Analysis. This week, Fox News published two opposing opinion pieces regarding the Respect for Marriage Act. The author of one of those, Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C, supports this law. She asserts that for her as a Christian woman, this legislation upholds the liberty and justice for all embodied in the Pledge of Allegiance. The religious freedom to view marriage as God’s design for a man and a woman must be defended, she says, but elected officials must also represent the rights of those who believe otherwise. The other piece, by Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas; and Ryan T. Anderson, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, sets forth that the character of the marriage institution predates human law. Millennia of truth cannot simply be overruled by any body of elected officials or by unelected judges, they argue, because that will obscure those truths. Moreover, the bill provides no protection for those who hold traditional views.
Have you taken your place on the wall?
What struck me about these opposing arguments is that they represent an emerging paradox for the Pledge of Allegiance — and for the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, from which it hails. We recite it regularly: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. That reflects this paragraph in the Declaration: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
To most evangelical Christians, the relationship between liberty and justice, indivisibility, and being a nation under God is fairly straightforward: The only way to be “under God” is through repentance, faith in salvation through the cross of Christ, baptism, and being born again by the Spirit of God. After all, Jesus made it clear that to come under God, one must be part of the kingdom of heaven, and that the only way to enter the kingdom of heaven is to be born again (John 3:3,5). He taught this to Nicodemus, who was steeped in the Jewish belief that to be under God meant to be under the law of Moses.
But is that what these fundamental writings of our nation say? When they were conceived (and in the case of the Pledge of Allegiance, later amended to include the phrase “under God”), Christianity was far more pervasive in this country than it is now. Not all the founding fathers were Christians, but they universally agreed upon government-sanctioned protections against religious persecution — from which many of the early colonists had sought to escape — and for the desire to worship God.
Those freedoms, however, were left open-ended. They do not specify which deity citizens are free to worship. Neither do they explain how the “unalienable” rights with which citizens are endowed by the Creator are supposed to come about — only that they exist and should therefore be acknowledged. In a society as diverse as the United States, being “under God” and enjoying “liberty and justice for all” means different things. The First Nations worshiped the Creator in their own way, and the ethnic groups later flooding in from all over the world brought their own religions, ideologies, and beliefs with them. Today, perhaps more overtly than before, we see those meanings begin to clash.
Mace represents the type of liberty and justice that makes sense when you leave God, as the Supreme Being and Creator of life Who has put things together in a certain way, out of the equation. She represents a growing number of Christians who are moving away from the authority of Scripture and from the gospel of Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation. I wrote about this in the article Are Your Core Beliefs in Danger? That shift is reflective of an overall trend in American society towards post-Christian relativism, where all religions should be considered equal and, more importantly, where the right of every individual to be whatever they want to be and to love whomever they want to love must be respected, celebrated and protected.
For those individuals who view government as merely an elected body to represent the rights of its voters, that makes sense. But for us, as Christians and intercessors faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ, it represents a dangerous trend away from what God intended government to be: Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God (Romans 13:1).
If government is put into place by God, then it must guard the citizenry against moving away from God’s design for life, including human relationships and, in this case, marriage. I believe this is the point that Roy and Anderson have tried to make. But this becomes increasingly difficult when the citizenry one seeks to protect no longer recognizes the divine origin of life or the government’s authority to protect at all. Voices like those of Chip Roy and other committed Christians in Congress are increasingly drowned out by those who scream for the right to do whatever seems right in their own eyes, forgetting that in a society as diverse as ours, that must lead to its sure demise. After all, when everyone chases his or her own wants and desires, the overall good of society suffers.
Yet that is the voice that we, as His chosen generation, His holy nation, His royal priesthood, the people of His own possession to proclaim the excellencies of Him Who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9) must raise.
It is our God-given mission to proclaim with clarity what “being under God means,” and that true indivisibility with liberty and justice for all is the fruit of love and can only flow out of our being under God, with God being in us and through us. Being under God cannot be achieved by laws but by means of changed lives that stem from being born again into the kingdom of God, through people who gladly obey the laws enacted by a divinely instituted and Spirit-guided government. Moreover, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness can exist only through a society of people reconciled to God in Christ, whereby we may find our life to be eternal, our freedom to be in Christ, and the pursuit of our happiness to be a delight in knowing Him and the greatness of His glory.
Intercessors, with every headline that appears to spell doom for godliness in American society and portends danger for religious freedom, we must persist in prayer. We do so in the rock-steady belief that God has ordained to win great victories and to do mighty things through the prayers of His people. We know from the Bible that the world will turn against Christ in increasingly greater measure, but also that, at the same time, His kingdom will unstoppably advance in the hearts of many from every tribe and nation, including the U.S. And God has chosen prayer as the fuel to propel the advance of His kingdom in the hearts of men.
With all this in mind, let us pray along these lines:
- that God would raise up greater numbers of representatives and senators with the courage to be a voice for His kingdom and His design for life, keeping the true meaning of being “under God’ before others who make, enact, and interpret the laws of our land. Even if no one listens, that voice must keep warning lawmakers not to forsake God;
- that God would unify His people with a clear, bold, and passionate message to our nation about what it means to be under God, and that indivisibility, liberty, and justice for all might flow out of a relationship with Him. In other words: We must proclaim clearly the gospel of Jesus Christ as our prophetic word to the nation;
- and that He would move in the hearts of millions of Americans who do not believe in Jesus Christ, or who have forgotten the core tenets of the gospel, so that they will humble themselves, open their hearts to the truth of His grace, repent, and turn to Him.
Father in heaven, have mercy on us. Unify us in our proclamation of the gospel as the only way You have instituted to be under Your sovereign and loving authority, and to act and will according to Your good pleasure. Help us, as your witnesses to the world, to be bold and clear in our message of what it means to be “one nation under God.” May the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance give many a compelling reason to consider Christ as the only One Who can bring us under Your gracious, loving, unifying, justifying, and freeing reign. In His name we ask. Amen.
Share below your own prayers or thoughts about what it means to be one nation under God.
Remco Brommet is a pastor, spiritual-growth teacher, and prayer leader with over 40 years of experience in Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the U.S. Born and raised in the Netherlands and having pastored his first church in Amsterdam, he moved to the U.S. in 1986. He and his wife, Jennifer, live north of Atlanta. When not writing books, he blogs at www.deeperlifeblog.com and assists his wife as a content developer and prayer coordinator for True Identity Ministries. Jennifer and Remco are passionate about bringing people into a deeper relationship with Christ. Photo Credit: Canva.