Once again, the flag burning debate has popped into the headlines. Not sure what prompted it, but apparently your President Trump had an opinion to share:
A year in prison or loss of citizenship.
The obvious double standard that his fans seem to overlook is that Conservatives oftentimes defend anyone that burns an ISIL/ISIS flag. Or a Koran. They stand behind their precious 1st Amendment and claim God is on their side. These are the same people that laugh at French, satirical comics of Mohammed but cry foul when someone mocks baby Jesus or Mary. It’s clear then that the rights protected by the 1st Amendment are not preeminent in their minds. It’s only convenient when it aligns with their goal of preferential treatment for themselves. The 1st Amendment is quickly discarded when any opposing values or speech claim rights to the same protection.
Liberals are logically inconsistent in similar fashion. They stand up for anyone that’s not white, Christian, or ‘Murican. They claim to fight for equality for the little guy, the minority view. But they often get so wrapped up in the minority that they are willing to sacrifice the majority just to prove a point. That doesn’t make a lick of sense either. I’ve written on several occasions that equality is a farce and a mirage so I won’t get into it here.
But Free Speech aside, I’ve written quite a bit about the ideas of Imperialism and National Pride in the 21st century. These flags we wave are designed to divide us and pit us up against each other. Behind the flag, we take credit for things in which we had no participation, assume blame for atrocities we did not commit, and hate entire groups of people whom we’ve never met. There are flags for clubs, religious denominations, sexual orientation, sports teams, professional associations, rock bands, corporations, and schools. There are flags for cities, states, regions, countries, and continental unions.
Sure. There are some that will claim the flag brings people together. It doesn’t have to necessarily divide. That’s all well and good if you agree with everything for which the flag stands. But what if you don’t? What if you are critical of some of the things that flag represents? Well, if you’re talking to a die-hard flag fanatic, a flag-natic if you will, chances are you are now the enemy and just placed a target on your back.
Think about how inconsistently the American Flag itself is treated. On the one hand, flag-natics will tell you that it should never touch the ground. You should never leave it out in the rain (unless it’s specifically an all-weather flag). It should be folded / stored / and retired in a precise, prescribed manner according to the code. (Incidentally, when it’s time to retire a flag, you’re supposed to burn it. You just have to have a little ceremony where you sing a song, recite your holy prayers over it, etc.)
But with all this pomp and circumstance surrounding the idolatry of the national cloth, Conservatives don’t seem to mind if you fashion a bikini (or swimmers’ underwear) out of a flag. You can make tablecloths and napkins that look like flags. You can make shoes dressed to look like the flag. I’ve even seen pictures of Muslims wearing hijabs (headcoverings) out of their Red, White and Blue flags (of course, this caused all kinds of confusing ruckus with Conservatives.)
And what should Christians think? Can we, in good conscience, idolize the flag?
We were reading the following passage in Hebrews at the assembly a few weeks ago.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
(Hebrews 11:13-16 NKJV)
These verses are in the middle of the so-called Hall of Fame of the faithful. I don’t know why American Christians don’t seem to understand the simple, yet crystal clear, statement made in Scripture. And in the New Testament, no less.
As Christians, this world is not our home. Our primary citizenship is a heavenly country, not America. We reside in these lands as sojourners. Within our arbitrary borders, there are people that do not share citizenship to our heavenly country. Conversely, we share citizenship with other Christians that live beyond our flag-based borders. As Christians, we have more in common with other Christians in Canada, Mexico, China, Nigeria, Russia, Iraq, and Israel than we do with non-Christians (atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, Humanists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons) that reside in the United States.
When we bomb, spy, steal from or overthrow governments in countries with different flags than ours, we are most likely doing that to some of our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we point drone strikes or nukes at our so-called enemies, we are taking aim at fellow Christians.
And even if there weren’t a single professing Christian in the lands of the Other Flags, how does the Great Commission of Christ, to go forth and make disciples of ALL the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, reconcile with your platform of Nationalism?
Brethren, don’t let the politics of the flag entangle you into fruitless and empty philosophy. Our only allegiance should be to His Kingdom come. When we buy into the Us vs. Them debate, we not only kill fellow followers of Christ, but we hinder our one calling from the Master to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth.
2 thoughts on “Wave That Flag”
Thank you for making me think about things. I struggle with this issue. I have a love for my country that is grounded in the history lessons I learned as a child — that our ancestors came here in search of freedom. Freedom to worship without persecution and freedom to pursue life without the constraints of overbearing government. That country was birthed into existence by more than a few men who were fighting for FREEDOM. They did fly a flag — red and white stripes, a navy field with a circle of stars — but I think that flag was symbolic of the freedom they were risking life and limb to attain. I do not think they would be pleased with the way things have turned out.
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I totally understand the historical context of loving our country and honoring those that truly fought to make men free. And my writing is not meant to suggest that we should be enemies of our country or those that love it. I simply want to encourage Christian friends to deeply consider our priorities, our calling, and to always question and challenge our assumptions, particularly when it comes to the things that the State has taught us.
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