The Third Verse
“You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image — any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” . . . Exodus 20:3-5 NKJV
In the Ten Commandments, God warned His people against the sin of idolatry, i.e., serving or worshipping anything or anyone other than Almighty God Himself (Text). Many Christians—although sincerely ignorant—have made the U.S. national anthem a god or sacred symbol. They seem to conflate the U.S. flag and national anthem with their Christian faith. To do so is idolatry—plain and simple! Not to mention, they are oblivious of the U.S. Constitution and the freedoms it affords all citizens to revere or desecrate the flag and the anthem.
Most American citizens, regardless of race, color or ethnicity, will warm-heartedly pledge an allegiance to the flag for which all it stands before and after Slavery, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights movement; notwithstanding the historical imperfections of America and the ongoing struggle to find a more perfect Union. Citizens with a true and honest heart should find the third verse of the national anthem historically problematic and offensive with its painful reminder of America’s dark past—ungodly racist attitudes and discriminatory acts—which are often repeated in this day and time—especially racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
Bigots and racists should no longer try to cover-up their “white privilege” and animus against people different from them—in an effort it seems—to assuage their historical guilt and fear of change. Anthem protestors are people simply exercising their First Amendment rights (freedom of speech and expression). Those “so-called” Christians with bigoted and racistic tendencies need to repent and commit themselves to the truth of the Scriptures in the Holy Bible, and juxtapose the third verse of the national anthem against biblical truth and values. Perhaps, then they could have more compassion and understanding for anyone of color who chooses to protest for their just cause during the playing of the historical unjust national anthem.
Pray for those who choose to protest injustices in our country during the playing of the national Anthem. Respect those who peacefully make a stand for what they believe is right. There is so much propaganda and politicization surrounding the national anthem. Many are not aware that when Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics to the “song” that was eventually adopted as the U.S. national anthem, the song contained four verses. It is the third verse that brings insult, disrespect, and hurt feelings to the descendants of African slaves. The third verse is as follows:
“And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
You might say: ”I never knew that there was a third verse”, or you may rationalize the problem away by saying, “only the first verse is ever sang anymore.” But it is still the same old racist song written by Francis Scott Key, a slave owner, whose lyrics penned in this “song” enshrines the legacy of slavery. It is not hard to see that the third verse of the U.S. national anthem literally celebrates the deaths of slaves. And, descendants of slaves are still being killed, often times unjustly in America. Where is the outcry of the “so called” Christian Church?
As a Christian, i.e., a follower of Jesus Christ, I am not ignorant of the enemy’s devices (2 Cor. 2:11). I refuse to be sincerely ignorant or conscientiously stupid. Let’s not conflate Christian faith with patriotism. To do so is idolatry. Neither should we fail to do what God requires of us all: to seek justice, love mercy, and live in humility (Micah 6:8), and refuse to make unrighteous judgments against oppressed people (Isaiah 11:3).
Everyone under God living in a free country should be at liberty to decide to kneel, sit, or stand during the playing of a national anthem. In light of the third verse in the U.S. national anthem, “[y]our glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened” (1 Corinthians 5:6-7). “Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). Even though only the first verse is sang nowadays, the third verse is still embedded in the song, lurking behind the scenes. One bad verse of a song can make the whole song unacceptable. So make your decisions about the national anthem and let others make theirs. “Judge not, that you be not judged (Matt. 7:1). Pray rather than judge!