There are those who say that to be nationalistic is anti-Christian, because we are part of the people of God, and this is more important than the nation we were born into.
This is a half-truth spun into a dangerous lie. About a generation or two ago people would have thought you were an immoral person for just suggesting that you should not prioritize your nation over others. Let me illustrate how.
A person in about 1950 (yes that “fearful” era) and earlier, would have looked at you as just as depraved for saying the nation does not matter, as someone would look at the average person today who says family does not matter. Because over the course of the last couple of generations people have been consistently propagandized to see the nation as an arbitrary aspect of life that can be changed at will, denied and ignored. And to view nationalism as at best out of date thinking, at worst, anti-Christian thinking.
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But to say you should not care about the nation, because you are part of the people of God, is precisely the equivalent of saying you should not prioritize your family, because if you are a believer, you are part of the family of God. Just as we are part of a new people, we are part of a new family. These truths are both held alongside of each other as equal, biblical truths, with the very same implications.
And yet a man who does not provide for his own family is worse than an unbeliever. How can this be so, if your family loyalties are completely transferred?
Because the spiritual reality does not override the physical reality, it informs it, it enhances it. Just as being a believer in Jesus should motivate a man to be a better father, a better provider; or a woman a better mother, or any person a better contributor to the family. So too should believing in Jesus make you a better citizen of your nation, not someone who scorns the idea, or mocks it as misplaced jingoism. Such a cynic is not representing the faith of Jesus, who loved his nation in a unique way as the gospels display. He did not first reject them, they rejected him first.
What is interesting is that just as so-called Christian intellectuals will scorn the idea of Christian Nationalism today, so too will they one day scorn the idea of Christian family loyalty. You can see the seeds of this idea already taking fruit with all the messaging about who your true family is. Many will say your true family is who you consider to be your family, not who you are born to. Movies, TV shows and other media forms are consistently telling us that our family is what we identify as family, not the biological reality; a corruption of the idea of the Christian family being made up of various believers.
This process has already been applied to the idea of the nation, and it is now poisoning people’s notion of the family. There is a good chance this push will fail, simply for the fact that the family is too basic a human unit for people to reject completely, it is too important and too basic a human reality: we are born into families. But it will not fail for lack of trying. It will not fail for lack of the Church’s willingness to compromise (it has an almost infinite willingness to compromise it appears). If it fails, it will fail, because even the most unlearned heathen knows it is only the bad man who rejects his family outright. His family may reject him, but he won’t reject it.
As G.K. Chesterton notes, a sane man cannot reject his people, he can criticise them, but not deny the reality of family or the loyalty this implies,
Now I have already pointed out that most sane men do admit our ideal in such a case as patriotism or public spirit; the necessity of saving the state to which we belong. The patriot may revile but must not renounce his country; he must curse it to cure it, but not to wither it up. The old pagan citizens felt thus about the city; and modern nationalists feel thus about the nation.[i]
[i] Chesterton, Gilbert Keith. The Superstition of Divorce (pp. 12-13). Jazzybee Verlag. Kindle Edition.
Matthew Littlefield writes to think through some of the current issues facing society, the Church and whatever else comes to mind that might be interesting to process. Matt's focus is usually historical or scriptural, though he will address current issues from time to time as well. He is a co-author of The Ezekiel Declaration and the book, Defending Conscience, How Baptists reminded the Church to defy tyranny. He blogs most days at YoungGospelMinister.blogspot.com.
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