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Christians should stand for the flag

The acceptance of culture includes our own.  |  Caitlin Gaines/THE CHIMES


As Christians, we place a high value on respecting an individual’s culture and background. When engaging in evangelism, we place value on understanding the culture so as to not insult those we wish to evangelize. Recent controversy about kneeling for the National Anthem should be taken with the same approach by Christians.

To put this into context, in my Intro to Islamic Theology class, I learned how important it is to treat the Qur’an with respect when interacting with Muslims. If I am reading a Qur’an in front of, or with a Muslim, I should respect their customs by neither letting the Qur’an touch the floor nor needlessly letting it get worn down. Yet engaging with the Qur’an does not mean I agree with it’s teachings, rather I know that if I do not treat the sacred book of Muslims with respect, then any chance to witness to a Muslim will be gone. The same goes with the national anthem in the American context.

Attending Biola, we all engage in some form of American culture. Part of this culture is a tradition of respect for our country’s flag and anthem. Understandably, the protest of the NFL is not about the flag itself, but rather the racial injustice taking place in our country. Regardless of where one stands on this political issue, we must remember first and foremost that we are witnesses who should respect the culture of which we are a part. This does not mean we have to believe the United States is perfect nor that it does not have racial issues. However, showing respect to the flag and anthem, an important tradition to so many Americans, is the right step in being a good witness by affirming respect for the culture. By doing so, you say “I do not wish to be divisive,” rather you are saying “I wish to respect what you place value in.”  This does not mean we will ignore the problem of racial injustice, rather it means we begin to foster an environment of respect in order to allow important conversations to occur.  

While it is certainly true that kneeling in protest of the national anthem is one’s right, I believe we should find other ways to protest. If we are to be consistent in respecting all cultures, that should include our own. Though it may be advantageous to politicize the flag and national anthem, this is something we must not do as Christians, regardless of which side one takes. Instead, we should be respectful and protest in ways we know will not divide the country and cause resentment and anger. This is not only harmful to a political cause, but much more importantly, harmful to our ability to witness as Christians.  


Your Turn.  Post a Comment

  1. Tanya Wheeldon

    Very well said, thank you! October 5, 2017

  2. jerry lewis

    baloney October 6, 2017

  3. curious

    why is this article published on the chimes fb page? NOT a good way to represent Biola. October 7, 2017

  4. Jay

    You started off talking about a religious course. But then your conversation became a worldly one. As a Christian, when I look at flags in the bible, I find they were used primarily for military organization and warfare. (Num 1-2,10) I don't see in the bible a flag being used for national unity or a symbol of a nation's greatness. Simply state the bible is silent on this issue. And Christians should bee too.Flags, songs, and other symbols can be abstractions. The Laws and ethics we live by and enforce are objective and real standards. They are either good or evil when compared to God's laws. October 11, 2017

  5. Luke Durain

    If it were simply a matter of making Americans open to our witness of the Gospel message, I would be doubtful that people who would be offended about racial protests during a national anthem would suddenly be open to or attracted the Gospel that actually tells us to love, embrace, and stand with the marginalized.

    Within Scripture we observe that Jesus advocates for the marginalized and stands up for justice, even though offends, angers, and turn others away from His preaching. For example, over-turning table in the temple, telling racist Israelites to love their non-purebred neighbors, and publicly condemning those who are not actively helping the marginalized: ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment…Then the chief priests plotted to arrest and kill him.

    If we tell a person who is crying out for justice to do so in a way or in a place that offends less people, then we essentially communicate that, "The feelings of the masses are more important than your plight." Practically speaking, the less offensive/anger-inducing a protest is, typically the less it is even listened to or considered.

    If we frame the question in terms of choosing to make a political statement versus winning the souls of America, it would seem right to save the masses. However, the kneeling protests do not offend all of America, as there are also large groups of people who are glad there are protests of this sort. So then, the question becomes whether a political statement is worth losing the souls of “some” Americans.

    The triune Godhead of Scripture is not simply concerned about the eternal destination of a disembodied soul but is passionate about humans from sin and death on earth even prior to death (although this sanctifying work is not likely complete before death). See the healing of the sick, feeding of the hungry, and everything else that is not Gnostic.

    Given God’s concern for our salvation in a holistic sense, in a mind AND body sense, in a heaven AND earth sense...the situation becomes more accurately posed as, “Is the salvation of some Americans (the offended/angry Americans) more important than the salvation of other Americans (the suffering and marginalized)?”

    My stance is that trying to get some Americans to be open-minded to a set of theological propositions is not more urgent than advocating for groups of Americans whose daily treatment is so dire that they are put their reputations and jobs on the line simply to continue the conversation of racial injustice.

    Even if the entirety of America were turned away from Christianity because they were angry about the way we protested, I would argue that we still should do what the Gospels both demonstrate and instruct us to do: stand in solidarity with the marginalized and fight for justice, even if it makes the crowds yell “Crucify them!” Let THAT be our Gospel witness.
    October 12, 2017

  6. Steve

    It is all about respect. Funny how the NFL players went to London, and showed respect for the UK National Anthem, and stood, but disrespected their own by kneeling. In the following attachment, you see what respect is, he has his own flag draped across his shoulders (respect), and also stops an interview to respect the anthem of another. (, you bet he stood for his own. October 15, 2017

  7. Erick

    Don't let the flag become a false idol! October 16, 2017

  8. Sceptical

    The analogy between respect one must show to Quoran for the sake of not needlessly offending a Muslim and respect one must show to the American flag is a bad one. Muslims regard Quoran as a holy object, and so it makes sense that we shouldn't needlessly offend this sensitivity. Christians, however, do not, and should not, see a flag of any country as a holy object. Accordingly, we should not treat it as a holy object. May 1, 2018

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