Two years ago, in 2015, a friend posted on Facebook about the sense of unity and patriotism that seemed to define the American people after 9/11 had seemed to disappear. He said, "Why can't we remember that we are all Americans? While race and religion are beautiful things, we seem to perverse it in a way that creates conflict and division. Let's not wait for another abhorrent act like what occurred on 9/11 to help us see past our differences."
This friend is a military veteran and I agree with him on many points, even in the post he wrote, but at the time he wrote it, it stuck a chord with me that I really needed to investigate. Yes, I am an American and have been proud of that for a long time. My husband and I even decorated a bathroom with patriotic colors and items. We considered doing our living room that way, too. We have a flagpole in our front yard (although it doesn't get used as often as it should). We each have at least four patriotic shirts. But...
My immediate reaction was that it is more about God than about country. If for some reason I believed that God was calling me to leave this country and move elsewhere, I would do it. Abraham did. I have loved America, but things are changing, not for the good. Just like a person who chooses wrong, there are consequences, which may include broken relationships. I can love and care for those around me, and work together with them in ways, but I will not choose to agree with sin no longer being sin. I will help feed, clothe, and care for anyone regardless of their race, religion, or beliefs. Yes, we are all Americans, but our ultimate, primary allegiance should be to God. There are some differences that should not be overlooked or “seen past." We need to say 'no' to these things, just as God did and does. What if someone said to Lot, “Why can’t we all just remember that we are citizens of Sodom?” Should that have been of higher allegiance to him than God?
I am a Christian before I’m an American. My true citizenship is in heaven. We pledge allegiance to so many things. Our family routinely pledges to the American flag, Christian flag, Bible, and AWANAs. Those in public schools pledge to the Texas flag and many pledge to other organizations such as Boy/Girl Scouts. To how many groups/things are we going to give our allegiance, and is this right?
What if our "one nation under God" is no longer under God? What if we are going the way of Sodom, Gomorrah, Ninevah, and Babylon? Is that a nation and government to which I want to pledge allegiance? Is it Biblical to pledge allegiance to one's country? These were my big questions.
Here are some things I've found in the last couple years to help guide me on this topic:
Here are some things I've found in the last couple years to help guide me on this topic:
- Romans 1:25-32 - They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. This sounds very much like our country in this current age. I wanted this whole passage here, but the part that speaks most about allegiance is verse 25, where Paul talks about created things being worshiped and served instead of the Creator. This could apply to governments and organizations.
- From Haventoday.org: These kind of ungodly decisions serve to remind us that the world in which we live is hostile to things of God. It reminds us that we live here as “aliens and strangers,” that we’re temporary residents of a foreign land. But it still remains a world that God so loved that he sent his only Son (from John Freeman, president of Harvest USA, italics mine)
- Jesus wept over Jerusalem and her refusal to turn to him as its shepherd (Luke 19:41-42). He didn’t stop loving her.
- A father (or mother) loves his child and stays devoted to them even if they sin. God loves us and is devoted to us even if we sin. Maybe we should love and be devoted to our country/government even though she sins. – Hebrews 13:17 says Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. ----- but what about when those leaders are wrong? In Acts 5:29, Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men!"
- Romans 12:2 - Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. Just because it's popular doesn't mean it's right and just because it's right doesn't make it popular.
- Jeremiah 29:7 - Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.
- Romans 13:7 - Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
- Romans 13:1-2 - Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
- Matthew 6:24 - No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
- I found this passage interesting for this point:
- We can’t give our loyalty to two masters and be pleasing to both. Whether the choice is between God and money, God and man, God and a government or nation, the choice is always the same, one or the other. It seems that Jesus is saying ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it too’. In light of this it just doesn’t seem possible to me to give my loyalty to God, and then try and give it to a government at the same time. Jesus also said ” My kingdom is not of this world”. Jesus has a kingdom, and just like an earthly kingdom , I can’t be loyal to two kingdoms at once. It would be impossible to be loyal to the USA and Iran at the same time! It’s the same with being part of the kingdom of God. Jesus calls us to be loyal to his kingdom, and if we have given our loyalty to God’s kingdom, how then can we try and give it to America or any other worldly kingdom? – Matt Young, Red Letter Christians, May 23, 2013. https://www.redletterchristians.org/the-pledge-of-allegiance-2-reasons-why-christians-should-not-say-it/
- I think one of the biggest points I've gotten over the last two years is that we need to be careful that we are only speaking intentionally, saying only what we really mean to say and not speaking without thinking about every word. If you are pledging allegiance to something, then I think you need to really believe that you will uphold what you say.
- Matthew 5:33-34 - "Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' But I tell you, Do not swear at all..."
- Jeremiah 4:2 - "and if in a truthful, just and righteous way you swear, 'As surely as the LORD lives,' then the nations will be blessed in him and in him they will glory."
- Deuteronomy 23:21-23 - If you make a vow to the LORD your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the LORD your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. But if you refrain from making a vow, you will not be guilty. Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the LORD your God with your own mouth. Now, this is about making a vow/pledge to God, not to men, but I think it still makes the point that we should be intentional and think before we speak, being sure that we will do what we say we will do.
- I recently read one of my daughter's school books (Shades of Gray by Carolyn Reeder). One of the characters loved his country (America) but refused to fight in the Civil War. He was not disloyal to the people or the country. It was an intentional, personal decision based on his beliefs, and his nephew, who took great offense to this, came to respect his uncle very much for his strength of character. We can love our country without agreeing with the masses and joining in their activities.
- I found this article that I thought presented many good points about whether it is biblical or Christian to pledge allegiance to anyone or anything other than God. It was very helpful to me and I suggest checking it out: https://www.gotquestions.org/pledge-of-allegiance.html.
So, if you are around me and there is a call to pledge to the American flag, will you see me covering my heart and reciting it with the masses? I do agree to abide by its laws and do my best to be a good citizen. I support "liberty and justice for all," although I think people misconstrue what that should look like, but that's another topic. In some ways, I'm extremely proud of our country. In other ways, I'm extremely disappointed. But, I still love this beautiful land and its people. I still want the United States of America to be successful. I want her to be pleasing to God and pray for that. At this current time, yes, I will continue to pledge allegiance to my country, but as an individual and not a member of a mass, and with intentional thought about every word that comes from my mouth, not mindless recitation that has been memorized over the years.
What are your thoughts? Did I strike a chord with you? Will you change the way you approach pledges of allegiance to your country and/or other organizations? I hope you will consider your words and actions and be intentional about whatever you decide.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17