Secession: Biblical wisdom of moving on
May 20, 2020
Sometimes the best thing to do is walk away. Stop throwing pearls to the swine, as Jesus said.
When the arguments have all been had, and everybody’s made their points a million times, maybe a peaceful split is not the worst answer in the world.
That was the thinking of the signers of “The Declaration of Independence.”
All efforts at reconciliation had failed. It was time to go. They declared their intention to secede from the authority of King George III. Of course, the tyrant branded that effort as rebellious. It didn’t have to be a war, but he made it one.
They didn’t do anything wrong by trying to secede. In fact, the concept of political secession is seen in the Bible repeatedly. There are times when it’s the only wise option remaining.
I’m defining secession here as the effort to separate from one, earthly authority’s jurisdiction, for the sake of establishing a new authority.
“Let my people go,” was the word of the Lord through Moses to Pharaoh. It didn’t have to get ugly. The wicked ruler turned it into a cosmic showdown between Yahweh and the deities of Egypt. If the tyrant had not repeatedly hardened his heart, the damage could’ve been minimized.
We know how it turned out. The people of God eventually completed their secession from the political authority of Egypt, and were established as a new, sovereign nation.
Generations later, after the reigns of David and Solomon, the next king was a fool named Rehoboam, and history’s worst inaugural speech resulted in a split within Israel, with the 10 Northern tribes seceding from his rule to establish their own authority. Now, Rehoboam was no more in favor of secession than Pharaoh had been, and when he tried to put a stop to it by force, Yahweh put a stop to his scheme.
At the end of the day, the tribes wound up accomplishing a completely successful secession. The Bible is careful to let us know that God was behind this entire turn of events. (1 Kings 12:1-24)
There are other, smaller secessions that you’ve probably never thought of in that light. Abraham suggested a peaceful split with Lot, and that is what happened. Abraham flourished as a result. Jacob seceded from the authority of his powerful father-in-law, and, again, the patriarch flourished.
Scripturally speaking, secession is a legitimate action that is not the same as rebellion or war, although tyrants can turn it into that, and wreak havoc thereby. Biblical secession, done well, aims at a peaceful split that allows both parties to prosper.
Regarding the coronavirus situation, in a cloud of chaotic half-truths and misinformation, one thing seems clear: That is, the divisions in this nation are deep, persistent, and most likely irreconcilable apart from great bloodshed. I’m not sure what the harm would be in simply letting the sides in this division separate peacefully and run their worlds in the manner they think best.
Let’s pray for the godly peace of our land.
Gordan Runyan is the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Tucumcari. Contact him at: