The Republic of Texas?

After George Bush was elected and then re-elected, a number of people (especially from the Hollywood crowd) said, “I’m moving to Canada.”  After Obama was elected, I did not say that about myself for two reasons: (1) There is no need to move to Canada; under Obama, we will become Canada; (2) If Louisville winters are a bit much for me, just imagine what a winter in Canada would do!

So perhaps the conservative alternative to saying, “I’m moving to Canada” is, “I’m moving to Texas and pushing for secession.”  Several websites are already putting forward the idea (just do a Google search on “Texas secession” to find them). 

I am a native of Texas.  I love the Lone Star State.  I love its history, beauty, culture, and character.  I would have a million times more confidence in the government of Texas to regulate its own affairs than I currently have in the federal government of the United States.  A free Republic of Texas would not be a bad idea, to my mind.  It was a free republic from 1836-1845.  I don’t see why it couldn’t work again.

Of course, regardless of what Texas could be, the political reality right now is that it is part of the United States of America.  And that political reality cannot be taken lightly.  As much as I might disagree with the direction of the federal government right now, it is a government ordained and appointed by God to have a measure of authority over me and over the state of Texas at this time.  The question I have been pondering here lately is this: at what point, if at all, does a people have a right to break all political ties with its existing government?  I’m not saying this because I want Texas to secede.  Even though a free Texas would probably do things better than the federal government does now, that is not sufficient reason to secede.  I don’t think Texas is anywhere close to having justification for that kind of action.  But given the seismic shifts that are happening now in our culture, in politics, in the size of government, in fiscal policy, it is not an unimaginable scenario that one day down the road the people of Texas may have a just grievance that could warrant political separation.  This should not be hard for us to believe.  America itself was born in just that way.  If the American colonies reached that point, how can we know if and when a state like Texas has come to the same point? 

I don’t have the answer.  In fact, I’m not even sure that I want to say that the American colonies were justified in their actions.  Theologians have often divided over this question.  The Lutheran tradition has been more apt to advocate submission to the powers that be as God’s representatives, no matter how unjust they may be.  And, in Scripture, we see that teaching in such passages as Romans 13:1-7.  But even though all governments are ordained by God, does a human government ever reach a point of oppression by which its divine authority to govern is forfeited and the people become justified in withdrawing their allegiance to that government and forming another?  The Reformed tradition has been more apt to argue this point.  As I said, I don’t have the answer.  Both the Republic of Texas and the United States of America were formed by rebelling against an existing government.  And certainly, one has to admire the courage and ideals of those who risked (and often gave) their lives for those causes.  But Scripture is noticeably silent on those kinds of political questions, even though Israel under Roman rule was a similar kind of political situation.  When I read the New Testament, I get the feeling that the biblical authors had little concern for any kind of massive political action or revolution.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that we should never have that kind of concern; it does, however, mean that Scripture offers little guidance in that area.  I would be interested in hearing some good thoughts on the whole question of the justifiability (or lack thereof) of dissolving one’s ties to a governing authority.   

Texas will not secede, at least not anytime soon.  But I wouldn’t say that it is beyond the realm of possibility somewhere down the road.

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6 Responses to “The Republic of Texas?”

  1. Ali Says:

    Interesting questions. I would favour the view that a person stay under the secular authority God has ordained, but it would be an interesting study to go through the Old Testament and see how the Israelites dealt with such issues. One could say that the Exodus was a secession from Egypt. Then you’ve got the division of Israel under Rehaboam. What was God’s view of it all?

  2. fenderpooh Says:

    Yes, both good points, Ali. One could argue that the exodus was a unique event, given that it was God’s method of fulfilling a specific promise to Abraham. But the breakaway from Rehoboam is in a different category. It was God’s punishment of Solomon’s house, and the political break itself seems to come with God’s endorsement (although the northern kingdom’s worship quickly degenerated into idolatry once they had broken away from the Temple in Jerusalem).

  3. Rudy Says:

    Well, those who are Christians should understand that all governing authority is under Our Lord’s feet. He sets up and sets down those in power. From my understanding we are only to pray for those in positions of authority.

    However, we can pray for change.

  4. Benjamin Says:

    As Davey Crockett exclaimed: “You all can go to Hell, I’m going to Texas.”

  5. Ali Says:

    Yeah, but I think you are reading them too narrowly – or perhaps not narrowly enough! The Bible gives us the behind-the-scenes look. In the case of Rehoboam, the people of Israel at the time didn’t break away from Rehoboam thinking, “This is God’s punishment on the house of Solomon, so it’s okay”! And just because it was God’s punishment doesn’t mean it was okay for the people of Israel to do that. You know that God’s punishment leaves him guiltless, but the instruments of that punishment can be guilty.

    Then take the Exodus. Yes, it was part of the overall plan of God for Israel, but he also removed them from Egypt because they were oppressed. He heard their call. Echoes of the cry of Israel in Judges when they realised they needed to be delivered.

    Now, like I said, the Bible gives the larger picture but the people of the time didn’t necessarily know that larger picture. At times, the deliverers God raised up were just deliverers who just seemed to arrive on the scene.

    I think there is a lot to be thought through with regards to these and other cases looking at them from a purely human perspective, because that’s our perspective. We have to acknowledge that today we don’t necessarily know the larger picture.

    Does that make sense at all?

  6. fenderpooh Says:

    Yes, it makes good sense. But even trying to think on all of those levels, I am left with the sense (though I have not studied the text closely on this) that the northern kingdom’s rebellion comes off looking okay initially, though certainly not after the religious apostasy of Jeroboam. And you make a good point about the exodus.

    Things can get complicated when you see the big picture. Doug Wilson recently wrote on his blog that we must pray for and honor the civil authority (Romans 13) even though he may be the beast (Revelation 13). It’s hard to put those two things together, but they do go together.

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