I posted an article recently asking if Christians should continue to assemble during a crisis. In it, I said there was, in my opinion, at least two reasons why I believe we should. The first is theological, the second is legal. In this article, I will give my thoughts on the legal side.
There are a few passages of Scripture that are commonly being brought up to defend the position that says we should not continue to meet. The reference to the quarantines under the Law of Moses, as well as a few New Testament passages instructing us to obey the governing authorities, are being used to affirm the government’s mandates to self-quarantine. Let’s talk these through.
Indeed, we find quarantines in the Bible. We must, however, keep this in context. Never once did God instruct the entire nation to be quarantined because some people in the nation were sick. Quarantines were for the ill, not the well. There was a prescribed period of time in which one who was thought to be sick would be quarantined, however, again, this was only for the presumed ill, not the well.
With the current government mandates, we are encouraged to practice “social distancing”, which is a more palatable way of saying we are being forced to self-quarantine. “Innocent until proven guilty” doesn’t apply here. In effect, we are to assume that we are already sick until proven healthy.
The reasoning behind “safer at home” was that the medical industry would be overwhelmed by the influx of sick people and they wouldn’t be able to help everyone. So if we all just stayed home, the virus wouldn’t be able to spread and the hospitals would be able to stay on top of it. Assuming that the virus would do what we were told, this is understandable…
Until you consider that most of our hospitals have been empty and doctors and nurses are being furloughed. Of course, hindsight is 20/20. But there are other countries (Sweden, Switzerland, and Tanzania) that never initiated any such mandates, and the virus has not spread out of control there.
Shutting down our economy, causing entire industries to go belly up, which has now resulted in over 20 million people filing for unemployment in just one month hardly does anything to help solve the virus problem.
Had our government followed God’s prescribed protocol, this would not have been an issue! Is our “wisdom” wiser than God’s? His wisdom mandates that only the sick must be confined to stop the spreading of a disease or virus. If it worked in biblical times, why wouldn’t it work now? I bring up this point only to illustrate that this passage has been taken out of context to support something that largely could have been avoided had it been handled differently.
The other two primary passages that are being used are found in 1 Peter 2 and Romans 13. I find it interesting that both of the men who wrote these were arrested, multiple times, and ultimately executed by their government for rebelling against it on matters of faith.
Peter, when questioned by the authorities about the healing of the lame man by the Beautiful Gate in Acts 3 and 4 said, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20). The one who wrote, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13) also said, “We must obey God rather than any human authority” (Acts 5:29, NLT).
There is, however, a larger issue at play here. I cannot speak for any other nation, as I am a citizen of the United States. However, our nation is a Constitutional Republic, and the highest and most supreme law of the land is the Constitution of the United States. All leaders swear an oath to preserve and defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. Any law, regulation, or mandate given by any of these leaders must be in agreement with the Constitution, and if not, not only are those mandates in violation of the Law but the citizens are not obligated to follow them.
There have been many people who have quoted the above-mentioned verses to imply that we should obey the unlawful rulings of certain leaders, which have stated that we cannot assemble. However, the First Amendment to the Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
If American citizens are to follow the scriptures being quoted that instruct us to be obedient to those in authority and to obey the laws of the land, our allegiance must be to the Constitution only. If any leader contradicts the Constitution, by law we are obligated to disregard their decisions.
The circumstance we are facing today is reminiscent of a story told in the Old Testament. Abraham had a son named Isaac. Isaac had twins, Esau and Jacob. Jacob was a farmer, Esau was a hunter.
Esau returned home one day after a long day of hunting. No doubt he was exhausted and famished. As he got closer, I’m sure he began to smell the pot of lentil soup that Jacob was cooking. I imagine he assumed his brother would surely share a bowl with him. As he approached, he asked for a bowl of soup, and to his certain surprise, Jacob said “let’s make a deal!” Jacob would only give Esau a bowl of soup in exchange for his birthright.
Now I want to pause here because when reading this story, I never thought anyone would be so crazy to trade their birthright for a bowl of lentil soup! You’d have to be out of your mind! But that is exactly what Esau did. He chose to sell his birthright for a bowl of soup! Can you imagine that?
Have Americans done the same thing during this “pandemic”? I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but we were told that everyone would die if we didn’t comply. So what did we do? Without any question, without any concern, we just said, “Ok, we’ll do that!” We have given up many of our Constitutional rights in exchange for what? A vaccine that may or may not work?
Let’s return to the question we’re asking, should churches still be allowed to worship in a time of crisis? Yes, they should! As previously discussed, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. If Christians are to be obedient to the Scriptures, we must submit to its authority and continue to assemble.
In his article, “What good are constitutional rights if they are violated when Americans get sick?”, Andrew Napolitano writes, “Of what value is a constitutional guarantee if it can be violated when people get sick? If it can, it is not a guarantee; it is a fraud. Stated differently, a constitutional guarantee is only as valuable and reliable as is the fidelity to the Constitution of those in whose hands we have reposed it for safekeeping.”
I am fully aware that people are getting sick and are dying, but does that justify the government stripping its citizens of our natural rights? I think not!