God and/or Country?
Does the Bible command us to love our country?

I've got a special treat for you to commemorate Independence Day - a preview of the summer issue of Leadership due out later this month. The issue focuses on the intersection of church ministry and politics (not an irrelevant subject this year). Here is a snippet featuring Charles Colson and Gregory Boyd debating the biblical basis for loving one's country:

Charles Colson: I don't think that you can simply forget the fact that we live in a kingdom and a state. Our job is to make the state as righteous and conformed to God's standards as possible. But you can love the Lord your God with your heart, mind, and soul and also love your country as a way of loving your neighbor.
Gregory Boyd: This is the fundamental difference between us. In your book you speak a lot about our dual commitments, our dual allegiances to God and country. I just don't know where in the New Testament you get that. I can't imagine Jesus or Paul saying such a thing. God tells us to obey the laws of the land and to pray for peace. Those are our two engagements. But I don't feel we have any kind of duty to love or defend our country.

As you can see, this issue is sure to spark some debate. Share your thoughts here, and look for more thought provoking discussion on Out of Ur in the coming weeks.

July 03, 2008

Displaying 1–10 of 47 comments

c.bessy

November 03, 2011  10:39am

I tried to find "loving our country/nation/race" in the Bible and I am so surprised to say there is no verse at all that is even remotely related to this command. This is a shock for me since I have heard from the pulpit too many times how God calls Christians to love their country. Clearly this misconception represents a slippery slope that could to take us slowly away from loving our God and other people. It does not sound bad in itself especially to races or nations that needed some serious loving from their citizens because of their dire circumstances. But it is a devious ploy from the enemy as it appears to be like a message from an angel when it is actually not. What it actually develops in us is a lust for power and control...all motivated by self-pride. It is scary that I have even thought it magnanimous for anyone to love their country so much that they will do everything to ensure supremacy of that race. God have mercy upon us. I thank God for His Word that sheds light on these things so that we can truly love Him with all of our heart, mind and strength. And love others as we love ourselves. Not some abstract nation/country/state...

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slaveOFchrist

July 15, 2008  9:18pm

Bottom line is that Jesus said we are to love our enemies. Paul echoes this command when he says leave vengeance to God and instead feed the enemy and overcome evil with good. These two commands are at odds with what America does in the world. The two allegiances (to God or country) are in conflict. It is time the church realized that she is an international entity. Christians need to stop killing people. Jesus said to put down the sword.

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Todd Burus

July 10, 2008  10:29pm

Todd, I find myself torn between my desire to counsel you against the path you are following, and the realization that the best education for you would be for you to complete the journey you are currently on. So, I have decided leave you to G-d, and his infinite mercy. Fare you well. First off, I find it offensive, and a little funny, that the response to my disagreement with a position is that I am not educated enough. This is the same tactic that emergent types use against orthodoxy, and it is not any more valid there. You, like Todd, are advocating faithless moralism and tyrannical oppression of non-believers much like the Dobson, Robertson, Falwell, and a few others of the dominionist movement who have ensconsed themselves into the national goverment. So let me ask you this... Where in the bible does G-d command you, or the church to legislate morality? Where in the bible does it order you, and all other followers of G-d to legalistically enforce all scriptures on a national level? On a community level? I believe that this is a fundamentally incorrect appraisal of what I believe. "Faithless moralism"? What type of legislation is not some sort of moralism? How you should live, how you should spend your money, what type of licensing rules and regulations you must follow. Do you mean to suggest that murder should not be illegal because that is one of the 10 commandments? Obviously not. What is meant here is that you disagree with certain moral legislation. I in no means want to legislate all of Scripture, but there are pieces of "good conduct" (Romans 13.3) which Christians in a democracy should fight to have ratified. As to my beliefs, I will link a sermon by John Piper on my blog which speaks on the roles of Christians in an American-type democracy which I agree with 100% and which will serve as a much better way of articulating my convictions on this matter than I could.

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sheerahkahn

July 10, 2008  11:42am

"Okay. Besides the fact that you just ran off about 20 different talking points for the left wing, your repeated animosity towards America and patriotism (which, by the way, I think you need to lookup the difference between patriotism and nationalism. They're not synonyms) certainly doesn't come off in a politically neutral manner." Todd, I find myself torn between my desire to counsel you against the path you are following, and the realization that the best education for you would be for you to complete the journey you are currently on. So, I have decided leave you to G-d, and his infinite mercy. Fare you well. However… "You are correct in stating that many Christians have done a lousy job of following God's command of marriage for life. But since when does failure in one area of obedience to God's laws justify disobedience in others?" Melody, you, of all people, should know better, and yet you do not…I am truly puzzled by this. You, like Todd, are advocating faithless moralism and tyrannical oppression of non-believers much like the Dobson, Robertson, Falwell, and a few others of the dominionist movement who have ensconsed themselves into the national goverment. So let me ask you this... Where in the bible does G-d command you, or the church to legislate morality? Where in the bible does it order you, and all other followers of G-d to legalistically enforce all scriptures on a national level? On a community level? We are not Israel, and we are certainly not under the Law of Moses...so where are you getting this faithless moralistic/works base doctrine from? I want you to show me in the scriptures on your web site because I think OoU cannot handle the bandwidth of what you need to explain to me. I've booked marked your website, and I will read and study what you have researched and concluded because I think you are so far off the trail of G-d's will that I'm willing to entertain the possibility that I may have stepped off somewhere along the line! As of right now… "Your sarcastic attitude toward traditional Christian beliefs makes me wonder what Bible you read." ...if this is how you see what I wrote...you are right...you and I are most certainly not reading the same bible, nor are we following the same G-d.

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Todd Burus

July 09, 2008  9:15pm

Todd, Just for my own edification...and to satisfy a curiosity of mine...do you read what I write before you post? Sheerahkahn, Okay. Besides the fact that you just ran off about 20 different talking points for the left wing, your repeated animosity towards America and patriotism (which, by the way, I think you need to lookup the difference between patriotism and nationalism. They're not synonyms) certainly doesn't come off in a politically neutral manner. I am not going to even attempt to respond to what you have said any further, other than to say that as your comments have gone on they have made less and less sense. This was fun while it lasted but I think that dialogue has been officially turned off on your end so I'll see you on some other thread.

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Melody

July 09, 2008  1:25pm

Sheerahkahn, sheesh! I apparently struck some of your sensitive nerve endings without meaning to. I must admit to being puzzled by your reaction to my comment. You have accurately quoted me with the first and last statement of your response, but I did not make the intervening statements. To whom do you attribute them? Let's look at your attitude toward abortion. Prior to 1973 abortion was rare. And the number of death to the mother caused by illegal abortions then was about the same as death to the mother from legal abortion now. In all cases, the baby dies. It may interest you to know that the organizations doing the most to support unmarried pregnant girls and women are pro-life organizations. When you see people protesting outside an abortion clinic (something pretty rare these days) more often than not, those same people are more than willing to adopt the child whose life they are attempting to save. What are you doing to help? Your sarcastic attitude toward traditional Christian beliefs makes me wonder what Bible you read. You are correct in stating that many Christians have done a lousy job of following God's command of marriage for life. But since when does failure in one area of obedience to God's laws justify disobedience in others?

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sheerahkahn

July 09, 2008  1:11pm

"If people like you and others here are truly concerned about the role of Christianity in trying to influence governmental policy then I would suggest you start by calling out the culprits on your own side. But as I see that is unlikely to happen I guess you will eventually have to come to terms with the hypocritical nature of these attacks on conservatives." Todd, Just for my own edification...and to satisfy a curiosity of mine...do you read what I write before you post? And by reading, do you allow your mind to entertain the thoughts I present, both explicity and implicitly? Because no where have I espoused a liberal doctrine, nor a liberal political slant...just wondering if you're filling blanks I have overlooked, or if you're just donning the mantle of assumption by way of dismissing, vis-a-vis marginalizing my presentations as that of a "liberal."

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sheerahkahn

July 09, 2008  10:19am

"The passage of the Civil Rights Act bore little if any benefit for the middle-class white male..." Alright, in the idealized world...for the white male it means that his tax dollars are not being spent on supporting welfare recipients who can't find a job because they aren't white, or male. It means that his daughters are not trapped in a world-view that says they're little more than a birthing oven, and that they can become what G-d has envisioned them to become whether that be an executive manager at a Fortune 500 company, or a executive manager of her own household. The civil rights act actually liberates the White male from the social and cultural expectations derived from the past, which placed the burdened of success and achievement of family, community, nation on his shoulders. The white male is as free today to be a household executive manager to being an executive manager of a Fortune 500 company without the stigma of being considered a failure if he chooses to be just a house-dad. The civil rights act...opened the door for our nation to move beyond it's past...we're crawling, but now we're all benefiting from that act, somewhat.

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Todd Burus

July 09, 2008  8:19am

sheerahkahn, I think your bloviating towards Melody goes a little too far. There is something to be said about accurately representing someone's position versus just making a caricature to try and tear them down. I think that your comments about abortion would have a hard time being rectified with the teachings in Scripture. Same as those for gay marriage. We need to decide if we are going to stand on the Word of God or just relativize based on the world around us. That seems to me to be one of the big problems with liberal emerging Christianity, they want to sit back and point out the 2x4 in the eye of Bible-believing conservative Christians and not lay claim to the fact that they are carrying a big liberal agenda 2x4 in their own eyes. Just look at the current heroes like Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo, who are just as quickly erecting the Religious Left as they are trying to destroy the Religious Right. There comes out this arrogance that all they want is to be politically neutral, but their actions completely belie this thought. If people like you and others here are truly concerned about the role of Christianity in trying to influence governmental policy then I would suggest you start by calling out the culprits on your own side. But as I see that is unlikely to happen I guess you will eventually have to come to terms with the hypocritical nature of these attacks on conservatives.

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sheerahkahn

July 08, 2008  4:23pm

con't "but does that make a cause like seeking to end abortion wrong?" When Abortion was illegal, and :::gasp::: yes there was a time when it was illegal, how well did that stop the women from seeking abortions? And as an aside…do you know how far in the hazy distant past abortificants were being used by our ancestors? So in short, making Abortion illegal is doing something for something's sake because it's easier to legislate a law than to actually go out and either give hope to a pregnant woman, or prevent unwanted pregnancies…"well done my mediocre and lazy servant." "Does that make seeking to prevent 'homosexual marriage' wrong?" Melody, seriously, this is a red herring that should've been buried as soon as it sprung up in your thoughts. When divorce and separations in the church pair with the divorce and separations of non-believers I think it prudent that we deal with the plank in our own eyes before we go haring off and try to deal with the speck in the unchurched eyes. "This is a government '...of the people, by the people, and for the people'." Unfortunately, we seem to have forgotten the counsel of one of the founding fathers... "A Republic madam, if you can keep it."

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