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Family and Society; Patriotism

A strong and healthy family is the first and basic unit of society and of the state. The strongest and most well organized state will come to a condition of decline and disintegration if its family unit falls apart and there are no bases of family life and upbringing. If, on the other hand, the family unit is strong and the upbringing is healthy, then in the event of a major external destruction of the forms of state life, the people remain capable of carrying on life and can re-establish the strength and unity of the state.

A Christian family must not lock itself up within itself or turn itself into a "chicken coop." Such a life is family egoism. A person who lives in it has no interests outside his own family, does not want to know of the joys and sorrows of the surrounding world and doe's not serve it in any way. Such a life is not a Christian life, and such a family is not a Christian family. A Christian family, as a cell or unit of society, is a part of it which is inseparably united with its whole. It actively participates in the society's life and serves its neighbors.

According to the clear teaching of the Gospel moreover, the living relationship of the Christian must not be locked up within the framework of the national state. Christian love is pan-human. For a Christian, each person, no matter to what nation he may belong, is his neighbor whom he must love according to the commandment of the Savior. We are clearly told this by the parable of the merciful Samaritan, and especially by its categorical conclusion. In this parable, the Savior showed the Pharisee the degree of mercy and love which the good Samaritan bestowed upon the robbed and wounded Jew - a man from a nation inimical to his own. Further He told the Pharisee, "Go and do likewise! Such is the law of Christian love."

But if we Christians are called to such an all-embracing love, then are we not compelled to accept cosmopolitanism - that teaching of the brotherhood of all people, according to which man is a "citizen of the universe," and not of his own state? According to this teaching, mankind must become one family, without any state-national differences and divisions.

We do not doubt that the positive part of cosmopolitanism's teaching approaches close to Christianity. It undoubtedly took its appeals for brotherhood, love and mutual help directly from Christianity. These appeals are purely Christian. It is, however, only these Christian ideas which are of value in cosmopolitanism. Cosmopolitanism has, however, added much distorted falsehood and error to this element of truth. Because of this, its teaching has become narrowly one-sided and artificial, and thus not vital. Such errors include all the tenets of cosmopolitanism which speak against feelings of patriotism and the duty of service to the native land, its good estate and safety.

One can, in fact, observe that the lives of the verbose preachers of cosmopolitanism are dry and incapable of sincere, compassionate relationships. With foam at the mouth they cry about their love for mankind, but cannot love their neighbor as is necessary. Christianity does not teach this false, one-sided cosmopolitanism. Christ commanded us to have, not an artificial "love for mankind," but real love for neighbor. For a Christian, such a neighbor is every person in general (therefore, a Christian must love everyone), and in particular, each person with whom he meets in daily life. Christian life is manifested most of all precisely in these personal encounters, in living mutual intercourse, mutual support and compassion. How distant from this is the one-sided teaching, of cosmopolitanism with its appeals for an artificial "love for mankind;" a love which is removed from the realities of life.

As a child, a person's neighbors, are his parents, brothers, sisters, and other relatives. At this time, it is sufficient if one is a good, loving, responsive and dedicated member of the family. The child does not yet have vital relationships with those outside the family. Gradually growing up through childhood and adolescent years, one develops personal, vital relationships with many other people and they become "one's own." Good upbringing must teach the child to treat these new "neighbors" in a Christian manner - to be friendly, of good will, to have a sincere readiness to help, and to render as much service as possible. As a person matures, his horizons expand and every human being becomes one's "neighbor," no matter to what nation or race they may belong.

Naturally, one will love one's own family and the relatives he grew up with, most of all, and secondly, the whole country, the people to which one belongs. One is tied to this people both by state and civil obligations and by culture and customs. One is bound to one's people, to one's own homeland, and one loves them. This love for homeland is that Christian patriotism which cosmopolitanists so strongly struggle against.

Christian patriotism is, of course, alien to those extremes and errors into which "super-patriots" fall. A Christian patriot, while loving his nation, does not dose his eyes to its inadequacies, but soberly looks at its properties and characteristics. He will never agree with those "patriots" who are inclined to elevate and justify everything native (even national vices and inadequacies). Such "patriots" do not realize that this is not patriotism at all, but puffed-up national pride - that very sin against which Christianity struggles so strongly. No, a true patriot does not dose his eyes to the sins and ills of his people; he sees them, grieves over them, struggles with them and repents before God and other peoples for himself and his nation. In addition, Christian patriotism is completely alien to hatred of other peoples. If I love my own people, then surely I must also love the Chinese, the Turks or any other people. Not to love them would be non-Christian. No, God grant them well-being and every just success.

The most important information which we find on patriotism is in the Holy Scripture. In the Old Testament, all the history of the Jewish people is filled with testimony of how the Jews loved their Zion, their Jerusalem, their temple. This was a model of true patriotism, of love for one's people and its sacred things ... The prophet Moses showed an especially striking example of love for his people. On one occasion, immediately after the concluding of the testament of God, the Israelite people betrayed their God and worshipped a golden calf. Then, the justice of God's Truth was strongly inflamed. Moses began to pray for his people which had sinned. He remained on the mountain for forty days and forty nights in prayer. The Lord told him, "Depart from Me, do not hinder Me, that My justice be kindled on them and destroy them."

The great prophet began to pray even more fervently and finally exclaimed, "Forgive them their sin, and if You will not, then erase me also from Your book of life." And the Lord harkened to Moses. Is this not the highest struggle of self-denying patriotism?

We see a similar example in the New Testament in the life of the great Apostle Paul. No one hindered his work of preaching more wrathfully and stubbornly than did his fellow countrymen. They hated Paul and considered him to be a betrayer of the faith of their fathers. Nevertheless, the Apostle says, "I would be cut off from Christ for the sake of my brethren ... the Israelites." From these words, we see his love for his native people. This love was so great that, like Moses, he was prepared to sacrifice even his personal, eternal salvation for the salvation of his people.

We have an example in the life of the Savior Himself. In the Gospel we read that He came only to His own people and spoke to them first of all. On another occasion, He said, turning to Jerusalem, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which kills the prophets and stones them that are sent unto you; how often would I have gathered your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings."(Lk. 13:34-35). When He rode into Jerusalem to the cries of "Hosanna," when all the people rejoiced, the Savior wept. He did not weep for Himself, but for this, His city, and about the ruin of those who were now crying to Him, "Hosanna!" but in a few days would cry, "Crucify Him!" Thus did He love His own people with a profound and moving love.

The feeling of patriotism, therefore, is not rejected and condemned by Christianity. It does not condemn, despite the false views of cosmopolitanists, the righteousness of the pre-eminent love for one's neighbors. We already know the words of the Apostle, "If anyone does not care for his own, and especially for his own household, he has renounced faith and is worse than an unbeliever... "

Once more we emphasize that such love and care must not be egoistic, self-enclosing love. While caring for those with whom one comes into a direct contact, a Christian must never forget other people in his Christian love - his neighbors, and brothers in Christ. In conclusion, let us cite these words of Apostle Paul (from the Epistle to the Galatians): "So, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those of the household of faith."

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