It’s worth discussing Christian morality in the context of the annual coronavirus outbreak, I guess. I’m trying very hard to avoid the deluge of… three headlines, all of which are bullshit repeated to death. The Superbowl, which is reportedly a good show but irrelevant to everything. Trump’s impeachment, which is reportedly a bad show but irrelevant to everything. And China’s coronavirus, which is irrelevant to non-Chinese… to the point of speculation over whether it’s a bioweapon oopsie… why blame Big Brother when you can blame Third World sanitation?… and besides, this is flu season. Why must the annual flu season always be accompanied by pictures of hazmat workers in rebreathers? Yes, hundreds of people will die, most of whom are Baby Boomers who raised their daughters to hate men. Nobody will miss them, least of all the Democrat Party because the dead always vote Left.
Is It Faithful to Flee an Epidemic? What Martin Luther Teaches Us About Coronavirus
By Emmy Yang, 30 January 2020
“No Corona but Jesus!” Whew, got it out of my system.
From its epicenter in Wuhan, China, the current coronavirus outbreak is stoking fear and disrupting travel and business across the globe. More than 150 people have died from the virus in China alone, and more than 8,000 are infected across 20 countries—exceeding the SARS epidemic in 2003.
19 Countries don’t care enough to close their borders with China. Then again, 19 countries don’t care enough about blatant Chinese espionage to close their universities to China.
Citizens in Wuhan, a major central city comparable to Chicago…
A waggish tongue might point out that 150 dead in a month is, by Chicago standards, business as usual. You just catch a bullet instead of a bug. And like coronavirus, the plague of lead in Chicago is mostly limited to a certain ethnic group.
…are under lockdown by the government and public activities have come to a standstill, including annual celebrations for Chinese New Year (which began on January 25). Chinese Christians, in Wuhan and China at large, have faced difficult decisions about whether to join the millions of Chinese who return home to visit family (as is customary during the lunar holiday season), to flee from the mainland, or even to gather for regular Sunday services.
I’m shocked the first question is even asked. If your hometown far across the ocean is quarantined for a deadly plague then don’t visit to ‘celebrate’ the Year Of the Gawddamn Plague-Bearing Rat. This is neither a hard decision nor a moral decision.
The second is an easy moral decision. Fleeing plagues is how plagues get spread so don’t do it. I hope quarantine violators everywhere get shot on sight, shoved into a ditch and lit with a flamethrower. Publicly.
All one need do to survive a typical plague is wash his hands twice as often and don’t step in the shit. And don’t bother with those silly particle masks. Either you swap them VERY regularly or they’re just for show. Which might explain a lot: people spreading the plague while pretending to be acting sanitary, because of social pressure to conform. Sounds right for Asia.
And the third question, again, just wash your hands. Clean up the dog/bird/cat shit. God will understand if you cancel Communion for a couple months. When He said only the sick need the Doctor, that wasn’t what He meant.
But are followers of Jesus right to flee an epidemic when people are suffering and dying?
In the 16th century, German Christians asked theologian Martin Luther for a response to this very question.
In 1527, less than 200 years after the Black Death killed about half the population of Europe, the plague re-emerged in Luther’s own town of Wittenberg and neighboring cities. In his letter “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague,” the famous reformer weighs the responsibilities of ordinary citizens during contagion. His advice serves as a practical guide for Christians confronting infectious disease outbreaks today.
First, Luther argued that anyone who stands in a relationship of service to another has a vocational commitment not to flee. Those in ministry, he wrote, “must remain steadfast before the peril of death.” The sick and dying need a good shepherd who will strengthen and comfort them and administer the sacraments—lest they be denied the Eucharist before their passing. Public officials, including mayors and judges, are to stay and maintain civic order. Public servants, including city-sponsored physicians and police officers, must continue their professional duties. Even parents and guardians have vocational duties toward their children.
I miss the days when government gave a damn for the people it governed.
The early Roman Christians were known for going into quarantine zones to care for the sick. Not only did that gain them respect, the death toll was noticeably lower where the Christians went because even basic care for the sick improved survival rates.
Of course, many helpers died and reports that some were hoping to die are probably legit. If your religion might get you killed anyway then risking death by plague is old hat.
Luther did not limit tending the sick to health care professionals. In a time when Wuhan faces a shortage of hospital beds and personnel, his counsel is especially relevant. The city, one of China’s largest with a population of about 11 million, is in the process of rapidly constructing two new hospitals to accommodate growing crowds of coronavirus patients.
Bullshit. You can’t build a new hospital fast enough when you start after the plague does. A tent city a la military logistics is the best one can do and it’s a reasonable effort. Thus, the “new hospitals” are just the government pretending to care.
Lay citizens, without any medical training, may find themselves in a position of providing care to the sick. Luther challenges Christians to see opportunities to tend to the sick as tending to Christ himself (Matt. 25:41–46). Out of love for God emerges the practice of love for neighbor.
Valid. Refusing to care for one’s family makes a Christian worse than an unbeliever.
But Luther does not encourage his readers to expose themselves recklessly to danger. His letter constantly straddles two competing goods: honoring the sanctity of one’s own life, and honoring the sanctity of those in need. Luther makes it clear that God gives humans a tendency toward self-protection and trusts that they will take care of their bodies (Eph. 5:29; 1 Cor. 12:21–26). He defends public health measures such as quarantines and seeking medical attention when available. In fact, Luther proposes that not to do so is to act recklessly. Just as God has gifted humans with their bodies, so too he has gifted the medicines of the earth.
A legit teaching that the Cult of Nice desperately needs to hear. Stop with those short-term missionary trips to Ebolibia and start giving a damn about your own home!
What if a Christian still desires to flee? Luther affirms that this may, in fact, be the believer’s faithful response, provided that no emergency exists and that they arrange substitutes who will “take care of the sick in their stead and nurse them.” Notably, Luther also reminds readers that salvation is independent of these good works. He ultimately tasks them to decide whether to flee or to stay during plagues, trusting that they will arrive at a faithful decision through prayer and meditation on the Scriptures. Participation in aiding the sick arises out of grace, not obligation.
However, Luther himself was not afraid. Despite the exhortations of his university colleagues, he stayed behind to minister to the sick and dying. He urged his readers not to be afraid of “some small boils” in the service of neighbors.
Yep, that sounds like Luther.
Though God’s children face earthly sufferings, those who proclaim faith in Christ share in a heavenly promise of freedom from illness and suffering. In an open letter calling for prayer from Christians around the globe, an anonymous Wuhan pastor affirms “[Christ’s] peace is not to remove us from disaster and death, but rather to have peace in the midst of disaster and death, because Christ has already overcome these things.” Both Luther and the Wuhan pastor express the reality of suffering but recognize that death and suffering do not have the final word.
Why can’t America have pastors like that? Ours are all women and Social Justice Pansies.
This week, my grandparents in China messaged me that they are well but are dwelling “like rats” in their apartment, leaving only when necessary. Incidentally, in the Chinese Zodiac system, 2020 is the Year of the Rat—the animal that spread pestilence-carrying fleas across Europe in the 14th century.
The other way to celebrate the Chinese New Year!
My grandparents live west of Wuhan in the province of Sichuan, where more than 100 coronavirus cases have been confirmed. I cannot help but think of them and my other relatives living in China at this time. Hoping to send them masks now out of stock in many stores throughout Asia, my parents and I discovered this week that even US stores have been depleted.
I’ve noticed the mask-wearing thing becoming popular in California, I think partly because we have a long-standing Chinese population (originally imported to build the Transcontinental Railroad) and partly as a fashion statement by Social Justice Warriors whose “communal living standards” demonstrate a shocking ignorance about how disease is spread. Hence my suspicions about mask-wearing being virtue-signaling.
In downtown Los Angeles, you’d do better to wear hip waders, but then you’d look like a redneck from the bayou. Socially ungood!
In a climate of fear surrounding the outbreak, I come back to Luther’s letter for guidance. As a medical student and a future physician, I have a clear vocational commitment to caring for the sick—whether they have coronavirus, tuberculosis, or influenza. Precautions I will take, yes. But I am reminded by Luther that they are individuals deserving of care all the same.
The author attends both seminary and medical school. She could save a lot of money by obeying Christ and staying out of the clergy.
“When did we see you sick?” ask the righteous in the parable of the sheep and the goats, to which Jesus responds, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:39–40). If and when the coronavirus encroaches upon our communities, how will we faithfully respond?
We make like Pilate and wash our hands.