The National Anthem Brouhaha

I’m feeling prophetic this morning, and that means that there’s a pretty good chance that what follows is going to offend someone. To avoid possible confusion, let me state at the outset that I’m not writing to argue against standing for the national anthem, I’m writing to argue for weekly worship attendance. I welcome your feedback via email, a phone call, or a face to face conversation.

The current brouhaha over standing or not standing for the national anthem at the beginning of a for-profit sporting event has left me slightly bemused. Here’s why.

I think that there is an analogy to be drawn between the singing of the national anthem at the beginning of a sporting event and the weekly service of worship at the beginning of the week (remember the New Testament refers to Sunday as the first day of the week), but it is an unequal analogy. What I mean by an unequal analogy is this: whatever honor and respect we owe to the country in which we live pales in comparison to the honor and respect we owe the Almighty. After all, it is God who formed the earth upon which we live, the air that we breathe, and without whose continuous grace all that exists would cease to be.

The extent to which many people have gotten upset over the fact that a few professional athletes are refusing to stand for the national anthem is surprising when you consider how everyone takes it in stride when a much larger percentage of the population stays away from the weekly worship service. My country has given me a great many things; my God has given me even more and without the God who made all that is, my country would have nothing to offer me. Any argument that can be made for the importance of standing for the national anthem can be made even more forcefully for attending worship. But despite that fact, we get very upset about any neglect of the first no matter what the reason while being sanguine about the most flagrant violations of the second for any old reason at all.

Obviously, we cannot coerce sincere faith in God by mandating weekly worship attendance any more than we can coerce true allegiance to our country by making everyone stand for the national anthem, but shame on us for being so concerned about the latter and so untroubled about the former. It’s almost a textbook case of idolatry. May God have mercy on us.

Please do not confuse my failure to discuss the reasons for taking a knee for indifference to them. Regardless of the efficacy of their protest, I consider the matters of injustice given by those taking a knee to be of grave concern.