IS IT THE CHRISTIAN THING TO DO?

    Printed below is a response I received on Facebook to a discussion I was having concerning illegal immigrants,refugees and President Trump’s executive orders.
    Jack Sternberg MD:

    Take a look at the percentages of people who identify as Christians and then take a look at the percentages of those who identify as Christians and actually attend church regularly.‬

    ‪Because it’s very easy to call yourself a Christian and then turn around and behave in a manner in which Christ would never have behaved.

    ‪The majority of churches from my experience and the experience of others whom I know who go to church every week is that they are about LOVE. And that is the antithesis of Trump and his supporters.‬

    I hear this argument often when a debater wants to shut you up and stop the discussion. “How can you be so Anti-Christ in your argument,so uncaring,uncompassionate and unloving,” they say?  They stress that Christ is love and then proceed to lecture you about how they believe Christ would act towards illegal immigrants and refugees. If I can be so bold,I wish to reply theologically to what they believe since they use their “limited and selective” theology to support their position. I apologize for those reading this newsletter who aren’t Christians but this is a Christian response to a Christian accuser of the brethren.
     
    Yes,Christ is love. But,since we as Christians also believe He is God;He also has all the other attributes of God that so many seem to forget or ignore in their discussions. He is also the same God of the Old Testament and New Testament and hasn’t changed (we call that attribute –Immutable).
     
    So,to list a few points,I will begin with refugees:
     
    Throughout the Old Testament,Israel and Judea fought hard keep the Promised Land ethnically and religiously pure and for the Jewish people,just as God had commanded. Those peoples surrounding their country were never invited in to partake of God’s blessings in Israel and Judea. Individual sojourners (foreigners) were to be treated well but this didn’t imply Israel should desire to receive vast numbers of foreigners. If anything it’s just the opposite. And it just so happens that there are actually two different Hebrew words for legal and illegal immigrants (“immigrants” and “aliens”) in the Old Testament Law. Every time the Jewish people were influenced by foreigners (goyim = non-Jews),near and far,their faith suffered,as did their desire to follow the God of Judaism leading to their repeated exiles and destructions.
     
    Samaritans,even though half Jewish,were still treated as outsiders and shunned. Jesus was kind to the Samaritan women at the well but possibly this was because she looked forward to the Messiah of Israel and had faith in Him.
     
    I see no evidence that Jesus Himself ever encouraged anyone (in this case Gentiles = Pagans) to come to Israel nor made any mention that outsiders were welcome in Israel. Those foreigners in Israel over the centuries were there by force (such as the Babylonians,Medo-Persians,Greeks and now Romans) and not by the “goodness” of the Jewish people towards immigrants.
     
    So,I find it hard to make the case that Christians biblically should favor “unlimited” acceptance of refugees,especially from foreign cultures that might harm America.
     
    Now,let’s discuss illegal aliens and how Jesus might have responded.
     
    Let me start by saying that we know Jesus believed “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Luke 20:25. In other words,you are to follow the rules and laws of the country you’re living in as long as it doesn’t break God’s Law. He never broke any Roman laws despite what His accusers claimed.
     
    Next,God is also a God of Justice (besides Love) and He requires Justice. Also,God hates Sin.  Breaking the Laws of a country is Sin in God’s eyes. Justice requires a price be paid for any illegality (Sin).
     
    Illegally crossing the border and entering a country is breaking the law of that country (Sin). Living in a country that you didn’t enter as a legal immigrant is breaking the country’s law (Sin).
     
    So,I ask the question. Would Jesus tell foreigners it is OK to cross the border illegally into America or encourage them to do so and then to continue to reside in America illegally?  I don’t see Jesus as condoning that illegal,sinful behavior (while yet still loving the immigrant who has sinned).
     
    So what would I expect Jesus to recommend to those who are here illegally? I believe the answer can be found in the New Testament in the Letter To Philemon written by the Apostle Paul. Since Paul’s writings are believed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit,I believe his advice therefore is the advice that Jesus would give today to those in illegality.
     
    In Paul’s letter,Onesimus was a slave who ran away from his owner,a Christian Believer named Philemon (by running away in that society he broke the Roman law = Sin). Onesimus later became a believing Christian and became a close associate of the Apostle Paul. When Paul discovered what Onesimus had done,he urged him to return to his owner because that was the correct thing to do and Onesimus did just that. (I am in no way endorsing slavery but that was the society and laws 2000 years ago and is integral to the story and especially to Paul’s recommendation).
     
    So here is my conclusion. Yes,Jesus is love and loves illegal immigrants. But his other attributes such as Justice dictates that a person follow a country’s law and if they don’t,that is the equivalent of Sin. Based upon Paul exhorting Onesimus to return to Philemon,I believe Jesus would tell all illegal immigrants that they need to return to Mexico or whatever country they illegally came from and then reapply legally. That would be the Christian thing to do according to Jesus.
     
    WWJD – What Would Jesus Do?    He would tell illegals to return to their country and as He said to the adulterous woman,“Sin No More.”

    Addendum:The purpose of this opinion piece was to address the accusation that “loving Christians”should not be against Syrian refugees and unlimited,open border immigration. I find this too simplistic and not theologically accurate.
     
    Speaking for myself,I actually don’t expect or desire all illegal aliens to be deported. I do expect those who have committed criminal acts to be deported as is presently being done under existing laws by the Trump administration. 
     
    I believe in reality it would be essentially impossible to deport those millions who have lived here for years and who have not caused problems.  But yet,they did break the law to get here and remain here. I contend a compromise solution would be for them to become legal (as long as they don’t become criminal in the future) and pay income taxes,get a social security number and pay FICA and all else other Americans are responsible for (in essence,get a Green card and be treated as a permanent residents). But,because they came here illegally,they can never become citizens and never vote.  They get all the other privileges of America and its protections,just not the right to vote.
     
    Now many from the right and the left can attack me for that position. That’s usually what happens when you’re reasonable.
     

    “FOR TRUTH, JUSTICE AND
    THE AMERICAN WAY,” 
    I remain
     

    Jack Sternberg,MD
    Chairman Emeritus,Garland County Tea Party

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