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Is It Christian to be Patriotic?

Saint Thomas Aquinas:

“Man becomes a debtor to other men in various ways…man is debtor chiefly to his parents and his country, after God. Wherefore, just as it belongs to religion to give worship to God, so does it belong to piety, in the second place, to give worship to one’s parents and one’s country…The worship given to our country includes homage to all our fellow citizens and to all the friends of our country.” [Summa Theologica II-II Q. 101 Art 2]


Giving lenience to the patriarchal language in this quote, St. Thomas Aquinas emphasizes the importance of recognizing one's debts to others, particularly one's parents and country, after God. He highlights the connection between worshiping God and showing reverence to those who have contributed to one's well-being and prosperity. The concept of "piety" is central to Aquinas' thought, as it involves not only worshiping God but also showing gratitude and respect to those who have played a significant role in one's life. In the context of Independence Day, this quote can be seen as relevant to the idea that Americans have a debt to their country, which has provided them with the freedom and opportunity to worship God as they see fit. The quote suggests showing reverence and worshiping God.


As Americans unite to commemorate Independence Day, our focus often gravitates toward the fireworks, parades, and patriotic music. Yet, amidst the festivities, it is crucial to grasp the profound significance of this holiday. Today, we pay tribute to the unwavering dedication of our military troops, who have valiantly safeguarded our nation and its values. We also acknowledge the profound debt we owe to our country, which has bestowed upon us the freedom to shape our lives as we deem fit.


In this light, the celebration of Independence Day can be perceived as a manifestation of piety. As per St. Thomas Aquinas, piety encompasses not only the worship of God but also the demonstration of reverence and gratitude towards those who have contributed to our well-being. Our country has granted us the freedom to worship God in our own ways, and it is our duty to ourselves and our fellow citizens to acknowledge and honor this gift.


The sacrifice of our military troops is a crucial aspect of this debt. Without their bravery and selflessness, we would not have the freedom to gather together today and celebrate our independence. Their service is a testament to the values of courage, honor, and sacrifice that are essential to our nation's identity.


Moreover, celebrating Independence Day is in no way a whitewashing of our nation’s history. By recognizing our debt to our country and its defenders, we are reminded of the importance of living virtuously and contributing positively to society. This also means holding our elected leaders accountable for the mistakes of history. No society is perfect; however, we will never become better by ignoring our duty to the country in which we are raised.


In conclusion, celebrating Independence Day is not only a patriotic duty but also a form of piety. By honoring the sacrifices of our military troops and recognizing the debt we owe to our country, we demonstrate our gratitude for the blessings we have received and reaffirm our commitment to living virtuously. As we gather together today to celebrate, let us remember that our freedom is not just a privilege but also a responsibility, and let us strive to live up to the values that have made our nation great.


Pastor Rob,

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