By Ryan Phipps
Finding the information for this post wasn’t difficult. A simple search on any Bible site or in any Bible software will spit it out this same data for you in a matter of nanoseconds.
Though many Americans identify as Christian, we often cherry pick Bible passages to support what we already believed prior to reading the scriptures in the first place. Many of us don’t read the Bible to be challenged, changed, or deconstructed. We read it to reinforce what we were already thinking.
That’s not good.
This is why I’m always leery of folks who say, “Everything I believe is founded on the scriptures.” Really? Because you’re slurping oysters, eating bloody steak, wearing cotton-poly-blends, devouring pork chops, and working on the Sabbath. According to the scriptures, you are detestable to God. And on that Sabbath bit... oh my... you’re supposed to be put to death.
Believe you me, I do all of these things myself, but I’m not bound by inerrancy and infallibility like you are, so I’m off the hook.
Anyway, below is what the Bible says about the treatment of immigrants.
If you are an inerrant-ist or infallibilit-ist (yeah, those aren’t real words, but you get my point) sorry to flip over your theological canoe, but you’re about to fall into the river.
And mind you, much of this is from the Old Testament, where a God who (in many instances) makes Lovecraft’s Cthulhu seem like a cuddly house pet.
You may already object, “Yeah, but that was the Old Testament. It doesn’t apply anymore.”
Yeah, sure, not until you want to quote it to support the death penalty while simultaneously demonizing women who have painfully, regretfully terminated a pregnancy to stay alive to mother their children that are already living.
Anyway, end of rant. I’ll let scripture do the rest.
Here’s what all Bibles teach about the treatment of immigrants.
From The Old Testament
“The Lord your God is the God of all gods and Lord of all lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God who doesn’t play favorites and doesn’t take bribes. He enacts justice for orphans and widows, and he loves immigrants, giving them food and clothing. That means you must also love immigrants because you were immigrants in Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:17-19)
“You must not oppress foreigners. You know what it’s like to be a foreigner, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9)
“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:33-34)
“The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you” (Exodus 12:49)
“Don’t oppress the widow, the orphan, the stranger, and the poor; don’t plan evil against each other!” (Zechariah 7:10)
“The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin” (Psalm 146:9)
“You have brought your judgment days near and have come to your years of punishment [because] father and mother are treated with contempt, and the foreign resident is exploited within you. The fatherless and widow are oppressed in you” (Ezekiel 22:4, 7)
“‘I will come to you in judgment, and I will be ready to witness against sorcerers and adulterers; against those who swear falsely; against those who oppress the widow and the fatherless, and cheat the wage earner; and against those who deny justice to the foreigner. They do not fear Me,’ says the Lord of Hosts” (Malachi 3:5)
“If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever” (Jeremiah 7:5-7)
“Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place” (Jeremiah 22:3)
“When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow” (Deuteronomy 24:19-21)
“When you have finished paying the entire tenth part of your produce on the third year—that is the year for paying the tenth-part—you will give it to the Levites, the immigrants, the orphans, and the widows so they can eat in your cities until they are full” (Deuteronomy 26:12)
From Jesus (You know him, right? God Incarnate?)
“‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me’” (Matthew 25:35-40)
From The Book Of Hebrews (No one really knows who wrote it, but well, it’s in the Canon).
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2)
And from Peter (on whom Christ bestowed the task of building His Church)
“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11)
Ryan is the Lead Pastor of Forefront Church in Manhattan, New York City.
Forefront is a progressive faith community dedicated to cultivating a just and generous expression of the Christian Faith in New York and around the world.
Ryan also serves as the Director of Communications for Convergence, the umbrella organization comprising The Center for Progressive Renewal, The Open Network, and The Form Network.
Learn more about Forefront Church at forefrontnyc.com.
Learn more about Convergence at convergenceus.org.