Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Christian Principles for Immigration Reform

David Gushee, a professor of Christian ethics at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, offers some helpful theological insights on the recent immigration reform efforts that were derailed in the U.S. Congress last week. While I'm not certain that I agree with Gushee's assessment that the bill on the table was the "best approximation of Christian principles" (which is a moot point anyway, as the bill is no longer under consideration), I do think that he provides some thoughtful reflections on the biblical principles that come to bear on the question of immigration. Even though Congress has, for the time being, washed its hands of the issue, the immigration debate will continue to rage on and Gushee's analysis will give U.S. Christians a theological framework for positively contributing to the ongoing discussion.
I have become persuaded that immigration reform is one of the most important moral and policy issues facing Christians and the nation today. And there is landmark legislation on the table -- the bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill, supported by the president -- that in my view reflects the best approximation of Christian principles.

The first question a Christian must ask when thinking about immigration is whether the highest priority for us is American self-interest or biblical principles. As American Christians, are we more Christian or more American?

I think that we should be Christians first. We should seek God’s will for his people (the church) as revealed in Scripture. Only then do we take the second step -- considering our loyalty to the nation -- to see how we might best apply biblical principles there.

Biblically, the five most relevant moral principles on this issue are love, justice, hospitality, family and humility.

Click here to read the rest of Gushee's commentary.
Immigration, of course, is not an issue that is unique to the United States. Many countries here in the Caribbean such as the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and Dominican Republic are challenged with significant immigration problems as well. Given the large numbers of professing Christians in these countries, it seems that Gushee's analysis of immigration might well be a good starting point for Caribbean believers to begin articulating a truly Christian response to the immigration crises in our own region.

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