sermon prep for April 15 on breaking the law

(Getting ready to preach April 15 I sent this to the Goshen News, they published it, now I’m waiting for some replies. I like sermon prep:)

I’m surprised that in discussions about our broken immigration system some Christians say the law of the land should always be obeyed. If they have Isaiah 10 in their Bibles, that would make it clear that the law can be wrong, unjust, immoral, oppressive . . . And I hope they are in church April 15 when the lectionary reading includes Peter and the other apostles breaking the law, then breaking the law again, then explaining simply, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.”

I’m trying to remember if any of the disciples and apostles DIDN’T break the law. Give me that old-time religion … Paul and Silas did their jail time. Keep your eye on the prize . . . Oh, yes, of course, the civil rights movement, and I guess even the signing of the Declaration of Independence, those broke the law, too. On the other hand, everything Hitler did was legal.

When the law is immoral, breaking the law is the right thing to do; our current immigration laws are immoral. Our immigration law discriminates on the basis of race and wealth, no one denies that. The problem with illegal immigration is not immigrants wanting to break the law, it is a law that doesn’t allow a legal option for too many people in desperate poverty. We don’t need amnesty for the immigrants so much as we need repentance for our own lack of compassion.

It’s wrong to say “they should come legally” when we whites (immigrants ourselves) have invaded, colonized, drawn the border and changed the laws to make legal immigration for the poor of Mexico and Central America all but impossible. Laws aren’t fixed, they change all the time, and what is illegal today may be legal tomorrow. It’s time for us to be changing the law so that they can come legally, and get drivers’ licenses and car insurance and jobs legally. Registering and legalizing migrants would cost far less and be more humane and Christian than our current harassment approach, and would be better for the economy – allowing undocumented immigrants to register and become citizens would be in our national interest.

Comment (1)

  1. Trini

    Preface: I am a legal resident who has gone through the broken immigration system, as have several family members and friends who have gone through this and several systems around the world.

    I say that 1. illegal immigration is a problem, but it is a by-product of two things, unfair immigration practices and 2. a failed foreign policy. The US is actually very welcoming to foreigner, but discriminate not on the basis of race, but on the basis of self-sustainability, and a broken view of what diversity it.

    This first system makes immigration easy for educated migrants to approach the shores, and also easy for them to be exploited and underpaid compared to their US counterparts. The failed vision diversity closes these doors to people from certain countries because there are already ‘too many of them’. What does that mean? For some people there is no open door.

    Now secondly the failed foreign policies, I think people want to migrate to where their wealth is being taken. Failed foreign policies are building ‘first’ world nations on the backs of developing countries. So it’s no wonder that people desperate in poverty want to go where the wealth of their own lands have been taken. Part of this failed foreign policy is the marketing image that the US exports abroad. The US is not the land of opportunity that it projects itself as, and many people come here on that failed vision of the exported dream, only to realise the truth somewhere along the way.

    Breaking the law? Yes, if the law is unjust and unfair. I think that may be subjective. I think your post is indirectly asking, if we as Christians should give housing and refuge to ‘illegal’ immigrants, I’d say without the batting of an eyelid, yes. Our call to God’s Manna way of providing for those on the ‘outside’ and taking care of them is higher than any law. Should we just break the law and not work for changing the brokenness of it, no. That’s just silly, as silly as a new proposal of a leading Mennonite Theologian to take a sabbath from voting. When people realise that the power to change laws is theirs and their government should reflect their interests then they will realise that it is within the realm of reality that they can change… and you can change them.

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