Matthew 7:12 is the only banner that a Christian should be truly defending. We must remember that we are citizens of a different kingdom that carries its own flag. It’s impossible to be in full allegiance to one set of values and give proper attention to another set of values. One cannot serve two masters. He will love one and hate the other (Jesus said that). As followers of Jesus Christ we don’t stand for everything the United States says and does and we don’t stand for everything the Confederate States said and did. We are not republican and we are not democrat. We are Kingdom of God.
Regarding flags, original intent is what it is, but original intent goes away when others take what was used for one cause and use it for another. The civil war is much more nuanced and complicated than most care to learn about or communicate because education is hard and watching TV is easy. Coming to grips with complicated history is hard and ignorant hating and blaming are easy.
For instance, if the Confederate battle flag (not the flag of the CSA) represented the armies of Northern Virginia and some other armies of the CSA and then that same flag was later used by others when lynching fellow humans without a trial, then for those who experienced the effect of lynching that’s what it means. That’s the way it is. Why would I want to fly that in the face of a fellow image bearer?
Here lies the problem. We are trying to have our allegiances in two camps. We are not members of the USA, the CSA or any other country first. If you are a Christian, then you are first a citizen of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, and his kingdom is what you pledge allegiance to. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for proper patriotism and service, there is. It’s just not first on our list of values. Jesus’ kingdom is.
Jesus waves the summary of the Law and the Prophets over us in Matthew 7:12 when he says, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
I’m a former teacher, and as such, proud to say a professional educator. I’m also a father to a black son. Truth in history matters and so do those who are racially different from me along with their experiences. I’m going to teach history and love others the way they need to be loved. I’m not going to rub history in people’s faces and I’m not going to neglect to love people rightly. I want to follow Jesus.
This flag issue is not about one or the other. For the Christian, this is an opportunity to stand firmly on the side of Jesus not a temporary nation that will be brought under the rule of Jesus in time whether it likes it or not. Stand on the eternal kingdom of God. Jesus’ kingdom will not fall.
For the Christian, we are to understand how others want to be treated and then treat them that way. This is self-sacrificing, others-centered, hard, but required.
So, don’t fight a battle for a flag that is doomed to fade. Fly the flag of Matthew 7:12 and find a narrow but sure path that lead to life rather than a broad and sure path that leads to destruction.