(Disclaimer: the church in the cover photo is a generic stock photo church, I do not know which church this is)
The spotlights were on the stage, the band struck up a tune as people stood with only a small centimeter of space between them. The lights were dimmed down and and people danced. Some raised their hands, others stood still but inevitably they were going to shake hands and grab a coffee in the middle of services. As the people hugged, socialized and laughed little did they realize the invisible enemy corona was strategically plotting for his goal. World leaders and prisoners alike have succumbed to corona. Both liberals and conservatives, the good and the bad have all contracted this disease. It is a disease that knows no borders and cares not who it may strike down. "Stay home!" the leaders of the world cried. Scientists and scholars commanded the citizens to remain put as not to become transmitters by this true enemy of the republic- corona.
As I have said before, Liberty is a set of rights granted to us by nature - it is common ground found in the depths of human nature. Alas, many have mistaken liberty for license. Dear reader, I caution you to avoid this pitfall at all costs. Hold liberty up as your light to guide you on life's journey. May the glory of liberty shine forever! License is an abuse of liberty that will result in anarchy and chaos, and anarchy will, in the end, destroy liberty as people will look for a strong man to save them from the upheaval around them.
The first scene I described is probably easily recognizable to many of you as a church. Churches are the center of social life, they are where we stand close and probably touch each other. They are packed, and while people sing in the dark rooms to the magnificent sounds of guitar- there the disease can easily strike.
The Bible itself commands that we need to protect the weaker brother. Although we have the liberty to eat meat, another may believe it is evil to eat meat. If I purposely go and eat meat in front of this individual I may cause him to stumble. This is where liberty ceases to become liberty and becomes a license. Is it not written by the great philosophers that the liberty of one man ends where the liberty of another begins?
I understand that church is what brings people together- and this is exactly why the churches must close. In the tradition of respecting life- the core human right, as well as paying respect for the weaker brother (or sister) we must put others first before ourselves. True, we are not called to fear but mon cher amie, we must be wise and heed the words of scientists and experts.
I shall introduce you to two citizens (who are both fictional characters) Anna and Rebecca
Anna sees Rebecca at church and naturally embraces her "whats up?" Anna says and the two of them proceed to chat.
Little did Anna know, but she was exposed to coronavirus on the metro ride coming over to church. Or perhaps Anna had coronavirus in her system as she went to the market for some food. The coronavirus is highly contagious and can easily jump from Anna to Rebecca. Rebecca may easily have asthma or another condition and be more likely to develop an active version of coronavirus.
This is all too real of a situation and can happen anywhere. With the advent of modern technology Anna and Rebecca could both stay home and "Zoom church" with each other so they can still see each other's faces but from the safety of quarantine.
Another concerned people raised was some churches have Breaking of the Bread or Communion.
Breaking of the Bread is when the church goers pass a plate of fresh bread from the bakery to each other and each one individually rips it and consumes it as a symbol. As beautiful as this tradition is, in a time of a pandemic it would be dangerous for it to continue in a church setting as we all individually would be touching the bread with our hands that can transmit germs. Church goers should again heed to modern technology and individually rip bread for Zoom Church to continue that sense of community. The wine or grape juice may be easier as they are all in individual personal cups but still the risk of transmission is high as we all would be touching the same place.
Some argue that this is an infringement on religious liberty- but they fail to take into account that the liberty of one man ends where another begins. Once we put the weakest and most vulnerable amongst us at the risk of death- this is a violation of their right to life. The great philosophers of liberty- Voltaire, Rousseau, Locke and Montesquieu have all mentioned that personal liberty has its limits and when somebody's liberty can abuse or harm the life of another that is when their liberty ends and another's begins.
A violation on religious liberty would be if a decree was made that "only Catholic Churches must close!" Clearly this is targeting a religious minority in a country such as the United States which has historically persecuted that group. In this case it is all denominations, all religions and all institutions that are effected.
This are extraordinary circumstances, and in times of wars and pandemics people must take measures that they may not normally take in times of peace. The world is at war against an invisible enemy, and the sooner we all take sacrifices for the greater good- the faster the world will be victorious.
My dear reader, I understand how this self-isolation may be making you fearful. But remember all of the glorious times in history, when heroes were faced with odds much greater than themselves- the odds were not easy but they overcame it.
Simon Bolivar once said "true liberty aims to honor humanity and improve its lot, anything else is sheer illusion and I fear a dangerous illusion" Insisting that churches remain open during a time of a pandemic is not liberty, but it is license and an illusion. Churches should be at the forefront of protecting human life, and not endangering it. The services can continue online, but alas- the doors must be shut for us all to unite against this disease.
This is how we honor humanity, and this is how we hold true to the biblical principle of protecting the weaker brother. Head to the instructions of the scientists, let books and music be your companions and mon cher amie- stay safe and healthy through these treacherous days!