One day last year, our little family of three attended a local minor league baseball game. As usual, the National Anthem was sung before the game began. Everyone stood, most of the men removed their hats, and nearly everyone put their hand over their heart. I glanced over at my then three-year-old son and nearly began to weep. He stood proudly with his hand over his heart. I don’t know if he was imitating those around him, but I’d like to think that along the way he has learned the importance of honoring his country. But how do we teach our kids to have a godly patriotism? In other words, how do we connect our faith in God with our honor of our country? I believe there is a way to do it.
Teach the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem.
Most kids will learn the Pledge of Allegiance in school, but in case they don’t, it’s important to make sure they know it when they are young. And teach them the national anthem as well. Talk about it during the Olympics and at ball games, when the anthem is typically played. Granted, it’s not the easiest song to learn, but it’s important that they take pride in the official song of their country. To connect this with their faith, point out the words “under God” and their significance in the pledge. And go a step further in teaching the national anthem by including the second verse, with the words, “Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.” Remind them that it is God who has blessed our country with freedom and prosperity.
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” – John 8:36, ESV
Talk to veterans in our family and among our friends.
There are no two people prouder of their military service than my husband and my father. I believe it’s important for children to hear stories of the military from the veterans in their lives. A gentleman in our church is a WWII veteran who was present at Normandy. I hope my son is able to learn more about him and his story as he gets older and realizes that he and others like him are true heroes. Veterans embody the sacrifice that others have made to preserve and protect our country’s freedom, and when those veterans are Christians and give God the glory, it further enhances the connection between God and our freedom.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” – II Corinthians 3:17, ESV
Visit important historical sites.
If you’ve ever been to Washington, D.C., you have no doubt seen many of our country’s important monuments. I don’t believe any of them were erected without some sort of Scripture or reference to God engraved on them. They are a reminder not just of wars and victories, of service and sacrifice. They are a reminder of the Lord’s role in those victories and how our country came to be what it is today.
“The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” – John 1:5, KJV (Inscribed on the walls at the Library of Congress.)
Acknowledge patriotic holidays.
Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, Independence Day, even Flag Day should be acknowledged in our households. It is a time to remind our children of the sacrifices made and the role of important heroes in our country’s history. We can teach them about the significance of these holidays and why they were established on the calendar. Through that, we can not only honor the people who have served our nation but also remember Who ultimately gave us our freedom, not just literally but also spiritually.
“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, ESV
Respect and pray for our leaders.
There may be no better way to teach godly patriotism than to pray for the leaders in our country. We may not always have leaders whom we voted for or approve of being in office, but the Bible commands us to pray for all those in authority over us, whether we agree with them or not. I will even go so far as to say we need to be careful about how we talk about these men and women in front of our children. They will not respect authority if they observe us not respecting authority. What a sobering lesson for us to learn as adults as well! We need to pray for our leaders and teach our children to do the same. It shows them that God is in control no matter what decisions our government makes.
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” – I Timothy 2:1-2, ESV
The suggestions above are just a few ways to connect our faith to our freedom, for ourselves and our children. Although many have forgotten the importance of God in our country’s history, it is our responsibility to keep that alive for future generations.
Consider these words from Abraham Lincoln spoken so many years ago:
“We have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand, which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.”
In what ways do you teach your kids to be patriotic?
Let us know in the comments below.