“I UNDERSTAND AND DON’T CARE” VS. CHRISTIAN LOVE IN PANDEMIC

(Disclaimer: This post does in fact argue the case, but I am under no delusion that I will influence you.  If that happens, please let me know!  And I certainly try to be an open-minded sort if you want to argue with me.  But honestly, my view of this issue and the climate in which issues are argued these days does very little to persuade people to go a different direction.  Maybe to intensify the direction you were already headed and to thus move people from moderate positions into the extreme, but not so much to change their direction.  THUS, I am not writing nearly so much to persuade as to stand up and be counted, and to hopefully give encouragement to those who hold views similar to mine.  You are not alone.  Even if we don’t see all things eye-to-eye, this is my case for adhering to precautions in a pandemic, and I see LOVE as my guide.)

 

First The SIMPLE Stuff

How to LOVE someone who might potentially get your cooties and contract disease or even die:

Wear a mask around them; keep a six-foot distance to the extent feasible, and wash your hands a lot.

How to LOVE someone who might potentially get your cooties and contract disease or even die who wears a mask:

Wear a mask around them; keep a six-foot distance to the extent feasible, and wash your hands a lot.

How to LOVE someone who might potentially get your cooties and contract disease or even die who refuses to wear a mask and even ridicules you if you do or preaches against you if you do:

Wear a mask around them; keep a six-foot distance to the extent feasible, and wash your hands a lot.

 

This ain’t Rocket Surgery, ya’ll.  It’s pretty simple.  If you CARE about other people, then you do CAREFUL things on their behalf.

 

Wearing a mask, washing your hands, keeping your distance is in no way the totality of LOVE, but your willful disregard of those things definitely is unloving; it’s indifferent, hateful, and FEAR CAUSING, but not loving.

But I find people I love, know, respect, and associate with in all manner of contexts totally disregarding this care for others.  Many of them just for pure selfish reasons – even stupid selfish reasons.  Others for expedience, and still others making all manner of hifalutin claims (some religious in nature).  Yet deep down, the sense I get underlying MOST of it is political (power-grab) in nature.

Suddenly I have Dax Riggs on my mind again.  I strongly doubt any of MY readers are familiar (and perhaps for good reason), but I discovered the grave-celebrating, nihilistic music of Dax Riggs back when he was a member of the band Acid Bath.  There is a line from the very dark, evil-spirit song Diab Soule that just keeps ringing in my ears as I watch and listen to so many of my Christian friends and the indifference or even scorn they express for mitigating precautions promoted by epidemiologists and historians.

The line?  “I understand; and don’t care.”  The pentacle, or should I say the abyss, of the song.  “I understand; and don’t care.”    Here it is in context:

 

Summer feels like death

Godless we run

In my eyes there dreams an ocean

Hell beneath my tongue

I understand and don’t care

Well the skyscrapers look like gravestones from out here

Throwback With blood in my cum

In my heart the song plays on The Insects Requiem

I understand and don’t care

Well the skyscrapers look like gravestones from out here

In my eyes there dreams an ocean

Hell beneath my tongue

I understand And don’t care

Pissing your life as fast as they consume you

Killing everything as fast as they can bleed you

Pissing your life as fast as they consume you

Killing everything as fast as they can bleed you

 

 

Do you follow that?

Neither do I.  It doesn’t even make sense, but I am clear that it celebrates death, indifference, and evil in an effort to have a good time.

Pretty dark stuff.  Great rock music!  But really terrible worldview and attitude for a Christian.  For Christians especially, of all people.

Why on earth would Christians ever think they can just shirk the LOVE for any lesser agendas?  Doesn’t that reduce us to a noisy gong???

“I understand and don’t care.”  Better left a sentiment expressed in a truly dark rock song than in my family, friends, and neighbors – I think.   Especially the “Body of Christ”!  Goes to show my church has been failing on a number of fronts.  Some I was not aware of at all.

The Arguments (or lack thereof)

I got friends and family who know, who have been well informed, about the risks and the precautions necessary to preserve good health and life itself.  FREINDS AND FAMILY.  Christian people.  Yet they either disregard precautions or even thwart them and come truckin’ right into my house.

So much for “social distancing.”  So much for washing hands, for staying home, for wearing a mask.  I got friends and family who feel at liberty to come right in my house and potentially expose those of us in here who are dutifully abiding with life-preserving precautions and putting us at risk.

Two of us in this home have “underlying issues” and another is a foster child who doesn’t actually belong to us in the fullest sense.  I have a dear OLD dad to care for as well.  But this hasn’t stopped or slowed some of my own friends and family from putting them at unnecessary risk.

And for what?

A party?  To beat boredom??  Because it feels like all the hype over precautions is a liberal/Democrat and Socialist agenda???  Some are even claiming this supports biblical ethics, faith, religion!

Really?

Hmmm…

We as a nation are LOST.  A lot more LOST than even I realized, and I have been looking at the church questioning that for a long time already.

Immaturity

Oh yeah.  I got friends and family who are young and want to be out socializing.  I get it too.  I was young once.  And I was fortunate to be young when there was no pesky pandemic jamming up my social calendar.  But that is just NOT a worthwhile reason to put your loved ones at risk.  IF, and of course “risk” means “IF,” IF grandma or little brother gets severely ill and/or dies, I am going to wonder if YOUR need to party with your friends was really THAT good.

Our times call for maturity.  We need to grow up fast.

In this case, LOVE (like in the Bible) means putting others’ interests above your own.

Politics

Oh yeah, I got friends and family who think this whole thing is just a liberal agenda masquerading as a problem.  A gimmick invented by liberals to counteract conservatives.  In fact, we have some politicians fanning the flames of this idiotic nonsense.  Where was all this talk of liberal/Socialist agendas when I was studying world history in high school and we came to the chapter on the Black Death Plague?

Oh… that wasn’t in the history books 20 years ago, 10 years ago, 5 years ago?  (I think I just discovered “talking points” at work here – opportunistic “talking points” which arise with your fantastic and urgent need to counteract the failings of your conservative leadership in a time of urgency – therefore just discount the urgency!)

Faith

Oh yeah, I got friends and family who think that wearing a mask, washing your hands, keeping appropriate distance suddenly makes fear your master and does a disservice to Jesus and his Kingdom Cause.

Now, just one minute there.  I don’t recall you speaking out against operating rooms at the hospital!  They do all of those things in the OR as a matter of serving you, your fellow man, and even Jesus explains to the expert in the law who his neighbor is by describing a dreaded Samaritan providing medical care to a Jew in need.  They name hospitals after this parabolic hero!  But up until just recently, I don’t recall any of my religious minded, Christian friends calling the bluff on any of that.

To be honest, I don’t think that is really about Jesus at all.  It is all just a little too opportunistic and riding the political wave.  A religious smokescreen for political agendas.  A backdoor way of discrediting liberals and Democrats and endorsing conservatives and Republicans with hifalutin theological arguments that just don’t hold water.

I’m not a liberal.  I don’t want Hillary Clinton for president; I never did.  But as a conservative myself, I am fully capable of separating scientific evidence from theological and political agendas.  I say this because I have the same motivations at work in me too, but stooping to this smokescreen is just ridiculous – dumb.

The Complications (okay not everything is so simple)

Look.  I know there are some situations and even aspects of what is happening in our world now that is more complex than just the simple comments I have made thus far.  I will touch on a few of them in a moment.  Not so I can exhaustively argue every detail, but so that I can demonstrate that I am aware of them.  But if we Christians want to take an attitude and the accompanying behaviors of LOVE as our guide in these matters, then most of this gets simplified rather dramatically.

Taking precautions, like wearing a mask, keeping appropriate distance to the extent it is feasible, and washing your hands is not really bowing to fear, it is prudent, and in this case a sign of respect for others, even LOVE for others as you put the interest of others above your own.

It costs next to nothing to do it; the downside(s) are minimal; and the refusal to do it, unloving.  The preaching and teaching against it is extremely unloving and borders on blaspheme of the Holy Spirit.  If you are going to refuse the help of the life giver, then you will not have life, and there is nothing can be done for you at that point.  When you call others to do the same, their blood is on your hands.

Perfect LOVE casts out fear.  Let us unite and cast this one out with our love for the vulnerable people in our midst.  Let us pay the (for many of us) very minor price to pay in showing our Christian LOVE to the world around us.

I was concerned the homeless, those with so few options and so little resources, would be the spreaders of contagion, fear, and scorn.  But now I find it is my fellow Americans bored at home, itching to get back to the bar or the beach, or my fellow Christians AFRAID this love is a slave to fear or afraid it turns our government in a Socialist direction.

Not cool.

I understand that matters become more complex especially for those who work in essential jobs that put them at risk.  I understand that we must take risks as we put people back to work and school, at jobs and activities which, though we can take a hiatus, are essential in the long run.  I understand that as people are out of work, their ability to afford food, shelter, and vital services is diminished – which requires we take risks to manage those things too.

I am not unaware that risks must be taken, but we can manage them carefully and imaginatively, in ways that are not nearly so reckless.  (Assuming I get a reader who would like to discuss careful and imaginative ways to mitigate problems AND risks – especially AS A CHURCH, I would love to discuss that further in the comments below!)

I am not against facing fear either.  If a gunman stormed into the church service where I was praying with my fellow parishioners and started shooting and killing randomly, I would advise AGAINST armed guards shooting back.  You cannot LOVE the gunman and shoot at him at the same time.  Churches are doing that these days, but that is not LOVE either.  Good conservative politics, but not love.

If my house was located next to a busy freeway, I would insist my children not go past the fence, to just stay in the yard to play.  When they are old enough and the time for such concern is past, I will back off of that rule.

If I wear a mask to protect you, that is not shooting at anyone (nor is it good self-protection either), but it is keeping you out of unnecessary danger during a pandemic, which eventually will be eradicated like those which came and went before.  Historians tell us the world has suffered pandemics before.  They might devastate us, but they have a track record of being TEMPORARY.  And that means the precautions do not have to be permanent.

The more we learn about the virus causing this one, the more we can target our efforts to eradicate it.  Once that happens, we will not need the precautions.  UNLESS, of course, the antivaccing stupidity plagues our ability to fight this plague.

Complications with my Complications

Are there other complexities at work here than just the ones I mention?

Yes, absolutely.  But they need not muddy the water.  But to name a few, I see the government shutting down churches and I find that alarming too.  The government should have ASKED for that, not demanded it.  And the audacity of our president to think that he can open them back up, or that he can even claim to, is such an arrogant misunderstanding of his place.  I don’t even appeal to the US Constitution for this, though obviously I could.  But that blasphemous document won’t help anyone when the books are opened at the end of the age.

If we have to go underground like the church in China, well that would be ironic on Trump’s watch, but most things on his watch are….

But still, I am troubled by all of that too.  Yet I don’t in anyway see the church’s noncompliance as LOVING, and if we abandon LOVE, then we have abandoned our post in this world.  Better to be wronged and return evil with good than to go around thwarting the authorities just because they are stupid.  Or better yet, why didn’t we offer our fancy church buildings as shelter to the homeless?  That would have shined our light, but maybe that was too scary.

If you really want to lay down your life in LOVE for God so that it can be seen by men, then do like Shane Claiborne did during the Shock-n-Awe of the Iraq War and go to the enemy lands and find Christians there to pray with WHILE THE USA BOMBS THE CRAP OUT OF THEM!  Or, maybe just do like Jesus told that one rich guy and sell all you own, give it to the poor, count your riches in heaven and come follow!  Of course that kind of very risky, LOVING obedience might not be demanded of EVERYONE, but why not YOU?  But if you do like Jesus says there, you sure won’t be a good capitalist long.  No.  You will probably need to find a church like the one in Jerusalem, according to Acts 2 and 4, who shared everything they had so that the poor did not have need.

And in this time of pandemic when our economy is tanked and sooooooo many people are out of work, children going hungry, and all that, perhaps if more Christians did THAT, then our light would really shine!  And we would not be fearful people, but fearless!  AND save the world with the opportunity God give us to shine!

And we can do all of the latter, all of the more, without sacrificing all of the earlier, the lesser bits like wearing a mask, washing our hands, and keeping an appropriate distance!

LOVE – It always come back to the LOVE

Let LOVE guide our actions now.  The world will know who Jesus’s disciples are by the LOVE we have for one another.  The world needs to know Jesus.  The Republican Party and the conservatives in no way have that all figured out, nor are such assemblies the authorized representatives of Jesus.  In fact, though we conservatives get a fair bit of the Jesus/Kingdom agenda worked into our politics, there are some huge, gaping blind spots too, and have been for decades or more.

Funny how we conservatives, not all of us to be sure, get all riled up about abortion but not the death penalty and somehow get away with calling that “Prolife.”  We send our kids off to fight our wars, and that is not Prolife.  But we worry that the unborn are the most vulnerable among us, that they don’t get a say, that we must speak up FOR them.  … Well?  Speak up for your neighbor (and all the elderly in nursing homes who are really taking the brunt of this pandemic for us!) and wear a mask!  (Remember when we conservatives were afraid the liberals were going to have “death panels”?  Why are we so willing to put our neighbors at risk like this if we feared liberal “death panels” just a few years ago?)

Show some cooperation with others and be peaceable!  We conservatives have more work to do.  But actually, that is just talking politics.  Let’s talk KINGDOM, between brothers and sisters, and seek THAT first.  All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, liberals AND conservatives.  And you may be surprised to see the abortionists, the whores, and the intergenerational welfare recipients coming into the Kingdom before you.

The fact of the matter is: You do understand.  You should care.  There is nothing in God’s Word that negates that or excuses it.  Certainly nor for some political agenda.

8 comments

  1. Anonymous · May 25, 2020

    Thanks for this post. At the end of the day it comes down to love.

    Russell

    Another thought about loving each other during these difficult times:

    Speaking theologically . . .

    Yes, worship is essential, but houses of worship are not.

    Yes, prayer is essential, but houses of prayer are not.

    If gathering endangers the health of the congregation, let us worship and pray in our homes or small groups (as the early church did), or digitally (which is our blessed opportunity in this age).

    If gathering no longer endangers the health of the congregation, let us assemble.

    How to gauge whether it is healthy to gather with a large group in a house of worship is uncertain to me. I appreciate public health guidance, and I value the input of the congregation itself.

    This is not a matter of fear vs. faith. Rather, it is faith without recklessness; it is faith that loves our neighbor.

    I trust God and I wear my seat belt.

    I trust God and I take my prescribed medicines.

    I trust God and I choose not to endanger the health of those with whom I want to assemble.

    Let us pray for wisdom, love, and circumspection.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agent X · May 25, 2020

      Thanx for this response!

      To be fair, there is a bit of a moving (or scattered) target to this post.

      I certainly think our church can and should be doing daring things. This is why I keep highlighting the homeless! I am sure there are OTHER things we might do, but the homeless are so regularly overlooked, AND they are my passion, so I make mention of them.

      The state, at least some, and by that I mean other countries too, are putting homeless up in hotels. That is a tax payer expense. As a Christian AND as a conservative, I am at least INTERESTED in talking about opening up our building for them. That is the church stepping up to shoulder the burden of saving people! And the church were I attend has a multi million dollar building sitting there just sitting empty. It has all kinds of classroom where one or two could sleep. Multiple bathrooms, a kitchen and more. No doubt we would need a couple of five brave deacons to step up and put themselves at risk to manage the place, but my wife is an ICU nurse and she is a member doing that already for another entity. I think we can do this as a church AND shine in the dark pandemic! And not cow to fear!!!

      To my knowledge, leadership at my church has not even held discussions of such a thing. I could be wrong about that, but since they don’t talk to me and largely resist me talking to them, I am having to guess. So I am honest about the limitation of what I know. But I see NO evidence that we have done anymore than watch our weekly giving fall as the budget remains higher than it probably ever should have been for stuff that isn’t nearly so necessary. Typical, I figure. Meanwhile our NICE things down there are not serving Jesus OR us, but rather becoming a burden.

      THAT kind of criticism, I can get behind. But ditching the mask AND ESPECIALLY preaching the ditching of the mask to others is a whole OTHER thing. Related, I think, but not the same. And there are issues involved here that do have my sensitivities, but they do not override LOVE as our guide, and I don’t see where the LOVE as I describe it here is given a pass so we can…. what?

      Yes. Thanx for your visit!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Anonymous · May 25, 2020

    Amen brother

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Tim McGee · May 25, 2020

    When trouble looms yet you know Christ is with you, you have faith.
    When the future is cloudy but you believe in the promises of Christ, you have hope.
    But if your behaviors harm in the name of righteousness, you lack “the greatest of these.”

    In faith, with hope, live love.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Agent X · May 25, 2020

      Amen, Brother – to you too.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Tim McGee · May 25, 2020

        I think you’ve nailed it X. There is something amiss in our nation, in our Christianity. While we profess a faith, while we longingly hope, we abjure anything that doesn’t walk our talk. We’re missing charity, love. My way or the highway and living in love are not compatible. And while I enjoy blaming our current president for all things that go wrong, perhaps our steadfast belief and love of all things me isn’t fully one him (though he certainly exudes that belief). We’ve been walking down this path for a while and this health crisis has lent itself to embolden those beliefs. But if, as Paul had put forth, our life through Christ is a three-legged stool, we better have all three. Especially if one of them is the “greatest of these.”

        Liked by 2 people

      • Agent X · May 27, 2020

        Tim,

        Thanx for your devotion to the LOVE.

        “My way/Highway” is pretty near the antithesis of LOVE. Im not sure why/how that gets confused.

        I have drawn out the politics driving this and looming large behind it all to address most specifically. However that is NOT the totality of it. I think it is the elephant in the room, but not the totality. I hope I demonstrated that in this slapped together post.

        I am troubled by the way the STATE has dictated church gatherings. That is truly alarming to me. The state has no right to do that as per American law. But even without the protection of American law, it is arrogant and indefensible.

        Of course Nero showed us that he could just completely disregard all of that on a whim and just go to killing Christians, burning them alive as decoration for his garden party. That is alarming too, but history has shown that Nero was wrong in doing that AND his rule along with his style of rule has collapsed under the weight of its own arrogance, indifference, scorn and hate.

        Power grabs.

        But even that is political, just not the same issue as wearing a mask.

        Thus there are complexities.

        “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself… ” You might have heard that…

        Yeah. I understand the idea, AND I am concerned for that too.

        Let me put that in the context of cooties though.

        I have worked in a variety of hospital settings for years now. Normally there is a nurse/administrator designated for “risk management” and/or “infection control” (overlap there a lot) and this person then begins policing the rest of us in handwashing. There is training and testing for proper handwashing in the hospital, in restaurants, and other places. But this nurse shows up doing spot checks, like a pop quiz, or even spies on you coming out of the bathroom to critique your handwashing performance.

        Under usual circumstances, this person doing this is seen and felt like a biblical tax collector! Like a Nazi Pharisee jumping out of the bushes to say, “Gotcha!” It’s no fun, it is irritating, it is embarrassing. It is forceful way of influencing people, but no good and winning friends.

        But stats have shown for years now that there is a very high risk that if you come to the hospital for treatment of nearly anything and have no infection upon arrival that you will get one while you are there, AND that many of these infections cost life or limb!

        So when this nurse jumps out at me from the closet as I emerge from the bathroom with a stop watch saying she only heard the water running or 19 seconds and not 20, then I think MAN THAT IS SPLITTTING HAIRS!!! She rubs special glow in the dark lotion all over my hands and sends me back in to try again. I spend 25 seconds scrubbing and then re-emerge as she inspects my work with a black light only to demonstrate that I missed a few places under my fingernails, up on my wrist and so forth. At that point I think, yeah, if I was running around submerging my hands in infections liquid then I would glove up first!

        I happen to think that using a paper towel to dry my hands is more effective at infection control than using/reusing a cloth towel.

        But I also see that that level of handwashing policy is waaaaay more important there at the hospital than it is at my home. I will be cooking supper and get a little sauce on my hands that I don’t want to get into the beans. I don’t scrub down for 20 seconds in that case; I just rinse it off and keep on cooking (How many cooks just lick it off?) and no one has ever got sick eating at my house!

        There are places and times…

        I am making the case that LOVE guides me here. It might be a hospital administrator or CBS NEWS that gives me important information about infections and some scientific (relatively politically neutral) directions on beating it. But as a Christian, I look for LOVE to guide me with all the information I now have. I might feel FORCED by the nurse to either wash my hands or lose my job (and there is that – alright) or – AND/OR – I might say, yeah I am being forced, but it is still the right thing to do. I don’t want to get others sick, esp if I can help it. THat is not loving.

        But now I am just restating the whole post, just in different words I think. Maybe I have fleshed out some new element, but its all pretty much there in the post, I think.

        As for Trump…

        I have prayed more for this president than any before.

        Funny, that puts me and Nancy Pelosi on the same page! Ha!!! I believer her, that she prays for him. I do to, and I disagree with MOST of the stuff that comes out of his mouth and I have nearly as long as I ever new of him – and that has been decades!

        I remember the first time I became familiar with him (I don’t recall the dates or the specifics, but I do recall the story) he was buying up real estate upon which to develop his casino. There was one hold out, a little old man who did not want to give up his HOME. Not even at exaggerated price! Trump, supposedly, was willing to pay way above market value to take this man’s home. But the man resisted. So he found other ways to pressure the man and it made the news.

        It was controversial. Development vs. the little guy.

        Well, you already know, I think, I am for the little guy unless there is something really compelling going for the big guy. And MONEY just doesn’t cut it for me.

        I refuse to just be a hater though. I have called for calm in the face of this presidency. I have seen MOMENTs where I thought he MIGHT be the right guy for the job. I have held out hope a few times.

        I did not want Hillary either though. So I was going to be a loser either way, and I knew that coming in to this presidency. EITHER WAY.

        So again… complexity.

        And for that matter, you can’t blame HIM for EVERYTHING.

        But there is no doubt he is the lightening rod and WANTS to be.

        I am not excited for Biden either, frankly.

        This is what troubles me most as a conservative. To say anything critical of OUR GUY automatically suggests to so many people that I am FOR liberals.

        Not necessarily and not primarily. But, yeah, sometimes of SOME stuff, I am.

        But complexity doesn’t make pithy bumper sticker politics or relgion. Just means I gotta LOVE more, and maybe lose my life, my popularity, my friends even so I can show it.

        Like

  4. calhouns2013 · May 26, 2020

    I’m grateful for the post and it does encourage me. To know that there are people who are just being reasonable in this time of unreasonable agendas and tribalism, is a great encouragement. Without posts like this I would swear the whole world’s gone crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

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