No Place for Cowardice Anywhere

Ramon Arias | March 23, 2015

We know the meaning of the word coward is never a good thing, but let us make sure we understand what it means. At times, many actions people take are considered as being spineless when in reality it is an act of wisdom to back off from engaging knowing that to do so is morally wrong, unnecessary or unwise. On the other hand, there are actions that hide the true nature of being a coward when all logic and common sense demand action. 

Then, there are the deeds of individuals who truly believe their actions are acts of bravery inspired by ideologies, religions, and other perceptions on how things should be; but the outcome is social unrest, revolutions, counter-revolutions and wars. We know, by the news reports, that these events constantly take place. Unfortunately, human history is one of conflict, death, desolation and destruction. This means we are constantly at war, and it all starts with the ideas that people act upon; we can’t escape from this reality because neutrality does not exist. Our actions define which side we are on. 

Every country has a national anthem that expresses their bravery and accomplishments as a people. The United States is no different; our National Anthem is “The Star-Spangled Banner”. I sincerely hope you know the historical background of how it came to be. For some of you who may not know, here is a snapshot: It was a poem written by Francis Scott Key, in 1814, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships during the War of 1812. The poem was not titled “The Star-Spangled Banner” but “Defence of Fort M’Henry” and no, I did not misspell the title that is the way it is written.

One of the things that should make us uncomfortable is that the National Anthem is usually only sung using the first verse when it should include all four stanzas.  We hear this condensed version at sports events, and on patriotic occasions. The four verses have one thing in common; they all end the same way: “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Here are the full lyrics:

O say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

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 footsteps’ 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.

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Allow me to point out that without the last verse/stanza, the National Anthem loses the real meaning of the repeated phrase, “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”  We must first be BRAVE before we can be FREE. The kind of bravery mentioned in the “The Star-Spangled Banner” is an uncommon bravery.   

People, who acknowledge that heaven rules in the affairs of men and nations, possess a special kind of bravery because they fight for a higher cause on earth, which aligns with heaven. They hold dear that the only one worthy to be praised is God Almighty, not man. He alone has the power to preserve the nation when His people confront the evils of their time. He sides with His people until victory is accomplished. The cause is just because it is based upon His justice. This perspective is the only one that can give full meaning to, “In God is our trust.”

The Christians, of the 13 colonies who became outstanding Patriots, acted upon God’s principles of justice, they had no need of a national anthem. The Bible is the blueprint for people to be under the government of God. When man decides to remove God and His principles from culture there is going to be trouble, history proves this. 

You have heard the famous phrase “The Shot Heard Round The World”, which started the American Revolution. However, before that shot was heard in Lexington, there was another thundering shout heard in most of the colonial pulpits. The following is a quote from Peter Muhlenberg’s Lutheran sermon read at Woodstock, Virginia, January 1776:

“There is a time for all things, a time to preach and a time to pray, but those times have passed away. There is a time to fight, and that time has now come.”

The brave pastors of the colonies are the ones who prepared the people through teaching about God’s righteousness and the effects of sin and evil. Their teachings made it clear to Christians that, “Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.” They also did not shrink from proclaiming, “We have no Sovereign but God and no King but Jesus.” The British hated pastors and called them the Black Robe Regiment. These “men of the cloth” were the ones who called the colonies to independence. They not only preached and taught the counsel of God for a free society under Him, but also led the men of their congregations into battle. 

Those who heeded the call and stuck to it were unwavering, they knew the price of bravery, but the idea to be free under God was worth it for their children and their children’s children. 

George Washington knew what was a stake; in his General Orders of July 2, 1776 he said:

“We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die: Our own Country’s Honor, all call upon us for vigorous and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the Supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions.” 

Beware of those who misread Romans 13:1-7. The colonial pastors did not misunderstand Paul because they were not only focused on those verses; they studied the whole letter to the Romans and never understood it to mean that they were to submit to tyrants. Submission to authorities should only be done if the authority has not committed a violation to the moral law of God (Acts 4:19; 5:29). The advocates of our times, who misinterpret that passage in Romans and say it upholds that we are to submit even to tyrannical governments, never could have succeeded in the American Revolution by asking Christians to accept the tyranny of the British Crown.

Christian America is under severe attack, and all indications point out that the aggression is only going to increase. The cultural war against biblical Christianity is becoming self-evident. The hope to restore the nation is to have biblical reformation within the churches and then it can overtake the nation and the world. There is no other solution.

Pastors and Christians would do well to understand that godliness is always at war with ungodliness. The only way this nation can be saved and unified is to be “One Nation Under God.”

In the book of Genesis (5:19-29), we learn from Enoch something that is effective up until today, that God called His chosen ones to be brave and confront evil for what it is. 

In Jude 1:14-16 we read, “It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’ These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.”

Sin is a destructive force and the truth of God must be proclaimed. Those with the born again experience in Christ, know the liberating benefits this commitment brings; we must let others know the choice they have. 

In the meantime, let us not ignore or negate that the times we live in demand from everyone who professes to belong to Christ to manifest bravery with knowledge and wisdom towards the cause we fight for. Do not let anyone tell you differently. Cowardly behavior is all around us, but they have no place in heaven (Revelation 21:8). 

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
 –2 Timothy 1:7