Covid-19 and Church-Attending

Posted on July 28, 2020

26


By David Ettinger

Attend or Not Attend?
Perhaps the touchiest and most conscience-wrestling issue connected with Covid-19 for Christians is whether or not to attend church.

Here in the U.S., individual states differ in their laws allowing churches to stay open, and the restrictions imposed upon churches if attendance is permitted. Here in Florida, churches can operate rather freely. In California, attendance requirements are far more stringent.

So, the question is, during this worldwide pandemic, should Christians attend church or not?

Personal Beliefs
So much of the answer depends on the individual’s beliefs regarding the “legitimacy” of the coronavirus, mask-wearing, government intrusion into the lives of private citizens, and biblical teaching.

Not many people I know discard the coronavirus as a false sickness; it certainly is real! Regarding mask-wearing, opinions of its effectiveness run the gamut between lifesaving to a sham. I wear a mask whenever inside any public facility, but not when walking recreationally on empty streets or alone in my car.

Regarding government intrusion and church-attending, I understand the thinking. Close contact with many people increases the probability of contracting Covid-19, therefore attending church does increase the possibility of spreading the virus.

Those who favor closing churches, or at least imposing tight restrictions on attendance, would reason, If you contract Covid-19 from attending church, that’s fine – if you promise to stay in your home and never leave until it’s gone. But you’re not going to do that. You’re going to, at the least, go grocery shopping, and by so doing, you have the potential to spread the virus. As such, it’s safer not to go to church.

On the other side, many believe church-attending restrictions and bans are the first steps to closing churches in the battle against Christianity. I think this is legitimate.

Biblical Mandate
Then, of course, there is Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day [the return of Christ] approaching.”

Obviously, this biblical mandate does not include people who are sick, as they should stay home from church. But wouldn’t this also mean that in the face of a pandemic where people could catch a virus and die by attending church, that no one should attend church?

I believe this towering passage tells us that God wants our hearts in a place where we desire to meet and fellowship with other believers. God wants Christians “hanging out” together and worshiping Him with one voice. He also wants us serving and encouraging one another. But if so, and we obey this biblical mandate, would He not also grant us supernatural protection from the pandemic? I see no evidence of this.

Weak Conclusion
So, what’ my weak conclusion? I haven’t attended church since all of this began. As a cocky 40 year old I would have; now, as a humbled 62 year old, I’m way more cautious.

What about Hebrews 10:24-25? I’m in an enviable position. I work for a Christian ministry, Zion’s Hope, in Orlando, Florida. We have about 20 people here in the office and have weekly devotions. We practice social distancing, and have plenty of opportunity for “safe” Christian fellowship. We pray together, serve each other, and encourage each other daily, while being careful at the same time. We are fortunate!

Regarding Hebrews 10:24-25 for those of you not blessed as I am, I believe, first, we should have this verse’s mandate planted in our hearts, that we should want to fulfill it. Second, I believe that so long as our hearts are right with God and we desire to obey Him, we should apply both our hearts and minds to this very emotional issue.

We are all wired differently and must act in accordance with our conscience – so long as we fervently seek the Lord’s will, desire to please and obey Him, and, most importantly, are at peace with Him.

Not a very definitive solution, not that I believe there is one. What about you? I would love to know your views on this, and I know readers of this blog will read your comments on this “hot-button” issue. So please comment below!

May our Lord Jesus Christ fill you with His peace in these chaotic but extraordinary days!