Question: "Should a Christian pledge allegiance to the flag?"

Answer: There is nothing sinful about saying a pledge, as long as the pledge does not take away from our commitment to the Lord Jesus. The Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States certainly does not contain any wording that would usurp the authority of Christ in our lives. The Bible, therefore, does not forbid the pledging of allegiance to our flag.

A pledge is a formalized promise, and there is nothing wrong with making a promise. When a couple gets married, they exchange vows, pledging faithfulness to each other—in the old phrasing, “I plight thee my troth.” When a witness takes the stand in a courtroom, he promises to tell the truth. And when a person lays a hand over his heart and recites the pledge to the flag, he is promising loyalty to his country, recognizing that we are all “under God.”

Allegiance in the context of saying a pledge to a national flag simply means “loyalty as a citizen.” To pledge one’s allegiance to a country is to subject oneself to that country’s rule and promise to abide by its laws. Since a nation’s flag is the symbol of that nation, to pledge allegiance to the flag is the same thing as pledging loyalty to the nation itself. The Pledge of Allegiance is simply a promise to be a good citizen of the United States.

Being a good citizen is a Christian duty. Titus 3:1 says that we should “be subject to rulers and authorities . . . obedient . . . ready to do whatever is good.” The only time we should disobey the ruling authorities is when they issue commands that directly conflict with God’s Word (see Acts 5:29). In Matthew 22:21 Jesus said, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Jesus obviously acknowledged that civil government plays a role in this earthly realm. To the extent that our government is our “Caesar,” we are to render it the proper respect—paying our taxes and obeying the laws of the land.

Some consider Matthew 5:34 as a prohibition against saying a pledge. There, Jesus says, “Do not swear an oath at all.” However, in context, Jesus is speaking of rash or flippant oaths. He could not have meant that all oath-taking is wrong—God Himself takes oaths (Isaiah 45:23; Hebrews 6:17), and Paul took a vow (Acts 18:18). Besides, pledging loyalty to a nation is not the same as taking an oath; a pledge is a solemn promise, but an oath carries the extra weight of an appeal to God.

“Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor” (Romans 13:7). Pledging allegiance to the flag is but a form of paying “respect” and “honor” to our country, as we are commanded to do.