COVID, the Constitution, and the Church

Like millions around this nation and globe, I have watched a virus reign terror down upon us.  Or, is it our governments and medical professionals reigning terror down upon us?  Or is it both?

I am not a doctor or medical professional.  I have no idea how best to battle a pandemic, at least not from a medical perspective.  But I also have read enough to know that doctors around the world are not in agreement on the matter either.  The medical recommendations vary quite widely, depending upon the nation, or the worldview of the doctors giving the advice.  As usual, science, especially medical science dealing with the complexity of the human body, is anything but exact.  This is perhaps why medical professionals are urging governments to literally close everything down - because they realize they truly have no control over this invisible killer.

I also know the irony of our pro-abortion society, and others like us around the world, suddenly urging us all to sacrifice everything to spare as many lives as possible, is stratospheric.  If Darwin's theory is true, like our state-run educational systems and universities have insisted it is for 1o0+ years, then this virus is doing the human race a favor.  It is survival of the fittest, right?  And why work so hard and sacrifice so much for organized pond scum?  If we all came from a primordial worm-like creature, as this article purports ( then why are we scrambling to spare human lives?  We have professors at universities who have for decades taught our nation's leaders that a pig is a cat is a dog is a human (research some of Dr. Peter Singer's statements, for example).  But it turns out, during a pandemic we discover we cannot really live out that godless, atheistic Darwinian worldview.  We simply cannot extinguish the Doctrine of Man made in God's Image, no matter how much academia tells us it should be snuffed out.

The irony is even thicker, however, when we see States claiming abortion is an "essential service" while church assemblies and other needed medical procedures are not.  The state of North Carolina has determined law enforcement should arrest side-walk prayer warriors and counselors outside abortion clinics, even though they are not violating any CDC COVID-19 guidelines.  Meanwhile, inside those infanticide clinics, every code is being violated, including the ultimate one, "Thou shalt not murder."  Watch this insanity unfold here:

Seems to me the most lawless among us may well be our own governments!  As a former Marine Officer, I vowed to "Support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic."  I am not sure how best to fight politicians who trample our Constitution in the name of a pandemic or "the greater good."  This is the same argument that gave us Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.  It's how the eugenics movement has advanced around the globe for the last 100 years.  While I know there are many fantastic law enforcement officials all over this country, the fact that some will actually arrest peaceful Americans breaking no actual laws ought to disturb all of us greatly.

My own local county health department recently emailed pastors directly, telling us not to hold drive-in worship services until further notice.  When I pull into the parking lots at Wal-Mart or Dollar General, or get food at a Drive-Thru, or grab a carry out bag from a cashier, or pull up to a stop light in downtown Louisville with my window rolled down, I am much more at risk than anything happening at a church drive-in service.  Churches were targeted and there was so much push back that, thank God, our health department removed all those public website postings aimed at us.  If this kind of overreach and abuse of authority is happening in small-town Indiana, I can only imagine how bad it is in more populous regions.  Health Departments do not even make law!  So, as an American citizen I am very concerned about all the over-reach I see happening.  What we citizens allow our government to do, what rights we voluntarily give up, what trampling of the Constitution we permit, our government will not soon forget.  History does not lie to us in these matters.

Now, let me take a deep breath or two, and tell you as a local pastor I am very concerned to find the right balance here.  I want to protect my church, as every pastor I know does.  I do not want to do something that endangers their lives needlessly.  I am especially aware of our sweet, elderly saints who are most vulnerable to this virus.  We canceled worship services back in mid-March. We urged our older folks to stay home and let deacons deliver food or necessities to their door steps.  We have been using some online formats to do Bible studies.  We have called and texted and face-timed more.  We have tried to submit to our governing authorities, as the Lord requires (Romans 13).  I even quarantined my own family for 8-9 days when I suspected one of us may have been exposed.

But somewhere there is a line.  The early church recognized it.  When the governing officials required them to disobey or dishonor God Almighty, those first Christians said, "We ought to obey God rather than man" (Acts 5:29).  And they were willing to bear whatever consequences came.

A pastor in Florida was arrested for allowing members to congregate in violation of CDC and local guidelines.  While I strongly oppose this pastor's doctrine (he distorts the gospel), and I also think his actions were foolish, I am not so sure he should or even could be rightly arrested.  Not in America.  In China, yes.  But not in the USA.

Again, do not misunderstand me.  I do not think this is a time for pastors and churches to defy governing authorities.  At least not yet.  But there is a line out there somewhere . . . right?

Our Lord's expectations on us to "not forsake the assembling of ourselves together" combined with the dozens of "one another's" that simply cannot be obeyed virtually, digitally or online, tell all of us who love and follow our Risen King that we may have to cross that line sooner, rather than later.

Our hope is never in government.  Or medicine. Or technology.  Our hope is Christ Himself, crucified, risen, ascended, reigning in His church, and returning to rule the whole world.  Our short-term future looks bleak, dear Church.  But our long-term future is as bright as the Son in all His radiant glory (Revelation 22:1-5).

"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32).

by Keith McWhorter