Does a National Flag Belong in a Church Sanctuary?
It is with some trepidation that I present this information to my brothers and sisters in Christ. Facts have become clouded with fiction in the past century or more of misinformation and aggressive indoctrination. So many and varied seeds have been sown of warped humanistic patriotism as to make facts invisible and possibly in comprehensible to human traditions (Colossians 2:8) as mankind inevitably desires to do that which seems right in his own eyes (Proverbs 14:12).
First, we must understand and comprehend that Christ’s Church is not a Union Hall or Social Club but the body of baptized believers set-aside (Romans 12:1-2) for his work (Matthew 16:18, Ephesians 1:22-23, Mark 16:15). We acknowledge that our building in which this Church meets is not ours but God’s meeting house into which we are appointed to gather for worship whenever the doors are open (Hebrews 10:25).
Second, we must realize that worship is total and absolute surrender of self to praise and adoration of the one true God manifest in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost (Exodus 20:3,Matthew 11:27, Acts 1:8). Worship is an Holy exercise (I Peter 1:16) sacred unto our God only (I Peter 2:9-10) and is our duty (Romans 12:1-2)
Third, it is vital to understand and comprehend that we, as Christians, have an allegiance first, foremost and primarily to Almighty God (I Corinthians 6:20). We are not our own through Grace, we are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:8-10). Like the Apostle Paul who was a citizen of Rome (Acts 22:25), we owe our primary allegiance to God not Rome. An historical aside at this time reminds that we find no evidence in Holy Scripture of Paul extolling the Christians in Rome to pray for the Roman Legions in Britain who around 60-61 AD were being annihilated by the Celtic Queen Boudica, even though he was a Christian citizen of Rome (Acts 28: 14-31). Yes, we are to pray for our leaders and service men & women that they might be saved and seek Godly council.
Fourth, we must acknowledge as Christians, that our allegiance is always to the higher authority. Consider the harlot Rahab who believed God’s men by faith and denied them to her government inquisitors (Joshua 2:1-24, Hebrews 11:31). Our duties as earthly citizens require that we exercise proper stewardship to assure public officials and governments are a terror to evil and rewarder of good. Absent that, we are instructed to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s (Luke 20:25). As citizens of Heaven (John 14:2-3) we know our time here is brief and that we are just passing through (Hebrews 11:13, I Peter 2:11), growing in faith and the knowledge of God’s Word and being about His work until we are called home. We are also instructed to not place our affections upon things of this world (Colossians 3:1-4).
Finally, our church sanctuary is the place we gather to fellowship and grow in the Lord. It pleases God that we gather regularly (Hebrews 10:25) to hear His Word preached (I Corinthians 1:21), pray together and grow together. Anything in the sanctuary that does not exalt Jesus Christ and Him only becomes a stumbling-block(I Corinthians 8:9). Our church sanctuary is also where we gather in solemn obedience to our Lord Jesus’ instruction to remember Him till He comes (Matthew 26: 26-29).
The Flag Code (United States Statutes at Large, Seventy-seventh Congress, Second Session 1942, Volume 56 – Part 1, Public Laws) states in section 3 (k): “When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the [United States] flag should occupy the position of honor [superiority] and be placed at the clergyman’s or speaker’s right as he faces the congregation or audience.”
Aside from seasonal flowers and greenery, icons of an historic or worldly nature were historically not given place in a church sanctuary. About the turn of the twentieth century progressive minded leaders began promoting nationalistic ideas in order to further empire and American schools and churches were among their first targets. By placing America on equal footing with “God” it was correctly postulated that people could eventually be persuaded to place their faith and trust in government.
Nothing in a church sanctuary should be afforded a higher position of honor or superiority than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Remember the battle cry of our founders, “No King but Jesus!”