Can a Christian be a Patriot?
To answer this question we need to understand the definition of patriotism. The word is defined as love and devotion to one’s own country. A patriot is one who loves, supports, and defends one’s country. At first glance this does not seem like a bad thing, but we will need to go a little deeper to better understand this question. Love is a very strong word and the Bible tells us we should put God above everything else. We will try to answer this question by looking at some scriptures and the role of governments with God.
There are some scriptures that tell us to be subject to the governing authorities that are over us. Let’s take a look at them and see what we can learn in answering our question. In Romans 13:1-7 we learn that God puts governments into the positions that they have. At first glance we might think this scripture would support the concept of being a patriot since God has allowed the various governments to have the position they do. In Titus 3:1 we are also told to be subject to rulers and authorities. Once again, people could use this to support their belief in being patriotic to the country in which they live. Finally, in I Peter 2:11-16 we are told once again to honor the government authorities that are over us. God wants us to be a light to other people in our communities. By observing the rules and laws of the authorities over us we can be a good example to others who may later be influenced by our beliefs on God and His Kingdom. Also, by obeying the powers that be we can continue to spread God’s Word and Kingdom message in this world without government interference. God also wants order, and obeying the rulers over you helps keep an orderly society. Looking back on these scriptures, I don’t believe there is enough data to make a definitive statement on whether or not a Christian can be a patriot. There are some other things we need to think about.
What if the rulers over you made bad laws? What about the example of Nazi Germany, Stalin’s Soviet Union, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, or other similar governments? How about fighting and dying for a wicked country? Should patriotic Christians fight and die in any war that their government demands they fight in? Well we know that God had Israel fight and die to accomplish things He wanted done. And that may be the thing we need to remember in this discussion. If a country were doing the will of God I would see no issue in being a patriot for that country. The problem that arises is no country today is completely doing God’s will. I think we need to keep in mind Acts 5:29 in this discussion. Here we read we need to obey God rather than man. I think keeping that thought in mind can help us determine if a Christian can be patriot or not. Let’s take that thought and use it in looking at your own country. If you want to love, support, and defend your country you might very well be doing God’s will. But if your country pushes an agenda that goes against God and His will or ways then I don’t think that is something we should want to love or adore.
Some final things to think about in this discussion can be found in Galatians 3:28. Here we read Christians are all one body. Ethnicity, class, and gender don’t matter to Christians. Our minds and hearts must be first and foremost on God’s Kingdom rather than any other care, cause, want, or need in this world. If you want to be a patriot and honor your country, more power to you. Some countries are doing great and positive things in this world that God would look favorably on. Other countries are oppressing and neglecting their citizens. But don’t forget: no country is perfect or always right. When God’s Kingdom returns to this earth it will take over control of this world from all the other governments that will be ruling. God is not going to allow any nation’s government to rule. God and His kings and priests will be taking over ruler ship. There is nothing wrong with supporting and working for your country as long as you don’t compromise your first love and commitment to God and His ways.