Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. -- Romans 13:1-7 (ESV)
Faith is not the absence of reason yet so many Christians are abandoning sound reason every day to chase NAR narratives of a church persecuted because they are asked to not hold Sunday services temporarily. The poster child for this persecution? The Holy Ghost Bartender himself, Rodney Howard Browne. Never mind that he is a rank heretic leading people to hell. Never mind that he is the father of the holy laughter debacle. Never mind that he held service against the county order as public relations stunt and actually "preached" that day about government conspiracy theories. Nope. He is the guy people want to plant their flag around. THAT is how much the NAR dominionism has corrupted sound theology in these end days.
Let us clear up some of the disinformation put out there by NAR leaning operatives and the Liberty Counsel, who is representing RHB. There is no violation of the constitution. Now now, slow down. I used to teach American Government. The rights enumerated for us in the constitution are not beyond restriction. The right to assemble and free speech are the same amendment that gives us our freedom of religion. Yet you still cannot yell fire in a crowded theater if there is no fire. The public good outweighs your individual right for expression. The Supreme Court ruled the exact same way when it comes to the question at hand. The government can decide it is in the public good to ban public gatherings so long as they are not discriminatory in doing so. In other words, if the government said Christian churches could not meet but Islamic Mosques could, THAT would be a violation of the constitution.
The greater point however is not carnal in nature, as are such constitutional arguments. The greater point is that this is not even infringing on the church at all. It is merely saying that temporarily we need to not gather publicly, lest we spread the virus further. This is now on display in Illinois, where a church held a gathering of 80 people and now 43 of them are sick with ten confirmed COVID cases. Does this temporary ban somehow change the nature of the body of Christ? Of course not. We can still meet virtually, a luxury the church did not have when it was banned from meeting during the Spanish flu. If this is somehow not acceptable to you, that is the mega church mindset that has infiltrated the church over the past few decades. The original church met house to house and the bible says that where just two or three are gathered He is there. We do not need a stadium, smoke machines, rock bands, and a celebrity pastor to have church. WE are the church.
A great deal of this disagreement revolves around people who do not know what they are talking about pretending that they are experts. The Liberty Counsel actually suggested that pastors should have the discretion for how to protect their congregation while they continue to hold public gatherings. Are you insane? Before you proffer your opinion on public health matters I would like to see your credentials. Right now we have a virus that is killing tens of thousands of people with over a million and a half infected. Please, do not show me memes about mortality rates that you know darn well you do not understand. The true mortality rate is known AFTER the pandemic, not in the middle of it. Basic entry level statistics teaches you that.
The greater point however is not carnal in nature, as are such arguments over statistics. The greater point for us as Christians is that no death should be acceptable for being sloppy, self-centered and uninformed. Are you aware that you can walk around for more than two weeks with the virus before showing symptoms? Or that others will have it and remain completely asymptomatic? I had someone arguing today that it was stupid to quarantine healthy people. No. what is stupid is assuming everyone without symptoms must be healthy. That is dangerously stupid. Even if the mortality rate ends up at one percent would you eat a jelly bean from a jar with 100 and one of them laced with deadly poison? Or is your position that you do not think you will be the one in the hundred? Because you are not over 50 or have underlying medical conditions. Well first of all, plenty of healthy young people have died as well from this virus. Secondly, is that really your Christian argument? Oh well it is only the older people? It is only the sickly? What bible are you reading? Even if you believe all of the silly NAR conspiracy theories -- that this was concocted by Bill Gates, that it is a plot to make sure Trump is not reelected, that the medical experts trying to save your life are secretly deep state operatives. Even if you believe all that, do you deny the existence of the virus? Is it not killing people? How exactly is loving your neighbor forcing them to go back to work before it is under control, having them contract it, and then die? Oh and for the die hard skeptics, do not forget pastor Spradlin from Virginia who called the uproar over the virus a mass hysteria to hurt President Trump, went to New Orleans to "cleanse it from its sin and debauchery" and then caught COVID. He never made it home. This virus does not care about your political leanings, truth doubting, or stock portfolio. You need to turn on real news and listen to people on the front lines talk about watching these people die, alone. Then ask yourself what would Jesus do?
Would Jesus be worried about permanent damage to the economy? His stock investments? Would he be worried about the election this November? Or would he be worried about the sick and dying? Go get your bible if you need to. While we are at it, what happened to the pro-life people? The very same people thumping their bibles all year long are now ok with people dying as long as they are old and sick? Then you wonder why people think Christians are hypocrites? The very same people who cling to Romans 13 if anyone dares criticize their president, now seem to think that passage doesn't exist. In the same argument today it was offered that Romans 13 gives the government to punish the wicked, not define wickedness. Hmmm, that does not seem to be what the key verses say:
* Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities
* For God instituted all authorities
* If you resist what God has appointed, then you incur judgment
Now, I happen to agree that Romans 13 is not the end all. The problem is the people arguing the loudest against common sense always wield Romans 13 against any warranted criticism of this president. It is like saying obey your authorities! Unless I disagree with what they say! It does not work that way and the hypocrisy is not lost on the world. Let us however entertain this carnal argument that Romans 13 is secretly about punishment and not defining wickedness. Within the context of this discussion, the inference being made is that it is wicked to demand churches temporarily stop public gatherings to make sure less people end up dying. Wicked. Once again, are you insane? This is what happens when you start to believe you are more important then the Gospel. The Gospel does not need a building in downtown Tampa. If you are so offended, go volunteer at a local hospital to speak to dying patients about our Lord and Savior. Put your immune system where your mouth is.
Listen, these are stressful times and I understand we are all on edge. The reality is that there is a virus and it is killing a lot of people. If the people who went to school to study these things recommend I stay at home, then I will use wisdom with my faith and stay at home. It bothers me not one whit that mega church heretics cannot meet and gather their tithes. Not even a little. Real pastors will use this time strategically for prayer and outreach and probably use modern technology to stay connected. So no offense but if your degree is not in virology, epidemiology, or public health, do not weigh in on matters you do not understand. You will end up killing people. Yeah maybe only one percent of the total you gather to your church but try explaining that one to Jesus on the Judgment Day.