A CONCURRING (BIBLICAL) OPINION FOR SECESSION
April 23, 2010
My son, Tim Baldwin, who is a constitutional attorney, recently engaged my friend, attorney Ed Vieira, Jr., in a spirited and intellectual written debate on the rightness or wrongness of State secession. Vieira took the unionist position that states do not have the constitutional right to secede. Tim took the freedomist position that states have both a constitutional and Natural Law right to secede (a position with which I firmly agree, as most readers know).
Here is the link to Tim's columns.
And here is the link to Vieira's columns.
One element that neither writer covered (understandably so, given the legal nature of the debate) was the BIBLICAL right of secession. Christians rightly square everything with the principles and precepts of the Holy Scriptures. So, is there Biblical approbation and authority for State secession?
Before answering the Biblical question, let me briefly touch upon the Christian reaction to State secession both here in America and overseas. First, overseas. I doubt that there are many Christian pastors and churchmen who would be willing to denounce, denigrate, or declare as illegitimate the nation-state of Norway today. What Christian would advocate cutting off trade or diplomatic relations with Norway? Where is the Christian denomination or Church that would not recognize the right of Norway to peacefully exist?
Of course, Norway's parliament dissolved the union between Sweden and Norway on June 7, 1905. While an attempted dissolution that had taken place in 1814 was squashed by a Swedish military victory, the separation of 1905 was done peacefully and without bloodshed (although Norway was willing to shed blood, had it been required). Since Norway's secession in 1905, the two neighboring countries have enjoyed extremely close--even brotherly--relations.
So, where is the spiritual condemnation for Norway? Who among us would quote Romans 13, et al., in an attempt to demonize the brave, independent spirit of the Norwegians?
By the same token, where is the spiritual outrage over the dissolution of Czechoslovakia? On January 1, 1993, the federal State of Czechoslovakia separated into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This has been called the "Velvet Divorce" in political parlance, due to the amicable and peaceful nature of the separation. (Of course, Czechoslovakia itself had come into existence by the breakup of Austria-Hungary at the end of World War I.)
We could go on an on with historical examples of how nation-states separated--by either violent or non-violent means. So, why is it that Christians, pastors, and churchmen will not so much as bat an eye at the numerous State separations that have taken place over the centuries, but suddenly become righteously indignant when discussing the American South's attempted separation from the Union in 1861--or even of the 13 Colonies' separation from Great Britain in 1776?
And while we are on the subject of hypocrisy, how dare any Church or pastor denounce State secession or separation on one hand and then turn around and celebrate Independence Day on July 4? How dare they host "patriotic" services and invite special patriotic speakers and singers to come into their churches? How dare they encourage civic involvement and responsibility (such as voting)? How dare they promote participation in the US military, if they believe that there was no legitimacy to America's separation from Great Britain? Plus, how dare today's preachers and Bible teachers condemn what George Washington and the boys did in the American Revolution, and then turn around and celebrate the freedom and independence that was produced and preserved by that same Revolution?
Now, let's look at the Biblical record.
The right of State secession is rooted and grounded in the Word of God. Did the Holy Spirit not inspire the New Testament writer to say, "Now all these things [Old Testament history] happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come"? (I Corinthians 10:11 KJV)
The last time I checked, the Holy Bible contained 66 Books, not 27; and Jehovah's introduction of civil government in the Old Testament is replete with examples of State secession.
Did God not separate the nations at the Tower of Babel in Genesis chapter 11? He certainly did. In fact, the goal of global union was first attempted at Babel. At this point, it was God, Himself, Who was the sponsor of "State separation."
Also, did God not "separate" Israel from Egypt by a mighty and miraculous deliverance? Even the theocracy of Israel under Moses served as a presage for future State autonomy. God divided the nation of Israel into 12 independent tribes. Each tribe had its own individuality, leaders (under Moses, of course), territory, etc. Remember, too, when Israel crossed the Jordan River and entered the Promised Land that 2 1/2 tribes (Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh) chose to stay on the east side of Jordan. This was happily allowed by Joshua and the other 9 1/2 tribes.
In fact, the Book of Judges is simply a redundant account of tyrannical powers enslaving God's people and the subsequent rise of deliverers (directed and empowered by God) to separate the nation, thus providing His people with freedom and independence.
Furthermore, the divided kingdom of Israel provides a classic Biblical example of the right of State secession. As a result of Solomon's sin (I Kings 11:11-13), God allowed the nation to be divided. "Israel" was the name of the Northern Kingdom, comprising 10 tribes. Its first king was Jeroboam, and the capital was Samaria. "Judah" was the name of the Southern Kingdom, comprising 2 tribes, Judah and Benjamin. Rehoboam was Judah's first king, and the capital was Jerusalem.
These two nations--which shared the same history, heritage, ancestry, language, etc.--engaged in friendly (and sometimes not-so-friendly) commerce and trade, participated in mutually beneficial dialogue and diplomacy, and even sometimes allied themselves in times of war. And, yes, they also occasionally became mortal enemies against each other. Between the two, the Southern Kingdom enjoyed far and away more of the favor of Heaven. It had (for the most part) better leaders, had a more vibrant spiritual life, and was afforded more peace. In fact, Jehovah, through His prophets, often warned Judah against the propensity to become entangled with the idolatrous affairs of the Northern State. In general, the more Judah remained separate from Israel, the more successful it was. Conversely, the more entangled Judah became with Israel, the more dreadful the consequences became.
Judah's secession from Israel not only gave it a more peaceful and productive existence, it extended its liberty by over 100 years. Israel went into Assyrian captivity in 721 B.C., while Judah went into Babylonian captivity in 586 B.C.
It should be obvious to any reasonable person that there is absolutely nothing in Scripture that would preclude states from seceding, separating, or declaring independence from one another. In fact, just the opposite is true. The examples from the Bible should be plentiful enough for any rational person to understand that the God of Heaven has given mankind the individual and collective volition to choose (or reject) our leaders, government, etc. (I have already dealt with Romans 13, et al., so I will not belabor that issue again at this juncture.)
I also recommend that one reads Dr. Greg Dixon's treatise on Romans 13.
Given the socio-political climate in America these days, the subject of State separation and independence needs to again be discussed; for should the central government in Washington, D.C., continue its propensity to violate its contract with the states (the US Constitution) and persist in its current nefariousness--to abridge liberty and State sovereignty--it could one day become necessary for states to reconsider separating from the Union. And should that day come, Christians need to have a clear conscience in knowing that such an act would (if lawfully done) be in perfect harmony with not only the US Constitution and Natural Law, but also Scriptural principle.
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P.S. And now that the reader understands the Scriptural correctness of State separation, it is incumbent that he or she reads Tim's recent column entitled "Plan For Freedom." See it here.
P.P.S. After enduring a serious hack job against our web site, I am happy to report that we are now fully functional again. I apologize for the several days of interruption that this sabotage caused. Please feel free to visit and interact with my web site once more. My site is located here.
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