Is the Pledge Good for Our Kids?

Children using the Bellamy salute of 1941.

I grew up like most white evangelicals in the American South. Being a Christian in the Bible Belt meant that it was common to regularly fuse Jesus with nationalism. Unfortunately, it’s taught in churches everywhere and rarely questioned.

I can remember reciting the pledge every morning in public school right before a “moment of silence.” And of course, I’ll never forget pledging to the Bible, the Christian flag, and to the American flag at Vacation Bible School. Nationalism was a big part of my childhood and adolescence.

I don’t recall ever having seen my faith in Christ as being incompatible with a zealous patriotism. That’s of course until I read Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon early on in college. That’s all it took to get the wheels turning. I then began rethinking Jesus and the Kingdom of God.

I seem to remember that this was at the height of my patriotism, around the time of the bombing of Baghdad in 2003.

After reading Bonhoeffer, who believed no nation’s flag belonged in the church, I began to reconsider the oft-neglected Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. I began to ask myself some scary questions.

Like… what if Jesus really meant what he said?

Greg Boyd’s Myth of a Christian Nation seemed to mark a major turning point in my thinking. I also thought that Lee Camp’s Mere Discipleship was sobering. I read several other works by Anabaptist thinkers, even visited with a plain Mennonite. Those were some intense times.

All of this happened within the last SBC church I served in as minister to students and education. I began teaching what I was learning, and I encouraged those in my sphere of influence to find a new identity in Christ and pledge allegiance to the Lamb.

I taught through enough of the Sermon on the Mount to prompt young people and a group of adults, on their own initiative, not to participate in the upcoming July 4th patriotic service. Their lack of enthusiasm was obvious to the entire church. And while I had purposely taken my vacation that Sunday, what transpired there naturally fell back on me and my ministry.

The very next Sunday I was broadsided with, “What’s this we hear about you teaching people not to say the pledge?”

The truth is that I never told anyone not to say the pledge. What happened that Sunday when the flag was marched down the middle aisle was the result of a small group of Christians connecting the dots. The events that followed resulted in my resignation and exodus from vocational ministry.

I don’t regret it. It has been a defining moment in my journey with Jesus. And it has shaped me for the next season of ministry to the Body of Christ.

Read “How Worship of the American Flag Changed Everything”

Please stop and consider how we evangelicals have been conditioned not to see any conflict with nationalism and Christian discipleship.

Will we allow another generation of our children to be taught that America is the hope of the world, or will we tell them the truth about a King whose Kingdom is not of this world, but is for this world?

The following video purposely provokes us to rethink nationalism.

The US flag code has declared the flag to be a living thing. Do you see anything wrong with Jesus followers pledging allegiance to a flag that represents a worldly kingdom? Would you consider this idolatry?

D.D. Flowers, 2013.

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About David D. Flowers

David received a B.A. in Religion from East Texas Baptist University and a M.T.S. in Biblical Studies from Houston Graduate School of Theology. David was in student ministry for 7 years, taught Biblical Studies & Latin at The Woodlands Christian Academy for 5 years, and now pastors an Anabaptist congregation in Virginia. View all posts by David D. Flowers

60 responses to “Is the Pledge Good for Our Kids?

  • Chris Gorton

    David,

    It is refreshing to watch as the Holy Spirit rekindles the hearts of the saints to a pure devotion to our king. You are right to see the dangers embedded in the pledge; no doubt you know you are kicking a hornets nest. I am praying for your progress and protection on the path you have chosen.

    I will be bold and say that what you perceive in the pledge, is merely the tip of the iceberg on which the church in the US (and other domains) is floundering. The spiritual root, and legal basis of citizenship is found not in the pledge, but in the oath.

    “I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

    Few are aware that by claiming US citizenship they are legally binding themselves with this oath. Those coming from other jurisdictions must take it before a judge. Those born to citizens may simply declare their citizenship – which means they accept the terms of the oath.

    I will leave you and your readers to hash out the implications of this for yourselves. I will only note that no spiritual battle is a power struggle. We know who has all power. Rather, all spiritual battles are legal struggles. Our strength comes from standing with our own Prince, potentate, state and sovereign – to whom we are subject…. or are we?

    Both worldly governments and our king declare no man can serve to masters. Spiritual warfare is first and foremost, a matter of choosing sides.

    Grace and peace in our king,

    Chris

  • Sean Durity

    Yep, I think you are WAY wrong here. Of course allegiance to Christ comes above allegiance to our country when they collide. But a great Christian is a great patriot. They love their country enough to work for its goodness. Your view really dishonors the sacrifices of our forefathers (many of whom were strong Christians) and the freedom they fought for us to have.

    • David Calavan

      The Romans loved their country enough to crucify our Lord because they thought it was for the good of the empire.

    • Dana

      A Christian doesn’t do good for the love of his country. He does good for the love of God and the love of his fellow man, and does it universally.

      And many of our founding fathers who professed Christianity were slave owning, war mongering, adulterous men who wouldn’t know the sermon on the mount if it was presented by Jesus in front of them.

      I obviously agree with the article. I haven’t read those books, but the one that helped me come to my senses was “The Kingdom that Turned the World Upside Down” by David Bercot.

      • Sean Durity

        Maybe you need to read more about the founding fathers. It is a distortion of history to lump them into the categories you choose. Many were opposed to slavery. They followed Christ as best they understood. David edited out my link to my blog where I have discussed God and country in more detail. I will let you discover it if you wish, rather than re-write my ideas here.

        There is a separate issue here that I think bears some consideration. While I might consider active involvement in a political party or cause to be less than Kingdom work for me, is it right for me to say that for all people whom God has called? Don’t we want Christians active in all areas of life? Are the Christian actors or writers or politicians less important than pastors? Don’t we want the William Wilberforces today?

        • David D. Flowers

          Hey Sean, folks can get to your blog via your profile. One of my blog rules is to not post links to other blogs and divert folks away from this thread of discussion. That’s my concern. Thanks, bro.

      • Barry

        not to chase a rabbit, but in defense of the founding, you ought to read (google) “First State Recognized Slave Was Owned by Anthony Johnson…”

    • chad stevens

      A patriot would not parrot a statist mantra like “the Pledge”. A pledge of allegiance is literally something done from a subject to their master. It inverts the proper relationship between the individual and the state.

      Of course, this was the intent of the author, a socialist who preached that Jesus was a socialist.

      The pledge also contains several falsehoods. That we are indivisible. This was also the view of King George, fortunately, the Founders prevailed and we celebrate our being divisible every Independence Day. The other being that we are “One Nation”. We aren’t. We are fifty nations in an alliance. The federal government is the creation of the several states. It is their common agent.

      A real patriot should know their history. You cannot defend what you do not know. Stop playing into the progressive’s hands.

    • John

      Sean,

      I appreciate your comments but have to agree with David. Would you not agree that out founding fathers erred when they violently rebelled against their government? I sincerely believe Thomas Jefferson was a great man but disagreed with many of his Christian beliefs. He wrote that Paul was the greatest heretic since the birth of Jesus and thought all of Paul’s letters should be removed from the Bible. Jefferson did not believe the Biblical miracles. I do.

      Jesus taught us to love our enemies and turn the other cheek. Follow His words while serving in any worldly army and you will be called a traitor.

      The first 300 years of Christianity taught believers to follow Jesus’ words and live lives of non-violence. There are NO writings from the first 300 years that state otherwise. None.

      The greatest thing a Christian could do was lead others to Christ. The worst thing was to lead them to hell. The earliest Christians believed this. If they were killed they knew heaven awaited. If they killed their attacker they believed they would have damned the attacker and betrayed what Jesus taught. They could not do that. They would rather die professing Christ than slay a non-believer.

      When Paul oversaw saw the execution of Stephen he thought he was doing right. Stephen did as Jesus taught and prayed for those attacking him. Would you of had Peter rush to the defense of Stephen and slay Paul? Paul was after all a terrorist.

      Jesus does not leave us defenseless. But our weapons are not of this world.

      One last thought for now. Paul oversaw the execution of Stephen based on his understanding of God’s word. He thought Stephen had blasphemed. After Paul becomes a Christian he now knows who the real blasphemers are. But we never again hear of him trying to execute others once he has has accepted Jesus.

      I do appreciate your words on this blog and pray and hope you do not find offense in my words.

      God Bless,

      John

    • David D. Flowers

      You don’t need to “love your country” to do the good that God expects of you, Sean. In fact, the early Christians believed that love of the Lord himself was enough to love neighbor and enemy alike. Nothing else is needed.

  • Quincy

    David, I honestly couldn’t agree more. Undying allegiance to an earthly nation, regardless of which nation that is, to me just doesn’t seem quite right for the Kingdom.

    We’re part of a Kingdom that is not of this world. Our brothers and sisters in Christ in Europe, Africa, Asia, Mexico, etc. are more our kinsman than Americans who do not follow Christ. That may seem harsh to some, but I really mean no disrespect by it.

    Obviously that doesn’t mean we are called to hate the country we live in or the people in it. We should love all in it and serve others, followers of Christ or not. It just means we have to see our true identity as members of a kingdom that transcends all earthly borders more-so than we are members of America.

    The problem with nationalism in the American church is that so many believers truly believe America is a “Christian nation” and that this country is the light of the world, a sort of promised land. So many believe that it was built on biblical principles, which may slightly be the case in theory, but it definitely was not in practice.

    Anyway, I could ramble on this subject far more than anyone is willing to read. I personally don’t participate in the pledge for the very reasons you pointed out and I haven’t since early in high school. It’s not meant to be disrespectful and I don’t do it disrespectfully. I just can’t bring myself to pledge my allegiance to anything or anyone other than Christ at this point in my life.

  • Chris Gorton

    Brother Sean,

    I think I hear your heart, but words may be interfering. If you replace your use of allegiance with “obedience,” or even “respect,” there is no problem. Unfortunately, in neither common nor legal usage can the word allegiance be used with the word “above.” Allegiance by its definition is absolute – we can have many authorities, but only one allegiance; many layers of government, but only one sovereign. Any legal dictionary (or common one for that matter) will explain this.
    Black’s Law Dictionary notes one special exception: Local Allegiance – That measure of obedience which is due from a subject of one government to another government, within whose territory he is temporarily resident. It notes that those in this legal category do NOT have the privileges of citizenship which is dependent on common or “natural” allegiance.

    The US Supreme court has ruled in Reynolds Vs US, that no US citizen can use freedom of religion as a basis for disobeying the laws of the US because “in so doing they establish for themselves a separate sovereign.”

    Jesus, the US Supreme Court, and even the dictionary agree that no man can have two sovereigns – The question is who is yours? Your citizenship depends on it.

    BTW – The US founding fathers whom you cite, had no problem disobeying Romans 13 and our Lord’s commands to pay taxes. This does not mean that they were not Christian – that is for God to decide – but it does cast doubt on how much they are to be emulated.

    Unfortunately I must tend to other issues and may not have time to continue this conversation. Fortunately you and I both know you don’t need me to pursue truth. ;-)

    Continue in peace my friend,

    Chris

    • Logan Bartley

      Chris, I agree with your post except the part about Romans 13… in that, the founding fathers were NOT disobeying Romans 13, and a closer analysis also reveals Jesus did NOT command paying taxes. Think of this: Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto the Lord what is the Lords. Well, what is Caesar’s? What is the Lord’s? Psalm 50:[10] For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.
      [11] I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.
      [12] If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.
      According to the Bible, nothing is Caesar’s, and everything is the Lord’s.
      And Pastor Chuck Baldwin has an excellent book about Romans 13.

      • Blake

        I’m pretty sure it would have been recorded if Jesus was regularly getting in trouble for tax evasion. It is a command to follow the laws and pay taxes to the best of our ability so long as it doesn’t interfere with our true allegiance. Jesus and the disciples subsidized His own crucifxion.

      • John

        Roman’s 13 is not a call to pick up arms for a worldly nation. The Romans letter was not written in chapter and verse as we now see it. It was one long letter.

        Many Jews hated the Roman authority over them. Paul writes towards the end of chapters 12 and 13 to love, love even our enemies. In the middle of these two sections we have commands to obey the worldly rulers. Paul is directly speaking to those who might want to rebel against the evil Roman government and telling them much as Jesus did: go the extra mile.

        Referring to the Roman government as the servant of God is no different than Jeremiah referring to Nebuchadnezzar as Yahweh’s servant three times. They were God’s servants in spite of themselves.

        Paul obeyed his worldly government unless obeying meant not obeying what Jesus taught. Obedience to God comes first. Allegiance to God comes first. We can not serve two masters.

      • David D. Flowers

        Logan, you leave nothing to substantiate your counter-claim that Romans 13 was not disobeyed by the “Christian” colonies. I’m not sure how in the world this can even be denied. Paul’s words are very straightforward. Obey the government. The revolutionaries did not. They rebelled.

        And Jesus most definitely instructed his followers to give Caesar the coins (taxes) he demands, which bear his image. This doesn’t deny that the whole earth belongs to the Lord. Jesus’ point was to dumbfound the audience that were trying to trap him. Pay your taxes and get on with following the Lord. Plain and simple.

        • Andrew Patrick

          That coin was a graven image which was used to promote emperor worship (the pharisees wouldn’t even allow it in the temple for that reason.. remember the moneychangers?) so the question wasn’t so much about “paying taxes.”

          If the Pharisees had been consistent (practicing what they preached) you would think that the coin they presented would have been a Jewish coin (no image)? Jesus didn’t specify “give me a Roman coin” but rather “show me a coin.”

          A thing (like a tax) is not necessarily good or evil in itself, but it might come to represent something else, even different things to different people at different times. It is what is in the heart that justifies or defiles a man, that is, the reason for your actions matter more than the actions themselves.

  • Logan Bartley

    If our forefathers saw what was going on today, they would already be up in arms against the tyrants who have taken over this country’s government. And the pledge… it is a form of brainwashing, go look into the history of it. It started shortly after the civil war.

    Another good reading concerning patriotism and the Christian is Mark Twain’s “The War Prayer”. Here’s a link to a video narration with illustrations. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRVod4PwQHs

  • Barry

    It seems normal and appropriate for humans in this earthly realm to unite and be identified with a “group”. It seems necessary in the sense that unification in the group – a church body – a gang – a political party – citizens of a state or country – brings order and identity to the individual and the group. There are many benefits to order and identity for people. If there is a Biblical example of that, it is found in the identity of the 12 tribes of Israel. They were separated from the others. They flew their own flag. They found order in and were identified as such. They were in the greater setting identified together in a larger group as That Nation – or group – called the Jews, or the Children of Israel, or Israel. This was ordered by God Himself.

    I think God knew the value of “groups” for very practical reasons, such as order and identity. But notice, all of this was in the human realm – the realm that is human – with all its flaws and potential for sin and potential for straying into something that pulled their allegiance and identity to the human group, thereby diminishing their allegiance and identity to the One and Only. Then the next stage comes when their identity strayed even further away into idols, and kings. Most ideal would have been their ability to maintain a healthy allegiance to their group or tribe for the practical reasons God had in mind, but with their more total devotion and allegiance to Him, which He also demanded. Enter sin. Now we have the straying from the allegiance to Him to the turning to idols, kings, nations, parties, denominations, groups. God may ask, “Where do I fit in in all this – you are sinning!?”

    I must say that I’m as patriotic as it gets. I have asked the question of myself that David has presented. When I think of the story of creation, and Moses and the Red Sea crossing, and God giving the Ten Commandments, and the life of Jesus and all the things He did and said all the way to the cross, and then to resurrection, and many other such heroic Bible stories that point me to Him and are the bedrock of my faith, the hair stands up on the back of my neck from my love and excitement of Him and His story. But also when I think of the founding of our country, and the Revolutionary war, and the cause of the colonies, and Paul Revere riding through the country side, and George Washington crossing the Delaware, and our Bill of Rights, Constitution and Declaration of Independence, the first amendment and the second amendment (ooops) and all things attached to those things, the hair stands up on the back of my head. Should it? I think it’s ok. I think. But I’m able – at least I hope so – to distinguish those things in this human realm from the things in the spiritual realm as far as my allegiance to things both.

    I do have to check myself on this. I do not want to violate my devotion and allegiance to Jesus Christ. He knows I have enough problems already. I see Enormous and Gigantic implications for both. One is purposely temporal, and must be understood and contextualized as such. One is eternal, and its value and impact on lives and eternal destiny of humans far outshines the temporal. And then there is the mystery of how they both overlap – the human and the spiritual. Go figure that one.

    I would advise everyone to evaluate their allegiances. Spend time doing it. It’s not a small thing. Get up at 3am in the morning and fall on your knees and ask God to clarify these things to where He brings you to a clarity within yourself. Battle lines are being drawn right now in the spiritual realm, and in the realm of culture, and politics, and race, and things geopolitical, nation vs. nation, the things of Jesus vs. the nonbelieving world. I assure you that battle lines are being drawn. You better find whose side you’re on, and first and foremost it needs to be with the God who Saves!

    I’m glad of this writing by David. It helps me to again evaluate my allegiances.

    • David D. Flowers

      Hey Barry, I appreciate your honesty and your willingness to reevaluate these issues. Very cool.

      • Barry

        Thanks Dave, and I appreciate you and this blog. This is deep, and fun, and provoking. And I very emphatically insist that battle lines are being drawn in our culture here in the US and worldwide. All need to partner with the Lord and let Him set us straight on this issue. I think soon we will all be called to task somehow, and we better have these things settled. A clarion call to all… Fall on your knees and get your heart and life right with Jesus Christ! Times are a coming!

  • Logan Bartley

    Something else to consider, read the words of the pledge very carefully… you are pledging to “the Republic”, that is, the government itself. I would pledge an alliance to my fellow man, to the people of this country for the purpose of common defence against foreign invasion or domestic usurpation. But, if the Biblical schollars are right that the USA is the new Babylon spoken of in Revelation, what would that mean if we are pledging allegiance to mystery Babylon?

  • David D. Flowers

    Hey everyone! I’m loving the feedback. I know folks have much to say on this topic. However, please do your best to keep your thoughts succinct and allow others to respond. Here is what I state in the blog Rules:

    #6. Comments that are incredibly long won’t be approved. In order to encourage discussion, no one should monopolize the conversation. Keep your comments fairly short so the conversation is encouraged not hindered. Comment once, then wait to respond to someone else’s comment. Please do not copy portions of your or someone else’s blog post.

    Thanks, guys! I’ve been lenient with this rule in the past, so I wanted to remind everyone that it’s easier to follow the discussion and keep it going when we follow this rule. Keep chattin’ it up!

    Peace.

  • Otto

    David,

    Great post! My daughter came home from kindergarten the other day and was reciting the pledge of allegiance and i had such an unnerving feeling, not realizing that this was completely put of line with my beliefs, and those i want to instill in her.

  • Sean Durity

    The video makes a horrible leap, too. By its own logic, teaching Scripture verses and songs to children would be “brain washing.” Repetition is the proper tool for teaching children as any parent will tell you. It isn’t brain washing; it is teaching.

    As for me and my house, we will keep honoring our nation by saying the pledge, singing the national anthem, encouraging our soldiers, and standing up for the cry of all humanity — freedom. When our nation is out of line, when our government is wrong, when it takes away our religious liberties, then it must be called out. It must be called back to its ideals that were forged from Christian principles. America is not God, of course. But it has been richly blessed and is gravely responsible. God bless America!

    • Chris Gorton

      Sean, I agree with you on the video, and also think that the opening picture is also worth some criticism. As noted above, I agree with David on the post, but it is all to easy to slide into caricatures of evil. The Bellamy salute in the picture evokes memories of the Nazis, but was not identified with totalitarianism at the time. Likewise I felt the video had leftist anti-government overtones.

      While the US government is not my sovereign, I appreciate, respect and pray for it; all Christians should. On the other hand I cannot lie. This is not my nation – it is my residence – there is a significant legal and spiritual difference. I know we differ on this, and this is not an attempt to change your mind. Only to make you aware of distinctions that I pray our Lord will bring to mind as you study his word.

      BTW – I love the title of your blog :-)

      Your brother,

      Chris

      • David D. Flowers

        I do believe the “Bellamy” salute is very sobering. It should jolt us into rethinking the act of “pledging” to any nation. That was the purpose of using the picture of children saluting.

      • Sean Durity

        Thanks for compliment on my blog title. Took awhile to come up with something I liked. Anyway, I am not totally dismissing your position here, either. To me, Paul is the exemplar. He used his Roman citizenship when it benefited the cause of the gospel. However, he was not afraid to take on the various government officials who offended his true citizenship in God’s Kingdom. Make no mistake, I will stand against America if and when she stands against my Lord. At the moment, though, this is a “both/and” situation, not “either/or.”

        • David D. Flowers

          Sean, what about the way America was founded and currently stands against the Lord as an empire of greed and violence?

        • Sean Durity

          You mean the Mayflower Compact, Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution? I consider them brilliant works forged from commonly held Christian values, including the imago Deo and the fall.

          And, as innovative as America is, it neither invented or cornered the market on violence and greed. Which country has sent the most Christian missionaries? Translated the most Bibles? Built the most hospitals? Adopted the most orphans from around the world? Fed the most hungry? The nightly news is not nearly the real story of America.

          You should be more thankful for those who treasured America’s ideals so that you have the freedom to express your opinions. Where else would you go? Try being a Christian and “anti-nationalist” in China.

        • David D. Flowers

          Sean, I don’t care for the common diversion tactics used in your previous comment. I was hoping you could address some of the strong points made in this discussion, and answer some of my questions, as well as the concerns raised by others.

          For example, the US flag code considers the flag to be living. Do you then not consider it to be idolatry to pledge or not? You do understand that allegiance is “one above all others” by its very nature, correct? Do you recognize that the US is an empire with military bases all over the globe, and that she continually spreads violence in the name of peace? Do you deny this? What do you make of the first few centuries of the church detesting all manner of violence? Do these things not cause you to pause, even in the slightest?

          Furthermore, do you hold the teachings of Jesus above the rest of Scripture, or do you flatten out the Scriptures and mesh the testaments together?

          These are all questions that need to be addressed.

        • Sean Durity

          Well, I am supposed to make brief comments to follow your rules. That is a long list of deep questions. America is not an empire. We do not subjugate anyone. We are the beacon of freedom. We have a leadership responsibility to the rest of the world. Do we always exercise it properly? Certainly not – especially with the current administration. And certainly not from our entertainment industries. But there is no denying that America has great influence across the world. That needs to be used for good. We cannot abdicate politics and leadership to only non-Christians, right?

          I do not hold the teachings of Jesus above the rest of the Scriptures. Jesus taught about Himself from the Old Testament on the road to Emmaus. It obviously had great value. The New Testament writers knew their Scriptures (our OT) far better than we do. They quoted it often to support their positions. Certainly they explained much that was overlooked or misunderstood, but the whole of Scripture is “God-breathed and profitable for teaching, training, and correction” (2 Tim 3:16). This isn’t “flattening” Scripture; it is exploring all of God’s revelation to us. Your approach creates a canon-within-a-canon and unnecessarily discards important teaching and examples. If the gospels were all we needed, why do we have all the epistles?

        • David D. Flowers

          I understand what you’re saying, and disagree. ;-)

        • chad stevens

          America is an empire held together by the force of arms. Look at what happened last time a few states tried to leave.

        • Sean Durity

          If you think America is an empire, how do you describe ancient Rome, or the Mongols, or the USSR, or Napoleon, or the Persians, Babylonians, Great Britain, etc.? Your historical context is very poor.

        • Andrew Patrick

          I would imagine that the Chinese Christians (who suffer persecution) might be more dedicated than those that might be called Christian to match what is considered acceptable by the local culture, when it might be considered advantageous.

        • Sean Durity

          I agree that Chinese Christians have much to teach us American Christians. Randy Alcorn’s novel, Safely Home, is worth the read on this issue.

  • Andrew Patrick

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the pledge of allegiance could not be compelled because it was an oath, and oaths cannot be compelled (see 5th Amendment of U.S. Bill of Rights.)

    But that got me thinking:

    Jas 5:12 KJV
    (12) But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

    Jesus also said pretty much the same thing in Matthew 5:34. Should a Christian nation really be training its young children into repeating an oath every morning?

    “I pledge allegiance to the Lamb”
    vs.
    “I pledge allegiance to the United States”

    Mat 6:24 KJV
    (24) No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

    • Sean Durity

      Let’s look at the example of Daniel. He faithfully served a pagan government (actually several) that had conquered his own nation — until he was required to disobey God, Then he obeyed God and trusted him with the outcome. God gave him more and more influence because Daniel was faithful to God first.

      Then there is Joseph in Egypt…

      • Andrew Patrick

        Yes, Joseph was in command of Egypt and Daniel worked for Babylon….

        …and Obadiah served wicked king Ahab while Elijah was running from the law! But I guess Obadiah wasn’t much of a patriot because he conspired with the enemies of the crown behind his back.

        … and how many soldiers did Elijah kill? With fire? Shouldn’t he have turned himself in when ordered to surrender, as a good citizen of the country?

        … and let’s not forget all that time that David refused to turn himself in to King Saul, even while David recognized Saul as the legitimate king.

        • Sean Durity

          Exactly so. These are tough issues with no easy answers. I am convinced that God calls each of us to different walks in different areas of influence. I must follow God myself and not belittle those whom God calls into a different way.

        • David D. Flowers

          Sean, I didn’t know if you were insinuating that folks who believe what I’ve expressed “belittle” others… so I want to make clear that’s not happening. I’m passionately convicted about my beliefs as those who oppose them. Thanks, bro.

        • Sean Durity

          I wasn’t trying to insinuate that. It was more a comment about me. I could look at a Christian athlete, for example, or actor, and think, “why are they spending their life doing that?” But as I have moved from vocational ministry to the business world, I see that we need God’s influence through His people in every area of life. So, it is more about my shortcomings than any you might have.

        • David D. Flowers

          That’s cool, bro. I just wanted to throw that out there because I’ve been told something like that before.

  • Innperlenburg

    Thanks for this, David. You remind me of Rick Joyner’s 2002 Special Bulletin #7 in which he wrote, ” America has not only been possibly the greatest, the most righteous, and the most benevolent nation in history, there is no question that it is the result of God’s blessing on the nation.”

    I don’t have a problem with God blessing America or any other nation, but what Joyner said reminded me of another quotation, this time by Cecil Rhodes, who said, of the English in 1870, ‘we happen to be the best people in the world, with the highest ideals of decency and justice and liberty and peace.’ Another Englishman, called Rosebery, said in 1884, that the British Empire was ‘ the greatest secular agency for good the world has ever seen.’

    What I’m saying here, is that pride comes before a fall. The British Empire has fallen because the British, specifically the English, (I don’t include the Scots, Welsh or Northern Irish) arrogantly supposed that their nation was the greatest, they pitied everyone else who wasn’t English, and even supposed that God was an Englishman. (By the way, I’m English.)
    There seem to me to be similarities between this and pledging allegiance to the US flag. It inevitably inculcates pride.

    On the other hand, God divided the people of the world into nations at Babylon, in order to put limits on man’s propensity to sin. He confused their languages. Acts 17:26 says that “He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him.”
    So nations have been ordained by God. It is a satanic agenda which attempts to eradicate national boundaries and create a one world government.
    And just as we love our own families, it’s natural to love our own country.

    But Jesus said, (Matthew 10:37) He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.’

    So perhaps just as our love for our families has to be subject to our love for Jesus, so must our love for our own country come second to our allegiance to Him. And where allegiance to our country gets in the way of our loyalty to Christ, that’s where we need to repent.

  • Barry

    There was once the ideal of America. An America that was good and good for the world. One that it would be easier to make the case of being brought about and blessed and with a designed purpose for humanity and its history by the hand of God. I think with all of her flaws, that was really once America. I honestly dearly love that ideal of America.

    No longer is the ideal. The abstract idolatry to the material; sexual deviation beyond description; the military industrial complex that is moving across the globe; the militarized police state the government is foisting upon its own citizens; immigration by the millions who hate that “ideal” of the US and all it once stood for. It could be easier at one time to pledge earthly allegiance to the US in a way that didn’t violate ones devotion and allegiance to Christ – that allegiance in the context of my earlier post.

    Not any more. The very government of this very US is gearing up to control with any means the very demographic that holds these once valuable ideals of God and patriotism. That demographic is the white, conservative, patriotic Christian. You can mix and match and define those descriptive words any way you want, but that makes a demographic with a target on its back – targeted by our very own government. The demographic is just what it is.

    Things of the great America that existed before in times past were very distinct and easily understood and could be defended. These days it seems the only lines that aren’t blurred are the battle lines being drawn as I mentioned in my previous post. For the born again Christian, the clarion call is to get your heart and life right with Jesus Christ! Now! For those who do not know Christ, the clarion call is to become born again into the family of Christ. Notice that in that clarion call, nothing is mentioned of America.

  • Chris Gorton

    I hesitate to comment again, as my previous points have hardly been acknowledged and I don’t really have time to defend them. Very briefly – different people can have different sovereigns and hence different allegiances. A person can only have one sovereign and one allegiance. This is NOT a physical/spiritual distinction it is a question of who owns your heart and controls the behavior of your body.

    This discussion should not concern itself with whether or not the USA is relatively good or bad, or an empire or not. The biblical principle should hold no matter what type of country you find yourself in. North Korea claims ownership of its citizens and grants them little freedom. The USA claims ownership of its citizens and grants them much freedom.

    The Christians in each recognize Jesus as their sovereign and unless they lie to the state, their Lord, or themselves – cannot be considered citizens. They are residents and subjects – aliens, strangers, and ambassadors of their King Jesus. Go back and read the oath I posted above – can a true follower of Jesus honestly hold to it – even if oaths are allowed?

    Start with what is clear, simple and that you know is true. Jesus is your sovereign – yes, you will be confronted with confusing challenges, but His Spirit will guide you into all truth, AS YOU SUBMIT to the light you have. I know this sounds bizarre, but it is only because for 1700 years the enemy has (generally) succeeded in obscuring the meaning of scripture. He has been so successful that most Christians think that Jesus Christ was His name.

    Now unto the king eternal, immortal, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever AMEN!

    In His service,

    Chris

  • Logan

    David, you asked me about substantiating my replay about Romans 13 and paying taxes. I’ve spoken before about Romans 13 and anyone can go look up Pastor Chuck Baldwin’s book on this issue (or simply read the synopsis or youtube search for interviews on it), but for a response about paying taxes, consider Matthew 17:[25] He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?
    [26] Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.
    [27] Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

    Notice, that it is the foreigner that is supposed to pay taxes, just like our country was originally funded in the colonial days through port tariffs and use fees, and NEVER by direct taxation of the people like the income tax we have today.

    • David D. Flowers

      I think thou art confused about this passage. ;-)

      Seriously, I don’t know how you’re (or Chuck) using this to promote not paying you’re taxes. The way of Christ and the rest of the NT is to follow the laws of the land, as long as those laws don’t violate allegiance to God. Taxes suck, but that’s much different than emperor worship or participation in violence for the sake of worldly kingdom causes.

  • Dan Roberts

    Interesting subject, David. In cases like this I always like to look at it from a historical perspective, i.e. origins and purpose. It’s interesting to note that America didn’t have a pledge to the flag until 1892 when it was written for a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the Americas. From there it took on a life of its own. Even more interesting, the phrase “under God” was not in the original, but was added in 1948. Check out the history at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pledge_of_Allegiance.

  • John

    But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

    – Philippians 3:20

  • Seth

    I bring my kids to a Christian homeschooling group once a week. They make it part of their routine to pledge allegiance to the flag. I am never comfortable with this and honestly wonder why they are doing it. So this has been on my mind. I have taken the view that you share here David and I see where others are coming from like Sean.
    I decided I am going to research the concept and inception and history of pledging allegiance to the flag and write a detailed report putting it into some perspective I hope.
    As Dan pointed out above the history is recent and interesting when you start looking at it. Our great great grandparents didn’t recite the pledge and maybe my dad did the version we have now. So this is a pretty new phenomenon to this country and yet many people think it was written along with the constitution. So some good perspective and history on it is needed as can also be found but I would like to put it together and I will share it with you when that ever gets completed.
    Thanks for bringing up this topic

  • Pat O'Leary

    We’ve had our commonly-accepted idea of “patriotism” in Ireland too — it was mostly focused on being anti-Brit but most of the nation subscribed to it for decades. We couldn’t see this blind national spot..

    Pledging allegiance to any entity other than The Lord is obviously idolatry. But I think that for some Americans at least, it appears to reflect reality: some actually do place a higher value on the flag than on God …and that’s their entitlement…

  • Julie

    Hi, David. This has expressed many of my own thoughts and concerns for several year. The patriotism in some churches has caused me to feel uncomfortable and like I don’t fit in. There has been fear that I would face rejection for my opposing views. I have only shared with a very few close friends that I don’t like my children reciting the pledge in school. I’ve often wondered what kind of backlash we would experience if I spoke with the school and told them that I didn’t want my children participating.
    I don’t like Fourth of July celebrations at church, and nothing turns me off from a congregation faster than to hear government political discussions at church while we should be talking Jesus. I do personally get involved in politics and try to stay read up on it in my own time and on my own dime, but I don’t want it in my church. The church is to be sanctified, set apart for God’s use…not for the outspoken to promote their polictical persuasions.
    I also cringe when I hear people talking about kicking God out of schools. You can’t make God leave. There are children there. There is no doubt in my mind that God is too.

  • jhopping

    I hear you… My eyes were opened to the dangers of nationalism through trips overseas sharing the message and love of Jesus. There is something about trying to share the gospel of the Kingdom while trying not to share your culture that will get you thinking – and when you start thinking, all kinds of sacred cows start dying. Any theological concept worth its weight has to apply to all people across all cultures and time. If it doesn’t, time to toss it and go back to Jesus.

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