What to do about COVID-19 restrictions

Last week I posed the question: when should Christians disobey their government? Or, to put it more specifically, why have our elders chosen to comply with the ongoing and increasing restrictions placed upon our church in response to COVID-19?

Last week I argued that Christians should reserve civil disobedience for those situations when the laws of men directly contradict the laws of God. If our government demands we do something God forbids or prohibits something God commands, we have no other choice but to “obey God rather than men.” In all other cases, however, Christians must bend over backward to comply with their civil authorities.

Additionally, I would suggest that Christians must reserve civil disobedience for those situations where nothing less than the gospel itself is threatened. For example, if our government makes it illegal to claim that Jesus is the only way to God, we would reject that law as an obvious assault on the gospel. Jesus Himself said, “No one comes to the Father but by me.” Or if a law passes which changes the definition of “hate speech” to include any talk of “sin,” we would not submit to that law. Rather, we would continue to preach the gospel—even the claim that Jesus came to save sinners. (Like us!)

Bottom line: in Christian civil disobedience, the gospel is the issue.

Not the American way of life.

American civil liberties are wonderful blessings, but they are not all gospel issues.

The Bill of Rights is a fantastic blessing, not only to Christians, but to all Americans in general. We thank God for these freedoms and the others that are part of our national heritage. I would even argue that most of these rights are very clearly based on a Christian worldview, and we should cherish and protect them through every lawful means available to us.

And yet, the American way of life and the gospel are not the same thing! Mask wearing, for example, might be a civil liberties issue; but it’s clearly not a gospel issue. Hence, we fully support wearing masks, and we request that you would, too. The size of our Sunday crowds, Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas parties, whether care groups meet in homes or at the church building—none of these force us to surrender ground claimed by Jesus in the gospel. It might feel unAmerican to follow some of these guidelines, but it certainly shouldn’t feel unChristian.