(Originally posted on my personal blog – http://nsagraduate.wordpress.com/)
I’ve been relatively “mum” on the hot topic of secession over the last week for a variety of reasons. First, I knew it would blow over before long. The hotheaded types who latch on to the idea would eventually quiet down. Second, I was interested in seeing how the media would react. Third, there’s just not a lot of sense in making a big fuss about this.
It is that third reason that I suppose requires further explanation, as I have several friends and acquaintances who actually havemade a fuss about this, and believe we really ought to be discussing the “idea” of secession and why it really and truly could be a good thing. So in response, I have three important points to make about this idea of secession and how Christians and conservatives ought to be handling the topic.
First, we really, really don’t want what secession would bring. I know that to some, the idea of the “South rising again” or standing up to Washington in defiance of its liberal philosophies is romantically attractive, but the consequences of such ideas (and all ideas have consequences, I assure you) are catastrophic. I will grant that the petitions written to the White House following the Presidential Election last week were aimed at some sort of peaceful separation, but in all seriousness, we know that could never happen. (And that’s ignoring the comedy of “requesting permission” to secede.) But back to the idea of a peaceful separation – we currently do not even have the ability to peacefully communicate with each other when facing the contrasting principles of liberalism and conservatism. Our politicians have been known to drive crowds into a frenzy when opposing the views of “the other side.” Why would we think that an all-out secession could possibly be peaceful?
Second, secession from what? Didn’t anyone see the 2012 Presidential Election Results map by county??? What are we actually splitting ourselves off from? Certainly not the rest of the country! Except for Hawaii, or perhaps the very furthest Northeastern states, the entire country is conservative as a whole. And with that tag “conservative” comes the anti-Washington, anti-big government, anti-abortion sentiments that these principled citizens are desirous of achieving. But look at the map – splitting off will not achieve these ends – it will not end the federal tyranny we have all come to know and love. Our problems are deeper and more fundamental. Secession is not an ideological action, it is a physical one. It is regional. It involves cutting off a relationship with a person or a people. Take a look around you – the answer lies in the hearts and minds of our neighbors, not in removing them from our lives. Which brings me to my last point…
Third, secession, and the idea of secession, is a cop-out. It’s cheating. Secession would allow us to “escape” – to not have to face our problems and the difficult solutions that lie ahead. Secession means saying that instead of investing the necessary time to change and win over the hearts and minds of our disagreeable neighbors, we’d rather just not have anything to do with them. If they won’t come around to our way of thinking (even when we don’t do a good job of promoting our ideas) then we’ll just give up and walk away. After all, who needs them? We’re capable of standing on our own two feet! Now as Christians, it should be obvious that this isn’t the way to go about life. Christians are all about cultural transformation – the Gospel moves slowly but surely. It begins in our hearts and changes our lives. Christians can’t walk away. Christians don’t secede. Christians must fight the good fight and labor long hours in the hope that God will do a great work. In the same way, conservatives have a similar responsibility. After all, we’re of the mind that you shouldn’t give a man a fish just to feed him for a day. Instead, in teaching others to fish, we have to accept the time commitment involved. We have to accept the challenge that comes with learning a new skill and new way of thinking.
Our road is the long road. We won’t win the battle for the hearts of our liberal friends tomorrow, but we will someday. We’re not in the business of bailing on our commitments and our mission field. We have a responsibility to our friends and our neighbors. So don’t spend your time talking of secession, or arguing that it could actually start a worthwhile conversation with those in Washington about the direction we’re headed, and how we aren’t going to keep falling in line. Secession is not the answer. It brings hatred and greater strife; it doesn’t even begin to answer the actual divides we’re dealing with culturally and politically, as it’s a regional and physical solution; and finally – fundamentally it is a retreat and an escape – a failure on the part of those who should care about cultures and movements. We can do better.