RELIGION ROUNDTABLE

Stand out firmly for justice

My country is my home. Loving my home is not contradictory to the love of God. One’s home country is a blessing of God and taking care of one’s country and home and loving it is thanking God for His blessings.

Any religious person who lives in the USA would love this country because its constitution guarantees freedom of religion, no matter what the religion is.

Love of God requires that one should be just, fair, honest, helpful and caring about everyone. That is what I would like to see in my country.

If there are certain government policies that are unjust for the people of this country or any other people, in that case it is the problem of some people in the administration of the country, who are in charge of making policies. They need to be approached and corrected, as that will be real love of country as well as love for God.

Love of God and love of country both require love of high moral values: justice, freedom, unity and mutual welfare. The Quran is very clear on justice —  like other religious scriptures:

“O you who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even if be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for God can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you swerve, and if you distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that you do” (The Quran 4:135).

— Muhammad Haq, Anniston Islamic Center

It’s a question of priorities

Perhaps the better question is “Should one balance love of country with love of God?”

Balance suggests that one can simultaneously love God and country with the same depth, the same amount, or the same kind of love.

Jesus, however, was pretty clear about this sort of “balance” when he spoke these words: “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other.”

Now, some will say Jesus is only speaking about money here and nothing else. I would argue, however, that Jesus’ words here are about that most ancient of religious sins — idolatry. Far too often, in our attempts to “balance” love of God with love of anything else, we slide far too easily into that most ancient sin.

Now, I’m not saying one can’t love his or her country and love God; one can love many things simultaneously. I love my wife, my son, my friends and my God.

What is important to understand is the priority of those things we claim to love: I may say, “I love my son” and “I love my alma mater,” but it would be absurd to put the needs of the college I attended above the needs of my son.

The same reality applies to our love for God; it ought to be the highest priority of love in our lives.

When one sees love of God in such a way, it can lead to tension between one’s love of God and anything else one claims to love, but so long as one holds up love of God as the ultimate priority of love (coupled with the nearly synonymous “love of neighbor”), one cannot help but “balance” love of God with love of anything else, including country.

— Chris Thomas, First Baptist Church of Williams, Jacksonville