In Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8, Paul addresses an issue in the First-Century church that was causing very real division. Meat sold in the markets in those cities was apparently sold after being offered to an idol. Some church members, recognizing that idols are just man-made carvings, ate meat without any conscious thought. Others were pricked in the conscience at the thought of eating something offered to an idol (demon?). The strong meat eaters sneered at the weak abstainers. And the principled vegans judged the reckless carnivores.
Paul came down supporting the logic of the meat eaters but supporting the consciences of the vegans. He pointed out that he had the freedom to eat meat, but if he led someone to eat with him in violation of their conscience, he would be causing them to sin AND he would be sinning himself. He ends by pointing out that we have liberty, but we ought to let love regulate that liberty.
I’m watching this same type of thing play out in the world with regard to safety measures (masks, socials distancing, etc.) after two months of virus concerns.*
Populous states/counties experienced high infection/death rates and are still very focused on safety, as is the news coverage coming out of those areas, and there are myriads of stories and studies supporting a bunker mentality. They tend to be “judgy” of those who yearn to be free.
Less densely populated areas experienced fewer infections/deaths and are far more focused on getting the economy running again, as is the news coverage tailored to them, and there are a myriad of stories and studies supporting that point of view. They tend to sneer at those who appear to value safety more than freedom.
Obviously, that’s counterproductive, but that’s politics, and the country/world is only going to get more divided until The King is on The Throne. The thing is we need to NOT bring political division into the church. (1 Cor 1:10)
So whether you fall into the camp that believes that masks save lives or you fall into the camp that believes masks are a silly affectation, as long as the county health department asks us to wear them or not sing at all; let’s wear them and make a joyful noise unto the Lord!
*May 26, 2020
By Chris Stirewalt
A VIRUS THAT FOUND OUR POLITICAL WEAK SPOT
America is such a political basket case that even our viral infections break along partisan lines.
At least that’s how it looks when you start investigating the political geography of coronavirus. We’ve talked from the beginning how red America and blue America are having very different experiences and reactions to the pandemic and the measures taken to control it.
Now we’ve got some very useful evidence to help quantify the split.
Here’s what the NYT found: “Counties won by President Trump in 2016 have reported just 27 percent of the virus infections and 21 percent of the deaths — even though 45 percent of Americans live in these communities.”
It’s no wonder that Republicans and Democrats are talking past each other.
A plague that hits major population centers hardest is as old as plagues themselves. Population density is a dominant factor in the transmission of every communicable disease we know.
What’s different now is how well sorted politically Americans are and how little empathy partisans have for each other. With urban Republicans and rural Democrats all but extinct, there’s far less political pressure for compassion and compromise than there would have once been.
Viruses exploit the body’s weakness, so perhaps the same goes for entire nations.
Not even Paul Harvey’s “If I Were The Devil” would have a nightmare dream of something so wicked as a politically skewed virus arriving just at the moment when we’re most seriously testing the ties that bind this union: This ugly election year.
It took little imagination to know what people like that would do with a natural disaster that follows political and socioeconomic fault lines.
We have a political class that works those same levers every day. They find new and more potent ways to arouse suspicion and resentments against their fellow Americans. They happily ignore the good news when it’s better for someone else. They present every decision as good/evil, us/them, black/white. They question every motive but their own.
They do all the things that would undermine dealing effectively with the deadly virus and its economic aftermath. Cheerful cooperation and mutual respect are desperately needed in a natural disaster like this one. But those things are deadly to more than viruses; they would also kill off the brain-dead negative partisanship that passes for civic discourse these days.
The good news is that if we can summon the collective strength to deal with a virus that exploits our tribal partisanship, we will help roll back one of our leading societal ills in the process.