Michael Brown on Is It Biblical to Stop Churches From Meeting in Person During Pandemic?

As thousands of protesters on foot and in vehicles converged recently on Michigan’s capital to rally against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders in the state (as reported here), many are asking the same question: “Is restricting movement constitutional?” More importantly, is it biblical? This is a critical question as more protests begin to form across the country, such as the ones in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Los Angeles.

Others, far more gifted than me, have written extensively on this topic, but I’d like to share some thoughts from a pastoral perspective. First, I love America—I love how God has blessed us. I read the writings of the Founding Fathers and the Puritans often. My heart beats for restoration and renewal. Second, my heart is to honor and obey our elected officials when they are trying to honor God. Scripture is clear here on black and white issues. Third, it’s important that Christians respond in wisdom versus reacting in pride.

I did not agree with some of the pastors initially who defied the government. This was a public health emergency. As a society, we are called to take certain steps to try to curb the infection rate and minimize death, minimize people getting sick and love your neighbor—we should be setting an example of that. Martin Luther gave examples of this during the plague that hit his area in the 1500s.

I don’t think it was a First Amendment issue, at least not initially, because the stay-at-home order appeared to be short-term and very specific. I also believe that reacting can damage our witness if decisions are not bathed in prayer and carefully considered. It can demonstrate a spirit of rebellion and send a wrong message across the landscape of America. Civil rights must be viewed in the context of social responsibility, such as, “Will exercising my ‘right’ hurt others?” The government was not saying that we can no longer preach God’s Word—that would be a game-changer. Actually, the reverse happened. Many churches saw a huge spike in online views. For example, within a month we had over 400,000 views of sermons on one media platform.

From my vantage point, leaders were saying, “Let’s all pull back temporarily and see if we can curb this crisis.” But then the question of what is an “essential” establishment comes up. I have seen vacuum repair stores and doughnut shops open while churches remain closed. That can’t continue. I know that some in our congregation have gone back to destructive addictions and marriages are on the verge of divorce—streaming services and on-screen messages are not going to solve those issues. We need to be together. God’s house needs to be a place of wholeness and restoration. Churches must not be handcuffed much longer. Many experts agree that with respiratory diseases, the one thing that stops them is herd immunity. Isolation can actually work against us. So, are we doing more damage by staying at home?

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SOURCE: Charisma News

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