The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States contains what is known as the Citizenship Clause. This one sentence, adopted in 1868, establishes the base line of citizenship in our country: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside". Birthright citizenship or naturalization are the prerequisites to the rights and privileges of American citizenship.
Dual citizenship is not mentioned in the Constitution. It was forbidden by most states until 1967 when the Supreme Court of the United States marked most of the laws prohibiting dual citizenship as unconstitutional. Today dual citizenship is permitted but only in certain cases. Every naturalized citizen must pledge allegiance to the United States of America and submit to the legal authority of the states in which they reside as well as the US government. If interested you can read a great article about dual citizenship in the United States of America at this site written and sponsored by the US Legal Language Services. Click here if so inclined.
Now let's do a sidebar. Scripture identifies Christians as dual citizens. In the New Testament there are many verses that explain our citizenship in heaven.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who
will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him
even to subject all things to himself.
Philippians 3: 20-21, ESV
Citizenship in this Kingdom is about birthright, that is, being reborn. It cannot be achieved through heredity or geographical identity. Jesus said, "“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, ESV). He also said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3, ESV). This rebirth is a spiritual turn from our old way of life to enter the blessings and joys of life in the Kingdom. It is the basic background of our dual citizenship---life as citizens of this earth under the guidance and direction of heavenly kingdom principles.
Many Scripture passages reference this dual citizenship. Believers are portrayed as aliens and strangers in the earthly realm. Of the many New Testament texts that address our citizenship in the Kingdom, the writings of Simon Peter appeal to me most. His First Epistle is addressed to the "elect exiles" in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, all provinces in the Roman empire. As the elect they were confessing Christians. In those Provinces they were citizens under Roman rule. Later he identified them as "...a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession" (1 Peter 2:9, ESV). Then he reminded them that they were "...sojourners and exiles..." (1 Peter 2: 11, ESV) while here on earth. This dual citizenship would be a tension in their lives. Peter wanted them to know how they should fulfill the truth of their citizenship in heaven while being citizens of the Roman Empire. He wrote---
Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor
as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise
those who do good. or this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence
the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a
cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood.
Fear God. Honor the emperor.
1 Peter 2: 13-17, ESV
The revelation God gave to Peter in writing this Epistle involved profound instruction in citizenship. It is apparent that he expected those exiles to be good citizens on earth because they were citizens of heaven, a lesson many of us should emulate and practice. Peter is thought to have lived that life. Yet, he was crucified by Emperor Nero for his heavenly kingdom obedience.
The Apostle Paul also knew the dynamics of this dual citizenship and wrote about them in several Epistles. To the citizens of Rome he wrote---
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except
from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists
the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the
one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is
God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the
sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on
the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but
also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the
authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to
them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to
whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
Romans 13: 1-7, ESV
When he wrote to his friend Timothy he told him to pray for people in authority---
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and
thanksgivings be made for all people, or kings and all who are in high positions,
that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. this is
good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,
1 Timothy 2: 1-3, ESV
So, there they are, practical reminders for those of us blessed with dual citizenship. Sure, politicians and a few theologians love to play games with these expectations. Ours is a culture offended by our citizenship in heaven. But, it is abundantly clear that our citizenship in heaven should make us observant and faithful citizens down here on earth.
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