“Social distancing” is one of the most important ways we are battling against the current coronavirus pandemic. We have been urged by medical experts and elected officials to self-isolate. By keeping our distance from one another, we can slow the spread of the disease so that fewer people are infected, thus preventing our health care system from being overloaded with more cases than they can handle.
In order to comply with these guidelines, many sporting events have been cancelled or postponed. Businesses and services are temporarily closing. People are working from home if possible. Many are limiting their contact with the outside world as much as possible. Churches are cancelling gatherings and streaming their worship services on the internet.
This is where many Christians become uncomfortable. We are so used to having the right to religious freedom that it doesn’t seem right that we should be told not to meet together. Let’s take a look at what Scripture says about the matter.
First of all, consider what Leviticus 13 says to do if someone is suspected of having a serious infectious disease. More than once in this chapter it says that the person is to be isolated from other people. I believe this is a direct Bible reference to what we are now calling “social distancing”. The fact that the dangerous coronavirus can be spread by people who do not yet know they are sick is the reason we are being urged to self-isolate. And it is indeed a biblical principle.
Some Christians are saying, “You just need to have faith. God will protect us from this virus.” And they continue to gather together in large numbers, disregarding what health experts and government officials say, and ignoring the Scriptural principle of isolation to prevent the spread of disease.
Remember that one of the ways the devil tempted Jesus was to urge him to jump off the highest point of the temple. Satan pointed out that God would surely protect Jesus from being harmed. Jesus responded that it is sinful to “…put the Lord your God to the test.” We must not deliberately put ourselves in harm’s way and demand that God protect us. Jesus proclaims this to be sinful.
Some are insisting that these government-issued guidelines are an infringement on our religious rights, and that they can be freely ignored by those who follow Jesus. Let’s think about that. The government has not asked us to give up our beliefs. They have not said that we must stop praying, reading the Bible, singing, taking communion or anything like that. They have simply asked us not to meet in large crowds for the next few weeks.
Romans 13:1-7 says that we Christians have a responsibility to obey the government as long as they are not telling us to disobey God. This Scripture reminds us that the purpose of government is to protect the well-being of its citizens. Here is what Terry Carter, president of Summit Theological Seminary, has to say about this passage—“To resist the government when they are protecting their citizens is to resist God Himself.”
Finally, there is what I like to call “The Good Neighbor Policy”. Jesus says that the second greatest commandment, after the commandment to love God, is to love our neighbor. How can we claim to truly love our neighbor while possibly putting them in harm’s way by carelessly meeting together in large groups, disregarding the best information we have from medical authorities, elected officials and God Himself?
To sum it all up, social distancing is God’s way to prevent the spread of dangerous diseases. Is it yours?