My Biggest Fears about the COVID-19 Reopening
As more and more states begin to reopen, there are some specific concerns that I think we as the Church should be thinking about. It’s my goal in this post to outline not only those concerns, but also the solution to them.
Fear #1: The positive lessons of the shutdown will be forgotten.
Perhaps the thing that most concerns me is that the important lessons that were learned during the early days of the shutdown will be forgotten. As sporting events, restaurants and workplaces began to close; it seems that the country finally began to focus more on the important things in life.
While it didn’t always lead to true Christianity, the reality is that most of the nation began to ask some of the big questions. According to Google Trends over the past year, searches related to God reached a new peak on March 22, 2020 and has remained consistently high. With less distraction to occupy the mind, the country began searching for answers.
Similarly, the bond among many families was significantly strengthened. For millions of families across the country, they were sitting down to home-cooked meals for the first time in years. Family game nights were at an all-time high. Anecdotally, I saw more families walking and playing together in our neighborhood.
It is easy for a person in our modern life to confuse being busy with having purpose. When those entertainment and busy-work tasks are stripped away, it becomes impossible to ignore what’s truly important.
I fear that the return of those distractions will begin to once again cloud the mind of the lost (and perhaps many within the Church). Suddenly the time to cook healthy meals, to talk together as a family, to play together as a family- that time will just disappear as quickly as it came. Those evenings of quiet introspection where it becomes impossible for even the most ardent atheist to deny the Creator will fade away too.
This is my biggest fear- that our nation will once again return to amusing ourselves to death and discord.
Fear #2: The masses will devolve into conspiracy theories and false vilification.
We, as Christians, should not be easily deceived into believing conspiracy theories. This is not to say that we shouldn’t debate the benefits and risks of a shutdown, or whether such an action was a good decision- those are the types of discussions we should be having. However, that is quite different than claiming that some secret society orchestrated the whole thing.
The idea that a genetic mutation in a tiny virus in an obscure part of the world could cause the death of millions and cause whole nations to come to a halt is not a fun reality to think about. It’s actually comforting sometimes to think that something this destructive must have been a calculated attack or a complete hoax altogether.
Most conspiracy theories are driven by ego and “otherism”. The ego driver of conspiracy theories is nothing more than sinful pride. It’s fun to think that you’re smarter than everyone else and other people “just don’t get it.” This was the appeal of the Gnostics in the 1st century. The idea that they had some “secret” knowledge that others did not have is very appealing, and indeed the early Christians recognized that evil for what it was.
The “otherism” driver behind conspiracy theories is nothing more than sinful hatred. Whether it’s driven by racism, classism, political divisiveness, etc.- conspiracy theories almost always contain a villainous group of “others.” Having someone to hate is something that, sadly, is appealing to most people. Again, the early Christians (along with the Bible and the direct words of Our Lord) are clear that our hearts should never hate another human (or group of them).
We must discuss this shutdown and this virus from a standpoint of facts. Christians should never be anti-science, we should be very much pro-science. This doesn’t mean that we don’t question authority or that we believe every single scientific theory, but we must remember that the scientific method was developed by the Puritans and is built upon their belief in a sovereign and unchanging God.
Before we share some internet video or article, we should ask ourselves- what is the source of the information? What is the motivation of this writing? Why does it appeal to me? If a source is questionable, if the writing is from an overly biased perspective or if the reason it appeals to you is that it makes you feel prideful or hateful, then it’s probably not a good idea to share it.
Fear #3: The downtrodden will be further hurt.
There are still millions of people that are out of work. There are still millions more that have been financially impacted. Many elderly have lost their retirement. Many employees have been furloughed or laid off entirely. Many commissioned salespeople have lost income. Many who rely on bonuses for their income have lost that piece. The list goes on and on.
There are also people that have been emotionally impacted. You don’t have millions of people dying without it causing a massive emotional impact on the world. The lonely have been made even lonelier. The depressed and anxious have lost many of their support and helps.
There are still people that have been physically impacted. There is a presumed increase in domestic violence and child abuse; although this has been hard to verify because most child abuse is reported by teachers and childcare workers- and those institutions have been shut down.
The impoverished kids have been even further set behind. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book "Outliers: The Story of Success", Malcolm discusses what is known as the Matthew Effect. Specifically in regards to this article, the Matthew Effect has massive implications when it comes to the children living in poverty and the summer months.
You see, during the school year, there is very little really difference between “poor kids” and “rich kids” in regards to education. Both groups of children are relatively equal in terms of the ability to gain and retain new information. The big difference between these two groups happens during the summer months. This is a major reason why the “rich kids” are academically advantaged and the “poor kids” are severely disadvantaged. Rich kids spend their summers in homes with books, they go to museums, they are likely to have a parent in the home with them to teach them. The rich kids go to summer camps and local plays. They never stop learning. For poor kids, however, the reality is very different. They likely do not have a home filled with books, they likely do not have a parent able to study alongside them in the summer, they are not going to museums, plays and camps. They, instead, are sat in front of the television… typically without sufficient supervision to make sure they are watching educational (or even age-appropriate) programming.
Now, just take a moment to imagine what the shutdown of public schools will mean regarding the Matthew Effect for the kids in school now. If two and a half months makes as much as a 70% gap between the education of “poor kids” and “rich kids” typically, then what does the 5+ months mean for the poorest of children in our country today…
The solution to all these fears is the same. The Church must act as the body of Christ. Local congregations should have a plan in place for how to help those that have been hurt- in every possible way. We as individual Christians should be looking for opportunities to help. We as Christians should not perpetuate unproven claims, and we should consider the implications of the ideas and thoughts we promote into the world. We as Christians should be the major proponents of the family values and lessons learned from the shutdown.
These fears have a common thread- they are a move away from the Truth of Christianity and God’s will for His Creation. The solution is for us to be active-duty soldiers, and to labor for His Kingdom to do His will.
Look for every opportunity and take action!!!