There is a raging debate around the issue of illegal aliens, especially unaccompanied children. These aliens have been entering America through Mexico. Some say that it is our responsibility to take care of them. Others say we should send them back. Some say that our borders should be open, others say not.
Many use the Bible as proof of their argument. But what does it actually say? While space does not permit a word study here, maybe I can point the reader in the right direction.
First, a comparison of the old and new English translations is necessary. The Geneva and King James bibles use two words for our word alien – alien and stranger. The newer translations usually just use the word alien. This has to be kept in mind when looking in the Strong’s Concordance, because you will find that several applicable Hebrew and Greek words are translated both ways.
The Bible defines three types of aliens. The first is the temporary legal visitor. For example, look at Joseph and his family in Egypt (Matthew 2:14). The second type is the accepted, in our language “legal”, alien. This alien comes in to reside using the acceptable and legal method of entering. Look at Ruth 1:15-22. Ruth came in under the covering of a citizen who was a relative by marriage. Naomi went to a relative who had the authority to accept Ruth, namely Boaz. Another example can be seen in 1 Kings 8:41-43. Notice that in both cases, the purpose of the alien coming into the land was peaceful and legal.
The third example is the one under dispute today. The Hebrew and Greek languages both differentiate this group from the others. In fact, the context in the Greek twice uses the same word for illegal alien to describe one who is a prison inmate. This word is used in John 10:5 and is translated “stranger” in modern translations. Another example is Deuteronomy 17:15. This is definitely an unwelcome and illegal individual.
The Bible is clear that the legal alien comes into the country as one who is welcomed and one who abides by the laws of the land. However, even that person is not accorded all of the privileges that a citizen is given. See Leviticus 22:16, for example. In addition, Romans 13:1-10 makes clear that God considers it essential that the laws of the land are obeyed. That passage even justifies enforcement by force, if necessary.
A cursory evaluation of Israel’s status as a nation favored by God shows how God valued the efforts of its leadership in securing the land. This is done for the protection of the citizens, as well as their safety and economic well being.
The Bible does not mention government as a provider of welfare services. It is clearly the duty of the individual believing citizen, sometimes through the Church or Synagogue. See Deuteronomy 26:12-13 and 1 Timothy 5:1-16, 20 for two clear statements on this issue. In these passages, the words used for “alien” are the words for a welcome legal alien, not an unwelcome one.
What makes this even more difficult to deal with is the fact that our own government created this problem. However, it is essential that we return to our nation’s founding principles which were based on the Bible. First, we must secure our boarders immediately. Second, all aliens who have entered illegally must be deported. If they wish to re-enter, they must follow the legal procedures established by American law. Then we will again experience the safety and prosperity of our citizens.
Frank Clark is a retired Christian school teacher and principal. His email address is email@example.com.