So we have every reason to believe that we are about to witness a massive demographic shift in the United States. I am talking about what amounts to a large number of refugee columns, each one a mile wide, moving from collapsing blue states to burgeoning red states. That is overstated and a tad simplistic, but not by much.
We all know that the shambles of the last few months has been bad for many Americans, and for their businesses. But we also know that there have been some winners — think Purell, or Zoom. I would now encourage you to add U-Haul to the list.
Many thoughtful Christian residents of our blue states have toyed with the idea of relocating for years now. But, as Newton taught us, an object at rest tends to remain at rest. There were real annoyances associated with staying put, but that is what they were thought to be — annoyances. The taxes were high, the governments were incompetent and officious, regulations were increasingly intrusive, and so on. And so the thought of maybe someday was constantly in the back of a lot of minds.
And then 2020 hit us amidships, and this brought with it a dark realization. Things can move from annoying to intolerable pretty rapidly. There was such a desperate desire to wreck the economy before the fall election, in order to take that advantage away from the president, that multiple leaders of multiple states were willing to crash the well-being of their own states to accomplish it. To be fair, a number of red state governors went along because peer pressure is a powerful force, and has been since junior high. But even those red state governors, who didn’t rise to the nobility levels of South Dakota, were far more interested in opening up again than have been power-tripping blue state governors.
Then, after having been in lock down for a couple of months, George Floyd was killed, and the following protests were promptly shanghaied by rioting commies. So you were holding on, holding on, holding on, maybe we can open the shop up soon, and instead of that, you were confronted by rioters burning down businesses, left unprotected by governors and mayors who ordered police departments to stand down.
Put all of this together, and you quite naturally found yourself thinking about greener pastures.
On the other side, red states — with lower taxes, less regulation, balanced budgets — are facing a major influx. For example, friend sent me a bit of info from United Van Lines, saying that Idaho now has the highest percentage of inbound moves in the United States, putting Idaho at the top of that list for the first time in 25 years. Factor in the cost of a home and the choices start to make themselves. The median price of a home in Boise is just north of $330K. In San Francisco, it is just north of $1.3M.
In an old-time refugee column, you would have people with push carts and all their earthly possessions, or an old beat station wagon with the mattresses tied on top. What happened here is that because of the lock downs many companies had to allow their employees to work remotely, and discovered that it worked well. In a previous request, corporate said no to Smith working remotely. But now Smith can move to a red state, and one of the things he can bring with him is his job. Or his business. The old shop was burned down by rioters anyhow.
What does the Bible say about relocating? There are two major reasons in Scripture for doing something like that, and there is not a hint of disapproval in either case for those who relocate. The two reasons are persecution of believers, on the one hand, or response to general calamity on the other. What we are facing in this situation today is a combination of both. So getting the heck out of Dodge is not necessarily an unbiblical thing to do.
Jesus expressly says this:
“But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another.”
Matthew 10:23 (KJV)
This is not the only biblical response to persecution, but it is one of the appropriate responses. And then there is the problem of a broader calamity.
“And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.”
Luke 21:20–21 (KJV)
In short, Jesus Himself says that there are times when it is time to head for the tall grass.
Elimelech and family went to Moab because of a famine in Israel (Ruth 1:1-2). Jacob was willing, first, to turn to Egypt, and second, to relocate to Egypt, because there was food there (Gen. 42:1; Gen. 46:6). Leaving a place on account of these sorts of pressures is not an unnatural thing to do.
A Few Things to Remember
Here are a small handful of things to remember as you are making this decision, presented in no particular order.
Wherever you are, there will be sadness when you depart. You will have friends and connections, and you know you will miss them. But honestly, this is a feature of the world God made for us to live in. The life of the apostle Paul was filled with hard good-byes. You don’t desert the place where you are planted for trivial reasons, but it is reasonable to do so for reasons.
You might feel like you are deserting your post. You are afraid of what might happen to your church if you and the other two “salt and light” families leave. You are seeing clear signs that the elder board is starting to go woke on you. And the answer is that what is likely to happen to the church if you leave is also likely what is going to happen to it if you don’t leave. But if you don’t leave, and the thing burns down, then it burns down with you and your kids there.
Take care that you don’t view the place where you are going as some sort of utopia. People are going to be doing the human thing there also, and arrival in such a place is not going to solve all your problems for you. There is a kind of student who resolves to get better grades next semester by means of reorganizing his notebook and sharpening his pencils. Easier than studying. Wherever you move, you ought to think of it as a place of opportunity, and not as a place of solutions. Wherever you go, there you are.
Don’t move to Texas from California, and then start voting in ways that will turn Texas into California. This is another way of saying that many Christians will flee conditions that they helped to create, and which they on many occasions unwittingly defended. They don’t like how the fruit tastes, but they helped to plant the orchard. So if you move to a red state, realize that you will be tempted to track more than a little blue state in. Be careful.
I am sure I will have occasion to write about this more as the thing unfolds. For the present, suffice it to say that this is an honorable and wise opportunity to consider.