So Joe Biden was inaugurated yesterday, and Donald Trump placidly left office without even bouncing the rubble on his way out. Those who were still hoping for some manner of last-minute Hail Mary on Trump’s part and those who had already given up on that option are now in the same boat. It’s time to mourn and time to move on. So naturally, the question that’s on many of our minds at the moment is where do we go from here?
Boomers, of course, still think it was just another election, but then, boomers aren’t going to wake up to reality this late in the game. Those of us who were paying attention know that this was anything but ordinary. And given the scope and nature of its problems, we also have more-than-adequate reason to believe that America is not going to have ordinary elections going forward. How, then, are American Christians going to grapple with an administration that is hostile to both our nation and to our faith?
What of Romans 13?
I addressed this question in the abstract not that long ago, but now it’s time to apply it in the concrete. Many of us are convinced that the election was stolen–and that Biden is not the legitimate President. Given the banana republic shenanigans of the past few months, El Presidente would be a more appropriate title. Are Christians truly bound to submit to an usurper under such circumstances? After all, I myself could falsely claim to have won the election, but that wouldn’t obligate anyone to be obedient to me.
Well, the unfortunate reality is that, cheater or not, Biden has indeed won rulership. Not because he was legally voted in–I don’t believe he was–but because nobody else is making a plausible counter-claim to the governing authority he now wields. If, as some firmly believed and I admittedly hoped, Trump had decided to press the matter further even through military intervention, I would have supported him as the legitimate president. And Christians who did so would be fulfilling Romans 13. But he didn’t. So was “the plan” a lie? Was it real but faulty? As before, the honest answer is still “I don’t know.” But whatever it was, it’s plainly over.
In theory, Biden is subject to the Constitution, but let’s be real. El Presidente did not gain power according to it, and few are actually following it anymore. Failures to properly carry out the election transparently and properly occurred on virtually every level of government. The Constitution has become the paper equivalent of a figurehead. He may not preside as the President, but Biden bears the sword and rules where it can reach.
So El Presidente is in power. Not absolute power, thank God–even emperors must bow to the bureaucracy–but it’s real power nonetheless. The local and national authorities are all in submission to him, and so we as Christian citizens must be as well–at least inasmuch as we can without violating our faith and our own God-given responsibilities. That scope may or may not end up being quite small, but it’s there. We should keep paying our taxes, rendering unto Caesar, and so forth.
Until those God-given responsibilities lead us into new circumstances.
The Trump drama may be over and done with, but other opportunities for righteous opposition will arrive. Maybe sooner, maybe later. In time, alternative authorities will challenge America’s current regime. It cannot help but happen, for God has promised that the wicked will not prosper forever. Part of that inevitability is that too many Americans know the truth and will constantly find ways to resist the clown world these people are attempting to bring about. They demand what we must not give. But even more importantly, this past year has shown that our governing authorities cannot even keep order in the streets. There is an evil, illegitimate, and corrupt government, yes, but there’s just as much an absence of true government.
That void will be filled by other men–hopefully faithful Christians–who find practical ways of fulfilling the responsibilities that El Presidente and his functionaries neglect. They won’t be rebels at first, but rather men fulfilling their God-given vocations on behalf of their families and neighbors. But in time, wicked governing authorities will make those men rebels who will not abandon their duties. At that point, Christians will once again need to answer the question for themselves: which of these competing governing authorities do I support? And then, if God is gracious to us, those better men will prevail and become the new authorities to which Christians will need to submit.
What of voting?
If the election was stolen this brazenly and this successfully, then how are Americans to treat voting going forward? Well, If you’re still looking to elections to change the direction of the nation, then you’re barking up the wrong tree. That game is very plainly rigged, and the powers that be aren’t going to just abandon such a successful strategy. We can’t count on the polls to change anything that our elites think truly matters.
But that doesn’t mean voting is entirely useless. For one thing, we have terrible elites. Not only are they bound to overlook some things that do truly matter, they’re probably not going to become any more competent at the whole enterprise. It was sloppy this time, even with their fanatical determination. It’s only going to become sloppier as they get complacent.
For another thing, Americans have many different levels of representation. Federal representation is a no-go at this point, but that’s not necessarily the case at state and local levels (though your mileage may vary depending on where you live.) Even as a mere tradition, voting still holds some ability to influence our rulers. The closer those rulers are to home, the greater that influence.
But American Christians do need to remove Democracy from the pedestal we’ve placed it on. We do not have government of, by, and for the people any longer. We need to start looking for other ways of affecting change. But we can keep voting in the toolbox, even if we don’t use it as often.
What of Christian Nationalism?
I’ve been talking about Christian Nationalism quite a bit lately. Does Trump’s defeat put an end to that endeavor? A lot of people may have conflated Christian Nationalism with Trumpism, but in reality, it’s nothing of the kind. A second Trump term would have been useful, certainly, but it was never essential, for nations transcend their governments. America still exists, even if traitors and hostile tribes rule over us for the time-being.
What it does mean is that we need to take a different approach. As I’ve already explained, recovering self-government by vote is no longer tenable. Instead, we need to do the hard work of rebuilding a culture–by being the men authorized to serve our families and neighbors that God has declared us to be. We need to look for voids in our communities to fill. We need to produce cultural value as free men. Most of all, we need to repent before God of our failure to preserve the heritage that was entrusted to us the first time around. It pains me to say it, but right now America has the government we deserve. We need to work to deserve better.
As I said before, I’m not ashamed of having rolled the dice on Trump. But Trump was only the quick option to restore America. While he failed, the long option still remains, just as it always does so long as Americans survive as a distinct people. It’s just going to take generations worth of work now to pull off. But we should have already been prepared to engage in that kind of labor. The fact that we weren’t is why we lost our government in the first place.
And in the meantime, we’re going to suffer. There are consequences to losing. This is what they would do to those of us who refuse to bend knee to the Lie. And they will, to many of us. More than ever, we’ll need to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
But that’s just a return to business as usual for Christians. Satan has been using that tired old strategy for millennia, and it never works for him in the end. His head is already crushed under Christ’s heel, and by the Blood of the Lamb we have been made immortal. The devil can bury us, but he can’t keep us in the ground. The coming persecution will just wind up being his latest failure.
In my analysis, the first American republic is dead. It is right and proper to mourn the loss. But America’s life goes on, and we are, in some ways, freer than we were last year. There is no tradition, civil religion, social contract, or business-as-usual that needs to weigh us down. It is time to move on and find new ways make America great again.
So pray for El Presidente–he’s our ruler now, fulfilling whatever role God, in His sovereignty, has appointed. But pray for the American nation as well. Go to church. Get married. Raise a family. Catechize your half-dozen children. Serve in your community. Become a useful and competent person. Learn to be faithful in the small things.
In other words, stop shirking your vocations. We are well past the time when our government is going to pick up our slack.