Monday, July 7, 2014

"Christianizing" Patriotism: Why it Trivializes Both

Some of you who have followed this blog for a little while may have wondered why on Friday my post didn't have to do with Independence Day. After all, I have in the past, had a Thanksgiving post, a Christmas post, a New Year's Post, a Valentine's Day Post, an Easter post, and a Memorial Day post. Obviously, Independence Day is as important and worthwhile a holiday as most of those.

So why the sudden lack of post for Independence Day? Quite frankly, it was because this holiday came on par with a devotional post. I didn't want to replace a devotional post with a political one.

One is sure to then wonder again why I didn't just write a devotional post that branched into freedom of some sort. Now it is easy to find practical lessons in the Bible about love, thanksgiving, and specific Biblical events of the life of Jesus (that last one is particularly easy).

However, I believe that working in this manner to present both Christianity and patriotism within the same blog post would trivialize one or both of the two concepts.

Now don't get me wrong. There is nothing contrary in these two concepts. Christians in my mind have a duty to be patriotic and support their nation, just as they have a duty to worship the Lord. However, combining these two duties within the same ceremony may not be the best idea in the world.

In churches across America over the prior two Sundays, church congregations have been met with special patriotic services endowed with patriotic songs, pledges to the flag, and perhaps the reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Now here's my crazy, perhaps radical feeling. Church is a place where we come to worship God. We come to church to fellowship with other believers, hear from God's word, and praise Him for what He has done. We do not go to church in order to exalt our nation.

I believe that it is outside the purpose of a church service to spend all of our time focusing on what God has done for us by blessing us with living in this fine country. A patriotic song or two, maybe even a short spiel before the sermon would be entirely appropriate, since our country is a blessing from God that we can take time to thank Him for.

But that should be the end of it within the context of a church service; we must remember that our goal is to praise God and focusing solely on the patriotic spirit will cause us to lose that objective in our church service. Instead I think a church-wide picnic would be more suitable for cultivating the patriotic spirit of the church.

So even on the Sundays around patriotic holidays focus on the Lord. Within the context of the church, we must ensure that patriotism is just another way of expressing our blessings.

But outside the church service, I feel we Christians have an opposite problem. In that particular avenue, when we come together to respect our nation, we try to be sure to add God and Christianity onto our patriotic traditions. A great example of this is the Pledge to the Christian Flag.

In a given patriotic ceremony, Christians will start off by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Immediately thereafter Pledge to Christian Flag and the Pledge to the Bible will be recited. The first priority always goes to the American flag, making the Christian Flag and the Bible lower in importance than the American flag and thus nothing more than add-ons.

But the Lord should never ever be an add-on. That is degrading to the Creator of the universe. We need not take a action and force some explicit Christian teaching onto the end to make it more worthwhile. Patriotism is a duty we have as Christians, an implicit service to the Lord.

Attempting to make that service explicit indicates to all that patriotism isn't a noble enough cause to stand on its own. Thus, we unintentionally trivialize both patriotism and God within the same fell swoop.

All these actions do come from the right heart, but methinks that these traditions are just a bit degrading to the principles of God and patriotism. That is why I didn't write a post for Independence Day.

I hope that you enjoyed celebrating our Founders' rebellion against tyrannical laws by setting off some fireworks in rebellion against authoritarian laws (or maybe you might be lucky enough to live in a state where such rebellion is not necessary). Let freedom ring! "Murca!

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