I’ve had a lot of Christian friends basically ignore any health precautions (and a handful of them got “sicker than they’ve ever been in their life”) and some of their motivation is that they were not going to fear the virus or let it control their lives but they fear God alone. However, I began thinking about some similarities between what it means for me to “fear God” and how “fear of the virus” is similar to this…
Side note: for someone to even suggest they “fear a virus” like they “fear God” will cause some people to freak out inside. But my thought here is that while we can quibble over words, the dynamics are actually pretty similar.
Some things that the fear of God means and doesn’t mean (non-exhaustive, non-academic list):
- Fear of God generally isn’t outright terror, but an attitude of reverence and respect as this one website notes.
This reverence and respect lead to a number of outcomes:
- We modify our behavior in light of this fear. We are more willing to deny ourselves for the sake of loving God and loving others.
- We take the things that God says more seriously than we naturally would without this fear.
- This fear is the beginning of wisdom and it leads to fruitful outcomes when followed.
You can easily translate this sort of thing to a Christian perspective on COVID-19:
- You are willing to modify your behavior because of the virus, being more willing to deny yourself for the sake of loving others. I made this argument in my face mask article back in June: https://biologos.org/articles/walking-by-faith-and-wearing-a-mask/.
- You don’t downplay or minimize the virus as if its no big deal but take it seriously. It might not lead to horrible outcomes instantly for you, but there can be bad fruit along the chain of transmission. When we sin and don’t follow God’s wisdom, there can be immediate consequences, but sometimes we don’t see them right away. It’s like how some people go to sin and they were like, “Woah, I didn’t get smitten right away, this wasn’t so bad after all.”
- Having “fear” of the virus is the beginning of wisdom for navigating our world in the present and without this fear, it will be difficult to make wise choices personally and on a public scale.
Now of course, there are some differences between “fearing” a virus and “fearing” God, but it can be a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of SARS-COV-2. The pastor who did my wedding is currently intubated with his organs shutting down. But of course ultimately, we are exhorted to fear the one who after killing the body, is able to cast into hell (Luke 12:5) which is something viruses can’t do.
What do you think? Do you think these similarities are legitimate or helpful for Christians to have a better perspective on this pandemic? Or do you think people will get too caught up on how “fearing” the virus can be a good thing?