Is it a sin to be patriotic? What does the Bible say about patriotism, if anything?
What is Patriotism?
Patriotism is a lot like family love; both hold to a strong love and devotion for others and in a nationalistic sense, patriotism means having a love of and devotion for one’s country. Our military veterans and those now serving loved their country enough to volunteer. No one would question their patriotism. They’ve proven it by their service. The men and women of our armed forces have sacrificed a lot and many of the creature comforts we take for granted, they don’t have access too. They are the living definition of patriotism. I fly our American flag, especially during holidays, to commemorate our veterans and current forces service as a symbolism of honor and respect for them.
God’s Word About Nations
The psalmist wrote “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!” (Psalm 33:12), besides, “The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength” (Psalm 33:16) and “The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue” (Psalm 33:17). The best advice I can give to any person or any nation is to know that “the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine” (Psalm 33:18-19). God, in speaking with Solomon about the future of the nation Israel said, “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2nd Chron 7:14) “But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 20then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples” (2nd Chron 7:19-20). God will not bless any nation that does not humble itself before Him and live in righteousness. If a nation doesn’t humble itself, God may have to do it for them.
Our First Loyalties
Our first loyalties is not to our country or spouse or employer but to God and Him alone for “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:20) and we must certainly obey God over man when given a choice and where man’s laws conflict with God’s law, we must chose God’s law. Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). This is really in the best interests of the state though. Why? Paul writes, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Rom13:1) and so Paul rightly shows that disobeying civil authorities is the same as disobeying God because “there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Christians should be the most law abiding citizens there are in a nation and it is only when they are told to do something that is contrary to biblical doctrine that they know God’s law is supreme over man’s law. Obedience to God’s law first but also to man’s except where man’s conflict with God’s.
Is Being Patriotic Biblical?
I see no conflict with Christians celebrating national holidays, particularly Thanksgiving and Independence Day. Both are centered on the relationship between a nation and God. I could not find any Scriptures that could prove to me that being proud of your nation and our veterans and service men and women is sin. Like anything, it can be taken to an extreme because God is the One Who we are to seek first and foremost, above all things (Matt 6:33). When we elevate anything above God, it is sin (idolatry). Most of the largest nations are not elevating God but elevating the buck. My old history professor once told me that “the bottom line of all history is the bottom line.” I knew what he meant. So putting our nation, our money, our jobs, our status, our favorite sports team, our spouse, our children, or any other human endeavor over and above God will result in ruin. Just like the decline of the Roman Empire, many nations are now on a precipitous decline, falling ever faster with each passing year, when suddenly they will come crashing down. Truer words about a nation were never spoken when Solomon wrote “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov 14:34).
If necessary, God “changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding” (Dan 2:21) and only “he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him” (Dan 2:22). National and governmental leaders might think they’re sovereign over their decisions but even “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Prov 21:1) so “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Prov 16:9). Where man rules, God overrules!
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.