Topical Bible Questions: How Should a Christian Respond to Illegal Aliens/Illegal Immigrants?


Illegal immigration has become a volatile issue, especially in the U.S. Many have raised their voices passionately in their condemnation of illegal immigration while others defend it just as fervently. The subject of illegal immigration has not only generated heated debate, but has caused intense division and strife among politicians, educators, co-workers, families, and friends. Sadly enough, its contentiousness has infused itself into the church with Christians drawn into the turbulent fray with supporters on both sides seeking to justify their positions based on their own personal beliefs.

So, what does the Bible say about illegal immigration? What should be the Christian response to those who enter our country illegally as well as to those who condone and support such activity? The first consideration is that those who enter any country illegally violate that nation’s laws as well as the laws of God. Believers are torn between showing compassion and mercy to those who seek help and yet not wanting to violate God’s will.

Sadly, we have brothers and sisters in Christ fighting over the issue of illegal immigration where the Bible is quite clear on what our Christian response should be: “The LORD detests the way of the wicked but he loves those who pursue righteousness” (Proverbs 15:9, 28:5; Psalm 5:4–5). When we condone criminal activity where people blatantly and habitually violate the laws of our government, we no longer “shine like stars in the universe” (Philippians 2:15). The Bible makes it clear that those who violate the laws of our government are in sin, as are those who support or assist them in breaking the laws (Romans 13:1–7; 1 Peter 2:13–14; Titus 3:1–2).

Peter’s reference to “those who do wrong” clearly means those who break the laws and who, by doing so, are also guilty of doing wrong to others. These are to be punished by the governing authorities. Paul has made it abundantly clear that the government is in the best position to judge the course of action that should be taken to find solutions to this problem. Our government has the divine authority to do so. Whether or not the government authorities exercise their legal and divine right to enforce the laws doesn’t change the fact that the church cannot knowingly support illegal activity and be in the will of God. To condone or aid and abet people who cross borders illegally is sin, just as the initial act of coming into the country illegally is sin.

At the same time, as Christians, we have to separate our attitude toward the act of entering the country illegally and our attitude toward the illegals themselves. The first obligation of a Christian is to express Christ-likeness in all our thoughts and deeds (Romans 8:29). There is no room for hatred toward those who come into the country, albeit illegally, desperately seeking work, refuge from danger and persecution, or a better life for themselves and their families. Christian compassion must be shown towards those who would risk their lives in a dangerous, and often fatal, attempt to cross a border. Acts of hatred or violence toward illegal aliens is never to be considered or tolerated by those who name the name of Christ.[1]

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

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