Reflections

A Christian Mulls the Righteousness of Lockdowns

When it comes to lockdowns, Christians are divided. On one side, it is argued that lockdowns are the obvious way to love one’s neighbour, as they prevent transmission of the coronavirus. Indeed, some studies have shown that lockdowns do indeed curb transmission not only of COVID-19, but also of the common flu. On the other side, it is argued that the effects of lockdowns outweigh the benefits, particularly when considering their economic devastation. They argue that the suffering caused by lockdowns far outweighs the benefits, with the latter point of view citing the consequences of lockdowns:

♦… been responsible for mental health spikes.

♦… contributed to economic damage which is causing the starvation and deaths of millions in developing nations.

♦… pushed ‘hundreds of millions of people towards starvation and poverty.’

♦… caused greater deaths in low and middle income nations due to economic damage and shock.

♦… prevented people from visiting their dying family members in hospital.

♦… directly assaulted basic human rights, such as our freedom to work, freedom of movement, and freedom of assembly.

While all of these devastating consequences are mortifying, the greatest carnage has been the devastating spiritual effects on our souls. What is more disturbing than the virus is a pervasive form Gnosticism which is infecting our churches. In the early church, Gnosticism was a heretical religious teaching which emphasised the dichotomy of the body and the soul. Gnostics proclaimed that we are free do what we like with our bodies because it is only our souls which are saved.

For this reason, the early Gnostics believed that immorality could be kept distinct from their spiritual relationship with God. What we are witnessing in the church today is a neo-Gnosticism which emphasises bodily health and prosperity at the expense of one’s soul.

Pastor Joel of Right Response Ministries states it succinctly in this YouTube clip: “In our attempts to save the body, we are sacrificing our souls … At the cost of preserving the soul, we are seeking to preserve the body.”

In other words, we have been led to believe that our physical health is the only thing that matters. We have guarded our physical health at the expense of our mental, social and emotional wellbeing. Most importantly, we have forfeited that which matters most — our spiritual wellbeing.

While we should not expect the unbelieving world to understand the value of the spiritual, Christians should be the first to recognise this fundamental truth. It is the church which ought to be communicating the importance of incarnate fellowship. Being together in flesh is where the physical and spiritual most closely intersect, and we see this in the person and work of Christ. This is why the prevailing neo-Gnosticism is so concerning.

In a recent interview, Pastor Jeff Durbin highlighted that the two responsibilities we have as Christians toward one another are: (1) to love all our neighbours, and (2) to love all aspects our neighbours. Among other things, loving all people means loving everyone, including both those who are at risk of COVID-10, but also with those who are struggling due to the lockdowns. Loving all aspects of our neighbours means recognising that our neighbours are not just bags of cells that need protecting from a virus. The Scriptures are clear that our neighbours are eternal souls made in the image of God who were made for fellowship with God and one another (Genesis 1:27; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:24-25).

It also means that the economic welfare of our neighbours is critical to their physical health. We may even go so far to say that lockdowns may do more damage to the physical health and wellbeing of our neighbours than if they had not been implemented in the first place. The only weapon against the neo-Gnosticism is a Biblical understanding of man as a spiritual being made for fellowship with the living God and one another.

9 comments
  • Stephen Due

    Lockdowns do not save lives in a pandemic. This was known before they were imposed and has been shown by the abundant global data arising from the pandemic. There is, however, plenty of excellent evidence that lockdowns cause damage on a vast scale.
    The superficial utilitarian argument that lockdown is a way of showing ‘love’ to my neighbour is contingent upon the lockdown delivering some net benefit to my neighbour. Given the facts of the situation, this argument fails on scientific grounds.
    My experience in church during the pandemic has been that most church members are saturated with government/MSM propaganda and are completely deceived as to the nature of the pandemic. When one questions lockdowns they simply say “but people are dying”. Those who add a biblical justification to their stance are simply trying to embellish pagan utilitarianism with a fresh coat of religious paint.
    The Christian arguments that carried more weight with me were those with a focus on fending off curtailment of religious liberty. I was impressed by the people of Grace Community Church (pastor John Macarthur) who spontaneously kept meeting in accordance with Christ’s command. More liturgy-centred churches, including some Roman Catholic and some Anglican congregations, argued that the Eucharist cannot properly be celebrated remotely, and therefore stressed the need to meet in person for this purpose. In these matters neo-Gnosticism was leading others in the exact wrong direction.

  • Rebekah Meredith

    To me, the matter is simple. The Bible commands churches to assemble together (Hebrews 10:25). It teaches us that, while we are to obey the law, we must put God first (Acts 5:29). Example after example shows us God’s faithful respectfully doing just that (Daniel, the Jews rebuilding the temple–eventually, Peter and John, Paul, the unnamed saints of Hebrews 11).
    These are just some of the biblical examples; history affords us many more. I cannot understand what biblical argument there could be in FAVOUR of closing down church.
    But if we are AFRAID to risk fines–even imprisonment–for the sake of doing right, we have proved that we bear no similarity to the martyrs, past and present.
    And if we are unwilling to risk our all for Him Whom we call Lord–Who left heaven for us, died the worst of physical deaths, and endured the punishment for our sins in Himself–we are utterly unfit to call ourselves Christians, whether or not we are God’s children.

  • gray_rm

    Hi James. I have sympathy with the need for saving our souls, but with churches abdicating their responsibilities for that job, cheerfully locking up and locking out their congregation, maybe they render themselves unto Caesar?

    I do take issue with your comment “lockdowns do indeed curb transmission not only of COVID-19, but also of the common flu.”

    Lockdowns curb more than flu transmission. We shan’t die from an aeroplane crash, travel sickness, misadventure, over excitement etc. keeping everyone indoors stops death. But it also stops life.

  • Daffy

    Despite all its rhetoric about marching to the beat of a different drummer, the Christian church seems to fall into line with the popular drummer as soon as it can. Yet, the public Christians should push back at every opportunity. The CV-19 fatality numbers and the demographic/morbidity profile of fatalities tells us that the great lockup is irrelevant. This virus is mainly harmless!
    We are in a society where comfort, peace and wealth have given us an unwarranted fear of death!
    All said, the basic point of the churches’ resistance should be that people gather in communities, of whatever stripe, because we are made to socialise. We need each other, we need to mix, we need to talk to new people, It is essential! We need to meet and greet, we need to ‘fellowship’ in all sorts of ways at all sorts of levels. Governments in their blind pursuit of good media coverage are striking at the heart of our humanity and this can only bring harm broadly, pervasively and unrelentingly. To children particularly, to young workers, to uni students, to casual workers, to small employers, to people who find work their main social contact. It is cruel beyond belief and staggering in its one-eyed myopic view that life can be reduced to a hospital ward.

  • Elizabeth Beare

    No fight against contagion should be given primacy against showing a degree of humanity to individuals. We have had so many tales of horrors that have occurred in our society due to enforcement of ridiculous extremes of anti-contagion measures, where far less invasive choices were available to governments.
    Bureaucratic inhumanity recently became such that a man is refused entry to hospital to comfort his dying mother, even though agreeing to take due precautions with protective cover, while it is considered appropriate for medical staff to be near her doing the same precautionary things. And that is just one example of the many inhumane responses made that bear little or no rhyme or reason when it comes to fighting contagion.
    Denying the comfort of church services to the faithful who could also use protective gear to allow them to gather is another major mistake made.

  • lbloveday

    “We are in a society where comfort, peace and wealth have given us an unwarranted fear of death!”.
    .
    I think another major cause of that fear is that most no longer believe in an after-life, in heaven.

  • pgang

    ‘lockdowns do indeed curb transmission not only of COVID-19, but also of the common flu.’
    No, they don’t. Maybe if the entire global population was locked up in individual airtight boxes for a few years, but these ‘lockdowns’ are merely a form of social control, and ultimately achieve nothing. So what we are witnessing is the church once again paying homage to the deeply flawed mind of man, rather than Scripture.
    The single study referenced was from May 2020. I would call that a pretty selective database given where we are now, and the reasoning seems to be specious anyway (zones infected earlier had higher infection rates, but zones infected later had lower infection rates because ‘lockdowns’).
    If this had been a real pandemic, with people of all ages at serious risk, the church would have rendered itself unable to offer succour and meaning, and thus utterly futile.

  • Rebekah Meredith

    Surely much of the reason for the current madness is that man thinks that he can control everything. He feels that he is the only god he needs. When something arises that he cannot understand or control, he panics. Multiple times, now, individual states think they have conquered the Wuflu (aren’t we clever? aren’t we strong? aren’t we good? aren’t we wonderful?)–only to have it slip back out. There! we killed it again! Oops! it slipped back out; LOCKDOWN!
    To our shame, many Christians seem to follow this same mentality. While they still pray and look to God for help, in reality they are expecting a miracle from the government and medical authorities (certain of them, anyway). Last year, one of my aunties in the States, speaking in frustration about the mess in that country, said that America was looking at a vaccine as her salvation. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
    As heartless as it sounds, I hope that these variants keep increasing (especially as they are likely growing even less dangerous than the original) until many people acknowledge that man CANNOT control everything.
    And I pray that our current situation would finally cause God’s people to realise that closing church at government decree can never be honouring our Lord.

  • Bert White

    It is obvious that ALP politicians are using Covid to test the frontiers of restriction of human movement and free enterprise generally. It is obvious that ALP-allied public servants (that’s 80% plus of them) are doing likewise. And I believe that Lib and Nat government ministers are being BS-ed by ALP-allied public servants. And the ABC is doing what it can to provide smokescreens and diversion from all these malign activities. And “Covid” is the current Chinese Plague, of which many more varieties are coming. And I believe the ALP is partnering in all ways possible with the CCP.

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