I was talking to a friend the other day and he was telling me that his grand-daughter was questioning whether she should pledge her allegiance to the flag. It made me sad, not that the young lady was questioning what she should pledge allegiance to (because it is always good to question the status quo to see if it is really so) but because the truth really is that we no longer teach why we pledge allegiance. This is apparent from the increasing sentiment among younger generations, that America is nothing to be proud of, it is just one more nation, no better than any other nation and certainly not worth pledging allegiance to especially as a Christian, after all my allegiance is to God alone.

In addition to making me sad, it also made me think about that very question, the idea of pledging allegiance to anything other than God. What exactly does allegiance mean? According to Miriam Webster on-line dictionary, in addition to the loyalty of a subject to a king, it also means “devotion or loyalty to a person, group, or cause”. It did not take me very long to realize that I do give my allegiance to other people, groups and causes other than God. The most obvious is the allegiance to my wife. The promise to love, honor and cherish for as long as we both shall live, is a pretty serious pledge. I also give my allegiance to my local church fellowship. The bible says we are not to forsake the gathering together of the saints as is the habit of some, it also tells us to think more highly of others than we think of ourselves. Both of those admonitions lead us to give our allegiance and our lives to our friends. This is quite different from an allegiance to God. Finally, as a pro-life activist for over 25 years, I have given my allegiance to the cause of life from conception to natural death and will continue to do so until my last breath.

Now, you might say that these are all extensions of my Christian faith and you would be quite right, but they are also allegiances to other than God. Based on that I do not think I am proscribed from giving an allegiance to a nation, although I am also certainly not required to give it.

Before I go on to discuss further, permit me to relate an account of a true event and then to ask a question. I know a man who gave one of his healthy kidneys to another man not related to him and of a different race. Giving this kidney saved the mans life. This was a very noble and honorable thing that my friend did. I hold him in high regard for his willingness to do this. I do not know if I would be able to do the same thing if I were ever in his shoes. This leads to my question. Does the recipient of the kidney owe any loyalty or friendship or allegiance to my friend? I would say so and I bet you would too. I think we need to keep that story and our reaction in mind when we think about the pledge.

When we pledge allegiance, what are we saying?

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

We are pledging allegiance to a flag that represents the Republic of the United States. What does that mean? The pledge goes on to describe the republic for which the flag stands, it is one nation, under God, indivisible (undivided – not divisible) and it is a nation that stands for liberty and justice for all.

That is a nation I want to give my allegiance to! In addition, the nation only exists because men and women gave up freedom and, in some cases, life itself to preserve a nation under God, providing liberty and justice for all. If not for those sacrifices, we might be living under a tyrannical regime like so many in the world today. So I do pledge my allegiance, my loyalty and my fidelity to this nation and to those who have gone before me to deliver to me such a nation.

You may think me naive for thinking this way, that our nation is anything but a nation under God. We are a nation that sends our armed forces around the world for sometimes dubious reasons. We have bigotry and hatred and racism inside our own borders: where is the liberty and justice for those so oppressed? What about our historic sins of slavery and oppression of native Americans? We have been anything but a nation worthy of pledging our allegiance to.

These are all good questions and legitimate charges and deserve serious discussion and action to improve where we fail, but even with all of that and more, I go back to the stated purpose of the pledge, which refers back to the Declaration of Independence which includes the following phrases “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” and at the conclusion, “And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” These sentiments, these desires, these confessions are confessions that I can wholeheartedly agree with and do so.

With all of our faults and sins (and they are growing every day) this is a nation that has stated it is reliant on God. I agree. We stand for life, liberty and justice. I agree. With revolutions occurring in the middle east and people longing for freedom, I am thankful that we can have regular peaceful revolutions at the ballot box and by petitioning our government. The election of Barack Obama was a peaceful revolution against the government of George W. Bush and the Tea Party movement and the elections of November 2010 were revolutions against the current administration. This is the wisdom of our founders at work and it is a wisdom that is worth pledging allegiance to.

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