Patriotism in the Fourth Commandment
The Fourth Commandment: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”
That’s not just a call to filial piety; it’s a call to patriotism as well.
One might argue that the regulation of our lives begins in God’s love for each of us, except there is nothing in the Ten Commandments about honor due to oneself. God knows most of us need no instruction in that, which is why the Commandments direct us out of ourselves: to family and the “land,” the ground we stand upon but also the people standing with us in neighborhoods, towns, cities, states, nations, and the world.
This comes across clearly in Luke 10:25-37. A lawyer has asked Jesus how he might inherit eternal life. Knowing this fellow’s profession, the Lord answers with His own questions: “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”
How elated the lawyer must have been! The Galilean preacher has fallen into my trap! The lawyer slyly quotes Christ’s own answer (see Mark 12:28-34), which he may well have heard Jesus say at another time in another place or heard it reported by someone else. The shyster recites the Shema Yisrael (Deuteronomy 6:4-5), the Commandment to love God totally, adding, as Jesus earlier had, the phrase from Leviticus (19:18) about loving one’s neighbor.