The most frequent question I’m asked is if one should move from a degrading city, state, or country for another location that is better. Everyone’s situation is different, and I can’t possibly know what is right for you, but in the vast majority of cases, I’m reluctant to tell any man “Yes.”
There are two kinds of people who ask me this question: secular and Christian. To the secular person, a situation becomes bad when there are more costs than benefits. I relocated to California to hit in rich in Silicon Valley… the state has become a cesspool… technology jobs can be found in Austin… I’m a rootless cosmopolitan… I have no children… I’m tired of smelly homeless encampments… so I will just get up and move, rebuilding my social network with Tinder and other apps. This person will not admit that it’s their godless materialism which is the root cause of societal decline, that they are the problem, so they pack their sins and nihilism into the moving van to defile the new location they end up in. No matter what advice you give them, they will end up doing what they “feel” that allows them to be “happy” and extract the most material benefits from the world.
Then there’s the Christian, but not all Christians are the same. We must ask how much does the Christian trust in God. If he is Christian in name only, and does not have a living faith of self-denial where all his major decisions derive from serving God’s will, and instead practices a comfortable Christianity, he will proceed as the secular man albeit with more hesitancy since he is more likely to have family and be part of a local community. He has kids to consider, and he wants them to be raised in a good environment, and so he decides to move to an area that is better today (but maybe not tomorrow). No one will fault him for this, but if the Christian doesn’t have children, he will likely be similar to the secular man who places comfort above all else. The secular man and childless Christian are on different timelines, but they both end up in the same place because they both have the same desire for living in a “good place.” The problem for both is that in a connected world, the place they’re moving to is still part of the same sickly body, and just because it’s visibly healthy now doesn’t mean that the infection hasn’t already begun underneath the surface.
Moving doesn’t treat the root cause of infection, which is that world society has aggressively turned its back on God. By treating the symptom, you only buy time, perhaps three years, five years, or even ten years if you’re lucky, but then in ten years, you will end up in the exact same situation as before, but perhaps now much weaker in the faith since you chose comfort and a false sense of material safety over God, and where will you now go that the whole world is oozing with pus and rotten to the bone?
Then there is the Christian who was chosen out of the world by Lord Jesus Christ and is carrying his heavy cross (John 15:19), which gets heavier by the month. He knows Church history and the martyrs that suffered before him. He reads the lives of the saints. He knows that God will only bless nations if they repent. He knows the nature of spiritual warfare and how demons are not constrained by walls or borders. What choice does he make? The one that his faith allows. If you can endure then endure. If you can’t endure, ask God for endurance, and if He has gone quiet on you (for your own benefit so you seek Him with more zeal), then the problem is not where to live but the state of your soul.
I’m a middle-aged single man. I live close to Washington DC, ground zero for the worst social engineering and psychological operations known to humanity. I hope to soon move to an outer exurb, but it could be in a blue state. My aspirational plan is to endure the hardships, adapt to them with prayer and faith, inoculate any children I may have against the evil ideas of our times, and live in the midst of great evil, because I know that this world is fallen. Heaven will never be achieved in this life, and by moving to South Dakota or Tennessee, I will just train my soul to run away at material discomfort, to kick the can down the road, when I should be actively training for persecution of my faith or worse, and when that persecution comes, if I can stay and endure martyrdom then I should, and if I can’t then I should flee.
Those who have gone like sheep to the slaughter, “resisting not evil” (cf. Mt 5:39), will become like the Son of the Father (cf. Is 53:7) and will rise again with him in glory everlasting (cf. Col 3:1-4) —Saint Sophrony in On Prayer
Persecution of your faith is the most valid reason for a Christian to leave (Matthew 10:23), especially if a family is involved. If you cannot practice your faith with your children, if your church is burned down, if the local government is banging down your door because of your homeschooling curriculum, then escape in the dead of night. But if you’re a single man, examine yourself and the reasons why you want to leave. The martyrs who stay and the confessors who flee both keep the faith alive, and only God knows what is right for you to enter the Kingdom in your pure white garment. The fewer attachments and responsibilities you have, the more you should be able to endure. I should personally be able to face the worst of what’s to come, since I don’t have a 9-5 job or family, but my human strength is so weak then I will end up having to flee sooner than I should.
There is a multitude of mitigating circumstances that my black and white portrayals cannot convey, but if you desire to move because you crave comfort or seek alleviation of your anxieties and fears, the problem may not be where you live but your faith. Search deep down for why you want to leave, and unless the answer stems from protecting your family or serving God, there is a high probability you’re making a decision to please the flesh, not the soul. May God enlighten us all to know the difference.
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