The American continent was a promised land to Nephi and his seed. Before them, it was the place where Adam walked with God and where a great city of Zion was led by Enoch. To us today it is still a promised land. The government of America is exceptional in that its constitution still stands some two hundred years after its adoption. The average constitution has lasted less than twenty years.
Such preservation surely has come at the hands of a merciful God. He is quick to tell us (especially in the Book of Mormon) that if a nation does not go forth in His strength, then they will quickly fall. On this anniversary of the Declaration of Independence serious questions about the efficacy of traditional patriotism are beginning to rear their ugly head.
Cowards insist that dastardly deeds committed by our forebearers are reason enough to forsake a culture of patriotism; America isn’t worth celebrating some say. With the devaluing of the country comes a decline in associated stewardship. We see cities in moral and physical decline, persons discontented with this political tenet or that, and of course the de-religious-ization of the nation generally.
Is it good for man to be patriotic?
Why Should We Be Patriots?
The revelation has come to us that governments are instituted for the benefit of man. This being the case we can see the importance of the similarly revelatory admonition to “support [our] lands, and [our] houses, and [our] wives, and [our] children, that [we] might preserve [us] from the hands of [our] enemies; and also that [we] might preserve [our] rights and [our] privileges, yea, and also [our] liberty, that [we] might worship God according to [our] desires.”
Why should we be patriots? Because God commands it. He has given us a land where we can practice our religion according to our own dictates. How we treat such a gift is a sign to God. Patriotism in this sense is a proper attitude relative to the institutions that forge and maintain peace to a degree that allows for temple worship, freedom of assembly, and proselyting.
What Is A Patriot?
The dictionary says that a patriot is a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors. Another definition could be one who supports the goals of a governing body, on purpose.
What do I mean by saying that a patriot vigorously supports their country on purpose? I mean that simply following the laws of the land does not a patriot make. “Oh I haven’t killed anyone today, I wonder when my patriotism will be honored by placing my likeness on the currency.” Just because you are not actively working to diminish or destroy a governing body doesn’t mean that you are supporting it.
Support for the United States may be properly manifested in the following ways: being industrious, being a profitable employee, contributing financially and with physical service to worthy charities or other institutions. Ministering to neighbors and sharing the gospel is also indicative of active patriotism.
A patriot is someone who believes that God desires to make bare his holy arm in the eyes of all nations for the benefit of his chosen people. God desires freedom to be available to the extent that all may have faith, repent, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and endure to the end. Seeing that they believe these things, they act like Moroni in the Book of Mormon, “preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God.”
How Does One Become A Patriot?
Rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s is not the best guideline toward proper action. Paying taxes and performing your jury duty are things that the government requires. Laboring for Zion is the best way to labor for earthly kingdoms. Serving God is more profitable than serving a given Caesar.
One becomes a patriot when they come to the realization that God inspires men to form governments to the extent that peace may be present. Under such conditions of peace as are found in the United States, the Saints may properly worship. Having this kind of epiphany is subject to the same conditions as other epiphanies; pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, believing you will receive an answer.
Something like “What dost thou think concerning the United States of America?” will usually suffice.
But Brother Willes, you might say, America has done terrible things. The whole country is embroiled in darkness and sin. How can I support a country or government that is thus tainted?
What does that matter? Sinners are welcome in the kingdom of God so long as they confess their sins and forsake them. Being thus cleansed from their sins by the blood of Christ they can act in His name. Does America need to repent? Obviously, just as all people do. By supporting the country through intentional discipleship one does not condone impropriety, rather, they hope for a better future. A future, we should remember, that includes the building up of the New Jerusalem to receive our Lord at His Second Coming.