I’ve been on a journey toward non-violence for a while, as you know if you’ve been reading my blog. But historically I’ve been part of a very Republican, highly right wing, extremely conservative politically, gun-carrying religious group.
Over the past few months, it seems that every conversation I’ve had with any hard core person from my own team (again I’ve been hard core right wing conservative Republican most of my life) has become volatile. Whether it is about non-violence or my concern about the mistreatment of Palestinian Christians the right has taken offense and nearly taken my head off. I have some hard core right wing friends who aren’t ugly, but more often I’ve been ridiculed, mocked and treated pretty ugly. I’m not claiming persecution… sticks and stones would be necessary for persecution and you know the old rhyme.
Anyway, to the point. Can we have a dual allegiance to the Kingdom of God and to the United States of America? I’m not answering this question in this blog… I can’t answer it. I’m only thinking out loud. I don’t secretively have an answer that I’m trying to subtly promote, I’m really asking the question and thinking about the answer.
It never seemed to be a problem for the world I grew up in. In fact, I’m sure I attended dozens of Vacation Bible Schools where we pledged allegiance to both the American Flag and The Christian Flag. Truth is we usually pledged allegiance to the bible too, but that’s another conversation for another day. Remember, I’m thinking out loud… “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.” “I pledge allegiance to the Christian Flag and to the Savior for whose Kingdom it stands. One Savior, crucified, risen, and coming again with life and liberty to all who believe.” Both pledges make a claim to represent a kingdom or republic.
Can I have a dual citizenship? Can I be both a citizen of the Kingdom of God and simultaneously a citizen of the United States of America?
As I continue to think, I want to ask myself this question too… Can I be simultaneously a citizen of a Kingdom without swords and a participating member of a Republic who uses guns, tanks, fighter jets, and bomber planes as weapons of war? I know some of you are already mad… STOP, I’m not making a decision here and I’m not asking you to either. I’m simply thinking.
I have friends and family who I LOVE… and who I REALLY TRULY BELIEVE are both believers in Jesus Christ and simultaneously citizens of the US and members of the Airforce, Army, National Guard, Marines, and Navy.
I’ll also add that after the 911 tragedy that I remember reading the stories about bad guys coming in and beating up the old lady next door and how doing nothing about it would be wrong. I remember thinking, if someone was attacking my neighbor I would go next door and do whatever it took to stop the criminal. That was a justification for some of the recent wars.
I’ve been told most of my life that America is a Christian nation and that we should govern as such, but I don’t think that is true today and it may not have ever have been really true.
As I said at the outset of this blog, I’m moving more and more toward a practice or lifestyle of non-violence but I don’t think it is fair or even reasonable for me to try and impose that concept on a people group like the United States of America. It is silly to every expect someone to live by your faith if they (he, she, or the group) doesn’t share your faith. That is exactly why I voted against Amendment 1 earlier this year. While I believe homosexuality is missing God’s best for a person, I am opposed to mistreating someone or denying someone rights based on a personal belief or lack thereof.
So, can I separate my allegiance as a Christian with my allegiance as an American? Can I theologically believe in non-violence and politically vote to send troops into war? Can I personally commit to defend my family by sacrificially giving myself to an intruder and vote to defend our borders with any weapons necessary? Could I choose non-violence in my personal life and still fly a bomber plane that would take out an enemy?
Clearly some do live with a dual citizenship… I guess I’ve lived like that for the past 19 years.
Here’s a quote from an article about dual citizenship. “Along those lines, I read an article recently by professor David Gushee at Mercer University, in which he identified what he calls the “abdication” option of citizenship among some Christians in America today. He says that this is a surging trend among Christian academics and activists in which loyalty to Jesus Christ as Lord leaves no room for allegiance to nation at all. He points out that some Christian writers and thinkers such as: Stanley Hauerwas, Greg Boyd, and Shane Claiborne, advocate that Christians should be loyal to Jesus Christ alone – not the country at all. They say that our king — our “president”, in effect – is Jesus, and that our nation here is corrupt, and filled with violence and injustice. The author of the article says that these thinkers are trying to help Christians fall out of love with America so that they might fall in love with Jesus. ”
I hope you get this article.. I’m not giving an answer, I’m simply thinking out loud.
Pictures like these (below) have caused me to cringe, and caused me to think… these pictures really bother me. The picture at the top of this page makes me sick too… I’m not really for flags at all, but if I were going to fly a Christian flag, I’m pretty sure I would want it flying above the American and not below it! I’m not a fan of worship services where we seem to do more worshiping the American Flag than we worship Jesus either, in fact… I’m not really in favor of ever having an American Flag in a church setting. To me it sends the wrong signal. To me a human is a human, and I don’t see an American as any more important to God or to me than a Haitian or even a Russian. I’m not laying down my American citizenship, but I’m thinking about my citizenship and how to live as dual citizens of the Kingdom of God and the United States of America.