Arguing About Covid-19
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 2 Corinthians 10:3
I’ve got friends whom I know through different experiences and depending on the criteria, I can divide them into opposing groups. I’ve got friends at the gym and then I’ve got friends who never exercise. I’ve got friends from church, and I’ve got friends who would never step foot in one. These groups aren’t necessarily in open conflict with each other. They’re just different.
Lately though, it seems like my world is sharply divided by one single issue that has caused significant conflict between the two sides. Lately, I’ve got friends who take Covid-19 quite seriously, believing in the vaccine and I’ve got friends on the other side. I know that’s an over-generalization, but you know what I mean.
I’m not going elaborate on my views here. I’ve done that in another post.* I’ll just say that the issue has triggered intense opinions on both sides. If you don’t believe in the vaccine, or that Covid-19 is a big deal, then you may feel that those in support of the vaccine are part of a global conspiracy to close your business and subjugate the masses, all while causing autism, impotence, and infertility. If you believe that the vaccine actually works and will save lives, then those who don’t get it – and those who convince others not to get it – actually have blood on their hands for doing so. These are not small accusations. These are fighting words. Then, throw politics, the mandate, and faith into the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for all out war.
This is where I’ve found myself lately, and I’ve got good friends on both sides. At work, I’m surrounded by one crowd, and at the gym, by another. I have my own strong opinions and have been drawn into a few interactions that have been more than a little contentious, which rarely leaves me feeling good about myself. It’s not that I’m not convinced of my viewpoint. I think I’m totally right. It’s just that in the conflict, I often act in such a way that I’m not proud of later.
Though he wasn’t talking about Covid-19, this seems to be what Paul was getting at in today’s passage. In it, he said that though we live in the flesh, and though the Christian life is a battle, we’re not to use the weapons of the flesh in our fight. What does that mean? It means that we’re not to engage in the tactics that we find most natural: hate, anger, manipulation, malice, and vengeance. As Christians, we must always act in a manner that represents Christ.
It’s not that we must simply roll over. We should stand up for what we believe. It’s OK to disagree with others, but we must learn to do so in love, without the rancor and anger to which we’re prone. When we pick up the hateful weapons of the flesh, we’ve already lost. When we start hoping that the other side gets sick from their choice (for or against the vaccine), we’ve already become corrupt. Our first duty as followers of Christ is to guard our own hearts from evil. It’s completely possible to be on the side of right and still act like a devil.
How then do we handle this conflict? How do we stand for truth while still expressing love? Often, it means controlling our own anger, which is far from easy. We must be willing to listen and understand instead of first explaining why the other is wrong. There are always reasons that people feel the way they do. When given the chance, we must be able to articulate our view without condescension, anger, or pride. This is often the hardest part, because once we take a side, we’re not just defending the truth, we’re defending our need to be right. It’s usually our hideous pride that causes the most conflict. I’m right and you’re stupid.
We often think that our primary job is to convince others of the truth that we possess. That’s not our first priority though. First, we must guard against embracing evil by picking up the weapons of the flesh in the passion of our fight. Our first responsibility isn’t to control others, but rather to make sure we’re living rightly ourselves. As followers of Christ, we will be called to stand for truth, but we must always do so in love. God never asks us to sin for him.