Communities of faith are increasingly ignoring expert medical advice to not cluster because they believe God will protect them from harm.
By David Todd McCarty | Friday, April 3, 2020
Every day we hear another news story about a Christian pastor that refuse to forgo public worship services, orthodox religious communities who ignore orders not to gather in groups, and pious individuals who proudly proclaim that God will protect them from the virus, if only they remain faithful.
The problem is, the religious texts are actually fairly clear on this, especially the Bible. For it’s true that the Bible has many passages about putting your faith and trust in God, but there are also warnings against testing God.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding,” it says in Proverbs 3:5. The presumption being that God knows best, not you yourself. Lean not on your own understanding, it says.
But the Bible also speaks about submitting to authority, such as Governors and Mayors for instance. Even Presidents, including the current one who many Christians are happy to believe was appointed to the office by God Himself. Listening to those in authority and obeying their commands is a righteous act under the law. Willfully disobeying the law is not.
The Bible says in Luke 10:27 that “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said that and he bothered to add in the part about loving your neighbor, not because he was merely being polite, but because it was a central tenant to Jesus’ teachings. Think not just of yourself, but of those around you.
And finally, Jesus also had this to say in Matthew 4:7, while speaking to Satan who was trying to tempt Him into putting Himself in harm’s way in order to allow God prove His power by saving his only begotten Son. “Jesus said unto him, ‘Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
The Bible is clear that followers of Jesus are meant to trust in the Lord with all their souls, strength, hearts, and minds, but also that they should never knowingly put themselves into harm’s way just to test if God is willing or able to rescue them from their own arrogance or stupidity. Jesus could not have been more clear about how he felt about treating your neighbor, the poor and the sick. He meant for His followers to care for them, not abandon them.
In today’s context of a global pandemic, it would seem abundantly clear that ignoring the advice of medical experts and government officials to quarantine yourself and your family, to avoid gathering in groups, and to avoid contact with one’s neighbors, would be an act of faith and conscience, in that one should not test God by willfully putting themselves or their neighbors in harm’s way, out of love for oneself, your family and your neighbor.
If you’re not terribly religious, or not even a little, you can recognize that as a society, there is great benefit in working together as a community in a time of crisis. But as a religious person, who believes they are subject to the will of God, it is a moral imperative, not to risk your own precious life, or that of your family’s, and most especially the life of your neighbor’s.
The Apostle Paul said, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
Fulfilling God’s law therefore, can be summed up in loving one’s neighbor. So learn to love your neighbor during this trying time and stay home.