The Flag And The Unraveling Of America
When I entered the United States as a Canadian citizen back in 1970, I already had respect for the American flag—long before I became a US citizen. I can honestly say that despite the many faults of the United States—and there are many—I am unashamedly proud to be an America; I gladly say The Pledge of Allegiance and love “Old Glory.”
The words in the Pledge, “the Flag of the United States of America,” were intended to make clear to immigrants that his was not the flag of their home country, but a flag intended to represent the new country to which they now belonged. President Eisenhower added the words “under God” so that children throughout the United States will daily proclaim in every village and schoolhouse this…patriotic oath and prayer.” Despite our diversity of religion, race, and status, the flag—and our Pledge of Allegiance that it represents—was to give us the political cohesion to be “one nation under God.”
But that cohesion is broken. Athletes disrespect the flag by refusing to stand for the national anthem, atheists object to the words, “under God,” and a Muslim woman refused to say the Pledge, calling it an instrument of “forced assimilation.” Some activists are saying that the Pledgerepresents America’s dark history of “white supremacy.” The founders who gave us our history and traditions are being denounced and some of their monuments are being defaced or even torn down. A pastor in Chicago has asked our mayor to tear down a monument of George Washington mounted on a horse in Washington Park (so named after our first president) because Washington had owned slaves. We are seeing what one writer calls “a nationwide temper tantrum.” Nothing good is expected to come about by these actions except that it fuels raw anger and hatred on both sides.
Christians have always struggled with their relationship to the State (in our case, the flag of the United States). By no means did they think it always necessary to obey their government. Whether it was the midwives who disobeyed the king’s orders to kill the Jewish babies, or the apostles who said they would obey God rather than man, Christians have always had an allegiance to their heavenly citizenship that trumped earthly kings and flags. We should always be wary of a blind nationalism that says, “My country, right or wrong!”
In the United States, most Christians have always gladly given The Pledge of Allegiance because the laws of our country have, for the most part, been in line with core Christian values. But there is no doubt that a day is coming when faithful Christians will have to be lawbreakers to be loyal to Jesus Christ. But—and this is my concern—our present toxic political, moral, and racial tensions have stirred national discord that is tearing us apart. The idea of a nation held together by one language, one common core of beliefs, and a unified immigration policy is passing us by.
In a time of shrill voices, the church must keep its cool and be a calming voice of reason and broad political acceptance without being co-opted by one side or another in these escalating disputes. WE must continue to stand united at the foot of the cross and invite other sinners to join us regardless of their backgrounds, political parties, or immigration status. The church is still America’s best hope.
Is God Judging America?
Finding Hope In A Time Of Growing Darkness
Pastor Lutzer addresses America’s cultural decline and what it signals about the judgment of God on our land. He also points to the hope that can anchor your life at a time of social unrest and moral confusion.
Q: You say that the United States is fragmented?
A: Yes, we are fragmented in many ways, and it’s been happened for a long time. Obviously, the idea of America as a melting pot has long since vanished. Today, we are fragmented racially, politically, ethnically, and morally. What is more, we have more broken families and needy children. We have too many shrill voices and too few listening ears. Someone has well said we are the “disconnected generation.”
Q: What about the uptick in violence?
A: With the breakup of the home we are becoming an angry nation. I’m concerned about the wider instigation of violence of two kinds. First, personal scores that would normally be settled through the courts or through channels of communication are now being settled with a gun. Witness the horrific mass shootings we are repeatedly seeing. Second, as we know, many conservative speakers have had to cancel their events at universities across the nation because radical leftists resorted to violence. Add white supremacists into the mix and we could indeed have a race war on our hands.
Q: What does this mean for Christian students in our universities?
A: All of us are aware that in some institutions, Christian students, and especially professors, have to keep their convictions to themselves in order to graduate or continue teaching. Dietrich Bonhoeffer lamented the fact that students and professors during the Hitler era resorted to silence so as not to lose their jobs, etc. We must help our generation understand that God honors those who let their light shine despite the consequences. Eternal values are at stake here.
Q: Immigration has stirred a huge debate. Do you wish to comment?
A: Too long a subject to say much here, but I have no hope that our immigration crisis will ever be resolved. As long as both sides are demonizing each other, we have a toxic atmosphere of name-calling and political posturing making progress impossible. However, I am very encouraged by the number of churches that have significant ministries to refugees and other minorities. The good news is that we as the church have the privilege of welcoming whomever God sends to us.
Q: Does Islam concern you?
A: I am thankful that many Muslims—more than we hear about—are turning to Christ both here in the United States and even in Muslim countries. However, we are told that the man who committed an act of terror in New York City back on October 31, 2017 was inspired by ISIS, but the elephant in the room is that ISIS receives its inspiration from the sacred books of Islam: the Qur’an and the Hadith. Islam has always been spread with the sword, incredible cruelty, and violence. Thankfully, the Islam we see here in America is a Westernized version which, for the time being, is more tolerant and more willing to accept American values. Should it erupt in its purer forms, the implications are ominous.
Q: Can we end on a positive note?
A: Yes. Jesus has given His Church all the resources she needs to be faithful in every culture, every generation, and every circumstance. Jesus loves the people He died to redeem and He is not about to forsake us now!
By His grace, let the Church be the Church!