Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Please, South, Don't Rise Again...

I've found myself in deep thought recently over any number of topics, but one of the more frequently reoccurring ones concerns Facebook.  Through (relatively speaking) little fault of my own, I've recently become Facebook "friends" with some ardent Southerners.  I'll leave for another post the meaninglessness of such friendships and concentrate more on the topic at hand - that is, strong-minded Southern sympathizers.

Their basic paradigm (that America is in deep trouble and requires drastic remedies) is, no doubt, correct.  That said, there are better and worse ways to go about fixing said problem.  Arguably, revolting against the American government would be one of the worst possible ways to go.  And of course, any hardcore Southerner has got to be aware that the South is not, in fact, really going to revolt again.  So as much as I like a degree of rhetoric (some might say "hot air") in my speeches, theirs has an even greater-than-usual amount.

What bothers me most, I think, is a general attitude commonly displayed by most (but not all) such Southern sympathizers: that revolt is, in the main, something to be praised.  Such an attitude, particularly coming from the strong Christians that such individuals tend to be, is bepuzzling to your author.  The idea that revolts and revolutions could ever be justified in a Christian scheme is, as far as ideas go, a relatively recent one.  Indeed, 1 Peter 2 is rather explicit on the degree to which laws are to be followed and the honor which is to be given to kings.  And I've never yet seen a king who has been rightly honored by the revolutionaries.

Moreover, consider the David & Saul story (culminating in 1 Sam. 24).  Here we have an example of a thoroughgoingly wicked King, and yet time and again David refused to kill him.  Further, David refused to even allow others to kill Saul (repeatedly referred to him as "the Lord's anointed".)  Such a theme runs not only through the old covenant but the new as well: Consider St. Paul's words in Rom. 13:

  "1Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but from God; the powers that be are ordained by God.

 2Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God, and those who resist shall receive for themselves damnation.
 3For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same,
 4for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid, for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."
 In short, then, the "revolutionary spirit" all-to-frequently displayed by ardent Southern sympathizers is, to my mind, wrong.  It may be well and good to wish that some things were otherwise than they are, but that does not give license for them to be brought about using illicit means.  And revolution, on prima facie Biblical evidence, is immoral.  In fact, given that revolution against God is what brought sin into the world in the first place, I find myself more and more uncomfortable when Southerners wish that the South might yet rise again.  Please no - revolution didn't work out so well in the Garden of Eden, and its track record since leaves much to be desired too.

Yours Sincerely,


  1. So this is an argument against revolution based upon the divine right of kings? What if our American forefathers held the same sentiments? Then are all rulers, no matter how corrupt, to be seen as holy, and all revolutionaries throughout human history immoral?

  2. Well said. Just to chime in, remember that Paul and Peter both affirmed all authority as stemming from God, and there had been experience with other forms of government at that point, such as the Roman Republic, which our constitution was modeled after.

    In any case, I totally agree, as you know, and I'll throw out Aquinas's two practical argument for why revolution is bad: First, revolt is most likely going to lead to civil war, which in all honesty is probably worse for everyone than whatever tyranny was taking place; second, those with poor judgement are much more willing to revolt, especially if their lives are based on criminal activities, so you will have more frequent revolts against good rulers who enforce the law than against bad rulers if revolt is the check for rulers you dislike. Together, this is a model that will lead to horrible suffering rather than liberty and a vital civic order. I find Aquinas much more convincing than Thomas Jefferson on the civic and social consequences of frequent revolution.