Love of country

~photo by Ben White on Unsplash

An appropriate love of country is not questioned in scripture says pastor and author Tex Sample.


TEX SAMPLE

Ministry Matters

Patriotism is an important part of traditional conservatism, a cultural resource for most working-class white Americans. Without question, love of country can be both a motivation for the good and a problem. Love of country can become idolatry. Such patriotism can be an inordinate love that leads to excesses and extremes, to militarism, to an ethos of violence, and to a regimented mindset.

At the same time, love of country can also be valuable. To love this land, to love its people, does not require that it be idolized. Love of country does not have to be nativist. It does not have to be xenophobic or white supremacist. It depends on how wide the reach is of those to whom we belong.

We find rich teaching in biblical narratives regarding the nations of the earth. Before God, nations are as nothing, like dust (Isa 40:15). Nations are not to be idolized but rather resisted in their pretenses of deification (as in Dan 3 where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had to resist Nebuchadnezzar’s gold idol). Sometimes nations require the people’s revolt and revolution (as with the enslaved Israelites in Exodus). Other times, nations provoke a need for disobedience and risk of jail because we are called ultimately to obey God and not human authority (as Peter and the apostles modeled in Acts 5:29). Furthermore, the nations of the world will be judged ultimately by how they meet raw human need (as with the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matt 25:31), even as they march in that final eschatological parade (Rev 21). And yet, in the midst of all these teachings, we are called to be subordinate to the ruling authorities (Rom 13), albeit in a biblical context.

So what does a biblical survey of nation status and patriotism have to do with the white working class in America?

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