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A theological response to COVID-19

By Jay Johns

M.Div., M.A.T.S.

Fellow Kentuckians:

After speaking with many friends, members of my family and of the public concerning the Coronavirus (COVID-19), I have decided to engage some of the concerns and opinions presented from a biblical-worldview. While it would be foolish for me to assert that the Bible speaks clearly about the Coronavirus, it would, in the same manner, be foolish of me to pretend that there are no biblical principles that may be drawn for adequately and lovingly dealing with the current state our nation finds itself in.

The prevailing opinions I have heard (specifically from those who would identify themselves as “Christian”) are largely based on what they would call “faith.” I chose to put faith in parenthesis because many of those people have a faith that is entirely theologically ungrounded. The argument goes something like this, “I am not worried about getting the virus and I will continue to do x/y/z, including going to church in a large gathering (even though the governor, official state bodies and the CDC have recommended not doing this) because I have faith that God will protect me. Furthermore, if I get it, it must be God’s will for my life.”

While this may sound “right” to some, it is only half of a biblical argument coupled with faulty logic. Please allow me to explain by asking a very simple question…do you lock your doors at night? If you said “yes,” you just walked into the same logical problem that those above proport: you do not have “faith” or a “strong enough faith.” Our President, our Governor, our Sherriff’s Office, and our Police Force would all recommend the public lock their doors. This is not a rule or a law…yet most Christians do this very thing daily. Locking your door when you are not home seems, for the most part, to be based on common sense and wise decisions. Why do we do this? We do this because God has given us the ability to discern potential danger and steer clear of it. “A prudent man forseeth evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Proverbs 27:12, KJV, see also 22:3). A prudent person would not keep their doors unlocked if there was a small possibility they would be robbed. A prudent woman, for example, would not walk down a dark alley alone in a questionable neighborhood despite her level of “faith.” She would discern the possibility of danger and choose not to enter the alley to begin with.

Proverbs is ripe with simple fruits of wisdom that even the non-Christian may benefit from. “A wise man feareth [is cautious], and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident” (Prov. 14:16). For example, what type of person would jump into a pool full of sharks? Answer: the fool…his faith had nothing to do with it. “Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly” (Prov. 13:17). It is very simple to see that God has graciously given His people, and humanity as a whole, the ability to possess simple knowledge and reasoning skills. Simply throwing caution to the wind (such as God’s grace through government official’s warnings, local government’s warnings, etc.) while citing one’s “faith” as a means of preservation is biblically flawed and, simply put, foolish.

Furthermore, the argument can be made that “self-quarantine” measures were actually commanded by God as it pertained to certain diseases (see Leviticus chapter 13 and 14). Infected persons were not welcome into the camp and were commanded to warn others of their condition (Lev. 13:45). Items of clothing worn by the infected persons were either washed or burned in the aforementioned chapters. The faithful Israelites would not have welcomed these people into the camp nor would they have needlessly put themselves in danger by gathering in a location or with persons who may have had symptoms yet unseen. Why? Because it was common sense and God commanded it.

Finally, we must deal with an aspect of this problem that is, in all actuality, sinful. When any person willfully defies their government, they are sinning against God. The only exception to this is where the government has passed a law or suggested its citizens do something illegal, immoral, or against God in any way. Romans 13:2 states, “Whosoever, therefore resisteth the power [of the government ordained by God], resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” Fellow Kentuckians, regardless of your political view, your governor has strongly requested and suggested you refrain from large gatherings to include church services. He is not attempting, in any way, to limit your freedom of religion as he has recommended electronic church meetings. Willfully denying this request which has been made for the good of the people is sinful. He, along with the CDC, your local school district, and the President are urging people to refrain from large meetings for the purpose of stopping the spread of a pandemic virus. God has granted you grace through warnings over the internet, the television, the newspaper, magazines, and the utilization of common sense. Please remember Christians are called to “look not every man on his own things, but every man on the things of others” (Philippians 2:4). We must consider the health and the safety of everyone above ourselves and our own wants. We have the ability to meet electronically for a short time for the purpose of protecting our families, our churches, and our country. Please place value on the elderly congregates in your churches. Senior citizens are suffering the highest mortality rates from this virus…please remember that senior citizens make up the majority of most churches. Please, above all things, let everything you do be done in love.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Jay Johns, M.Div., M.A.T.S.