Where Might We Begin the Conversation?
Sep 09, 2009 by M. Daniel Carroll R. | 3 Comments
When we engage people on important and potentially hot topics, one of the key things is to try to establish a proper starting point. Where do we begin the discussion, so that there truly is a give-and-take, a conversation, and not a monologue or one-directional lecture?
I would like to suggest that we begin the discussion on immigration at the beginning—that is, in Genesis 1, which talks about the creation of humanity. Ultimately, immigration is about people, both those who are on the move as well as those of the culture that receives them.
It is not uncommon for some to want to start any talk about immigration with the question of legality. For Christians, this usually means citing Romans 13 and the imperative to submit to the government authorities.
I would suggest, though, that this can be a conversation killer. Why? Well, the argument is short and sharp: Undocumented people have broken the law to get into this country; they have disobeyed the authorities established by God—end of discussion. In its most crass form, this sentiment can be expressed by saying something like, “What is there about 'illegal' that you don’t understand?!?”
Now, we do have to get to issues of immigration legislation (and there are many!), but this is not the place to start a dialogue. We will need to build toward it, biblically and theologically, and we will return to Romans 13. Let me repeat: We need to get to legal matters, and we will, but we will not begin our wrestling with immigration there.
In our next entry, I would like us to turn to that opening chapter of Genesis and begin to think through how it might impact thinking about immigrants and immigration. Join me, won’t you!