What a title! Academics from around the world will be tuning in. People obsessed with the end times will be looking for prophetic ties. People who regularly read my blog may be expecting a lighthearted look at life now and then. I hate to disappoint all of you but this post is none of the above. This post is actually a response to the fringe elements in the Christian community that for some reason believe that the actions being taken to save lives somehow contravene their God given freedom and constitute a full out rebellion so that we can save ourselves from these godless people who would ask us or even order us to stay at home.
Social distancing is in the Bible.
Don’t try to do a search for the words; you will not find them. Think instead about the concept. Think back to another highly infectious disease that was once prevalent. Although I am sure many governments had some type of law requiring distancing from those who had this disease, the first to introduce social distancing was God!
Those who had leprosy or similar skin diseases had to social distance.
“Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as they have the disease they remain unclean. They must live alone; they must live outside the camp… Leviticus 13:45-46 (NIV)
There is some disagreement on whether leprosy in the Bible is the same disease, a different disease or many skin diseases including what we know today as leprosy. It really doesn’t matter, this disease was something you didn’t want to get so to avoid it you needed to social distance from those who had it, hence the law handed down by God in Leviticus.
Throughout the giving of the law, unclean was the title given to an action or a person doing that action. This is not the place to debate the exact spiritual ramifications of unclean but I would point out that what was said to be unclean often had the potential of causing harm or unintended consequences if another person came into contact with the food, bodily fluid, person infected etc. It may not be that the person was in a sinful state but rather that the state could cause death, unwanted side effects or represented the curse mankind was under through sin. Sinful state or not, leprosy was infectious, social distancing was needed.
But this is different, only those who had leprosy social distanced.
I guess you got me there. What you say is true. Those with the disease were the ones separated from those who were healthy. Before you do your victory dance, you need to remember that everyone who was symptomatic, in other words everyone with a disease resembling leprosy was isolated. They had to socially distance until they were declared “clean” by the priest. It didn’t matter if they had it, it only mattered if they could have it. Get a spot that looked like leprosy, get away from people to stop the potential spread.
Leprosy had obvious symptoms. Those symptoms meant you were contagious. If you were contagious you had to stay away from people. COVID 19 we now know can be contagious in a pre or asymptomatic person. If you apply God’s Old Testament law to this disease, if you can pass it on you need to get away from people to stop the potential spread.
Social distancing was not a punishment but rather a precaution.
I would say that all those who are social distancing under the current guidelines of their state/provincial government, including me, feel like we are being punished but a feeling is not enough to start a rebellion over. Your rights are being curtailed to preserve the lives of those who cannot preserve their own lives. Older people, people with weakened immune systems and people with underlying medical problems need us to help. If you are having problems with this restriction of your freedom, with this request to give up your current lifestyle for someone so they will be saved then you need to give up your salvation. Jesus gave up His freedom and socially isolated Himself from His community (Heaven) so that you could be saved!
COVID 19 social distancing is not an unchristian, repressive action designed to take your religious freedoms away. Maybe your god needs a megachurch Sunday meeting, fully attended to feel good enough but my God is who He is because He is God and I am who I am because He gave up His freedom and died on a cross for me. I will give up my freedom to protect the lives of others because Jesus is my example.