The difference between kindness and compliance

Like every other community, the church was fractured by the conflicts of 2020. Most Christians followed gubernatorial edicts whether they personally agreed with them or not: mask up, keep your kids home from school, close your business.

The argument went like this: to be a good Christian, you love people and act like a nice person. You wear the mask to protect others. You honor your legislators.

You comply.

Here’s the problem.

Jesus was not into complying for the sake of it. Jesus told inconvenient truths, knocked over tables, lost his temper in the face of hypocrisy and harmful policy.

If the virus really were deadly, then masking up would be the Christian thing to do. But for those of us who understand that it is not, the Christian thing to do is to get back to living in the beautiful world God created for us.

If early Christians had complied in the time of Roman rule, the religion might not have survived the Empire. Rome demanded that everyone at least paid lip service to the idea that Caesar was God. When a Christian was arrested and refused, they were often brutally murdered in a public spectacle.

These Christians who died for their faith were—and still are—called “martyrs,” a word that means “witnesses.” They’re called witnesses because that’s exactly what they were doing through their deaths: witnessing to their love for God and their friendship with him—their faith. – Loyola Press

I’m not suggesting anyone sacrifice themselves to be eaten by lions. I am simply stating: There is a big difference between doing what you’re told to do, and doing what is right.

Ideally one’s society is relatively just, so that one can engage in it peacefully without needing to ask oneself constantly, “Is this rule good?” But when one does encounter bad rules or unjust laws, one engages is what is called civil disobedience. The peaceful resistance of bad rules. It is a time-honored practice.

Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. – Henry David Thoreau

In this podcast from 2018, The Gospel Coalition argues that Christians are obligated to engage in civil disobedience when the law asks them to do something that directly opposes Scripture. I don’t think TGC is applying that principle to the shutdown this way, but I will: It follows that we must disobey a rule that prevents us from gathering to worship.

Moreover we have a moral obligation to continually discern the value of legislation. Our government is not an empire; our legislators serve us. They are obligated to justify their work to us, not the other way around.

The quarantine rules and masking are causing rising depression, abuse, and divorce rates. We must recognize and act upon the recognition these rules do more harm than good, promote corruption over the Constitution, and are based on a total lack of faith.

Let’s look around us and admit this is hurting our kids, our families, our communities, our churches, and our economy.

The time to overturn tables is now.

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