It is true that there never in the history of the world has been a pandemic as the one that the world is now experiencing. We read in history that the Black Plague (Bubonic Plague) of the early 1300s took away, in some places of Europe, about one third of the population. But that plague did not extend globally into every population group of the world. It was not a pandemic as the present Covid pandemic that is now cursing humanity worldwide.
And then there was the “Spanish” flu (Influenza) pandemic of the early 1900s that possibly took the lives of at least fifty million people worldwide. The world at that time was connected globally with travel only on ships that moved slowly around the world. But the Influenza pandemic also, as the Black Plague, was limited, both geographically and in the devastation of humanity.
The impact of the Covid virus, on the other hand, is global. Not one nation of the world is escaping its carnage. The reason for this is quite simple. We live in a travel-oriented world that is connected by passenger airliners. Added to this is the fact that there are more people living today than when earlier pandemics swept across the face of the earth. And unfortunately, the majority of the population of the world today lives in clusters of people in large cities. People are clumped up in cities as opposed to the more rural population of the world until modern times.
Therefore, we are living in apprehensive times, that on the part of governments, assumes some decisive action. However, it is in times like these that autocratic leaders often arise among us, and subsequently slip in their mandates that often infringe upon the freedom of the individual citizens. Nevertheless, in times of war, society must have decisive leadership. For example, it is often in many countries of the world today as it is with President Museveni, who has been president of Uganda since 1986. In reference to the present pandemic, he stated to the people of Uganda:
“We are today in a war against this [Covid] virus. And in a war you have no human rights. Therefore, when the vaccination is available in your area, line up and take the jab.”
And certainly in a global war in which we are now engaged against the Covid virus, the President’s words are indicative of those who would use the occasion for their own autocratic adventures in democratic societies. Nevertheless, in times of “war,” leaders must make mandates to protect the people. Without the approval of a legislative congress, Museveni took action as an autocratic leader, though he had his people foremost in his mind.
When the Covid pandemic began the first of 2020, Uganda shut down all their schools throughout the country. When they recently reopened after being closed for two years, an interviewed teacher on international news said, “Don’t worry, we will be back to our normal educational level in three years.”
To the Ugandans, the sacrifice of two years of avoiding contact spreading of the Covid virus in schools was worth the lives of thousands of parents and grandparents throughout the nation. And when these students grow into adulthood, they will be thankful that class was dismissed for two years for the sake of their parents and grandparents. (Fortunately, these children do not live as Western children. During the two-year school closure, there were gardens to keep and livestock to herd.)
In times of social crisis (war and pandemics), politicians of necessity sometimes become dictators by ignoring legislative control over a people. When politicians ignore, or bypass, an elected congress, it is then that democracy is threatened, if not terminated, as with Nazi Germany of the past. Democracy is threatened because autocratic dictators often change the rules in order to keep their power. True democratic leaders, on the other hand, allow the people to change them when they go wrong.
In times of war we need decisive leaders. But when the war is over, it is often difficult for decisive leaders to relinquish the power that they exercised in order to win the war. This is the reason why leaders of rebellions have a very difficult time being the heads of state in a new democracy after the war has been won. What usually happens in the transition from a dictatorial state to a sought-after democratic state, is when the revolution is won, the rebel leaders simply become the new dictators. It is almost impossible for a personality that leads on the streets to be challenged and changed by the votes of the people they led in the streets.
We can see this happening around the world in reference to the present pandemic. We see in the pandemic, not so much the human toll on the population of the world, but the fact that the pandemic has become the opportunity for some elected officials in democratic systems of government to morph into autocratic leadership. If you question this, check out a book–download–on the Russian Revolution of 1917/18, as well as Hitler’s rise to power during the early 1930s.
Nevertheless, and regardless of the potential rise of dictators among us, we do not have to die as in the days of the Black Plague pandemic, and the Spanish or Asian flu pandemics. When it comes to winning this war, who cares who makes money off the vaccines that we are offered to use to arm ourselves against an enemy we cannot see. After all, we won the war against smallpox by choosing to arm ourselves with a vaccine of which some pharmaceutical company produced and made money. We were vaccinated, and the smallpox war was won.
Some people need to reflect on their inconsistent arguments on this matter. We inject our children with the smallpox and measles vaccine to “protect them.” But hang on for a moment. “Protect them” against what and who? The “what” is easy to answer. We seek to protect our children against the smallpox virus. But who carries around in their bodies the smallpox virus? The unvaccinated! The virus is spread through sneezing and coughing droplets of the virus in the air by “other” people who have not been vaccinated. It is carried about by infected individuals who infect others.
We protect our children and ourselves, therefore, from others who have not been vaccinated against smallpox. In like manner, we choose to be jabbed with the Covid vaccine in order to “protect ourselves” from others who have Covid, or may be asymptomatic carriers as ourselves, and thus unknowingly infecting others. In other words, if we are concerned about other children, then we will have our own children vaccinated against the smallpox virus. If other parents have little concern for the health of their own children, and possibly allowing their children to be carriers of the virus, they will not have their children vaccinated against smallpox.
Keep in mind that the smallpox virus has been eradicated from the world because of the smallpox vaccine, and the choice of parents to have their children vaccinated. However, the virus can still make its way come back into society if people stop vaccinating their children.
So recently one of the members of our four-teamed evangelistic group here in Cape Town received a call that there was an America missionary family, with the parents of the wife visiting from America. They were passing through our area and wanted to meet with us. We wanted to meet with them. We did not want to be known as the “isolated church.” Unfortunately, in order to meet we could meet with them for only a few hours, we could meet only in an unventilated restaurant.
Unfortunately, we are not the most healthy group of evangelists. Three of us have two heart stints each; one has asthma; one struggles with high blood pressure; one’s heart is pumping blood at only 80% efficiency, having a damaged heart value that is waiting to be replaced; one has already had a heart attack; one had recently had emergency surgery to correct an internal organ dysfunction. All four of us were in the age group of 60 to 74. Would you say that we four have extenuating health conditions, and should be rightly concerned about the Covid virus? Fortunately at the time, all of us had been vaccinated against the Covid virus, but that was about five months before the meeting. Our residence to Covid at the time was down to about 20% to 30%. (All of us have since received the booster injection to get our resistance back up to 80% to 90%.
Nevertheless, we agreed to meet with the foreign visitors who had flown into South Africa a week before and were touring throughout the country. And since they would be in Cape Town, they wanted to meet with us. However, after the meeting, and after the visitors left for Johannesburg a day later, we received an urgent call from Johannesburg two days later that three of their group of five tested positive for Covid, and thus were confined to quarantine. They wanted to warn us about their Covid infection in order that we be on the guard since they were Covid carriers at the time of our meeting.
Now you can imagine the apprehension of the four of us as we waited out the five-day incubation period of the Covid virus. All four of us had been vaccinated, but still this is not a 100% protection against the Covid virus. You can understand that among ourselves as a fellowship of disciples, we lean on one another to be vaccinated in order to protect one another. This is our choice. So we freely choose to vaccinate ourselves in order to protect ourselves as a group from one another, and thus continue to meet together in order to execute the work of the Lord.
Nevertheless, in view of what we experienced, we must not become victims of autocratic leaders who would use our present despair in a time of a pandemic in order to leverage their thirst for power over us. We seek a choice concerning “protecting” ourselves in order that we do not become subjects of a totalitarian state. We are not establishing the “vaccinated church,” as opposed to the “unvaccinated church.” Nevertheless, we choose to be vaccinated against Covid in order to protect others. We look out for the interest of the brotherhood of believers through self-protection against an unseen enemy (See Ph 4:3,4).
Churches do not have the authority to make mandates outside clear Bible teaching on any particular subject. Church leaders can only use Bible principles to love one another as the foundation to establish behavior upon which they as a group can make the best decisions possible. However, we are vaccinated in order to protect one another to the best of our ability. It is first a matter of our mutual concern for one another as fellow citizens of the state, not primarily in obedience to a state mandate that would work against our freedom as citizens of the state. We are free to choose. But our love for one another has moved us to chose to vaccinate in order to protect one another.
We have the freedom not to be vaccinated in times of a pandemic. The church has no authority to bind medical practices on the church. But notice what we have just stated. “We” have the freedom. Individually, there is some self-centeredness in the statement. If we bring ourselves into close fellowship with one another in a confined space, whether seated in a small building, or passing by one another in the confinement of a foyer, then are we not infringing on one another’s freedoms in order to conduct a safe assembly? At least this is something about which to think as we tout our antivaccination rights in view of the following thought:
In South Africa it has been quite revealing to watch the Covid infection statistics every week. Since the incubation period of the Covid virus is about five days, you can guess when and where most people initially contacted the virus. On Thursdays and Fridays, the positive tests for the Covid-19 virus, specifically the Omicron variant, is almost three times for these two days than the rest of the days of the week. Count back five says (the incubation period), and thus, most people became infected on the weekends. On the weekends we have all our Sunday assemblies, political meetings, funerals, memorials, family fellowships, etc. Covid seems to be invited to each one of these occasions, but does not make itself known until Thursday or Friday.
Testing positive with the virus is the result of social events, whereas the rise in the number of deaths that follows the end-of-the week infections, is a measure of the severity of the virus.
So consider that in the heat of a pandemic some churches have called up their elders (usually those about 60 and older), and asked them not to be present in the traditional assembly, but rather electronically Zoom the assembly in the safety of their own homes. If we do this, then something may have gone wrong in our behavior and thinking.
But when there are no electronic options, as well as no vaccines in one’s village, town or city, then the leadership of the church must make sure that everyone at least wears a mask. At least this reveals that we are concerned for one another in the heart of a pandemic. Otherwise, we must ride out the curse of a cursed world until our Lord comes or we come to the Lord in death.
When the Romans were breathing death down upon the first century Christians, did the early Christians resort to Zoom assemblies and Zoom preaching, just to be “safe” during the “Roman pandemic,” which “pandemic” lasted for at least 150 years?
In the city of Rome, the first Christians simply went underground during times of persecution. They hid in the caves that were under the city of Rome. When they were being sought in order to add another attraction for a barbaric audience in the Coliseum by being fed to lions, they went into hiding in inconspicuous groups of two or three, and sometimes just alone in a forest. We wonder what most of those today, who have been bred and sustained in their faith on a concert every Sunday morning, would do in such a social environment? Would even a pandemic detour their craving for a large assembly?
Persecutions, as well as pandemics, have a way of revealing those who have a true faith in God, regardless of being hindered in assembly with one another.