There is a steady stream of propaganda and false narrative swimming in the waters of our culture like a shark seeking to devour the uninformed. It’s the narrative of making the United States an idol so inimical to healthy faith in Christ that it threatens to destroy it.

We are told that the idea of our country being “blessed” supposedly implies we are the “favored” people, and that “God loves us the best.”

Those words and phrases represent a profound misunderstanding of the attitudes of patriotism. No serious Christian who believes in being loyal to our country thinks God “loves us the best.” It has nothing to do with God’s alleged lopsided love. Nor does it have anything to do with being his “favored” people. To describe patriotism in those terms is to completely miss the point, and to misrepresent it.

Much of this narrative is a reaction against the idea of Christians who allegedly “revere” the flag. But it’s not a call to “revere” the flag but to respect it because of the sound and meaningful Judeo-Christian principles it represents. The flag is a symbol of our reverence toward God in the context of being made in his image and therefore having certain inalienable rights derived from our worth as his children. Pledging “allegiance to the flag” should not be taken literally, as if it is a piece of cloth to be adored for its own properties. The phrase is a figurative description of a symbolic gesture pointing to something meaningful behind the symbol.

If pledging “allegiance” to a flag makes no sense to you, I would refer you to the Old Testament’s depiction of the Israelites erecting symbols and reminders of God’s presence, deliverance, and blessing, in forms as simple as a pile of stones in the wilderness. Personally as a Christian and American, the flag is a reminder that God has inspired people to forge a nation which assigns dignity and honor to the individual, who again is made in God’s image and is therefore worthy of protection.

This is a rare phenomenon in this world. The overwhelming majority of countries, cultures, and societies on this planet are habitats of oppression, cruelty, and a deplorable lack of respect for basic human rights. We have had our share of those things in the US, but this is one of the few countries where opposition to them is consistent with the principles on which it was established. In other words, opposing slavery and oppression, and endorsing freedom and equality are at home here whereas they are out of place elsewhere. The measure of a nation is not whether it has ever had slavery or oppression, but whether it has abolished them. America is still young. Insisting on perfection and failing to recognize the amazing progress we have made in a relatively short time are the hallmarks of an ideology replete with contempt for America and misplaced universal, unconditional condemnation of healthy patriotism.

Once we understand all this, we should recognize that pledging allegiance to the flag is hardly nonsense. It is in harmony with allegiance to God rather than in conflict with it, and pledging allegiance to the flag clearly does not mean we have short-circuited our allegiance to Christ. God takes priority over country, but loyalties to both are not necessarily incompatible. Can someone make America their idol? Of course. But this is not automatically the case simply because someone has chosen to be patriotic. To think allegiance to one’s country is worthy of contempt is to fail to recognize the hand God had in its formation.

The problem with modern anti-American protest is that it’s misplaced. The flag and the national anthem don’t represent oppression. They represent the precise opposite. They represent the Godly principles of equality, justice, and freedom. They don’t represent the mistakes of the past, they represent the principles forming the basis for correcting those mistakes. And we have corrected those mistakes to a substantial degree. That corrective would not have taken place were it not for the principles the flag and the anthem represent. So the modern protest is built on a divisive falsehood. The dogma that systemic racism still exists in this country is based on politically “correct” ideology rather than evidence. It is a protest against the very symbols representing the principles the protesters claim to embrace.

Furthermore, the flag represents the sacrifice courageous American soldiers made to secure the protester’s freedom to protest. They died so anti-American protesters would have the liberty to spit in their faces, and at the same time enjoy the privilege and prosperity made possible in the very country they despise.

Photo Credit: Osman Rana via Unsplash

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