There is more than one way to die

One of the oldest military tricks in the book is to give the appearance that the attacking army is concentrated in one place. Whilst those defending focus all their attention on where the attack is coming from, the enemy sneaks round the back.

There is more than one way to die.  Coronavirus has sadly led to a lot of deaths and will lead to more. However, there are people dying each day of other diseases, through accidents, abuse, murder and war. Indeed, some responses to the virus may lead to other deaths. This is one of the reasons why the government are taking emergency measures in order to protect the NHS and other emergency services. It’s not just about treating virus sufferers but about keeping capacity for other treatments. Increased isolation may put people at risk of increased domestic violence and self-harm.  Others with serious health issues may go under the radar.  Mass panic will certainly distract. I have heard people comment that panic is likely to cause as many deaths as disease.

There is more than one way to die. Jesus said:

4“Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. 5But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear.[1]

I cannot think of a more chilling phrase than “social distancing.”  We have been told to avoid all unnecessary social contact and one danger with this is that “unnecessary” implies for many “not related to economic output.” For example, going to school or working in the factory counts as “necessary social contact.” On the other hand visiting family, getting together down at the pub and of course gathering as church for worship counts as “unnecessary.”  We may find over the next few months that social media provides some relief and becomes a blessing. However tweets, texts and even phone calls cannot replace face to face contact. Sign Language greetings cannot replace a hug or a handshake. I am concerned when I hear people talking as though these things don’t matter. I read comments about church not having to be a physical gathering as we worship in Spirit. Such statements stray very close to Gnosticism. God made us a physical beings, spirit and matter are both good.

Further, the Old Testament links exile and isolation

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that we should ignore Government advice or disobey laws. We are likely to have to comply with some very unpleasant requirements and it will be responsible to do so. All I am asking is that we are aware of the cost of decisions and that we keep considering the need for meaningful social relationships as we seek out creative ways to go forward. For example, for churches this means just broadcasting a talk will not be enough.

[1] Luke 12:4-5.


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