What if it Isn’t Economically Viable to Love Thy Neighbor (or Help Refugees)?

“Love your neighbor as yourself” is what the Bible says. And it’s what keeps ringing in my head as I argue with myself. Many of you know that there is a caravan of thousands upon thousands of people traveling up through Mexico from countries to the South, claiming they seek protection from the poverty, gang violence and general danger in their countries.

What are we supposed to do?

I have two conflicting arguments in my head. The first is this: I, as a Christian, am to love people with Christ’s love. I am to clothe those who need clothed, feed those who need fed, visit those who need visited. Therefore, it certainly seems reasonable to accept those who need help. Here’s the second argument.

What if it isn’t economically viable to settle refugees in our country? 

This year, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) came out with a study detailing the cost of settling refugees in America. They said that in the first 5 years of a refugee’s time in America, it costs the taxpayers just under $80,000. This is per refugee and adds up to about $1.8 billion annually. This is an astronomical cost to the average American. And if we just look at the 7000+ people working their way up Mexico, if we let all of them into the States, that alone would cost over $560 million just in the first 5 years.

So what’s the solution? Do we take them in and bite the cost or leave them out because we can’t handle the financial load? 

As much as I don’t want to say it, this isn’t economically sustainable. Shoot, Americans aren’t even financially sustaining themselves. Herein lies my problem and I want to know what you think.

I personally think that we are called to love people as Christ loved us. He sacrificed on the cross for us and we are to sacrifice for others. But what if we have nothing to sacrifice? How can we love others (especially those in need from other countries) even when we can’t provide for them?

In 1 Timothy 5, when the apostle Paul talks about an individual who doesn’t provide for his own as “worse than an unbeliever,” does that only apply to the family unit or does it apply to providing for our country as well?

I do not know the answer. 

I think that we can certainly change laws and policies to give us more capability as a country to help those in need. If we merely lived by the “if one doesn’t work, he shall not eat” policy (1 Thessalonians 3:10), that alone would decrease the number of people who live on food stamps and government welfare. Certainly there are people who truly need the help to get back on their feet but many don’t.

If we can control spending on a national and individual level, that would work wonders for the system. If we as households paid off all debt, that would economically boost our nation’s prosperity and allow more financial room for helping and aiding refugees.

And there’s certainly a lot to say about entering a country legally, obtaining all the necessary work permits and abiding as a functioning member of society, even without citizenship.

I must admit, I fall drastically short of the command to love my neighbor, even the one that physically lives next door. We’re not even talking about people from neighboring countries.

But that command comes straight from Jesus. I don’t want to add to or take away from what He said on the subject but I’m curious what you think. I really want some opinions!

What do you think about allowing refugees into America? What do you think is a sustainable method of helping them? 

Do you think we can love the refugees even if we don’t allow them into our country? 

Please, comment below what your opinion is. I will be fascinated to learn more perspectives.

-Caleb

2 thoughts on “What if it Isn’t Economically Viable to Love Thy Neighbor (or Help Refugees)?

  1. Several opinions: we’re not commanded to look out for the financial well being of the rich; we’re told to remember the poor. Scripture reminds us that God’s chosen were once a people with no homeland. While it is financially inconvenient to give help to those who cannot pay you back, the choice to do so is an echo of the Gift which we cannot pay back. In short, I think that the expense is irrelevant, a distraction from what we know is right. And if we seek first God’s kingdom of mercy, do you imagine he’ll work with us or against us?

    1. David, thank you for commenting. I really appreciate it. I understand what you are saying. It makes sense and I agree however I don’t know what the best way to implement it would be. Because based on government spending, we are essentially choosing to give someone else’s money (China’s) to other people. I don’t think this is the way to do it because the Bible also talks about not being indebted to anyone (of course other than Christ). Certainly we are to help those in need but I don’t think we are called to give other’s money, making ourselves more indebted and enslaved. I propose maybe a better way would be to have private charity organizations work more closely with caring for immigrants and those who can be financially responsible can choose to help. This certainly doesn’t fix all the problems and the likelihood is low there would be enough money for caring for everyone. Other problems always arise but I’m just trying to think practically as we look at the problem with respect to the Bible as a whole and our current economic situation.

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