Over the weekend, millions of people took time to cook out, wave flags, and watch fireworks to celebrate the 239th anniversary of our nation’s independence from the British monarchy. It’s always an enjoyable holiday, and it serves as another reminder of how thankful we should be for the freedoms we enjoy and the lifestyle with which we’ve been blessed as Christian American citizens.
Undoubtedly, a number of churches across the nation included a patriotic hymn or two in their time of worship yesterday. Many have the American flag flying outside of their building, or even hanging at the front of their auditorium. We’ve fought for many years to maintain that there should not be a separation of church and state, that God is welcome in government and that His name should remain prominent in Washington D.C. But maybe it’s time for another discussion – should we be singing those hymns or flying that flag? Is it time for a separation of state and church?
There is only one nation that has God’s divine approval, and that’s the holy nation He set apart for Himself, the people He cleansed for His own possession as described in 1 Peter 2:9. When we hang the flag in the church building or sing “God bless America,” we introduce split allegiances. The church and the nation have separate goals, separate foundations, and separate leadership. Thankfully, the gay marriage ruling has made many question the claim that the U.S. is a “Christian nation,” as it begins to seem more difficult to fly a flag that now represents homosexual marriage. But that question should have been asked long ago. We shouldn’t forget that for the majority of our nation’s history, chattel slavery and racial segregation were the standard. Not long after segregation ended, infant slaughter was legalized on the national level, killing somewhere in the range of 58 million since 1973.
Despite America’s foundation upon many biblical principles, and the quotes we find from so many founders who supported the Christian religion, it’s becoming clearer all the time that the cross is often at odds with the American flag. Just as the church is not an institution of the government, the government is not an institution of the church. The church predates the American government, and it will live long after America (in its current state) is gone, should the Lord allow time to go on.
The church gathers to worship God, to remember the sacrifice of Christ, and to edify and encourage one another as we go out as lights into a dark world. Even if our government returned to practicing biblical principles, the two remain separate. There is no place for nationalism in the gathering of the saints, as that is completely antithetical to the nature of the church.Can you imagine Paul and the saints at Ephesus pledging allegiance to Rome or singing songs in praise of the emperor? We are gathered because of Jesus Christ and His blood. To take away from that focus by introducing tributes to our form of government and way of life borders on blasphemy.
America is not Israel of the Old Testament. Rather, the church is. As the head of the church, Jesus was quick to remind His followers that He did not come to establish an earthly kingdom, even telling Pilate that though He is a king, He wasn’t here to be that kind of king.
So, what should Christians do with government? Romans 13 says that we should be obedient to our rulers, with the natural caveat being that we should disobey when God’s laws intersect with theirs (Acts 5:29). We’re told that He makes all nations rise and fall, meaning He is guiding America’s ups and downs right now. 1 Timothy 2 tells us to pray for our government that we may lead tranquil and quiet lives in all godliness and dignity. We’ve been given that great blessing in America, and we should remain thankful to God that we’ve been blessed with our ability to carry out our Christianity tranquilly and quietly under the government. That’s a reminder that such a blessing comes from Him, not from the government, and that He should be thanked and praised, not them.
It’s time for us to consider, in our buildings, in our worship, and in our thoughts about our country – is it time for a separation of state from church?