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Social Distancing for People of Faith – COVID-19 Quarantine Thoughts – March 16th

Yesterday I read a Tweet by Propaganda – a hip-hop artist living in California:

I am inclined to be a person of faith and place my confidence in God and continue to go about my life like normal in all of this. Quite honestly. But, I’m not someone to go around and proclaim that, or to condemn others for “social distancing”. In fact, I have to say he’s right.

I – a person of faith – DO wear seat belts. And of course, when our children were babies, we put them in car seats. We don’t have home security, but we surely lock our doors (even our garage door – you know, the one leading from the garage to the house) really good every night.

So, if we are so concerned about our safety and security in these ways, why would we not be concerned about safety and security in this COVID-19 epidemic also? Why is it bad for us “people of faith” to take precautions like the rest of the general population?

Is it about social distancing itself? What’s so bad about social distancing anyway? From the person of faith (hereafter, POF) perspective, social distancing prevents us from being able to share our faith with others. But, in our age of technology, that should not be a problem. We can share our faith via social media, emails, blog posts, text messages, YouTube videos (and any other means of tech this technologically de-inclining woman can’t think of right now).

Of course, just proclaiming the words of our faith is not sufficient for us. We POF want to be able to demonstrate our faith in physical ways as well, and so social distancing does prevent us somewhat from doing that. We can’t give someone a hug. We may not be able to hold the door open for the elderly at a store. We may not be able to hold a tired mama’s baby for a bit while she gets a nap. But, we can show our faith physically to the people within our own household – who often are the most difficult people to show our faith to. (Talk about the mission field? It’s right within the four walls of our house!)

For me and my family, we are not social distancing (from each other, at least), we are experiencing social togetherness like never before. My husband is a professor and his university has proclaimed online classes for the rest of the semester. Our children are school-aged, ranging from 2nd to 8th grades, and I am a high school language arts teacher in the same district as them – our district has proclaimed Digital Learning Days so far, for at least this week. So, we’re ALL home together. And, the only thing we’ve got going on is school work. We don’t have any major home-projects happening (like laying down new flooring) and so we’re forced to really actually pay attention to each other.

For my husband and I, physically sharing our faith with our kids has looked like lending our laptops to them so that they can all work on digital learning work without fighting each other. (Thus, showing our faith to ourselves, too, by saving ourselves from the stress of arguing children.) Showing our faith to each other also looks like having patience with each other; bearing each other’s smelly gas; cooking meals for one another; children making themselves a bowl of cereal and saving mommy and daddy from expending energy to cook for them AGAIN (would you believe these people want to eat THREE times a day… plus snacks!!!??); and saying secret prayers under our breathe for OURSELVES that Holy Spirit should take control so that we don’t take control and KILL EACH OTHER.

For POF, there are LOTS of opportunities to share our faith, so social distancing can’t be a stigma for that reason. Is it because we are forced to stop working (less rigorously) for awhile? We are POF with the Puritan work ethic! POF cannot be “lazy”, according to Proverbs 6:6-11:

6 Go to the ant, O sluggard;
consider her ways, and be wise.
7 Without having any chief,
officer, or ruler,
8 she prepares her bread in summer
and gathers her food in harvest.
9 How long will you lie there, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man.

Does all this social distancing stigma amongst POF chalk up to us not wanting to appear lazy? While I agree, I cannot be lazy – I have to work in order to eat and live. But, I do wonder at what point does the Puritan work ethic, and self-sufficiency, and self-faith, become an idol? It becomes an idol when it’s what controls us instead of Holy Spirit. It becomes an idol when we are so obsessed with performance and numbers that we turn people into slaves and never give them time to spend with God and nature in order to sort out their souls, and never give them time with their families, so they can reconcile. (Kind of sounds like Egypt… like Antebellum.) Instead of the Holy Spirit driving us to do excellent work – and to do the right amount of work – we instead drive ourselves and others to do work that was never required of us to do because his “yoke is easy… burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30).

Now, mind you, I am not saying I don’t appreciate the hard work and sacrifice that got us to the place of freedom and excellence that we now live in. But I wonder, originally, where that hard work and sacrifice stemmed from? (I mean the pure and holy hard work and sacrifice.) Or do I wonder? I believe I know, and I believe it came through the transformation and grace of Jesus Christ. But then again I am wondering if the freedom and ease that we live in now has veered into idolatry (we have too much freedom and ease)… and is partly still a result of our forefathers idolatry and pushing people too hard (enslaving people) .

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