April 2nd, 2020

hound of heaven

Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together

Several churches have been in the news lately for continuing to meet despite the danger of spreading the COVID-19 virus. One pastor in Florida was arrested for this and charged with a misdemeanor. The intertubes have been clogged with shock, outrage, and sermonizing concerning these churches, charging them with greed, cultish behavior, selfishness in endangering others, etc.

For the record, I think these churches are being foolish. And insofar as they constitute a danger to their fellow citizens, I think the authorities' requiring of them not to gather in these numbers is proper.

But all that said, I don't think these people deserve the abuse that has been rained upon them. Foolish or arrogant as they may be, these pastors are doing what pastors normally do in a crisis: gather the flock to petition God for mercy and to speak comfort to frightened people. And in any other kind of emergency, they would be doing the exactly right thing in these circumstances. Remember how full the churches were the Sunday after 9/11/2001? Think about all those natural disasters, where church teams would form in the aftermath to aid in recovery efforts and in efforts to mitigate the suffering of those affected.

This time is different, I know. Please do not lecture me One. More. Time. on how we need to practice social isolation or wash hands, etc. as an act of love for others. I'm not advocating mass gatherings.

I'm just saying that these people who are doing so are misguided, not evil. They are still in the denial stage of their fear and grief and haven't caught up to where everyone else is. They are reacting quite normally; social isolation is a counter-intuitive response that has to be learned. They do not deserve the abuse I read on social media, especially from other Christians.

We need to correct them in as gentle a manner as we can. And we need to remind each other that one's cause does not become more righteous by the savagery with which one expresses it.