This week I received an email from a friend, asking me to sign an email petition. The petition went like this:
We, the undersigned, protest the bill that the Senate voted on recently which would allow illegal aliens to access our Social Security. We demand that you and all Congressional representatives require citizenship as a pre-requisite for social services in the United States …
We further demand that there not be any amnesty given to illegal aliens, NO free services, no funding, no payments to and for illegal immigrants.
Maybe you received a similar email. Its arrival was timely for me, as I had just been studying “aliens” in the Bible. I did a search for all verses where all the words alien, fatherless, and widow occur. Here they are:
1. Deuteronomy 10:18
He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.
2. Deuteronomy 14:28-29
At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.
3. Deuteronomy 16:11
And rejoice before the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name—you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, the Levites in your towns, and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows living among you.
4. Deuteronomy 16:14
Be joyful at your Feast—you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns.
5. Deuteronomy 24:17
Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge.
6. Deuteronomy 24:19-21
When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow.
7. Deuteronomy 26:12
When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.
8. Deuteronomy 26:13
Then say to the LORD your God: “I have removed from my house the sacred portion and have given it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, according to all you commanded. I have not turned aside from your commands nor have I forgotten any of them.
The upshot is that God appears to view aliens in the same category as widows and orphans. Also, God has a history of taking land AWAY from the legals and giving it to the illegals: Gen 17.8 says, “The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”
I notice that God didn’t say in the above passages, “Help out the alien as long as it doesn’t affect your pocketbook”, or “Be nice to aliens but you don’t have to give them anything.” No, he’s pretty explicit that he intends us to be affected personally and financially. That part about not harvesting every single olive, or being sure to invite aliens to our parties — there’s no getting around that.
We seem to be pretty high-and-mighty when we protest that our aliens are illegal — as if that somehow makes it right to treat them poorly. However, didn’t Jesus condemn the Pharisees for this very thing — creating rules that allowed them not to support those in need? (See Mk. 7.9-13)
There seems to be a trend among the evangelical Christian community to parrot some of the politically conservative voices on the internet and talk radio regarding this issue. Let’s parrot God instead.