Is Patriotism a Christian Virtue?
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may truly lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior. 1 Timothy 2:1-3
For a variety of reasons, some Christians do not think patriotism is a Christian virtue. They say the Christian’s citizenship is in heaven and heaven alone; yet Jesus prayed to His Father, “I ask that you do not take them [believers] out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. (John 17:15) God has given His children responsibilities in the world, including loving their neighbors, honoring authorities, paying taxes, serving in the military, exercising duties within the governing structure of the nation, etc., with the prayer that they would be kept from the evil one in the performing of those duties. He has placed us in a specific nation within the world community for a purpose, where He calls us to be salt and light.
There is such a thing as “civil religion which does not befit the true follower of Christ, but “civil religion is not synonymous with patriotism; the Christian must be careful not to succumb to the heresy of any religion not permeated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. “Civil religion is a heresy which attaches to any cause within the society where the cause is worshipped, and commitment to the cause is the basis of one’s “salvation. There are good causes which can be associated with God’s commands but are not to be worshipped nor become your “church. Pro-life organizations and causes can become for some people a “civil religion; a good cause, but not a substitute for church. Anti-racism causes can become a “civil religion where combatting racism is the end all and be all that unites the participants, rather than a devoted relationship to Jesus Christ and obedience to all His words. Government acknowledgement of God, or a “higher deity in general terms, or politically-correct neutralizing of anything so specific (exclusive) as the name of Jesus, so as to offend anyone of another faith, creates civil religion. Patriotism, which has been called a “civil religion by some, needn’t be. Patriotism can be rightfully practiced and felt by faithful followers of Jesus Christ.
Patriotism is love of homeland or fatherland, the land of our families, the land of our neighbors. As C.S. Lewis says, “Patriotism offers us the first step beyond family selfishness, as the family offers us the first step beyond self-love. Americans especially are blessed to be citizens of a country which God has used for good in the world for two and a half centuries. That is not to say, as patriotism detractors are quick to point out, that Americans have not been guilty of evil as well; it is to say that America has a proven record of coming to the world’s aid, to the oppressed, the poor, the vulnerable, the enslaved, like no other nation in history.
History revisionists, who are a dime a dozen today, cannot remove the truth known to God, no matter how hard they try, of America being raised up by Him for a time. He has chosen her and fit her to be a force for good in the world community and to combat the evil of tyrants. Apart from God, America would never have been the tool in His hand to open closed doors and dark lands so that the Gospel could spread throughout the world.
Still, in her history, America has played a part in the enslavement of other human beings for a time who should have been equal citizens; but she also gave the life blood of her sons to rectify that grievous history as no other nation on earth. Even as evil men continued to “enslave through racist behaviors, her citizens and legislators ensured the passing and enforcement, though imperfect, of laws to combat this sin within the society. The task will not be resolved this side of heaven and the new earth; yet today, in this sinful world, there is racism being practiced by all sides, by those of all races and color of skin. All of America’s citizens are creatures created equally in the image of God; equally sinners in need of a Savior; and equally within hearing of the call, “Whosoever will, may come!
Patriotism is a worthy Christian virtue of followers of the Lamb when it is a heart-felt expression of thanksgiving to the Prince of Peace who gifted America centuries of peace to be what she has been in the hands of the Ruler of the Universe. Has any other nation midst her warts been so blessed as the “home of the brave? The patriotism of a Christian ought to be infused with thanksgiving to God for His blessing of this land which is presently your “home this side of your eternal Home. Here we still worship freely, marry, rear families, work, love neighbors as ourselves, and combat the prowling evil one.
Loving and appreciating what God has brought about for your good is not a sin; it is a thanksgiving which is well warranted and pleasing to Him. Celebrate it this Independence Day and throughout the year. You may not have it much longer. Having seen much of the rest of the world, I believe all Americans especially have reason to be thankful to God in a patriotism that remembers these blessings and does not take them for granted. America has been richly blessed!
“While the storm clouds gather far across the sea, Let us raise allegiance to a land that’s free. Let us all be grateful for a land so fair, as we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.
God bless America, land that I love, stand beside her, and guide her, through the night with a light from above. From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam, God bless America, my home sweet home.
(“God Bless America, 1918, Irving Berlin)
Sign up for our monthly newsletter and weekly devotional