In this final post on the 2009 Immigration Statement of the National Association of Evangelicals, I’d like to focus on this paragraph:

The Bible does not offer a blueprint for modern legislation, but it can serve as a moral compass and shape the attitudes of those who believe in God. An appreciation of the pervasiveness of migration in the Bible must temper the tendency to limit discussions on immigration to Romans 13 and a simplistic defense of “the rule of law.” God has established the nations (Deut. 32:8; Acts 17:26), and their laws should be respected. Nevertheless, policies must be evaluated to reflect that immigrants are made in the image of God and demonstrate biblical grace to the foreigner.”

This summary paragraph in the section on Biblical Foundations reviews a few of the arguments made earlier.  I’ve commented on their thoughts on the image of God and migration in the Bible in previous posts, both of which were a little confusing to me.   I don’t disagree, however, with the statement that Romans 13 can be used simplistically to blindly follow whatever law is on the books.

Romans 13:1-7 is a key passage that details why government exists and what the Christian’s attitude should be toward it.  Basically, the command for us is to submit to government since God ordained it as an institution and has placed office-holders in power.  Just because a law is a law does not mean it is just and there are several examples of instances when believers were justified to break unjust laws.  But civil disobedience is not the norm and a systematic study of biblical teaching from several passages (Titus 3:1, 2 and 1 Peter 2:13-17, et al) emphasize submission, even in the face of suffering caused by that government.

It would be simplistic to point only to Romans 13 to formulate a biblical view of immigration, but the truth of that passage must be given much weight when letting the Bible guide our thinking on this or any other issue.

As for the rest of the NAE document, there are some great stands taken in the call to action.  Again, if the Bible is to be used to form our position, we have to take care to shape a convincing argument from rightly applied passages.  We also should include as much contemporary reality as possible, admitting what makes up the big picture of an issue.  For example, migration in the Bible came from very different geopolitical situations than today, so much needs to be taken into consideration.  Some biblical passages should be consulted that contain principles to apply rather than objective references to migration. 

There’s no question that immigration is a serious subject, especially right now.  I can appreciate the effort the NAE has made to speak out for a biblical approach and I have learned from their statement how to and how not to appeal to the Scriptures.

The central fact remains that unregenerate leaders will not necessarily be swayed by a biblical argument.  The church may make short-term pronouncements on policy matters, but the long-term task Christ gave to His church was to make disciples.  If believing lawmakers were making laws shaped by a biblical worldview, then we would be getting somewhere.  Not only would law be God-honoring, but the very lives of our leaders could be honoring Him as well.  The way that happens is for the church to sharpen its focus on evangelism and discipleship rather than only political activism.