I’ve been thinking about the Pledge.
This past weekend a good friend stood in front of the Church and pledged lifelong faithfulness and love to her now husband.
The same friend also uses pledge as a verb. To Pledge: To coat one’s office in cleaner and dust it from floor to ceiling until the desk is utterly free of fingerprints and smudges.
These are not the pledges I have in mind right now.
And now I make a confession.
Warning: controversial territory ahead.
When I was in Jr. High, I stopped saying the Pledge of Allegiance. It was right at the time that I was beginning to appropriate my faith for myself. I had been thinking about idolatry and images, and being a very literally minded 13 year old (as most are), I saw an object, I heard the opening words, and it registered as ‘off’ to me. The Pledge just didn’t fit with following a Jesus who seemed to be asking for my 100% loyalty.
I still don’t say the Pledge of Allegiance, which can be awkward, since it only seems to come up at work functions where I am surrounded by other Christian people. People who love the Lord and feel just fine putting their right hand over their heart, ready, begin.
Mainly, I get stuck on the word allegiance. When I consider my deepest loyalties in this world, Christ and his kingdom are bedrock. So I can be grateful to live in the U.S., I can be patriotic, I can light fireworks. But I cannot pledge allegiance. My allegiance is already claimed, and there is not room for dual loyalties on this particular matter.
It boils down to this: I believe there are times in which allegiance to Christ and allegiance to the U.S. are mutually exclusive. The kingdom of God has clear, uncompromising commitments–justice for the oppressed, healing for the sick, inclusion of the most excluded and no needy persons among them, just to name a few. I do not expect, nor do I blame the U.S. for not having the same priority list. But the fact that it does not, cannot, means I cannot say the pledge.
What about you? Do you pledge or not pledge? Why, and how does faith fit for you on that?