The unprecedented times of COVID-19 have brought about unprecedented steps that have radically changed life as we know it, maybe forever. This Easter churches will not gather in person. Understand, church’s gathering on Sunday is one of the earliest evidences of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It is only a resurrection from the dead that could transform faithful Jews from the observance of the Sabbath to worshipping on Sunday, the Lord’s Day. This virus has changed things.
The changes brought by the virus have prompted the United States Government, particularly state governments, to act to protect the people of their states. These acts of protection have brought to the forefront, across America, the issue of religious liberty. It was to the Danbury Baptist Association, in which Thomas Jefferson first wrote of the idea of the separation between church and state. It wasn’t Jefferson’s idea, but truth be told, the separation of church and state has been a Baptist idea all along. In the most concise way, even in America, Baptists have always stood against state churches and that government should not have any say in the happenings of churches. It was a Baptist preacher who founded the first colonial settlement with no official religion. Roger Williams also founded the first Baptist Church in America. So, for anyone in government to order that churches cannot gather in person to worship goes against everything that I believe and against an entire history of the Free Church. I will render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s and will render to God that which is God’s. I will submit to the minister of my government that God has placed over me insofar as it does not contradict what I find in Scripture.
Before I go on, I want to make it clear, that along with the leadership of my church, I willfully made the choice to discontinue gathering in person to worship before many others did. In fact, I was an early advocate for the discontinuing of in person worship gatherings. My family and I have been on near total lockdown for weeks. We disinfect our mail. We disinfect our groceries. We wear masks on the very limited times we venture out. We are taking this virus very seriously. I believe that we all should take this very seriously.
Something that I believe that we should take even more seriously is the erosion of fundamental liberties under the guise of safety. I do believe, along with those who signed the Declaration of Independence, that Liberty is among those self-evident truths, endowed by our Creator. I want to believe that these decisions of safety have been made with the best interest of citizens at heart. I would argue that there is a line that can be crossed that is beyond the realm of authority granted to our governing officials by God and by the citizens of the United States. I believe that prohibiting the in person gatherings (though I do not believe it is wise to gather in person at this time) and then the threats to those citizens that do, is as close to that line as I have ever seen. It may actually cross the line.
The truth is, I would not have these suspicions if there were not already evidence to lead me from the benefit of the doubt. It is difficult to believe that a person values life when as Attorney General, our now Governor himself ignored the laws, refusing to defend a 20-week ban on abortion. Why am I to submit to the law when our governor does not? Beshear has sought to expand the destruction of the life of the unborn. To hear him speak about protecting life is a little difficult to take. When I cannot trust Beshear’s position on life, how can I trust his position on religious liberty? There is real reason to believe that he has or is at the point of encroachment on religious liberty. Understand, Christian’s have experienced multiple lawsuits already because of their faith. Christians in the United States of America have had their religious liberty and the free exercise of their religion attacked. They have seen their businesses destroyed and have found themselves before the Supreme Court protecting those fundamental rights.
Attempts at forcing Christians to change what they believe or surrender their rights are happening under the auspices of “fairness” across America. I am told that some are attempting to bring a Fairness Ordinance right here to Ashland, Ky. A Fairness Ordinance is anything but fair, requiring religious organizations to hire those who hold to lifestyles and beliefs directly contrary to the religious teachings of the church or organization. I am not for the mistreatment of anyone. I believe that all people are made in the image of God, and that all should be treated kindly and with dignity. I also believe that the government has no right to force any church, synagogue or mosque to change what they believe. I believe that within reason, the government cannot restrict the rights of some under the cloak of protecting the rights of others.
There are issues that cut to the core of my faith. Issues like life and religious liberty are issues that I steward responsibly and view as sacred. These issues, among others, cannot be given a pass and cannot be surrendered at any cost. We must be diligent. We must ask tough questions of our elected officials. We must hold them accountable when they endanger those rights. I regularly pray for Christians around the world who are persecuted for their faith. What we have in the United States of America is unique and cannot be surrendered.
Thank you Pastor Matt for telling it like it is and like it should be. I was unaware of some of the things in your blog , so you have enlightened me considerably.
Thank you Pastor Shamblin for truth of what and how a real Christian should be and what they should stand for, especially in these times. I have learned from your teachings and preachings so much more than I thought I knew before. Enjoy your blog very much! Keep it coming, please.