Loving Our Country

Last week we celebrated Independence Day with a picnic and fireworks, and parade and games. It was a wonderful opportunity to come together as a community and celebrate our country.

The Heavenly Doctrine speaks highly of love for one’s country. True Christian Religion 414 says:

“One's country is more a neighbor than a single community, because it consists of many communities, and consequently love towards the country is a broader and higher love. Moreover, loving one's country is loving the public welfare. One's country is the neighbor, because it is like a parent; for one is born in it, and it has nourished him and continues to nourish him, and has protected and continues to protect him from injury. People ought to do good to their country from a love for it, according to its needs, some of which are natural and some spiritual.”

This passage explains not just that we should love our country, but why and how we should love our country. We ought to love our country because it encompasses many communities and individuals, and because it nourishes and protects those within it. We love it by serving its needs, both spiritual and natural. In other words, we love our country the same way we love anyone: by loving and supporting what is good in it. It is not hard to look at the United States and see the many good things worth loving: the rights and liberties protected in the Constitution; the history of creativity and innovation; the individuals and communities who give of their time, money, and even lives to serve others.

No country is perfect, of course, just as no human being is perfect. But just as we are called to love the imperfect individuals in our lives, we are called to love whatever country we call home. In the United States, we are fortunate to live in a country where we are allowed to speak out, to call for reform, to seek to improve things - to love the country by challenging it to be better. This, too, is to love what is good in the country, as expressed in Doctrine of Charity:

“One's country should be loved according to the quality of its good; but it is a duty to do good to it, and this is done by having regard for its use, since one thus has regard for the welfare of all.” (Charity 85)

By developing habits of loving our country for the good in it, we learn to love the Lord’s kingdom, and so prepare ourselves to love heaven, our eternal homeland.