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May 16, 2006

Comments

Carrol Grady

Certainly, as followers of Christ, we ought to be sympathetic to those who are struggling to find a better life, but we shouldn't countenance illegal methods, especially when we see the drugs and human trafficking that are a part of our open borders. There's a difference between being supportive of immigration and looking the other way when it's done illegally.

Monte

Carrol, Should the church tell pastors not to baptize illegals?

Kevin Kuehmichel

Monte, are you smiling when you ask that question?

I can't speak for other pastors, but if I knew someone was an illegal immigrant I would have a hard time baptising him/her. I would counsel them to go back and go through the proper channels as many other immigrants have done in this country.

Paul dealt with Onesimus in a way that seems appropriate, he sent him back to his slave owner and told him to do things the right way. Paul could have used the moral high ground and said slavery was morally wrong and therefore Onesimsus didn't have to return, but Paul's council was to follow the laws of the country whenever possible. Even Jesus said that we should go the extra mile when it comes to following rules (Matt5:41). I believe that was in the context of soldiers forcing you to carry their loads for a mile. Open rebellion to the laws of the land where they are not directly contrary to the laws of God make us lawbreakers and promoters of breaking the law. If we do that, where do we stop?

This is not a simple question that has simple solutions, but how we deal with it does send a message, good or bad. Is this a hill to die on for the church? I guess the stats for church growth are less important to me than doing things in way that may be misinterpreted and used against us as a church.

I do hear your plea for moral justice and I think I understand and can agree with our lack of taking a stand like our pioneers did in moral justice issues. The concern I have is that the ends do not justify the means.

Crossing the boarder illegally and flooding the social systems of this country (health, school & social) doesn't seem like an honest or Christian thing to do. Aiding and abeting that activity sends the wrong message to those immigrants and the legal ones and to others in this country that are watching us.

Monte

Kevin, you make some good points, but Paul did evidently baptize Onesimus before sending him back (the text says that Onesimus is to be accepted by his owner as a brother in Christ) and there is also the question of timing; how long did Paul wait to send Onesimus back? Commentaries also point out that at the time civil law permitted slave owners to kill runaway slaves and that Paul may have sent him back to protect him as much as to support slavery. Although, your larger point is clearly supported by passages such as Ephesians 6:5-9. Paul taught Christians to support slavery. But, the Adventist heritage here is that Ellen White writes that slavery is immoral and no honest Christian can support it. In fact, early Adventists refused membership to those who supported slavery. Which position is appropriate relative to the current mess the U.S. government has made of immigration from Mexico? How do you decide when a civil law is, in fact, opposed to God's law? We cannot use what is politically popular because the will of the majority is usually against God's law on issues related to social justice.

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