We are in a war. It is a spiritual war for sure. But that isn’t to say it isn’t a real war. To say it’s a spiritual war is to say that it is more real, more encompassing than a mere shooting war, a mere physical war. It includes bodies and souls, eternal destinies, as well as lives, liberties, lands, and nations.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5).
The Bible says that our weapons are not carnal but mighty through God for pulling down strongholds, and modern Christians say that spiritual warfare means insisting that everything is fine while the house is on fire. You know the meme.
This is the war for civilization, the war for humanity, the war against sin, death, and the devil. It’s the war that God declared in a Garden six thousand years ago, the war that Adam joined by faith when he named his wife Eve, the mother of all the living. And this is what we are fighting for. We are fighting for the freedom to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are fighting for the liberty to take responsibility for those entrusted to us, those closest to us. This is because love is personal and cannot be outsourced to a central office.
Identifying the Enemy
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges in fighting this war has been identifying the enemy and in so doing, identifying the plays of the enemy. But the enemy is becoming more and more obvious by the minute. And the enemy is centralized statism. And by centralized statism, we of course mean Marxism (or socialism or communism, if you prefer), but it’s really all the same thing. I know it’s a bit gauche to just say that out loud in polite company, but well, there it is. And this “thing” of which we speak is the conglomeration of Karl and Friedrich, a couple of 19th century drunk and stoned frat boys, venting their spleens into an overweight tome now known to the world as Das Kapital, but it really just comes down to Satanic delusions. Ye will be as gods, is the subtitle I think.
But seriously, the ground is envy, lust, pride, greed, the means is grasping, anarchy, revolution, and the promise is utopia, eternal life, harmony, equality, divinity. First they built the tower of Babel, and every petty tyrant ever since was a son of Nimrod, grasping for uniformity of language, conformity of vision, and a city and tower reaching up to heaven, whether in Rome or in Washington D.C., or Ottowa, or Beijing. Marx just collected all that hot gas and translated it into angry German. And to be clear, this impulse is the root impulse of every rebel son or daughter of Adam, mighty hunters all.
Conservatives With the Ball (Running the Wrong Way)
So comes the new Governor of Virginia Glenn Youngkin with the political football playing for the red team, but he’s running the wrong way, God bless him. He comes into office full of vim and beans, and what is his first act as quarterback? He signs, how many? Count ‘em, eleven executive orders on his first day in office. As though he is the supreme lawmaker of the land, as though he were the savior of Virginia, as though he were Nimrod the Great. Now maybe some of his actions were legitimate according to the Virginia constitution (maybe), but the question is: do you want freedom in Virginia or do you want to keep playing Marxist football? The former governor, Blackface Northam, instituted an office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion and a cabinet position to boot, and now Youngkin kind of, sort of disbands it, but kind of, sort of tries to salvage some of it by renaming it the office of Diversity, Opportunity, and Inclusion. Man, that’s radical. That will teach those progressives. See if they try that ever again.
That reminds me of the time we interviewed our current Governor of Idaho, Brad Little, when he was running for the office. He noted at the time that since Trump was in office this was a capital moment for conservatives to make bold and go for the jugular, swing for the fence, and burgle the booty (as they say). And so, with bated breath, I asked him what his plan was. What would he do if elected to office? Where would he plant his flag for freedom for Idahoans? And the words that came out of his mouth were something like: I would immediately begin work on Idaho roads. He was about five or six sentences into his triumphal valedictory, when I interrupted him because it had almost sounded like he said that his grand plan (in light of Trump’s apparent conservative bluster) was to fix Idaho roads. But alas, that’s what he did say. Now in hindsight and compared to Youngkin, I do prefer a fake conservative governor spending all his energy on our roads rather than trying to take care of my healthcare, education, or save the world. I mean if they aren’t going to do what they’re supposed to do, the next best thing is to be busy with the roads. But myopic doesn’t quite describe that moment.
But back to Youngkin: in the same series of royal decrees, he also established commissions to combat all the bad things and keep them from happening ever, ever, never. He gave the Superintendent of Education the new title Grand Poobah of Learning (ok, not really), but he did summon up all the powers of his office and bestowed them to regulate education in Virginia, all in the name of (checks notes), ending divisive doctrines like Critical Race Theory. This is like promising to end air pollution by requiring the burning of all plastics. In fact, just to make sure there is a new spirit of harmony and unity in Virginia, Governor Youngkin has set up hotlines for citizens of the commonwealth to nark on each other. I mean if you see anybody even looking like they might be thinking CRT thoughts, you should definitely report them. You should probably report them if they are even looking like they might think CRT thoughts. Because you know nothing says unity and harmony like ratting your neighbors out. And we definitely want bureaucrats in Richmond establishing peace on earth.
But wait, there’s more: Youngkin also signed an executive order prohibiting mask mandates, and if you know me at all, you know that I’m not a fan of the face burqas in the slightest. But the problem is: who died and made Youngkin god of medical decisions? Youngkin even extended this royal order to include private schools. Youngkin lifted his royal scepter and assumed the prerogative to run your local private school. Youngkin is acting just like previous governor Northam only with different whims. Youngkin is acting like a blackface conservative. It’s the same statism as Northam. It’s the same centralizing, totalitarian bossiness. He just smeared some conservative shoe polish on his face and he’s hoping no one will notice.
This is worse than running the wrong way on the field. I’d say Youngkin has run the ball 30 yards in the wrong direction and then dropped to one knee and set the ball up for the opposing team to kick a field goal.
When Fighting the Left is Actually Helping the Left
Jonah Goldberg wrote recently, “As a conservative, I’ve railed against the centralizing nationalism of progressivism for my entire professional life. It’s one of the reasons I think all of the new “nationalist conservatives” are so misguided. Yes, they’re fighting the left, but their strategy is to embrace the means of progressivism on the barmy assumption that this is the way to achieve (allegedly) conservative ends.” And despite my misgivings with some of Goldberg’s more recent positions, he’s right about this. The only thing I’d add to that synopsis is that when you take up the means of progressivism (statism, centralization) you aren’t actually fighting the left. You’re actually helping the left.
While there’s much to appreciate about all the fight that Governor Desantis has shown in Florida, there have been some real cringe moments too. His state wide vaccine bans that claim to have the authority to tell private businesses how they can hire or fire their own employees is just as fascist as Biden claiming to have authority to tell businesses with 100 employees or more how to make their medical decisions. And speaking of Desantis imitating Biden, he announced last week on Twitter: “I am calling on the Biden Administration to include at least $725 million for Everglades restoration in the upcoming 2023 budget request. This level of investment is necessary to keep pace with Florida’s investment in the Everglades and move key projects forward.” He’s insisting that Biden send almost three-quarters of a billion dollars to Florida for the Everglades. What he’s actually insisting on is more chains for the slaves of Florida. He also unveiled 400 million in statewide chains for “resilience projects.” Great. The benevolent dictator of Florida is going to help Floridians be “resilient.” Because otherwise, they would not be resilient. Unless the state provides, the people will suffer. And unless the Fed coughs up the funding, the Everglades will not be restored.
And don’t get me wrong. Florida is one of the best plantations to live on these days. Of all the state plantations, one would certainly prefer to live on Master Desantis’ plantation, but that’s not the same thing as freedom.
I want to close by returning to a point I made earlier. Adam joined the war (on the right side) when he named his wife Eve, mother of all the living.
The opposite of centralized statism is not decentralized anarchy. The opposite of centralized statism is covenantalism. The answer is not get-of-my-porch libertarianism. While libertarianism might feel like a momentary relief from statism, it’s only momentary, and totalitarians don’t mind herding individualists back into their corrals. What we want is a multiplicity of balancing powers, loyalties, loves, and responsibilities. We want the government of the family dedicated to its responsibility to provide for the health, welfare, and education of its members. We want husbands and fathers loving their wives and children in obedience to God. We want Biden and Youngkin and Desantis out of our homes and businesses and schools, so that we can love our people as we ought.
We want the government of churches to faithfully teach the whole counsel of God, from Genesis to Revelation, correcting all sin and shining a bright light on the way of Christ. We want the civil government out of our sanctuaries so that we can love God with all that we are and learn to love one another as we ought. We want the civil government to do its job which is to punish criminals. And that’s it. Stop trying to make us resilient. Stop trying to restore us and our wetland preserves. Just stop it. Like Diana Ross said, “Stop, in the name of love.” Every time the civil government does something that families, churches, or local communities are supposed to do for themselves, it is a failure of love. Centralized statism always fails to love.
All of this is to say, conservatives need to return to a dedicated localism – not a hidebound localism, not a head-in-the sand localism, but a simple biblical localism that loves neighbors, the ones closest to us, the ones in our own homes first and flows out from there because Jesus is Lord, because Jesus is our Savior, because He loved us and gave Himself for us. So love your wife and lead your family. Go to church and worship every Lord’s Day. Get to know your local civic leaders. Pray for them, volunteer, and have the kind of friendships with them that matter.
This doesn’t mean state politics don’t matter, or that national politics are irrelevant. But if we want the freedom to love our neighbors in the way God requires, we have to take responsibility. If we want those broader governments to shrink, we have to take responsibility. Local responsibility, personal, covenantal love and loyalty is the most effective chemotherapy for the cancer of communism. Douglas Wilson likes to say, “Authority flows to those who take responsibility.” What did Adam do in the face of his own sin, and the prospect of the curse of sin in the world? He named his wife Eve. He took responsibility for his family, believed the promises of God, and got to work.
As long as we let blackface conservatives take responsibility for us, we are only allowing them to stockpile authority for the next Nimrod.
You want to fight collectivism, centralizing statism? Love your wife.