Culture

Is it Time for Red State Relocation? Thinking Biblically About the “Big Sort”

David Harris

Post-2020, millions of Americans, many of them conservative Christians, have faced the distasteful truth that the places they live have become openly hostile to their way of life. States like California, New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts have become openly hostile. Even urban areas of red states like Texas, Arizona, and Florida cannot be considered friendly to conservatives, much less Christian ones. Whether publicly sharing the gospel (which includes calling out sin), sending their kids to school without pagan catechizing, or just trying to hold onto a job that doesn’t require experimental medical interventions, life has become, for many, untenable where they are.

I faced this bitter truth in 2022. Being a teacher by trade who’s married to a healthcare worker, our family got front-row seats (and a place in the play at times) to nearly every ugly facet of the COVID/anarchy saga that began in 2020 but seems to still be only gathering steam. My job became unbearable under the draconian restrictions and the chaos that took over when they were finally lifted. My wife was fired from her hospital job while 20 weeks pregnant. It was an immensely costly time in our lives, and there were moments when we felt very much alone.

My wife and I held on for about a year, but then finally decided that fall it was time to leave our home state of New York. In just one month I quit my job, found a new one in Tennessee, sold about half our things, and moved 800 miles away. We left behind a church we grew up in and were heavily involved in, along with most of our family, dear friends, and our beloved hometown that raised us.

In making this incredibly difficult decision, I was forced to work through some daunting questions about what was most valuable to my family and me. What follows is an attempt to help navigate a massive change like this by applying Christian ethics, values, and traditions.

“Fortify the Red States!”

Everyone’s situation is different. From the outset, I will state that I believe some Christians who are going should be staying, and some who are staying should be going. This is a rejection of the “wasted votes” narrative propagated by many on the political right. If you’re moving thousands of miles from your home, this is not a decision that should be made merely based on voting patterns. If we are only as valuable as our votes, then the war for democracy has already been lost and we should work on other fronts.

That being said, the places more likely to vote the way you do as a Bible-believing Christian are, also, likely to be more hospitable to your way of life – valuing the things and kind of life that you also value.

“The Mind of a Man Plans His Way”

Proverbs 16:9 states,

The mind of a man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. (NASB)

Sorting through the pros and cons of relocating isn’t necessarily an “avoiding sin” issue (though it could be depending on the circumstances). More likely, it’s a question of wisdom – trying to best glorify God in your situation by doing what’s appropriate for all the responsibilities He’s placed upon you. It’s important to make plans, but then trust God with the big picture. It will be different for singles, married, those with kids, those with means, those without, etc.. Here are some specific areas to seek wisdom in when deciding whether to relocate:

Motives to Moving

As mentioned above, many have moved post-2020 due to the draconian mandates and policies that were rolled out pre and post-COVID pandemic. The movement has only picked up steam as blue areas of the country fall into lawlessness, economic collapse, and continue aggressive attacks on basic Christian values. It’s accurate to say that many have indeed, “fled” their homes seeking greater freedom to live according to the dictates of their conscience.

In places where there’s a large influx of relocators, it’s very common to encounter many who have moved merely to sustain their standard of living, simply holding to the comforts they enjoyed in their previous home. This economic migration will no doubt continue, but it’s also likely that more families will be faced with relocation based on economic desperation: where can I go to provide for my family’s basic needs?

Assessing motives is crucial. Is your desire to move based merely on materialistic goals? Would a move benefit your situation, or would it be better to try and find work or a different living situation where you are? Even if the economic situation is better, does the cultural cost of living where you are (crime, cultural debauchery, etc.) warrant a move? We see a basic format for Christian living laid out in 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12:

…and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

For some, a “quiet life” may be impossible, as it was for many of the apostles and early church fathers. If you have influence and a position of some power, you may be called upon to stand up for your Christian brethren where you are or to lead them to another place where they will be able to live out this scripture. But for the average Christian family, 1 Thessalonians 4 provides a good template for life in considering whether to stay or go.

Freedom to Move

We live in a time of a general shirking of responsibility – whether with family, church, or community. It’s more common to expect someone else, or better yet, a public entity, to take care of the needs of those in our circles. But the Bible is very clear on family responsibility:

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. – 1 Timothy 5:8 (NASB)

It’s become commonplace in the US for generations to split up via cross-country relocation, usually for economic reasons. There are circumstances when this is warranted, but it’s worth remembering that the responsibility of providing for the family belongs to the family itself. For older generations, this may mean living near children to help with childcare, housing, etc. as the US economy deteriorates. For younger family members, this may mean living close to elderly parents to take physical care of them as they age.

Additionally, when you spend a large part of life in one area, you build networks that are difficult to re-root in a new place. Moreover, your responsibilities may not be easy to hand off to another. It’s worth asking: what will be the cost of my absence for my family, church, community, and even state? Do I have the freedom to move? Conversely, when taking the same issues into account (especially family responsibility), the question may be: If I have better opportunities elsewhere, do I have the freedom NOT to move?

The Body of Christ

Though this is typically mentioned first, I’ve purposely left the issue of church until the end. Doing your research in finding a decent church is crucial when considering relocation. However, this will and should look very different for different Christians. Older, mature Christians with years of ministry experience leave massive holes when they relocate. Often they are left without a choice (because retirement is financially untenable in many blue-state locales), but this is a serious consideration. A new believer who has just gotten plugged into a church may not benefit from being immediately separated from it. On the other hand, a disciplined, godly churchman may be an essential asset in a new church.

Defining what a “good” church is also important. If 100% theological uniformity and agreement in every area is what’s most important to you, you’ll probably have to be near a large enough population center where there are also others who all hold to your exact theology. In rural areas, this will probably be much more difficult. Some have moved either thinking that they would “find something”  where they move and don’t, or that their “perfect church” isn’t as perfect as they thought it was.

Ultimately, the issue of church attendance will vary from Christian to Christian depending on their maturity level, responsibilities, and what churches are available. Leaving a church or going to a new one should not be taken lightly. It should also be approached with grace and trust in God’s spiritual provision wherever He leads you in life.

With all of the above considerations, it’s important to remember Proverbs 11:14: Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.

Don’t attempt a move without first consulting godly counsel.

Practical Considerations

Finally, here are some questions to consider when making your pros/cons list:

How will this move affect my family, both immediate and extended? Am I able to fulfill my responsibilities to them by moving/not moving?

Is the economic benefit of this move such that I will have more time with my family? Will this move result in more independence for myself and my family, or more reliance on public resources?

What churches are in the area that don’t compromise on basic biblical truth? Will I have to drive a great distance to be involved? How will my absence affect my current church?

What does the education system look like where I’m considering moving to? Are there laws in place to protect homeschooling and/or good private school options for my family?

What is the legislative trajectory of the place I’m moving to? Are freedoms for Christians increasing or decreasing at the local level? Does this area prioritize its own citizens according to Romans 13 or those from other parts of the world?

How much crime occurs where I’m moving? Who is the local sheriff, and what is his record on protecting his citizens? Is self-defense criminalized or encouraged?

What did the town/city/community/church/culture do during the COVID saga? Was freedom to worship, work, and associate with others criminalized or promoted?

What is the culture of the place that I’m going? Is it a culture that I and my family can integrate into and flourish in? What will my attitude toward the locals be? Is this a place that I can truly learn to love?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. – Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

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