Faith and Science: Loving Our Neighbor During COVID-19

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Dear friends,

The caronavirus is revealing a theological crisis in popular Christianity.
Many believers think faith is above or even against science. Thus, they see special
hygiene and public health as unnecessary or even attacking the church. Instead, they say
we should simply pray and ignore practices like washing our hands and social distancing
as proof that we trust God.

But think of it like this.

Every Christian everywhere believes that God – not satan – created the world. The world
is God’s work. The very first verse of the Bible declares this. Paul said it like this: “For in
[Christ] all things were created…and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-
17).

And this means that science is the study of God’s design. When we understand and
respect science, we understand and respect the way God made us and our world.
Science is spiritual.

Christians actually practice this every day. For example, we don’t jump off buildings
because we recognize gravity as part of God’s creation. We don’t pray and fast against
gravity; we honor it.

So we build fences around high places and take extra caution not to fall. We understand
that if we fall, it isn’t God’s fault; it’s ours.
It’s the same way with caronavirus.

This dangerous virus is spread through saliva from our mouths. God made our bodies to
function this way: our saliva communicates the virus in our bodies.

So if someone with caronavirus coughs in church or kisses a church wall or cross and
then someone else kisses the same place (a common practice where I live), that person
will likely get caronavirus.

This is how God created the world – just like gravity.

What’s the point?

In this time, we honor God best by honoring how God made the world and loving our
neighbor as ourselves. We don’t need to ignore science to honor faith.

 

First, we shouldn’t spread our saliva in public places. We should avoid kissing churches
and crosses and other rituals that will endanger others.

Second, we should avoid large gatherings of people, including our churches, until the
pandemic is under control. We should stay home and pray – and make sure we’re
checking on others in need.

This doesn’t ignore God; this honors God. This doesn’t reflect a lack of faith in God. It
reflects faith in God – just like when we respect gravity and don’t jump off buildings. It
says, “God, I see how you made our bodies, and I respect your design.”

So bow but don’t kiss to show reverence.

Pray but stay at home.

Examine other spiritual practices and ask whether they love your neighbor and serve the
common good. Remember Paul’s beautiful words, which lay down the basic law for the
Christian life:

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for
whoever loves others has fulfilled the law… Whatever other commands there may be are
summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm
to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:9-13)

“Love does no harm to a neighbor.” Under the unique conditions of a global pandemic, if
a religious practice risks doing harm to a neighbor, we should pause it.

True believers worship God, respect how God created our bodies, and love our neighbors as ourselves.

Science is our friend not our enemy. Christians should be the most passionate promoters of hygiene and public health at this time.

If we continue our traditional practices and people die unnecessarily, we shouldn’t blame
God, any more than we would blame God if we jump off a building and fall to our death.

The time is now for urgent action.

Let’s not delay.

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