Far from causing us to retreat and shut down, the elements of the coronavirus pandemic such as lockdowns have helped us to think outside of the box so that we could keep being church even when we were told we couldn’t meet. All change is challenging. But pain is always necessary for growth. God is powerful, and has been using these challenging times to teach us all sorts of things about ourselves, about him, and about the world and human life around us. (And some of it ain’t pretty!)
We began meeting as a church as soon as we were allowed to, and ended social distancing and any mask wearing following 19th July 2021.
We are aware that we’ve done these things much more quickly than some other churches. This is because we feel there are greater dangers than COVID for both our church family, and for the community we’re part of. since March 2020 our nation has been living in an induced state of fear. We are keen to point people to the only one who is worthy of right fear, awe and respect – God, our maker and rescuer.
At first it was hard to think everything through, but after plenty of time to reflect on it we’re now much clearer that God has things to say about specifics to do with COVID, even though these weren’t around when the Bible was written! This is where we’ve settled:
Lockdowns. Enforcing isolation of the healthy is not God’s pattern for containing infection (Leviticus 13:45-46) and has never been considered a reasonable action in all human history.
Distancing. Leviticus 13:45-46 instructs the infected to distance. Universal ‘social distancing’ (a terrible expression in itself) causes us to treat all other people as a deadly danger. This undermines the fact that we are created as social beings made to relate closely.
Church closures. The bible commands Christians to meet together regularly (Hebrews 10:24-25). Without physically meeting, we can’t obey the duties we have to ‘one another’ in the New Testament. We are also commanded to sing together, have fellowship meals, even to greet one another with a holy kiss (however we may interpret that culturally).
Mask wearing. Again, this treats others as harmful, stops us relating properly, and perpetuates the state of fear – all with no evidence of overall health benefits. To “hide” or “cover” your face in the Bible is always negative. It particularly indicates a withdrawal of fellowship (or friendship).
Vaccinations. Jesus appealed to common sense when he said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” While we understand vaccination is a preventative treatment, coercing people into medical intervention without a proper understanding of the effects is immoral. Covid vaccinations for children without parental consent undermines God’s priority of the family unit as the foundation of society.
Government control. While our default attitude to governing authorities is submission (Romans 13), when governments do what is wrong, we have a duty to obey God instead as a higher authority (Acts 5:29).