Is Immigration Policy as Cut and Dried as the Abortion Debate for Christians?

Friends and family view a bus outside the U.S. Detention and Deportation Center in Detroit, Sunday, June 11, 2017. (Gus Burns/The Ann Arbor News via AP)

Few issues ruffle as many feathers as do immigration and abortion. Most people feel strongly about the two issues, making common ground difficult to find among those who disagree on either immigration or abortion. In an article for USA Today, Dan Darling, from the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, attempts to lay out a unified path forward for supporters of the Dreamers and those who are opposed to abortion.

In his opening paragraph, Darling recognizes that pro-life Christians and pro-social justice Christians often don’t play nicely together. He has a point, although I’m not sure if it’s an entirely fair point. Before issuing my complaint with Darling’s article, I’m going to let him speak for himself:

But imagine if, for a moment, traditionally pro-life activists would champion the dignity of Dreamers and social justice activists would champion the dignity of the unborn. Too often, we pit one cause against the other, as if dignity is a zero-sum game. But if we truly believe, as Moses tells us in Genesis, that all humans were created in the image of God and endowed with dignity and worth, we cannot help but see the humanity of the unborn baby and the humanity of the immigrant who lives among us.

In other words: if we are truly pro-life, we should care about what happens to the child whose immigration status is imperiled and is in danger of being separated from family and community. Many Dreamers are themselves new parents, married to legal citizens. So to send them home would mean breaking up families and subjecting their kids to a life without a father or mother.

And if we are truly pro-justice, we should see the killing of a 20-week old unborn baby as a violation of justice, the intentional targeting of innocent and vulnerable life. These tiny humans have no legal rights. They have no choice of whether they will live or die. And yet we know they are made in the image of God and worthy of life.

In the main, I’m in agreement with Dan Darling on both Dreamers and abortion. What bothers me is that he intimately connects the two issues without any seeming way to morally separate them. With the understanding that I may be misunderstanding Darling, he seems to be saying that if you disagree with his position on the Dreamers you are in the same immoral boat as people who murder babies. That, I disagree with.

Pro-life — rather, anti-abortion (anti-the murder of babies) — is a position that should be non-negotiable for all Christians. If someone claims to follow Jesus and yet supports abortion, they’ve gravely misunderstood God’s abhorrence of the unjust and self-serving termination of a life that He made in His image. Adding the caveat that new and immature Christians can and should (and do) grow in their faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ in ways that cause them, over time, to see with new eyes the evil of abortion, Christians should be opposed to abortion without equivocation.

Immigration policy, on the other hand, isn’t as cut and dried.

The Bible directly opposes murder, which is what abortion is. The Bible also commands us to care for the poor and the sick. However, unlike the explicit stricture(s) against murder, the Bible doesn’t issue commands about immigration policy. For sure, God gave the Israelites civil laws regarding the “sojourner.” But we do not live in ancient Israel and immigration concerns manifest differently in 2017 than they did five thousand years ago in the Fertile Crescent. Unlike the issue of abortion, there is room for Christians to disagree on immigration policy.

I would love for my brothers and sisters in Christ to agree with me on DACA. That being said, to frame those who disagree with me as the equivalent of supporting the murder of babies is not a good way to engage them in dialogue. I know several Christians who disagree with me on DACA and who articulate their disagreement in cogent and coherent ways that also demonstrate love. There are too many threads to pull on the immigration debate to justify drawing a hard and fast line in the sand. There is only one thread to pull concerning abortion — and that’s the umbilical cord connecting mother and child that the abortionist violently severs as the society-sanctioned murder of a life takes place.