My Country Tis of Knee

It’s happening again. The President has given all of us reason to spout off about what’s current. Let the outrage and soap-boxing begin.

My turn.

As a Christian Pastor born and raised in America I am in full support of anyone’s right to sit during the National Anthem. Please note, I’m in support of the RIGHT. I said nothing about the action. That’s a huge difference many people are not considering yielding countless relational strains as we yell past each other to prove we have heart.

Here’s why I think everyone should join my view.

Those presently inclined to sit during the national anthem do so because they view the country as fundamentally flawed. This is a fine reason to sit for the anthem. It is not disrespecting a country if you point out her flaws and question her current condition in peaceful ways. For heaven’s sake, THAT IS BEING AMERICAN. We are a country today because our founders were traitors to their country based on good conscience and natural revelation of nature’s God. I much more fear the loss of tolerance for those challenging national trends. Such a loss would herald an American course far more terminal than a few empty seats at a football stadium. So let freedom ring!

Fellow Christians, hear me on this matter in another way. Our Country’s values are corroding in a number of ways beyond racial injustice. And while every person currently reading this article could set a priority-oriented bullet list of those issues, we should support the right for everyone to voice whatever disagreement they have with them in a peaceful way.

For instance, the slow erosion of religious liberty under the previous administration left me feeling alienated and far less “patriotic” than in the past. But would I have sat for the anthem because of this? No. The scriptures teach me to “Honor the Emperor” and by implication, the civil government under which I live:

1 Peter 2:17 (ESV) Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

What I most dislike about this passage is Peter’s killer moral high ground. When Peter wrote those words Nero was emperor, a man whose hatred for the Church is well documented. He set fire to Rome, blamed Christians and then unleashed a most hellish episode of persecution against our spiritual forerunners. Nero was not a man you honored by nature. He was a man you honored by faith – believing that GOD is sovereign EVEN over his socially-acceptable, politically-expedient evil toward you.

EVEN SO, Christians have always believed there were times that absolutely required resistance to evil in the halls of power. Consider the confessing church under Nazi Germany, the current underground church in Communist China, the great emancipators in 18th/19th Century Britain and America who out-lasted and in many respects outmaneuvered their “brothers” on the other side of the fight. Where would we be without their protests? Not nearly at the level of arguing issues of posture during certain musical interludes before an athletic contest.

I can imagine the vexing questions for those who disagree with NFL players sitting/kneeling for the national anthem are these: Why is this your play? Is there not a more legally effective option for solving racial injustice? And if you want to start a conversation, why not get up and walk over to someone who needs to hear you? (YOU will be heard!) And as the NFL faces a host of questions regarding the safety of its game, is this the most pressing battle needed to be fought? Those questions have the right to be asked. I bet those who ask them would genuinely want to listen to the answers.

But I will absolutely defend the RIGHT of someone to participate in any peaceful act that questions the state of our Union. For one day soon, Christians in the West may be invited to fight for the freedoms we’ve taken for granted far too long regarding our values. When/if that happens, I can imagine hearing questions as to why we are not “getting with the program” would sound like complicit animosity. When it’s not your fight, it might be best to NOT take a side simply to convince the world you have heart. It’s just your twitter feed.