For Christians, the issue of patriotism is always complicated by our citizenship in two realms, one earthly and one heavenly. The Bible teaches that we have duties to our earthly nation, including obeying laws, paying taxes, and honoring our leaders (Rom. 13:1-7). At the same time, we are subjects of the eternal kingdom of Christ. Jesus said, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (Mt. 22:21). This dual citizenship presents serious complications when the civil and the divine authorities strongly conflict. This was the situation the early believers faced in Jerusalem, resulting in their persecution. Peter told the Jewish leaders, "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29), and for his disobedience he was beaten and later threatened with execution (Acts 5:40; 12:1-6).
While our "two kingdoms" citizenship always warrants biblical reflection, the situation facing Christians in America today demands special wisdom and grace. Throughout our lifetime, there have been two competing Americas, one theistic and the other atheistic; one which more or less respects our Christian heritage and upholds general biblical values, and one which aggressively opposes biblical morality and a godly outlook on life. The pagan agenda, which is apparently pursued by roughly half of America, seeks by all means to change our laws, institutions, and moral consensus in a radically secular and sensually permissive direction. With the assistance of a radically motivated media establishment, pagan America has made steady gains during each of the last several decades. But in the few years marked by the election of our current President, an aggressive use of raw government power is effecting an exponential shift in our society.
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