Immigration: Choosing Love Instead of Fear

I don’t often write about political issues. I don’t like politics. I don’t like talking about politics or thinking about politics. It tends to just make me upset. But I’m excited that the Christian synchroblog I used to be a part of is starting up again and I want to jump back in even though this month’s topic is a very political issue.

I’ll be honest, I don’t feel like I have something really helpful to add to the debate. I don’t have a solution for the “immigration problem”. I don’t know all the ins and outs, or all the pros and cons of different suggestions. I don’t have any idea what a Christian policy on immigration should really look like – I’m not sure there really is ONE “Christian policy on immigration”. I am sure that the issue is complex, that there are probably a variety of solutions that would solve a variety of the problems that arise when dealing with immigration. I’m sure that there are a multitude of “right” approaches.

Personally, I don’t want to talk about solutions, or suggestions today. I don’t want to talk about the legality of the issue, or about how it relates to jobs and the economy. I don’t want to talk about the politics of the situation. What I want to talk about is attitude.

As followers of Christ what should our attitude be towards immigrants? I don’t know about you but so often when I hear people talking about the “immigration issue” I hear a lot of negativity and very little love. I hear a lot of prejudice and racism and not a lot of love. I hear a lot of condemnation and not a lot of love. I believe that as Christians we should take a higher approach, a different stance. We should try to understand instead of condemn, to help instead of degrade and to love instead of fear.

I think a lot of the problem comes from fear. People fear immigration and immigrants. They fear the influence that immigrants (both legal and illegal) will have on the American economy, culture, and political system. They believe that we have to protect America and that the protection of America is the ultimate goal and makes any act (including the restriction of civil liberties) justifiable. Out of fear, policies are then made that restrict civil liberties (case in point: Arizona). The restriction of civil liberties due to fear is much more detrimental to America than immigration will ever be.

The truth of the matter is that we are all foreigners and strangers on this earth. The truth of the matter is that our ultimate allegiance is not to a specific country and protecting its way of life. Our ultimate allegiance is not to a specific political or economic system. Our ultimate allegiance IS to Christ Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and his radical new kingdom.

As Christians, I believe we need to support policies that are not driven by fear, but are instead driven by love and sound reasoning. We need to remember that although we owe America some gratitude and allegiance for the gifts that it provides us with, America is just a nation – nations rise and fall, but our allegiance is to God most High and Him alone. We need to remember that immigrants are our brothers and sisters, even if they look and act differently than we do. They each have unique stories to tell and a no matter how they crossed our boarders, or why they crossed our boarders, God loves them passionately and recklessly and so should we.

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

Here are the other synchroblog participants posts. Hope you all enjoy the discussion! I know I’m really looking forward to reading through these:

Mike Victorino at Still A Night Owl – ‘Being the Flag
Sonnie Swentson-Forbes at Hey Sonnie – ‘Immigration Stories
Steven Calascione at Eirenikos – ‘The Jealousy of Migration
George Elerick at The Love Revolution – ‘We’re Not Kings or Gods
Liz Dyer at Grace Rules – “Together We Can Make Dreams Come True
Sonnie Swentson at A Piece of My Mind – “Immigration Stories
Matt Stone at Global Christianity – “Is Xenophobia Every Christlike?
Steve Hayes at Khanya – “Christians And The Immigration Issue
Ellen Haroutunian – “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses
Beth Stedman – “Immigration: Choosing Love Instead of Fear
Pete Houston at Peter’s Progress – “Of Rape And Refuge
Joshua Seek – “Loving Our Immigrant Brother
Amanda MacInnis at Cheese Wearing Theology – “Christians and Immigration
Sonja Andrews at Calacirian – “You’re Right
Kathy Escobar at Carnival In My Head – “It’s A Lot Easier To Be Against Immigration Reform When You Have Papers
Jonathan Brink – “Immigration Synchroblog
Beth Patterson at Virtual Tea House – “What we resist not only persists but eventually becomes our landlord”

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21 thoughts on “Immigration: Choosing Love Instead of Fear

  1. Right on, Bethany! And here’s another good resource. “Christians at the Border” by M. Daniel Carroll Rodas — a Denver Sem prof and acquaintance.

  2. Bethany – I believe that when more of us have the right attitude the right laws will have a better chance of being developed and legislated. Thanks for reminding us “We should try to understand instead of condemn, to help instead of degrade and to love instead of fear.”

  3. Really nice piece, Beth. I think that my feelings about this issue would be a lot less intense if folks against immigration/pro-border control were able to first talk about things like love, compassion and charity. The problem is, it’s hard to engage this issue in the same way once those fruits of the spirit are introduced. The spirit ruins everything!

    Nonetheless, as you rightly acknowledge, there are good people who believe protecting the borders means protecting America, and that that is a primary concern for them. I don’t believe that Christians should place their spiritual responsibilities beneath those of the nation-state, but many do not differentiate between the two. And that doesn’t make them bad people.

    Our common language should be compassion and understanding. From there, I suppose folks can go on with conservative immigration views, and I’d like to think I would be nicer to them about it 😉

  4. Bethany!
    Love your new website platform–very spiffy!

    Loved your take on the issue. I can’t get my mind around all the complexities either. I just know that love is always the answer!

  5. You are so right. Your comments on where our allegiance ultimately is reminds me of Shane Claiborne’s writings about us being citizens of God’s kingdom. Patriotism here on Earth is a shallow and shoddy replacement for the true nation we are citizens of.

  6. HiBeth!
    I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts on this and blogging about it. This is an issue close to my heart because i am an immigrant. It’s a hard issue to talk about. I’m inspired to write about it now. It takes courage Beth, and you did it. I might have to do it too.

    1. Vina, a synchroblog is when a bunch of bloggers blog about the same topic on the same day and link to each other. Basically a blog carnival with a theme/topic.

  7. If paradise is our true home then we must also admit to at least understanding what it is like to be away from home. And that is what immigration is.

    Interestingly the English word paradise (like the Latin paradisus and Greek paradeisos) is most closely related to the Persian pairidaeza a compound of pairi– (around) and diz (to make, to form esp. a wall) and which finds its fullest expression in Luke 23:43.

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