I have done a Bible study about the COVID 19 Virus and I wanted to get your thoughts on it. I was recently asked if I think that “meeting on line” would satisfy the command from when God said “Do not give up meeting together as some are in the habitat of doing but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day approaching,” (Hebrews 10:25). I said I would need to pray and ask God and study it out in the Bible. Here is what I came up with. Please tell me what you think. True Christians can not give up meeting together for fear of sickness. God said to Joshua in chapter 1 verse 9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Jesus said in Luke 14:33 “Those of you who do not give up everything you have (which includes your bodily health, Romans 12:1) cannot be my disciples.” “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:26) you cannot be my disciples.We know the Bible teaches that the soul is where the spirit and the body meet. The body and spirit are not separate so long as we are alive in the body. Now, some of us think that we can “meet online.” If faith without works is dead that means that what our body does is how we worship God as it states in Romans 12:1. If we can’t separate body and spirit then we are fooling our selves into thinking we are “meeting online.” When in fact God said we must “give up everything to follow him.’ (including your health) in Luke 14:33. Also Jesus said Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” (Matthew 9:12) Also, the idea of quarantining the sick comes from God in the Old Testament Law of Moses (Leviticus 13). However, God said “work for 6 days a week and on the 7 day rest.” (Genesis). God never advised quarantining people who were not sick or at least at major risk. What do you think?
About meeting on line, I have already been involved in on-line group meetings. I have to say that they are not as satisfying as face-to-face meetings. However, I am sure that God is perfectly well pleased if we meet through Zoom as if we meet face-to-face. We have been offering on-line services for those who cannot attend for years. Is that a sin? God is not a legalist. Besides, if we meet face-to-face now, we will be guilty of putting our fellow members and our guests in great danger of sickness and death. This is a scientific fact. Would you want to be personally responsible for one of your members or one of your guests dying because you called for a group church meeting? What about older members, who have a far higher likelihood of dying. Are you willing to be responsible for their death? There was a group recently in Florida (I believe it was Florida, and there was another example in Kentucky) who had a large group meeting despite the ban on such meetings and they made Christianity look very foolish. I was so embarrassed to see them flaunting government attempts to slow the spread of the virus. By the way, if Christians meet at this point, they will endanger non-Christians as well. If we spread this among ourselves, this will also cause those outside our fellowship to be put in more danger. I could not blame them if they resented such irresponsible behavior endangering their lives. Romans 13:1-5 is a clear mandate that we obey governing authorities. Of course, I understand that there are exceptions (we must obey God rather than men when it comes to sharing the gospel), but, given that we still can meet on-line, this is not a big ask on the part of those trying to save lives. In Turkmenistan the church was ordered to not meet in groups of more than two, and when two met, they could not have a Bible in their hands. They complied with this order for six years, after which they were given legal status, and the church grew during this time.
By the way, you are taking Matthew 9:12 out of context. Jesus is talking about the spiritually sick and the spiritually healthy in this case. The physical example he is using, of course, is the man born blind, but Jesus is making a spiritual, not a physical application in this case. To apply this to Covid-19 is to take this passage out of context. In Romans 12:1-2 he is using “bodies” metaphorically. He is telling us to present our lives as a willing sacrifice. I suppose this also includes our bodies, but that is not the principle point Paul is making. Therefore, I believe you are taking Romans 12:1-2 out of context as well. I am not sure you are taking Luke 14 or James 2 out of context, but I do not believe this means that I am not a committed disciple if I meet online in order to avoid endangering lives and to obey the government. That is a bit of a stretch for these passages as well. We should be willing to risk our lives if that is required to spread the gospel–true–but to say this means we are not committed because, temporarily, we do not meet together physically in order to save lives does not seem to me that we are not fully devoted to Christ. As for Joshua 1, it is true that we should be strong and courageous, but it is not true that we should be foolish. To take individual risks to bring the gospel to others (or to conquer the Land God gave to Israel) is one thing. I have done that myself, but to do something unnecessary and dangerous in order to prove how committed we are is not a good application of God’s command to Joshua to be strong and courageous. That is how I view the use of this passage in the context of meeting in large groups right now.
You are right that quarantine is introduced in the Old Testament. In fact, when quarantine was introduced in the sixteenth century in Europe, it was able to nearly eliminate leprosy in Europe. Quarantine works. That is why we use it. The difference in this case is rather obvious. Leprosy as a disease is only slightly contagious. Only a lot of exposure over great periods of time is likely to cause another to get sick. Besides, until one has very obvious symptoms, the patient is not contagious. With Covid-19, the case is different. It is VERY contagious, and a person without symptoms can spread the virus. Therefore, quarantining of only those we know have the disease simply does not work. This is a scientific fact. Thank-you God for giving us the idea of quarantine, but we need to listen to the scientists and the facts in this case, which is that this is a far more contagious disease that can spread among those without symptoms. Please do not encourage believers to disobey the orders of the government in this case. I am glad that you have the courage to be willing to die for your beliefs, but do not ask others to do so unnecessarily or unwillingly. In Bakersfield we are having on-line services, as are all the churches in our fellowship in the US.