There seems to be some disturbing confusion lately about what the Bible actually says about how to treat refugees, immigrants, foreigners and displaced people.
While immigration policy can be politically polarizing, nuanced, and often legislatively complex, the truth, clarity and simple wisdom of the Bible is timeless.
Here are a few Biblical passages that discuss how Christians should treat immigrants, refugees, foreigners and those in need of help.
When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. (Leviticus 19:33-34)
When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. (Leviticus 19:9-10)
He (God) defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)
Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)
"So, I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty. (Malachi 3:5)
“As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name — for they will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm — when they come and pray toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name. (1 Kings 8:41-44)
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, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. (Matthew 25:25-36)
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself." (Galatians 5:14)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German pastor and theologian, wrote in 1934:
"We must finally stop appealing to theology to justify our reserved silence about what the state is doing — for that is nothing but fear. ‘Open your mouth for the one who is voiceless’ — for who in the church today still remembers that that is the least of the Bible’s demands in times such as these?"
I recently re-read Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "A Letter from a Birmingham Jail." He says in this amazing letter, "We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people."
Choose not to be silent.
Russ Whitten preaches every Sunday at the 9:30 a.m. Harbor Worship Service at Brotula’s Restaurant, 210 US 98 in Destin and then at the 11:30 a.m. service at The Downtown Church, meeting at Enlightened Studios, 144 Miracle Strip Parkway SE in Fort Walton Beach. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.