The Media is all abuzz about the NFL’s actions with regard to teams linking arms and kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem. Some of the players interviewed said it was a display of “unity” although many of them didn’t really understand what they were “unified” with. Proponents of this display cite solidarity with one-time San Francisco Forty-Niner Colin Kaepernick, who began this practice last year in what he claimed was a protest against racism being suffered by black Americans at the hands of Law Enforcement. Other advocates of the practice have touted their “first amendment right” to free speech as a justification for their actions. While I have nothing against the people’s right to protest perceived injustices, and am certainly an advocate for upholding the Constitution, allow me to offer a few thoughts on this subject and challenge you to consider the argument from a different perspective.
First, as an Army officer, I took the following oath: “I _____, having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.” Let me explain what taking that oath means:
1) I went places I didn’t want to go and put myself in harm’s way to protect the right of every American to protest – even when they were protesting against Soldiers.
2) It means that I have stood through far too many memorial services saluting a flag-draped coffin while watching a comrade go home for the last time.
3) It means that I have knocked on doors in the early morning hours to inform a young wife that her Soldier-husband had lost his life in the line of duty.
4) It means that I have Stood at graveside services and handed a spouse a folded flag from the coffin of her loved one and watched her clutch it in her arms while trying to contain her grief.
The flag is our nation’s symbol of freedom – freedom for which countless men and women for more than two centuries have fought and died. Freedom which is so rare and precious that immigrants flock to our shores in hopes that they too can enjoy it. For over 200 years Americans have honored our flag and respected our country by standing during the playing of the National Anthem. So when someone decides that the flag does not deserve the honors traditionally given to it because they want to use the opportunity as a platform to protest a cause, I question their judgment and their regard for all the brave Americans who have valiantly served to protect it. Consider how your “right to protest” stacks up against honoring the country in which you have chosen to live (yes, you are free to leave America if it displeases you – another of your valuable rights).
Second, as a Minister of The Gospel I have sworn to uphold and defend the Christian Faith and the sanctity of Holy Scripture. One of my “duties” in this regard is to proclaim God’s Word and exhort other believers to obediently follow it. Scripture has a lot to say about how citizens are to behave with respect to civil government. Jesus, when asked if it was right to pay taxes to the civil government, remarked “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s…,” effectively telling His followers that they should obey the laws of the land. Paul admonished us to pray for our civic leaders and reminded us that all civic leaders serve under God’s approval. As Christians, we should be obedient to the laws of our country (unless they contradict Scriptural law) and we should pray for our civic leaders. By the way, there is a law pertaining to the flag – it’s called the flag code, give it a read some time.
I believe that the citizens of the United States (Christian and otherwise) have become far more interested in our “personal rights” than in the laws of the land and the selfless service of our nation. That is, indeed, a reflection of our sin nature and evidence of how it manifests itself when we allow ANYTHING to become more important to us than God. So, where do your allegiances lie? “Put First the Kingdom of God…”
I am not advocating that you boycott the NFL or burn your team jerseys and season tickets as I have seen so much furor in the news about, but I would ask how much better off you might be if you spent the time you now spend with football with God instead. You may exercise your “rights” as you see fit, but as for me and my house, we choose to STAND for the flag and KNEEL at the Cross. Please pray for our country – Scripture tells us to!
-Pastor Dave Jones