It’s time to stop underestimating COVID-19 and start adhering to governmental orders –– that also goes for the church
I was working on my laptop when a message from a family member popped up on my screen. It told the story of Florida pastor Rodney Howard-Browne being arrested for holding a worship service despite current social distancing orders.
Some of my family members thought it was unjust, saying the government doesn’t have a place in religious affairs, while others sided with the government.
Here is why the physical church should not be open right now –– at all.
The first and most obvious reason is churches that are choosing to stay open are compromising the health of others.
Holding in-person church services not only affects the individuals who attend, but also those who the attendees come in contact with. After the service, the attendees most likely went home to family members, exposing them to any possible contractions of COVID-19 that may not be detected for two weeks. This dilemma becomes an even greater risk for those with underlying illnesses and elderly people (which is not new information).
Some people will still say the government overstepped its bounds, since the church was taking precautionary measures needed to stay safe, such as wearing gloves and individuals being spaced out. But how can we label this act as “safe” when there is still so little known about COVID-19?
The government didn’t establish the lockdown simply to impose authority over us. At least 248 million Americans are being told to stay at home to combat the risk of the virus spreading further –– and it’s working.
A New York Times article said that Kinsa Health, a company that produces internet-connected thermometers, tracked fever levels on March 22. A trend of decreasing symptoms was spotted within a day. Since then, “data from the health departments of New York State and Washington State have buttressed the finding, making it clear that social distancing is saving lives.”
If we are seeing improvements with social distancing measures, why would we want to combat those efforts by opening the physical doors of the church?
As Christians, we are to obey the government
“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.” (Romans 13:1, ESV)
Romans 13:1 is one of the most commonly used verses when it comes to obeying the law. Of course, we can dive into an entirely different piece solely about the analysis of this verse. As Christians, I believe we are to submit to the law, unless it contradicts our obedience to God.
As it is, adhering to government orders and staying indoors does not contradict the word of God.
Not holding church in a physical setting is okay. This is because the church is not a building and is not materialistic. The church is the body of Christ and the unification of believers all over the world.
Neglecting the government’s orders in a time of crisis to ensure our safety also makes followers of Christ appear distasteful. The book which we live by expresses our duty to adhere to the law as Christians, yet some of us are choosing to act from a me-centered mentality instead. This is disregarding others and choosing to act in a selfish manner.
The church and our faith can persist without physical gathering
If the government stopped all services and faith from occurring in all capacity, then that’s where a situation would arise, but that’s not the case.
The government has stopped the occurrence of physical services –– not worship.
Churches are still able to utilize various mediums to conduct services, such as livestream technology. Many pastors are using FaceBook and Instagram Live to teach.
We also still have the right to worship together. This can look like a Bible study via Zoom or FaceTime. Of course, we still have the right to worship on our own time, like praying and worshiping in our own homes.
Our faith can continue to persist without physically gathering. This is simply a time where we must adjust to the current circumstances –– which is still possible without compromising our faith.
It’s not an essential business
If you need emergency appendix surgery, you must be able to go to a hospital for treatment. If you run out of food, there needs to be an open grocery store to get some so you don’t starve. However, if you crave the church, you are able to receive it through community, worship and study –– all while staying virtual.
I am not ignoring the wonder that takes place when two or three are physically gathered together, but the physical space of the church isn’t what crafts the spirit. It’s God who bestows his glory on us when we engage in a relationship with him. Because of this, the space of the church isn’t an essential business in itself.
While arresting pastor Howard-Browne may seem aggressive, it made a statement and showcased the importance of the social distancing measures in place. The church can still go on and continue to grow –– but it needs to do so virtually for the time being, much like everything else in our lives. It’s time to stop underestimating this virus and understand that there will be severe consequences if we don’t.