A Biblical Case for an Active Patriotism
By Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield
Scripture tells us that no man is perfect. From this we know that no creation of man is perfect, therefore no nation is perfect. Even so many Christians find themselves very proud of their country. Many born elsewhere have feelings of pride about both their nation of birth, and their new homeland. What does the Bible say about these feelings of patriotism, and what should our reaction be ?
First let us consider the words of Ezra 7:26 “ And whoever will not do the law of your God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily on him, whether it be to death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.”(KJV) So here we see that our obligation to God and our obligation to country are linked. Now combine that with what Christ said at Mark 12:17 “ And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marveled at him.”(KJV) At the time Jesus was speaking directly about taxes. But notice he didn’t say pay your taxes, or give him his money. He said “things.” By speaking in the plural he tells us that he is answering more than the immediate, specific question. He is in fact saying much like Ezra 7 that we cannot be obedient followers of God and not be concerned about duty to our nation. We see the same idea yet again at Romans 13 :1 “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.” (NLT) If God is the source of authority, how can we as Christians turn a blind eye to how it is being used. We as people of God must be watchful over that which he has established. This is particularly true in democratic societies such as here in the United States. So we see from these verses that we cannot totally separate our duty to God, and our duty to country. More than mere patriotism we owe an active responsibility to those God has placed in authority.
But what of the argument that we should be in this world, but not of this world based on Romans 12:2 which says “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” This verse does not mean we should be separate from the affairs of our nation. What it means that our involvement in affairs of state should not be our focus, but that our focus should be on God. We should not draw upon political debate for wisdom and knowledge, but on God’s word. In fact it tells us that we and our knowledge of God’s word should shape the political debate, not the other way around.
How then do we serve God, through our duty to our nation. Our most important duty is found in 1 Timothy 2:2 where it says that we should pray “For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” (KJV) However God can not bless the fruits of our prayers, unless they are paired with action. As Mark 12 tells us we should pay our taxes. We should also vote, attend government meetings etc. Most importantly as Christians we are the advocates for God’s word in every sphere of society. Probably no other sphere depends so heavily on that advocacy than the governing of our nation !