Sharon is as tired as her husband. Work takes them away from their kids. They both need a break, but can they afford a vacation? Sharon also misses her folks in Texas, and they miss their grandkids. To add despair to exhaustion, her church is more intent on making members feel good than doing good. Indeed, Hollywood culture is shaping her area more than Christ. Even their governor seems more focused on transitioning tomboys than fixing crime. Before bed, she tells her husband: “Where are our taxes going?” The rent is overdue.
Sharon is just a symbol, but her issues are all too real. They’re why thousands of families are leaving (fleeing?) California and other deep-blue states. It’s a sociological phenomenon. Like it or not, families are voting with their cars and plane tickets for red states. Many Christians are among them. Sociologists and pastors alike are paying attention.
A new book, Fight by Flight by Pastor Joel Webbon, advances the view that it’s OK to leave deep-blue states. Indeed, such trends could shape future elections for the better. As Webbon says, “If less than 100,000 conservatives/Christians living in California had moved to Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, or Wisconsin before the 2020 election, the whole world might look different. 6 million votes for Trump in California, and all we needed was 76, 514 (less than 1 and a half percent).”
It’s worth considering. Conservatives/Christians feel pressured to stay in places where they have little effect. In Sharon’s case, a move to Texas from California would honor her father and mother. She’d also have more time with her children and husband. She’d have more money to spend on essentials and experiences that reflect her family’s values. And as for her evangelical tradition? Not everyone is called to be a professional missionary, and there are mission opportunities in Texas.
Permission to Leave
Boiled down, Webbon says that leaving godless places is often loving godless places.
Fight by Flight has been praised by Megan Basham of The Daily Wire and Steve Deace of Blaze TV. This slim book is one of the most interesting reads I’ve come across in years. Part theology, part memoir, it’s a reminder that simple ideas can carry much weight. Webbon has a gift for distilling time-tested values for use in many contexts.
Currently, I live in Victoria, Australia, one of the most controlled states in the world during the Covid-19 hysteria. As a result, thousands of families left or are planning to leave. The mental health costs on children and adults, from breakdowns to suicides, are still being felt and will be for decades to come. Telling families they can leave for their children is a sign of compassion built on truth. Pastors like Webbon offer a Bible-based map out of regime-first mindsets, an alternative to passiveness.
History is also instructive. Did English Pilgrim fathers “fight by flight” when they hopped on the Mayflower? Did Jesus encourage a “fight by flight” lifestyle when he asked his disciples to travel light and carry swords? Did Moses “fight by flight” when he left Egypt with his people in the thousands? Indeed, “fight by flight” patterns occur across cultures, regions, and centuries. They involve strategy. They signal liberty. “Fight by flight” men built your area, most likely.
Staying for the Wrong Reasons
There are right and wrong reasons to leave or stay in states. Webbon encourages us to check our egos. Take the so-called California Dream. How many folks are chasing their “big screen” dreams rather than Jesus? How many dreamers wish to be the next big thing in Silicon Valley for the almighty dollar? How many naïve evangelicals misplace their faith in trendy nonprofit organizations to “save the world”? “I did it for ministry,” writes Webbon. “I did it to show all those chump pastors back in flyover country that I was capable of doing something great.”
Back to Sharon, she may find that moving to a rural area in her state works for her. Certain places bring out strengths and weaknesses. There’s value in thinking strategically as individuals and as groups. There’s a time to stay and a time to go.
I’d consider leaving my state, although that will be shaped by upcoming elections. Meanwhile, I’d like to think Sharon moves to and flourishes in Texas. Her kids are a blessing to her parents. Sharon’s taxes benefit a life-affirming culture. Sharon has more time for herself and her marriage. And last but not least, I’d like to think Sharon and her husband owned their house, an inheritance for their children and their children’s children — because one strategic move can bless many. One move can pack an eternal punch.