A Syllogism

Note: I know this technically isn’t a syllogism.

1) We have moral duties to our blood relations, our church communities, and those who have directly blessed us, over and above those to mankind in general.
2) The aforementioned groups (we’ll call them one’s “tribe”) typically live in a particular location with more or less clear boundaries encompassing a reasonably small area.
3) A particular location with more or less clear boundaries encompassing a reasonably small area is a “place.”
4) Our moral duties to our tribe include, but aren’t limited to, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual care.
5) Our ability to provide physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual care is diminished with increasing physical distance from the subjects of our duties.
6) It is not good to diminish one’s ability to do one’s duty.
7) Leaving the place where one’s tribe resides is to diminish one’s ability to do one’s duty.
8) Therefore, it is not good to leave the place where one’s tribe resides.

A Non-Accident of Birth

“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place… – Acts 17:26

“I can’t wait to get out of this rinky-dink little town!” How often have you heard some variation of this sentiment expressed? I know I’ve heard it too much, and I’m always saddened when I do. The attitude is one of dissatisfaction with and disdain for the place of one’s birth. Such an attitude might be alright1 if the proposition that “the place of a person’s birth is an ‘accident,'” is true. (“Accident” here means there isn’t a deliberate cause for the thing addressed.) In that case, a person was just unfortunately paired with a place that doesn’t match his personality, needs, or desires. Leaving is of no consequence, because there was never a reason to be there in the first place.

 A Christian, however, cannot hold that proposition as true. As the passage above says, the Lord fixes the “boundaries of our dwelling places.”2  He has “placed” us and given us a particular group of people to keep. If not even a sparrow can fall outside of God’s will, why do we think there are such things as “accidents of birth?”

This doesn’t mean providence should be read in an absolute sense. There may be very good reasons for moving from your home. What I want to highlight is simply this: If, in the course of deciding whether to leave or stay, you find yourself assuming that where you were born is an “accident,” start over. You may come to a different conclusion if you begin with the understanding that God is sovereign even over your birthplace.


[1] “Might” is the operative word here; I don’t think it is even if the truth of the proposition is granted.

[2] Yes, I know that is in reference to “nations.” How does God fix a nation’s dwelling place without fixing the dwelling places of individuals in the nation? Hint: He doesn’t. In this case, the proposed dichotomy between the “corporate” and “individual,” such as is often brought up in relation to election, is a false one.