As a student, I recited the Pledge of Allegiance every morning in school. In public and Adventist elementary school, it was what Americans did. This was long before I understood anything about politics, the party system and how our government worked.
When I was a senior in academy, I learned more about how our country runs in government class. But, even then, I didn’t realize government's impact on my life.
I learned more as I became old enough to vote. I don’t recall having to register with a particular party the first time I voted, but my memory may be faulty (it’s been a few years since that first vote). When my husband and I were first married, we moved to a new state. I remember registering as an independent. I recall hearing (not really researching it for myself) the Democratic Party was the "tax and spend party" and the Republican Party was the "values and morals party."
Through the years, I have always tried to vote my conscience or, at least, for the lesser of two evils. Sometimes that meant not voting for a specific position like a senate seat or even a presidential candidate.
In case you haven't noticed, politics more polarized than ever. What saddens me is the number of Christians, and yes, Adventist Christians, who have brought political-polarization into the church. They share the views of the polarized over the love that Jesus has for us. (Oops, I think I stepped on a few toes. Believe me, I am not guiltless in this, but I am inviting God to work on growing my compassion and love for others.)
Back to the original question. To whom do you owe allegiance? I invite you to look at the back of a baptismal certificate for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. On the current certificates, there are 13 commitments to which a baptism candidate agrees. As a baptized Seventh-day Adventist Christian, I agreed that I believed in all of these commitments.
The first one says there is one God comprised of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The seventh says, “I look forward to the soon coming of Jesus . . . I will witness to His loving salvation, and by life and word help others to be ready for His glorious appearing.”
The last one is the most striking to me during this time, especially the last half of the first sentence. It says, “people of every nation, race and language are invited and accepted into its fellowship.”
I think of several verses from Scripture that tell me how to live with others. In Romans 12:18 (ESV), Paul gives us this instruction, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
In the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25–37, in verses 36 and 37, Jesus asked the lawyer who was shown to be a neighbor to the man who was accosted and beaten by robbers. We all know the ending; it was the Samaritan — the one who showed him mercy.
In John 13:34–35 ESV, after Judas had left the last supper, Jesus gave this to the remaining disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
When I answer the question, I choose to prioritize my allegiance as follows. First, I am a child of God. Next, I am part of an earthly family — husband, children, grandchildren, siblings, parents, etc. Third, I am an American who votes my conscience. What defines me, though, is I am a child of God. As God’s child, I must show myself to be His disciple, by loving others, just as God loves me.