Love Thy Neighbor- A Forgotten Christian Truth
Author: C.M Clough
The apparent hypocrisy of Evangelical Christians in regards to Immigration
*Note: Quotes are from the New International Version of the Bible
Frankly, “Love thy neighbor” is quite overused. Perhaps almost every church has at least one poster that states this exact verse. I know mine did, it was in front of the gym, so as you walked into Sunday School, you would have to read it. It’s an objectively good quote. It addresses one of the core values of Christianity: that we’re all equal in the eyes of God. However, it has been repeated so many times that it seems to be a platitude. Case in point: immigration, specifically regarding refugees.
They’re neighbors, both physically and spiritually, yet some of the most steadfast Christians don’t seem to love them. Some of the most adamant hardliners against immigration are found in the Bible Belt--Evangelical Christians mostly residing in the southern states of the United States. The real irony of Evangelical Christians is that they venerate a man who was once a refugee himself.
Jesus was 100% a refugee. It’s widely regarded as fact in almost every branch of Christianity, which is rarer than one would think. I mean, we can’t even agree on one date for Christmas!
Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Now known as the West Bank) and was forced to flee Judea after the news of his divine nature was revealed to King Herod. The Gospel of Matthew states, “an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” (Matthew 2:13). This is textbook refugee status. There was an imminent threat to their child’s life, so Mary and Joseph decided to flee. Much like how many Guatemalan mothers are risking leaving their homes behind to provide a better life for their children. Similar to Mary and Joseph, these parents are looking for their children to survive in a safer environment, away from an oppressive government.
In Egypt, Jesus lived in relative peace. In one of his parables found in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus recounts “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 25:35-36). A far cry from how we treat refugees coming into our country now. We don’t invite them in. We don’t clothe them. We don’t take care of them when they’re sick. We keep them in cages, and we don’t even allow their parents to visit them. All for the crime of being a stranger in our land.
While Jesus’s status as a refugee isn’t debated, the legality of how he entered Egypt is. It has been argued that Jesus entered legally into Egypt because to do so otherwise would be breaking the law, and the messiah can’t break laws. However, what constitutes Egyptian legal and illegal immigration laws in the year 0 AD is impossible to decipher.
Yes, Joseph didn’t apply for a visa or wait for baby Jesus’ passport to be delivered. He merely packed his family up and made the journey from Bethlehem to Egypt. However, the idea that “Jesus can’t break laws” is inherently flawed, as divine law and human law are two very different sides of the spectrum. Theoretically, they are both laws, but innately different and therefore must be analyzed differently.
I agree that Jesus is the perfect being and
can’t break any of God’s laws. However, Jesus could, and did, violate man’s laws.
Jesus is the perfect being and can’t break any of God’s laws. However, Jesus could, and did, violate man’s laws.
Such as the time Jesus broke Roman law by declaring himself the son of God, rather than Emperor Agustus. This was one of the crimes that would lead to him being crucified.
It’s important to remember that one of the main pillars of Christianity is that we are all children of God. Therefore, it is in the Christian doctrine to love one another, yet that seems lost to the Evangelicals that stand firm on their nativist ideology. They worship a man who fled for his life, and who taught his followers to shelter those in need, yet they turn a blind eye to those in need because they broke a law. They deliberately ignore Jesus’ teachings of kindness and hospitality in favor of hyper-nationalistic immigration policy. These people need to reevaluate the scripture they’ve been blindly quoting to support their rhetoric, as the Gospel of Matthew says “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6).
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6).
C.M Clough is a freshman at American University majoring in International Studies.