Do you fear SARS-COV-2 like you fear God?

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?

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And some other ways that should help people cultivate a healthy “fear of the virus” might be …

I fear the virus like I fear being hit by a moving vehicle as I walk across a street.
or…
Fear the virus like you fear injury from an auto accident as you fasten your seatbelt.

or even more to the point in caring for others…

Be attentive to what COVID does in the same way that you (or at least some of you!) choose to drive reasonable and legal speeds and obey traffic regulations because you not only don’t want to be injured yourself, but you don’t want to injure or kill others either.

It is interesting how some try to lump fear of God into the same category as fearing disease. I think it is just a rhetorical device using the different meanings of a word to advance a position, as it is really not a valid comparison, as Merv and Matthew have pointed out.
It gets a little blurry if you take the view some have, who see Covid as judgement and punishment, as Job’s friends did. To avoid Covid then becomes failure to respect and accept God’s judgement, a failure to repent of sin, and becomes a sin itself. I think that may be where some find themselves, and why it becomes such an emotional issue, not one of reason.

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As I don’t fear God in the phobic sense or because He might not be Love after all, I fear Covid and the joys of aging and feral pubescent boys in the park infinitely more.

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I don’t fear God. I have reverence and love for God.
And I don’t fear the SARS-COV-2 because God gave us an immune system. We only need to make sure it is working by recognizing that with any infection the danger is within. Thus my immune system would set to work and obliterate the virus. It doesn’t stand a chance and I am over 70.

I don’t believe in that sort of “fear of God.” I don’t believe in a God who rules by fear like a devil or the mafia. And I certainly don’t think God is some random killer let alone a soul destroying monster. There is no one who loves us more. There is only one sort of fear of God I believe in, and that is due to the fact that we cannot control or manipulate Him. This was illustrated quite well by C. S. Lewis in the Silver Chair.

“Are you not thirsty?" said the Lion.
“I am dying of thirst,” said Jill.
“Then drink,” said the Lion.
“May I — could I — would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.
The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
“Will you promise not to — do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.
“I make no promise,” said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.
“Do you eat girls?” she said.
“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.
“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.”

He loves us on His terms according to His correct understanding of reality and not according to our foolish irrationalities. More than any human parent He knows all too well what is in our best interest. So although I do not believe He will force what is best on us, I do believe He is not going to cooperate or contribute to our self-destruction just because we insist on it. Like a patient confronting a surgeon what is best includes surrendering ourselves to His care, and until we do that there isn’t much point and certainly there would never be any point in catering to our nonsensical demands.

Some might prefer the word respect for this and when we understand God better that is a good word for it. But for some who have a hard time surrendering control over things to anyone, fear might be a better word for what they actually experience – not to mention the fact that going under a surgeon’s knife is never without some degree of fear.

So how does that feel?

Have you had some success helping people to take the virus more seriously? Our friends from church sent my wife a message their son got a fever the day before their trip and they brought COVID-19 with them to a big family gathering. They said they were really glad they were with family when they had COVID-19.

Definitely giving yourself a leg up by being in good health is a great approach, but some things you can’t control.

For example the CDC lists:

Some of these could take years to get under control, others are out of your control and so there’s only so much you could do.to ensure the virus “doesn’t stand a chance.”

It’s hard to tell. I should think (hope) that my puny efforts in this regard should be as nothing compared to their exposure to news of reality itself - hundreds of thousands of deaths. Among my own small set of colleagues, I don’t think there are still any outright deniers of the whole debacle, but as to how much that has translated into willing behavior change on the part of some - is far from clear to me. I don’t follow them around for the purpose of judging, so they might adhere to recommendations more than I know.

I feel like a simple way would also be to fear the virus like you would fear other viruses. If we woke up and had a 101°f fever and was throwing up would we visit our grandparents? Would we want to go to a restaurant? It’s not a perfect analogy.

I don’t think saying fear it like God will go over well with fundamentalists in general who disregarded the basics of science.

I literally met a guy in person who was saying he always wondered how the anti christ would be brought into the picture. He felt safe because he did not imagine anyone would be forced to get chips in his lifetime but now he sees it. The three stars of the Mark of the beast will be the dots left from vaccines snd that everyone has to get three leaving three marks. The guy was convinced this was real. Someone like that won’t pay attention if they even think you’re suggesting testing a virus like you fear god.

What’s to fear if you have God? I mean really… what’s the end game? Are we to live in fear? If getting others infected is the crime here then don’t go out w/o precautions. Because anyone could get you infected, or killed for that matter! And probably more often than C19 will. Personally, I’ve been in contact w/ 4 people (that I know of) that were infected, or shortly thereafter. I didn’t get sick. Did it scare me? No. I have no fear of this virus. Nor anything else in life. Something may startle or scare me briefly but I never let fear set in or take hold of me. For God has control of everything in my life. But what does concern me is what this virus is doing to our minds as a country. And we’ve totally given in to people that stir fear in us. The same people that believe in science instead of God. So, no… I ONLY fear God. Because He is worthy of fear. No one, or nothing else is. Amen

P.S. “IF” you can sincerely do this; the next time you get sick, or hurt in any way…offer it up to God as a sacrifice. To do what He wills with it. And see what happens. The least of which will be Peace. His, Peace. Amen

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Firstly, in my opinion, a lot of the advice given is not helpful for people who have some medical condition. And they should know better because a nocebo effect is well known in medicine and can eventuate from what a person is told by a doctor. This is seen in clinical trials. People in the control arm with the old drug display side effects of the new drug.

Secondly they know full well that most people with some medical condition are stressed. So they are likely to have suppressed immunity to some extent. That is the key. How to regain full immunity.

And thirdly, one can take full control over many of these problems from my experiences, but this is not the place for such discussion.

The biggest fear I’ve seen is from people afraid the government will take away their rights.

Having a healthy respect for real danger is not “living in fear”. You wouldn’t jump out of an airplane without a parachute, right? You have a healthy respect for the danger of gravity and a drop from very high up.

I’m living my life without fear, but I’m modifying my behavior to keep myself and others from getting sick. I’m thankful to have found a congregation that’s meeting completely outside. They have no plans to go inside anytime soon, even through the winter. It’s been really nice worshiping together in “God’s building”. We’re distanced, and many of us wear masks during the service (everyone wears one coming and going). I really don’t understand people who won’t wear a mask because they think it shows fear. That makes no sense whatsoever. And I’ve noticed that the people that are staunchly anti-mask are usually the ones listening to heavily partisan talk radio and podcasts and such that thrive on stirring up fear of losing freedoms, fear of the government taking away their ability to worship God (which makes me laugh, because the current president doesn’t go to church, but the incoming president goes regularly). Partisan websites and talk shows and podcasts and such make their money by stirring up fear.

I wear a mask because I care about the people around me and want them to stay with me longer.

By the way, speaking of modifying activities, I was talking to an elderly lady at church this week, and she mentioned that she has a fire pit in her yard. She keeps hot dogs and stuff to make smores on hand so she can invite her elderly friends over to have a weenie roast at the fire pit. They can stay distanced and socialize in person while keeping fairly safe outside. Such a great idea. We just have to think outside the box sometimes. :slight_smile:

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Is it living in fear to drive on the right side of the road (in the U.S.)? I fear SARS-CoV-2 like I fear driving on the left side into oncoming traffic. My life is spent in terror. XD ; – ) I also brush my teeth, if you get the analogy. I will brush them even if you don’t get it. :grin: :mask:

I tested positive for Covid in early November. I’ve no idea how, where, or from whom I contracted it even though I had taken all the necessary precautions. My immediate reaction was not just fear but terror; a dose of harsh reality. It impacted my mindset in a way I did not expect.
I was fearful of Covid because I was carrying a virus that made me realize the absolute fact that, unchecked, my immediate actions could most certainly infect my family and those I inadvertently or otherwise came in contact with. My actions could lead to another person’s illness, hospitalization, or death. It is THAT real.
God blessed me with a relatively mild case, but I am still having negative impacts from it. Fortunately no one else in my field of contact became infected.

Do I fear God more than Covid? Absolutely not. God is Love and, as believers, i believe God expects us to do EVERYTHING in our power to prevent this virus from impacting those around us. Wearing masks, distancing, etc does not mean you fear the disease but rather that you love those in you community enough to do your part in mitigating it’s spread.

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Abstract:
During the COVID-19 pandemic, state and local governments implemented lockdown restrictions that were tremendously polarizing. Those on the cultural and political left supported restrictions hoping to protect the vulnerable, while those on the cultural and political right challenged restrictions citing threats to the economy and liberty. We theorize that libertarian and authoritarian impulses within Christian nationalism undergirded much of the resistance to government restrictions. Analyzing national panel data collected before and during the pandemic, we find Christian nationalism is either the first or second strongest predictor that Americans prioritize the economy and liberty and deprioritize the vulnerable when asked about government restrictions. Religiosity works in the opposite direction, however. Findings underscore the centrality of Christian nationalism as an ideological driver of far-right discourse shaping COVID-19 responses.

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