I love my country. I really do. This needs to be established at the top because there’s a likelihood that this post will be misunderstood or misconstrued.
There’s no anti-American sentiment leading me to write this, only a desire to communicate an important change that has happened to me in the last few years.
Here are the three reasons I have decided that I will no longer say the pledge:
1. I will render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s. (Matt. 22:15–22)
In this verse Jesus is responding to the question of taxes. And the gist of Jesus’ statement is that there are things that belong to Caesar (your government) and things that belong to God. Each one should be given what’s theirs.
I agree, and this is why I pay my taxes, vote, show up for jury duty and try to be the best citizen I can be. The one thing that isn’t (and can never be) Caesar’s is my allegiance. I have given my allegiance to Christ and—push comes to shove—loyalty to my country comes second to my supreme fidelity.
I take this country’s pledge too seriously to take it lightly.
2. I am a “sojourner and exile” here. (1 Peter 2:11)
Peter reminds believers that they’re a royal priesthood and a holy nation. Scattered around the world, and visible to only Christ, is a nation of people who belong to him. These priests are required to obey the laws and pray for the leaders wherever they find themselves. They are, as Peter tells them, to “honor their emperor,” but they’re also to fear God.
As a citizen of any country, I can’t let my civic duties compete with my allegiance to the holy nation that Christ has placed me in. I am an exile living in America—an immigrant with the visa of citizenship. And while this might be one of the best countries in the world to be a sojourner in, it isn’t my true home. I am a citizen of another kingdom. And, because I can’t serve two masters, I am consecrated to that kingdom.
3. My battle is against the rulers, authorities and powers of this dark world. (Ephesians 6:12)
As a believer, I am called to be a critic of my culture. There’s much in this world that is diabolical, and this is often manifested in systemic evil. Whether it’s the armies of crazy third-world despots or the exploitative behavior of faceless corporations, evil seeks to kill, steal and destroy by getting its malevolent hands into the social machinery that already exists—and no country is immune.
I cannot let my vigilance be dulled by nationalism. Even the greatest countries contribute to the world’s problems. The recognition of my sojourner status here reminds me: I can’t turn a blind eye to the systemic evils America allows while calling the rest of the world to account for its sin.
A pledge is a solemn promise, and I take it seriously. I sincerely believe my country to be a good one—maybe even one of the best ones. But in the end, I cannot give her what is not mine to give. And though I would (in many circumstances) offer her my life, I cannot give her my allegiance. That’s a promise I just can’t make.