the Great Commandment, the catch-all command to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves?
Last year, a Lifeway Research study found that just one in five evangelical Christians in the U.S cites the Bible as the most important factor influencing our views on immigration issues. While that’s actually a significant increase compared to when this survey was last conducted in 2015, it’s still rather dismal for a population of people who (in theory, at least) cite the Scriptures as our top authority for responding to any difficult issue. I suspect that’s because we tend to immediately read any question about immigration as a political question, and we fail to think of immigration from a broader, more holistic perspective, in which case it might be more obvious that our first resource should be the Bible.
As we enter a political campaign season, with candidates beginning to declare their candidacy for the 2024 presidential election, the tendency to think about immigrants and immigration first and foremost from a political perspective will be strong. My prayer is that the church in the U.S. would look to the Scriptures first, to allow that to fuel a response focused on ministry to, with and from the immigrants among us, and only then to allow these biblical and relationally-informed perspectives to inform how we think about public policy.
Would you join me in that prayer? I’d be grateful if you’d pray with us, whether on your own or by logging on to our monthly Evangelical Immigration Table prayer call – this month, on Monday, March 27 at 4 PM ET/3 PM CT/2 PM MT/1 PM PT (click here to join at that time, or here to add it to your calendar)?
National Coordinator, Evangelical Immigration Table
P.S. If you do watch the Good Faith Debate on immigration and find it compelling, I’d love for you to share it with others – maybe email it to your pastor, to members of your small group or to a loved one with whom share a Christian faith but suspect you might hold different perspectives on immigration policy, to encourage a distinctly biblical conversation.