Flag or no Flag

August 7, 2017

I greatly appreciate our country and those who have served in the military to secure our freedoms. I appreciate God’s generous providence in putting my family and me here.

That said, I wonder whether or not the American flag should be displayed where the visible expression of God’s Kingdom meets on the Lord’s day. I have no problems with a flag being displayed on the church grounds, however does it belong with the other symbols of our Christianity (e.g. crosses, Bibles, Lord’s Table). What do you think?

I mentioned in the past that I’m reading Block’s book on worship. This is his two cents:

Since worship involves reverential acts of homage before God, every detail of the sanctuary should evoke awe before him, rather than before the human architect of the decorations … Effects that distract from the worship of God should not be allowed to encroach on sacred space. If we must have a flag, then have flags of many nations, illustrating the transnational nature of the body of Christ; to display only an American flag borders on civil religion and is distracting and offensive especially to non-American visitors.


10 Responses to “Flag or no Flag”

  1. phfs9 Says:

    A church is allowed to hang a Christian flag at the top of the pole and the American flag underneath it. A homeowner cannot do that. A homeowner has to hang the American flag first. So, we took down the American flag and we have only a Christian flag on the pole now. To me, God comes before country. Happy to be an American but sorry…..God comes first.

    • Mark Says:

      Yes HE does. When I post on Luggaged it is linked to on Facebook. Understandably, not that there are a lot of comments, but most people have no problems with an American flag in church. This issue always generates interesting conversation.

  2. Bobbi Says:

    An American flag should be displayed in a church sanctuary–this reminds us to pray for those in authority and that the U.S. is under God. It also is a sign to our foreign visitors that they are protected under our Constitution while they are visiting.

    Here is what Darin C. Smith says:

    “The American flag represents the nation we live in—the United States of America. Our nation was founded as a Christian nation in principle and practice. Other countries have long known and appreciated this fact. Displaying the American flag in all public places, including churches, reminds us why this country came, by God’s grace, into existence and who suffered for it. That is, because our ancestors wanted to be able to worship according to their conscience and not under the control of a state-run church.
    It was this Judeo-Christian heritage that dictated much of what the Constitution entrails. Most, if not all, of the problems we face as a nation can be traced back to the fact that we’ve pulled away from our country’s original values and standards.
    Perhaps this is why Psalm 60:4 says:
    You have set up a banner for those who fear you.
    In Old Testament times, a banner was a flag. God has given a flag to those who fear him and him alone. To “fear” isn’t some Casper-the-Ghost-type reaction, but rather to show reverence and to be in awe of someone or something—that is, God.
    In the Lord’s gracious providence, He saw fit to give birth to the United States of America—a place to which people can flee from the bow, from oppression, from tyranny, from bondage, and from servitude.
    Thus, to display the American flag in a church is to affirm our Christian heritage and pay homage to all of those who have sacrificed for it.
    Let’s be reminded that it isn’t a small matter when a man or woman gives a part of their lives to our country. It truly is powerful to know that someone would pay the ultimate price of their life to defend what God has bestowed on us. In fact, Jesus Himself said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
    The one sacrifice of our Savior is the ultimate sacrifice, to be sure. However, such words unify the military veteran, the average citizen, and the stark pacifist in our country under this banner. And displaying the flag in a church upholds what a Christian holds true in salvation and in the nation.
    We need to display the American flag in light of the truth of God’s Word, and not let anything or anyone force its removal from our land. If someone is offended by the flag in church, they have well-forgotten the prosperity that God has given us to make us the greatest nation on this earth.
    In short, placing a flag on display in a church doesn’t mean the worshippers or leaders are bowing to the flag or the nation above God (such as in Nazi Germany in World War II). Church leaders should make this clear distinction. For if we do not display the flag or indulge ourselves in the freedoms that flag stands for, then what’s our faith really worth in and outside of the church (James 2:14)?

    • Mark Says:

      Thanks for the comment. It seems that people have strong feelings both ways. I’ve had some rather lengthy comments on FB about his post as well.

  3. Terri J Says:

    Summer is here and I’m way behind on reading Luggaged, so can’t respond to all; however, this one is asking for a response from me this morning. As you know, my husband is a veteran of the Viet Nam “conflict” and our son served in Iraq. We are a patriotic family who believe in service to our country and who respect and honor the flag and what it stand for. That being said, we don’t particularly care for the exaltation of “Old Glory” on the altar at church. Steve is even uncomfortable being recognized for his military service in church. Christ alone should be exalted in our houses of worship and it makes my husband cringe when he’s asked to stand for applause because he served in the military. There is a place for all of that and I will always encourage and respect service (military or otherwise) to our country and communities; however, I wish our day of worship wasn’t used to distract or shift our focus from God to man in any way. We get enough of that.

  4. Mark Says:

    Terri, I couldn’t agree more. There were some very insightful comments on my Facebook page in relation to this post. I think for some it is abhorrent to even consider not having a flag in church. Others are much more nuanced in their thinking and question its place where the Kingdom of God gathers on a Sunday. I know at Bowman the flag is sacred and to remove it would be heretical. I had a older vet tell me this past Memorial Day weekend that we don’t do enough at Bowman to recognize our Veterans. I objected reminding him that during my prayer I thanked the Lord for those who have served in our military and the USA. He still wasn’t satisfied. In the minds of many, America and Church are closely related and therein lies the rub. Our Christianity is infused with patriotism. Like you said, I’m all for patriotism, just not where the Kingdom of God is celebrated.

    • Terri J Says:

      Mark, you said “Our Christianity is infused with patriotism” and part of me wants to agree and embrace that; however, I fear that our Christianity is too often CON-fused or DI-fused with patriotism. Veterans should be honored, but not revered. They are among public servants of the highest caliber, but they are not to occupy the space reserved for our Lord. As you know, I have similar feelings about exalting mothers on Mother’s Day, etc. We are all called to different areas of service within the Kingdom of God as well as in our communities; we are gifted differently by the Holy Spirit, and we perform our acts of service only by God’s grace. I just don’t like anything that exalts us or usurps the glory that belongs only to Him.

      • Actually it is Biblical to praise others. We can rejoice for our brothers and sisters in the Lord who have been honored:

        Proverbs 31: 28 Her children rise up and call her blessed (happy, prosperous, to be admired);
        Her husband also, and he praises her, saying,
        “Many daughters have done nobly, and well [with the strength of character that is steadfast in goodness],
        [f]But you excel them all.”

        Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
        Sweet and delightful to the soul and healing to the body.

        Proverbs 12: 25 Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down,
        But a good (encouraging) word makes it glad.

        Proverbs 15:23 A man has joy in giving an appropriate answer,
        And how good and delightful is a word spoken at the right moment—how good it is!

  5. Mark Says:

    I’m sure you’d agree that it isn’t a good thing that our Christianity is infused, confused or defused w/by patriotism. The problem is that since the church is infused it can’t detect the confusion or that its influence is defused. Because the church is infused with patriotism the flag frequently deserves a place right next to the cross.

    I don’t have any problem honoring veterans. I so appreciate their selfless service. But how should this honor look in a church service? I have certainly seen it overdone. Somehow it needs to be done in way that expresses appreciation, but more important, somehow tracks back to God’s grace.

    • Terri J Says:

      Yes Mark–that’s what I’m talking about. I appreciate Bobbi’s comments, but I think it’s “apples and oranges”. Those words of honor, praise and encouragement mentioned in Scripture are appropriately given, I suspect, apart from a worship service. There is absolutely good reason to honor our mothers, fathers, public servants, teachers, nurses, police, firefighters, etc. both in public and private, and to stand for the national anthem or when the colors pass at a parade–but planting the national emblem next to the pulpit of our churches smacks of idolatry to me. Jesus instructed us (by way of those who would trap Him) to “…render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s.” I think it’s easy to get it confused sometimes.

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