(Image courtesy of https://patriotweek.org.)

God's Word is not silent on the Christian's position under civil authorities. We are to obey the civil authorities because they are instituted by God, and we are to honor them (Romans 13). Societies work best when God's design for law and order are followed. Showing honor and obedience is one thing, but what about showing love and loyalty for one's country?

Over the last few months, I have been considering the rightness of the Christian's patriotism in the United States. What I mean is this: is it wrong for an American Christian to be patriotic? If so, why? If not, can this patriotism go too far? Lastly (but certainly not least), what does Scripture say about loyalty to one's nation? These are the questions I have been considering lately.

First, a bit of backstory. I wasn't too concerned with governments growing up, as is usually the case among children. I was focused on my family, friends, and activities. But when I graduated college and began living on my own, I started to consider my freedoms as a member of a democratic society a little more.
Democracy is an ancient form of government that originated in Greece. The city of Athens gave the power to the common people who, in turn, voted their leaders (representatives) into office. Democracy, however, has its pros and cons to consider, though not here. For each person to have a voice and vote is something we Americans take for granted, but there are other forms of government as well: monarchy (rule by one), oligarchy (rule by few), or anarchy (complete rebellion, think book of Judges in the Bible).

As long as Christians, as well as all Americans, have the right to vote, we should exercise it well and wisely. The Christian should vote for candidates and positions based on what is morally right and ethically sound. For instance, men and women like Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton are individuals who promote denying life to the unborn, increasing thievery of the rich through unfair taxes, and (increasingly) distorting views of justice and fairness. There was a time when a Christian could vote for an established Democrat more readily, but today a viable candidate from the Democratic party is extremely hard to find. In many cases, the Democratic candidates of today should not be an option for the Christian voter due to the extreme polar opposite moral and ethical positions to which they hold.

However, there is one Democrat in our Senate right now for whom I am most thankful. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) is a moderate Democrat who values conservative spending, upholding the Constitution, and is pro-life. Such a Democrat is hard to find, to say the least!

On the other hand, while the Republican party of today aligns more closely with Christian morality and ethics, there are candidates to watch out for there as well. At our current point in history, the establishment (also known as "the swamp") is very much corrupt, and both parties have candidates who abuse their power and do not represent the people of our democratic republic well.

Overall, one of the moral and ethical issues that both Republicans and Democrats consistently get wrong is the confusion surrounding human sexuality. Both establishments increasingly encourage gender confusion and promote policies that take away the church's freedom to help and teach God's Truth and design for human sexuality. Regardless, though, of what governments allow or disallow, "we must obey God rather than man" (Acts 5:29).

Returning to the idea of democracy, a democratic society is built on a representative government that protects the freedom of the individual, the common man. With many freedoms (i.e., 2nd amendment rights) falling into question today, many conservatives have rallied around a figurehead who, by all appearances, wants to fight for the freedoms our country has long enjoyed: Donald Trump. Whether or not you like Trump or voted for him or would vote for him in the future, the truth is that Trump has become to many synonymous with freedom. Trump flags are similar to the Gadsden flag of the Revolutionary War period: symbols of freedom.

Of course the Christian can objectively call (with humility and grace, aware of our heinous sin and equal need for Christ) many of the things President Trump said/says and did/does sinful. This is not to be debated. Christians ought to be able to consider the world through an objective lens of truth, even evaluating our own language and actions in light of the same, unchanging moral truth of God.

So, where does the Christian fit into all of this? As I already mentioned above, there are a few non-negotiable principles that every Christian should abide by when considering a candidate, I believe. But beyond voting, what about patriotism and the very idea of fighting for our temporal rights as citizens of a fading nation?

This is where I have been back and forth over the last few years. I was not on the Trump train in 2016, although I did vote for him (this sentence may land me in jail in the future). During his presidency, however, when I observed the fervor with which he fought on the side of conservatives, I was won over. Of course, his uncontrolled Tweeting was not something I endorsed, something the Christian ought to be able to discern according to Truth. To make a long story short, my patriotism (defined as a love for one's country) has increased since 2016.

Recently, I was reading an article in WORLD magazine about Cuban pastors that were joining in protests against the Communist government in that country. The pastors interviewed said generally the same thing: "As a Christian, I cannot stand aside while my government behaves immorally. My faith teaches to fight for what is right, no matter what the cost." This resonated with me. While America is not in the state that Cuba is in, we are headed down a similar path of destruction in many ways. I cannot sit idly by while immorality, murder (abortion), and lies (public school indoctrination) abound. My Christian ethic won't allow for it.

In fact, I would argue that the Christlike attitudes of sacrifice, considering others more than ourselves, and love for truth compel the Christian to speak up. What I mean is that the Christian should be the first one to sacrifice his own safety or his own well-being to speak up at a school board meeting or a town hall meeting or in a conversation with a friend - not to defend Republicans or Joe Manchin necessarily, but to defend Truth and to question the lies (i.e., a woman's right to abortion, a forcible vaccine that violates consciences, upholding election integrity in part by securing our nation's borders).

When the Biden administration abandoned billions of dollars of military equipment to terrorists in Afghanistan and left hundreds and perhaps thousands of people (men, women, and children) to persecution and death, Christians should be talking about it. Our Christian ethic of doing what is right should tell us plainly, "that isn't right." Let me add quickly that it doesn't matter if it was Biden or Lincoln who did this: it is wrong regardless of who is responsible.

Setting aside my political opinions above, I believe we ought to learn from the pastors in Cuba: Christians shouldn't feel conflicted about getting involved in politics or in the public sphere. While there is a line between defending man-made policies and promoting Truth, I think the overlap is greater than what we may think sometimes. God's Word tells the Christian "everything that is necessary for life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3). The Christian ought to study the Scripture to know Truth and then live as a follower of Christ in all spheres of life. In other words, who I am as a Christian should carry over to everything that I do. Currently, we find ourselves as citizens of the United States of America. Let us seek the welfare of our neighbor and fellow countrymen (Jeremiah 29:7).

To do this well, it will require a greater love than for that of country; it will require a love for God and his ways. The greatest good the American Christian can do, then, is to stand for Truth. Short of preaching the gospel, if there is another group standing for that same Truth, whether it be political, public, or private, we ought to stand with them. In fact, this may well serve as a platform from which to share the gospel.

Am I, then, preaching a social gospel, that if we just do what's right we can save society on this earth? I don't think so, and I certainly don't want to. This article is an argument for Christian's getting involved in the public affairs of our nation in order to bear witness to the truth of God's gospel message. William Wilberforce, for instance, never preached a sermon directly to British Parliament; however, he was highly influential in bringing about an end to the British slave trade, something that stemmed directly from his Christian faith. When God allows us to be part of his plan of redemption for his elect, sometimes he allows us to plant the seed, sometimes he allows us to pull up the stones, and sometimes he allows us to till up the soil. Let us do the good works that our faith demands of us while we live on this earth.

I have written a lot, yet I am simply trying to express the idea that we Christians can loosen up some of our consciences to express a love for our country and a desire for her well-being. I believe some Christians, myself included, feel a great battle when it comes to loving country or loving God, like it's a choice. I am simply saying that such a choice does not have to exist; it may be a false dilemma we face.

In all that I have written, I would be remiss if I did not temper it with a call to view our earthly lives as short and limited. Let us, then, also keep this as a guiding principle in our walk: "fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). In other words, let us desire the heavenly country, but let us live faithfully to Christ and his Truth on this earth as long as we draw breath (see Hebrews 11:16). Above all, let us preach the gospel - telling the truth about man's sinfulness, God's wrath, and Christ's redemption - in our homes, in our public spheres, and in our government halls (see 1 Corinthians 9:16).

"Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" (1 Corinthians 9:16).