Faith Musings Social Issues

Hospitality and Grace: What the Christian Response to Immigration Should Be

Immigration is a hotly debated topic that tears apart political parties, families, and Facebook pages. I have strong feelings on immigration and at the same time, know that there are no easy answers or perfect ways to handle the issue of illegal immigration. But there is one thing I am sure of – the immigration stance embodied by President Trump is antithetical to the Bible.

Woe, woe, woe. Why did I have to go and bring the Bible into it? Also, why am I asking myself questions? I’ll answer the second question first. We all need to be having an inner dialogue right now about immigration policies — search out what is right and hold our government accountable.

And to the first question: President Trump swore on a stack of Bibles during his inauguration. Since he swore on them, they should weigh into the decisions he makes. Right? But even if the Bible means nothing to Trump, it must dictate Christian views on immigration and refugee policies.

Let’s get into what the Bible says about immigration.


There are many places where the Bible is less than crystal clear. There are scriptures that can be interpreted in multiple ways. There are issues on which Christians can legitimately hold opposite views. Immigration is not one of them. The Bible (in Christian talk, we say “God’s Word”) states clearly how we are to treat foreigners. Here are just a few verses:

Leviticus 19:33-34 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. I am the Lord your God.

Leviticus 19:9-10 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.

Deuteronomy 10:18-19 He 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.

Exodus 23:9 Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners because you were foreigners in Egypt.

1 Kings 8:41-44 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.

There are more… a lot more. I have listed more at the bottom of this post.

For years, I have heard the Christian Right state that this is a Christian Nation. That our country was founded on Biblical principles and those principles are found throughout our Constitution. If that is true, then we must treat immigrants better. And not just better, but with love and compassion. So much love in fact that we open the doors of our home to them.

And the argument that we can cut off the foreigner, the refugee, the immigrant because they might, hypothetically, hurt us? Well, that argument is without support in the Bible. In fact, the Bible says that we are to have such radical love that if our enemy takes our coat, we should give him our shirt as well. And if he forces us to march one mile, we should go two. And if our enemy slaps us once on the cheek, we should turn our head so he can slap the other side.

Or how about this direction from Matthew 5:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

And the Bible doesn’t say that we can ignore its instructions if the foreigner is in our country without proper documentation. Christ came for the ones who are outside the law, outside the rules of society, who are broken and sinful. He hung with the pariahs of his society, saying that it’s the sick who need a doctor. Christ didn’t put conditions on His grace; while we were still his enemy, he died for us.

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I have to ask you, is your stance on immigration and refugees consistent with what the Bible teaches? I’m not talking about what political party you vote for. On this issue, where do you stand?

Do you believe all undocumented immigrants should be rounded up and sent out of the country? Even though doing so may result in people who are made in God’s image being subjected to death, injury, abject poverty, violence, hunger? Or, do you believe that we should welcome immigrants and treat them as one of our own? If you are a Christian, there is only one way answer.

I believe in God and someday I will stand before Him for judgment. And how I’ve treated the stranger, the foreigner, will be up for discussion:

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Matthew 25:41-46.

I fear that politics have clouded our judgment. We stand with a party (whatever party it is) because we believe that the party will have our back in a disagreement, or will advance other positions we care about. We fear that if we disagree with our party, we will find ourselves without a party and, as a result, without power. Alienated if you will.

Trump’s Executive Order on immigration is wrong and Christians of every political affiliation should strongly and soundly reject and condemn it.

Condemn policies that will force those who live among us to leave this country and return to lives that they rightly sought to escape.

Condemn lists that are intended to paint all immigrants as law-breakers, instill fear, and provoke public sentiment against immigrants.

Condemn closing our borders to those who are in need and are at risk.

Condemn scaremongering.

Condemn policies that are clouded by self-interest and polluted by bias.

Condemn policies that suggest that Christians are better or more worthy of protection than people of other faiths.

Condemn policies that penalize those who refuse to cooperate with or resist immoral and inhumane policies towards immigrants.

And live lives of hospitality and grace.

“The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you” (Exodus 12:49 NIV)

“Don’t oppress the widow, the orphan, the stranger, and the poor; don’t plan evil against each other!” (Zechariah 7:10 CEB)

“You have brought your judgment days near and have come to your years of punishment [because] father and mother are treated with contempt, and the foreign resident is exploited within you. The fatherless and widow are oppressed in you” (Ezekiel 22:4, 7 HCSB)

“‘I will come to you in judgment, and I will be ready to witness against sorcerers and adulterers; against those who swear falsely; against those who oppress the widow and the fatherless, and cheat the wage earner; and against those who deny justice to the foreigner. They do not fear Me,’ says the LORD of Hosts” (Malachi 3:5 HCSB)

Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place” (Jeremiah 22:3 ESV)

“When you have finished paying the entire tenth part of your produce on the third year—that is the year for paying the tenth-part—you will give it to the Levites, the immigrants, the orphans, and the widows so they can eat in your cities until they are full” (Deuteronomy 26:12 CEB)

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2 NIV)


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  1. Perfectly stated. Thank you for the thought and time you put into this response to an issue that I believe will define our generation for years to come.

    1. Thank you. It’s a sad time we live in and I’m hoping leaders will step up with a way out.

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