We all occasionally see the story about those who are fighting to keep the term “under God,” in the Pledge of Allegiance. On the surface, it seems like it should be a battle worth fighting for. But it is not. In fact, it is quite trivial and true believers should know better than to spend their time on this misguided cause.
I have seven reasons why we should not waste our time contending for the phrase itself, or the pledge. I know that some will try to defend reciting the pledge based on an extremely loose interpretation of Romans 13, but no where in Scripture are we ever told to give our allegiance to a flag, or a country (even one that was honoring God at its founding). Here are the reasons:
First, the pledge is NOT the gospel. I’ve heard an excuse given for keeping the clause is that it is the only thing about God many will hear, other than the rantings of their parents in times of mild crisis. It is as if we believe simply the word “God” itself will save someone. The gospel is a particular message that must be preached (see below). That message declares to us that Christ died on the cross and rose again on the third day. This message is tied in with the reasons for His death, and the reality of why it is good news to us, sinners, and why we need a Savior. There is no way that the expression “under God,” can convey even a smidgen of the truth. By arguing that this is all the God these children will ever hear about is to underestimate the power of God in bringing sinners to Himself.
Second, who is the God that is represented in the pledge? If the God represented in the pledge is the same God that Mormons look to, the same that Islam looks to, the same that countless heretics and pantheists look to, then the God of the pledge is no God at all. I know that many will say, “there is only one God.” But they always leave off any qualifiers in making that a true statement. Since there is so much variance to answering this question, I can hardly see how this is actually honoring to the true and living Triune God who has revealed Himself in Scripture. In fact, it’s actually insulting. God manifested His fullness through His Son, and to believe in a god besides this true God is suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.
Third, no one ever clarifies any aspect of the pledge. In my time as a pastor, I always heard the charge against using the LORD’s prayer or the Apostles’ Creed on a regular basis because it would become rote. I don’t believe they do, but if there is anything that is rote, given without thought, it’s the pledge of allegiance.
Fourth, saying the pledge introduces the sin of pride among those who say it. After all, “many will gladly stand up next to me, because at least we know we’re free.” But if we are free, and if we live in a great country, that is by God’s grace, not our doing. So saying a pledge that induces pride in us, and yet does not honor God, is actually sinful in nature.
Fifth, we are not commanded ever to pledge allegiance to a flag, a country, or an idea. Jesus makes it clear that we can only serve one master. By saying the pledge we are saying we are going to serve the flag, the idea behind the flag, and the government it represents. I don’t feel inclined to do so. I may work for the government, but my allegiance is to Christ alone, not some lost idea behind a flag and the country it represents. To do so is idolatry.
Sixth, some complain that the removal of the phrase “under God” is the same as when the Ten Commandments were removed from schools. It is not. The Ten Commandments are actually God’s word and there are commands to post the Law on our doorways, in our homes, and even on our foreheads. While the Law cannot save us, God does use the LAW as a restraining effect on evil. Hence the need to remove it from the public square. Our nation has become so evil that our leaders want nothing to do with the restraint God has given us in His Law.
Seventh, it’s the preaching of the gospel that leads people to be saved, not a phrase or two here and there. If we spend all our time fighting these empty battles, we will miss the real calling on the church, to preach the gospel and make disciples.
In Scripture, we are told our pastors are to “preach the gospel in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2). This is the means by which our LORD draws the lost to Himself, not misguided notions like the pledge of allegiance. The church’s primary focus, besides worshiping our LORD on His Day, is to preach His word faithfully. That will do more for our country than any half-baked idea of keeping a phrase in the pledge of allegiance.