Should Christians Advocate Amnesty?


What do you think of Obama’s plan to grant amnesty for up to 5 million unauthorized immigrants? Predictably, many Americans are upset by the thought, arguing that they should be deported immediately, without concern for children who were brought over before they were too young to have a say.

Whether or not you agree with the President’s method, we need to look at the bigger picture. If we make decisions about helping others based on their citizenship, what does that say about our commitment to Christ? By building fences and pointing guns on those who approach our borders, who are we really serving but ourselves? Man-made institutions, borders, and politics should not come before the words of Jesus and his teachings.

Gregory Boyd writes, “So too, in following our Master we are to seek to do good and free all who are “opressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38) while we voluntarily bear others’ burdens (Gal. 6:2). We are to “outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom. 12:10) and never be competitive with others (unless, of course, it’s for fun) (Gal. 5:26). We are to “put up with the failings of the weak, and not please ourselves,” always asking how we might “please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor” (Rom. 15:1-2). We are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, take in the homeless, befriend the friendless, and visit the condemned prisoner (James 2:15-17; 1 John 3:14-18; cf. Matt. 25:34-40).

When Jesus said to serve our neighbors, I don’t think there was a asterisk next to the word. I believe that being a Christian should come foremost before our politics.

I believe that as an American who descended from immigrants that I should remember where I came from.

What would Jesus say about amnesty? Would he advocate the spread of fear and selfishness that implores kind-hearted people to circle their wagons to keep “the Others” out? What scripture could be used to support the argument to not help others?

By scripture, I don’t mean our wallets. If we shake our fists and say “We can’t afford it! I’m not paying for you! I’m not helping anyone outside my family,” where is our foundation to say so? Where does the Bible discuss this?

Consider the story of the good samaritan (Luke 10:25-37):

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

If we really claim to be Jesus followers, we must abide by His example, and pay attention to the words written in red.