Patriotism is a religious duty.  When the early Americans searched their Bibles to learn about government, about patriotism, what did they find?  The following is a list of the principal lessons to be learned from the biblical guidelines of levels of government.

1.  God instituted civil government.

“For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.  Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power?  Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good.  But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (Romans 13:3-4).

2.  Omnipotent God is sovereign–His authority is over all.

In the history recorded in 1 Samuel 8, the Israelites rejected citizenship responsibilities outlined in scripture and asked to be like other nations.  They wanted a king.  God gave them a king–an arrangement that was second best to His authority alone, but better than anarchy.

“But God is the judge: He putteth down one, and setteth up another” (Psalm 75:7).  “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and His ways judgment: and those that walk in pride He is able to abase” (Daniel 4:37).

3.  Government servants are accountable to God.

“For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing” (Romans 13:6).

4.  As citizens, we have a moral responsibility to participate and improve civil government.

“For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (1 Peter 2:15).

“Art thou called being a servant?  Care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather” (1 Corinthians 7:21).

“Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

“Patriotism is as much a virtue as justice, and is as necessary for support of societies as the natural affection is for the support of families.  The Amor Patriae is both moral and a religious duty.  It comprehends not only the love of our neighbors but millions of our fellow creatures, not only the present but of future generations.  This virtue we find constitutes a part of the first character of history.” This is an excerpt from an essay on patriotism written by Dr. Benjamin Rush, published in 1773.  He was a delegate to the Continental Congress from Pennsylvania and signed the Declaration of Independence.  A devout Christian, Rush established Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and served as professor of medical theory and clinical practice at the University of Pennsylvania from 1791 to 1813. 

~ David Norris

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