This is part of a series of reflections in TCW for Holy Week.
ST PAUL said of those who were near and dear to him but who rejected Christ that they were ‘going about to establish their own righteousness [and] have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God’ (Romans 10:3). This is what non-believers always do. They seek to establish an alternative standard by which to live and reject God’s appointed method of salvation. They imagine that they can make themselves good people by conforming to a fashionable man-made consensus.
In today’s Britain, conformity to lockdown restrictions has taken on a distinctly religious nature. It is an attempt by a God-ignoring nation to ‘establish its own righteousness’, to prove that it is caring and compassionate, and that its only concern is for the good of others.
This is why the country has been so compliant with economy-destroying restrictions. A continuous stream of media pressure has forced people into believing that lockdowns are morally good, which is why this misconception is religious in nature. Society has been accepting of a shutdown of all normal activity precisely because many believe it to be a moral and spiritual imperative. At the same time, there has been a side-lining of those who disagree as heretics at variance with the mainstream ‘fact-based’ orthodoxy.
All this is a direct result of the failure by the nation to humble itself before God, and to trust to His providential control over people’s physical health. Instead society has embraced the idea, which is bordering on the idolatrous, that the State is responsible for each individual’s health.
Added to this misplaced trust is the flawed notion that governments and their advisers possess, through human ingenuity, the power to control and eradicate viruses. In other words, the nation’s response to Covid-19 displays nothing less than an outright rejection of the sovereignty of God over the circumstances of men, including disease. Britain’s response represents a thoroughly secularist assertion that man in the 21st Century must never be regarded as a mere creature who will always remain susceptible to the effects of the Fall.
The truth is that in this fallen world in rebellion against God viruses will always exist. Yes, of course we endeavour to alleviate any suffering which they cause, and we must take a few sensible precautions to contain them, but God does not require that we do so at the price of destroying all normal human interaction, separating families and taking away people’s livelihoods.
The Christian, therefore, must challenge the lockdown principle on Bible-based ethical grounds, one of the most fundamental of which is that God made us for human communication. Lockdowns prevent people from meeting one another and engaging in the interaction which is integral to human existence.
Lockdowns must be challenged because God has ordained that the duty of care for one’s neighbour should not be qualified and weakened by a pecking order of those who are eligible for that care. The apostle Paul writes, ‘I charge thee before God . . . that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality’ (1 Timothy 5:21). This means that in respect of caring for the sick we cannot have a grading of human ailments so that one particular virus takes priority over all other illnesses. On what ethical basis is one disease deemed to be more important than others?
The Daily Mail reported last week that some 4,500 avoidable cancer deaths will occur this year due to delays in test and screening procedures. The British Heart Foundation tells us that far more people in England are now waiting over a year for a heart operation than before the onset of Covid-19. The Christian position must be that those with heart and cancer issues are equally worthy of rapid care and treatment.
Another factor making acceptance of the lockdown principle so difficult for the Christian again relates to God’s providence. Every morning the believer wakes up and thanks God for the new day, and if he is healthy and able to go out to work, that is a providential blessing which must not be spurned. To tell healthy people not to go to their work cannot be defended on Biblical grounds. Not to work, when one is able to, represents a tragic waste of precious God-given time. Indeed, Scripture actually commands us to go to our work (see, for example, 2 Thessalonians 3:10).
The Christian is always concerned about embracing truth and never knowingly condoning falsehood. This puts him or her directly at odds with the Government’s Covid advertising, which tells us to ‘act like you’ve got it’. For someone who has no symptoms whatsoever to act as if he is infected is knowingly to live out a falsehood. This is not compatible with the walk of faith which praises God for the blessing of health, and which desires to live only according to that which is true.
Lockdowns actively hinder the dissemination of God’s truth. They prevent Christian preachers from doing exactly what they are commanded to do, and that is to go into the places of public concourse and to physically meet people to tell them about salvation in Christ (Mark 16:15). The forces of ‘spiritual wickedness’ must be very pleased with the introduction of lockdowns (Ephesians 6:12).
The Bible-believing Christian realises that even men of great intellect, skilled in their particular area of scientific study, nevertheless have minds which are influenced by their worldview, making complete impartiality impossible. Therefore, the Christian has a duty to be discerning, and not automatically accepting, when Government experts make their pronouncements.
Because our society is a God-rejecting society, it is overwhelmed by excessive fear, a fear which is inevitable when men foolishly think in respect of a widespread virus that the State and its agencies are the only possible saviour. The destructive consequences of lockdown policies expose our nation’s spiritual plight, and its reaping of what it has sown in its wholesale rejection of the God of Providence who manifests Himself in the Lord Jesus Christ.