America's Christian History

U.S. Constitution Page

The Constitution and the Bill of Rights from a Christian Perspective

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare

Rebuilders Publications Opportunities Contact Us

    Spotlight    


 Today in History   

 Poetry                 

 History                

 The Constitution   

 Principle Approach

 Politics                

 Home School       

 Creative Writing    


 Ask Dorothy...           

 Links                         

 Resources              

 Guest book  

Free Guestmap from Bravenet.com

 

Tell A Friend!

Type In Your Name:

Type In Your E-mail:

Your Friend's E-mail:

Your Comments:

Receive copy: 

Citizen? What's That?

 

Who would have thought fifty years ago that so many questions would have been raised about such a small, four syllable word as citizenship?  You thought you knew what a citizen is?  Well, think again.  Someone may ask you what it is.  Do you have a ready answer?  Actually, the idea of a citizen as we know it in this country is a radical departure from the old world’s idea.  No doubt, our Founders understood the difference between a serf and a citizen.  But in merry old England the populace was known as serfs and the freemen were called nobles.  Our “mother” country’s ideas about serfs were most certainly different from our ideas regarding the standing of individuals in our country.

What’s a serf?  Noah Webster dismisses the notion that men are serfs with these words: “Serf, (from the word “service”), a servant or slave employed in husbandry, and in some countries attached to the soil and transferred with it.”  (My italics)  You may recall that in the first, great document written to apprise the world of our separation from Great Britain we read this: “all men are created equal.”  Aha, no serfs here!

Prof. Edward Erler, professor of political science, California State University, San Bernadino, tells us in an article in “Imprimis”1 that, “…the very concept of citizenship was unknown in British common law.”  This means, of course, that our ideas about that subject are our own.  And where do we get those ideas.  Those who were charter members of the organization called the U.S.A. always went to the Bible for enlightenment.  And what do we find?  That our Lord spoke frequently about the “kingdom of God.”2  We are told in Ephesians that we are “no more strangers and foreigners but fellow citizens with the saints (you and I if we are Christians)….”  Furthermore, we read that “our conversation/citizenship is in heaven: from whence also we look for the saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ...,” (Philippians 3:20).

The scriptures always refer to our rebirth as our becoming a child of God, a member of the “Family of God,” whereas our country is the Kingdom of God of which we are citizens. This kingdom of which we speak is a heavenly kingdom the ruler of which is King Jesus to whom we owe undivided loyalty and whose laws must be obeyed.

Citizenship, as Prof. Erler tells us, has, “two components:…birth or naturalization in the United States and being subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.”3 (Italics in the original; underlining mine, ed.) He further quotes Sen. Lyman Trumbull, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee (18684), as stating that, “subject to jurisdiction thereof meant not owing allegiance to anybody else and being subject to the complete jurisdiction of the United States.” (Emphasis in the original.) Senator Jacob Howard of Ohio (1868), the author of the citizenship clause in the Fourteenth Amendment, also argued that, “Jurisdiction understood as allegiance, excludes…persons born in the United States who are foreign-born, aliens, [or] who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers.

Prof. Erler concludes, therefore, that, “Thus subject to the jurisdiction does not simply mean, as is commonly thought today, subject to American laws or American courts. It means owing exclusive political allegiance to the U.S.”

If you review my arguments from Scripture, you can see the parallels between the above discussion and that of our heavenly citizenship:

A. Birth is not the same as becoming the citizen of a country but is part of our becoming such.

i. In the case of spiritual rebirth one is actually born again, becoming spiritually alive and a member of a spiritual family. (See such Scriptures as: Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:4-7; Ephesians 1:5.)

ii. Being born in a place, usually a country, whatever it may be, (Africa, Mexico, England, etc.) means arriving in this world as an infant having, obviously, a “family. Family means a mother and a father, and, possibly, siblings (whether the family is intact, present, or even alive or not).

B. Citizenship: becomes a reality as a result of becoming a member of a society: a heavenly one or an earthly country or state subject to the jurisdiction thereof. In the case of the heavenly society it entails the giving of ones loyalty exclusively to the one and only God; in the case of the earthly country, ones loyalty is to the ruler of that country, to the country itself or in the case of our country, the laws/Constitution thereof.

In the United States our loyalty is to our Founding documents5 which were composed and ratified by the people and the States because we are a country of law not of loyalty to a man.

Being subject to the jurisdiction means not owing allegiance to anybody else and being subject to the complete jurisdiction of the Ruler (God) or the laws (Constitution) thereof.

 

IT TAKES MORE THAN BEING BORN ON OUR SOIL TO BE A CITIZEN.


Footnotes:

1. You will find Professor Erler’s article very informative.  I highly recommend your asking for a copy of IMPRIMIS from Hillsdale College.  To request a copy of the July, 2008, Volume 37, Number 9 go to: www.hillsdale.edu.

2. Hebrews 11: 16-17.  We understand that the kingdom of God is, first of all, a spiritual one of which all Christians are members.

3. All quotations other than scripture, are reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.

4. The quotes by Trumbull and Howard are from the discussion of the Fourteenth Amendment at the time of its being considered.

5. You will recall that our civil servants must take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America.  All, from the dog catcher to the president take that oath; the president taking one especially designed for him.  See the Constitution itself.


Post a Review

Want to comment on this article?  We value your input

Please send us your comments and if you wish, a link to your site or a link to another page that supports your views and we'll post your valued input here. 

Online Review Form
Enter  your name

Enter the article  you want to review

Enter your E-mail address

Rate it: 5 Stars is the Highest Rating:
1


 

 

 


Home

NEW

Correspondence Course

The Bill of Rights

You and the Bill of Rights

Teusy - The little mouse that almost missed the ark

Teusy


The Governor's Story
The Governor's Story

The constitution
You, Your Child and the Constitution


Inspirational Literature

The Siege of Shah Island

 

Heartwarming Poetry

Where is Beauty

 

The Pilgrims

How The Pilgrims Came

 

Grammar

A Guide to Teaching Grammar using the Principle Approach

 

With Liberty and Justice for All

 

Creative Writing

Creative Writing and the Essay

 

 

© Copyright 2006 Rebuilders of the Foundations of America's Christian History