Illegality Does Not Justify Immorality


Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there … he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me.” He treated Abram well for her sake … But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh … So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me? … Here is your wife. Take her and go!” –Génesis 12:10-18, NLT


Righteous Abram committed a grave error that many immigrants commit—he lied about his marital status. Desperate when the land that “flows with milk and honey” suffered hunger, Abram left for Egypt, where there was food. Hunger has always motivated immigrants, and no one can blame Abram for his desire to survive. But his fear over his precarious situation motivated him to lie about his marriage.  He believed the worst about his hosts without reason, and when the Egyptians discovered his falsehood,  they expelled the whole family, deporting them from the country.


In the case of modern immigrants, they often face a strong temptation to lie, especially if their residence lacks legal official authorization.  Some lies are civil offenses, while other are serious crimes.  Lying about one’s citizenship or marital status, for example, often constitutes a serious crime that results in immediate and PERMANENT deportation.


Those who migrate in violation of the law suffer in their legal status, but they suffer the worst damage when they compromise their moral character.  When Abram lied, he forfeited his honesty and risked the virtue of his wife, whom he almost trafficked into the harem of Pharaoh.  The grace and election of God protected them, but when they got deported, they learned the high importance of comporting themselves with rectitude in their moral lives.


Never let migration status compromise moral principles. Civil desobediente may or may not be justificable in the face of unjust laws.  It is not easy to distinguish between just laws and unjust laws.  Illegality does not constitute immorality.  In whatever case, the violation of laws can result in punishment and imprisonment, and those who practice civil disobedience must be willing to pay a price for it.  It should never be done lightly.  Making a mistake can compromise our morality and justify our deportation, as in the case of Abram.  Nevertheless, the grace of God is able to save us.


Copyright©2013 by Joseph L. Castleberry.;


Dr. Joseph Castleberry is President of Northwest University in Kirkland Washington.  He is the author of Your Deepest Dream:  Discovering God’s Vision for Your Life and The Kingdom Net:  Learning to Network Like Jesus.  Follow him on Twitter at @DrCastleberry and at


Acerca de Joseph Castleberry

A missionary to Latin America for 20 years, I currently serve as president of Northwest University in Kirkland, WA. I am the author of Your Deepest Dream (NavPress, 2012); The Kingdom Net: Learning to Network Like Jesus (Influence Resources, 2013), and The New Pilgrims: How Immigrants are Renewing America's Faith and Values.
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