Other Forms of Child Abuse

Abuse is a very strong word.  It brings to mind all kinds of terrible acts carried out upon the innocent.  I now realize, I was abused as a child.

  1. Peas are a form of child abuse.  I have been one of the many children who have had to sit at the table, long after the meal was finished looking at a small pile of cold peas.  “You can go play as soon as your finish your peas.”  Parents claimed all sorts of reasons for making us eat vegetables: “They are good for you”; “There are children starving someplace in the world.” It was really all about exerting their authority as was apparent when they eventually responded to tearful queries, “Because I said so!”
  2. Fluoride treatments.  Talk about abuse!  First, it took place on a series of Saturdays–the only day of fun in the week.  We had to go to the school gym and sit in a cold metal chair while a lady clamped an complex and pinchy apparatus to our head and mouth.  The purpose of this apparatus, besides the infliction of pinchy-discomfort, was to hold the mouth open and the cheeks away from the teeth.  When she got around to it, the lady would then paint our teeth with a long cotton swab and we’d have to sit there forever to let the stuff dry.  And then we got to go again the next Saturday to repeat the process.  And again the next Saturday.  Actually, I have no idea how many Saturdays I had to lose, but one Saturday was one too many.  Stronger teeth and fewer cavities? Yeah right; we knew it was some sort of a conspiracy to deprive us of our only day of childhood freedom.
  3. The Saturday night bath is child abuse.  Well, the actual bath wasn’t very traumatic, except the dreaded scrubbing behind the ears.  The source of the dread of bath time, was the idea of having a bath instead of doing about a thousand other things I’d rather be doing.  The real abuse came after the bath.  Once one was dried and dressed in ones pajamas, one presented oneself for the combing of the hair.  The combs back in those days were needle sharp.  Mother took a mighty swing and embedded the tines into the scalp and then scraped them to the left, like a harrow on a hard field.  This excoriation was repeat hair lay in perfect swaths, and then the abrading moved from the part to the right.   By the time the combing was completed, the skin in the part of my hair was hot and I was sure I felt that blood must be seeping from the injury.  All week, I dreaded the Saturday night bath. Kids these days like baths. They take them more than once a week.  They ask if they can take a bath.  They enjoy them and have no idea that you’d force them to take baths if they decided they didn’t want to.  It’s much better for parents to come off as the nice guy.
  4. Church was child abuse.  First, we had to have our hair combed again, reopening the injuries from the night before.  The we had to put on clothes that would have tested the faithfulness of the most ardent medieval ascetic.  We had to sit through the church service on hard pews that had been built to increase the discomfort of the woolen trousers.  We had to sit through salutations, offerings, the dreaded congregational prayers, as well as prayers illumination, thanksgiving, blessing, and of confession.  We had to endure the assurances of pardon, the articulations of the Law of God, the reading of the Psalms and the Gloria Patris.  Then there was the confessions of faith, the recitations of the creeds, the Apostle’s but also, on occasion, the Nicene.  And then came the sense of foreboding at the words, “Thus far the reading of God’s Word,” because we knew the sermon was about to start.  It would last for long tortuous hours.  And it you so did anything but sit like a post, you got an almighty pinch on the thigh by your mother.  And if you cried out, your dad would take over into the lobby after a speedy exit into the narthex.  “Train up a child in the way they should go,” is what they said.  They had this idea that rituals and repetitions were essential for developing patterns that would stick with us for a lifetime.  It’s so much better these days when kids get to leave after the singing to establish different patterns that aren’t so demanding on a child.
  5. Little league baseball.  A lot of people reminisce fondly about their participation in youth sports.  I am not one of these.  I knew very well that I was supposed to play baseball and that I was supposed to enjoy it.   I never enjoyed it.  I was not an athlete.  I wasn’t the worst guy on the field, but the idea of a ball being hit in my direction was a thing of nightmares.  I prayed constantly as I stood out there in right field, “Please, don’t hit it to me.  Please, don’t hit it to me.”  If I wasn’t so paralyzed with fear, I bet I could have caught a lot more flyballs and fielded those gappers more effectively.  If you liked little league baseball, your parents would put you in music lessons of some sort.  Anything that would have no apparent short term benefits.  We live in a far kinder world these days where we don’t make kids do anything that they don’t want to do.  And the world is probably a better place for it.  What good are sports, music, the arts or languages to those who were forced to stick with them?
  6. Swimming lessons were torture.  I was forced to take swimming lessons at the YMCA.  It had no slides or channels with currents or hot tubs or waves or anything fun.  It was large, tiled rectangle.  The water was very cold and heavily chlorinated.  Your eyes burned when the lessons were done. The instructors were detached and impatient.  I think I have heavy bones, because it always took a lot of energy to keep afloat, and one of the requirements of passing the swimming course was to tread water in the deep end for 3 hours or 10 minutes (I don’t remember exactly).  They told us stories of kids who drowned in this or that lake and said that we wouldn’t live to adulthood unless we could swim 100 laps without touching the side.  I had some issue with breathing while doing the front crawl–something to do with water in my lungs–it was so hard.  I had more than one drowning scare during the lessons.  I eventually learned how to swim, but I ask you, what was the point?   Sure, I never drowned, but the chances of me drowning even without lessons were always very low.  No point I say.   Abuse.
  7. Walking from home from school.  When I was in grade 1, I dreaded the bus.  At school, at the end of the day, the bus was packed and all the kids were twice my size–grade 4 kids.  I couldn’t get on; I couldn’t find a seat; I dreaded not being able to get off again at my stop because of the press of bodies.  The fear was so great that I just walked home instead. It was a very long walk, but it was better than the trauma of getting on that bus.  7-year-olds walked great distances in those days.  You’ve no doubt heard the stories from your parents and grandparents about the miles they walked in the snow.  These stories are true.  It builds character, they said.  Helen Keller said of character that it “cannot be developed in ease and quiet.  Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired and success achieved.”  What did she know about suffering anyway?

* * *

I remember when my son was about two years old.  On one of his explorations of the back yard, he found a big, black, beautiful slug.  He ran excitedly up to his mother with his handful of slug to show her this treasure.  She instinctively reacted with horror.   I’ll never forget the look on my son’s face–it was as if to say, “If this thing cause that much horror in an adult standing four feet away, how much more serious is it for the child holding it in hand!”  He went from delight or horror based solely on the reaction of his mother.

The point is, that children easily accept the world as it comes to them.  It is how the adults whom they trust behave that shapes their response to things like slugs and masks.

If we lived in 1941?

I have seen several posts on social media equating the government response to the Covid-19 pandemic to the situation in Europe in the 1940s.  Many of these parallels are spurious, but here’s one that I think is legit.

I am reading Winston Churchill’s The Second World War.  I just started the second volume of six, Their Finest Hour.

It is May 1941 and Churchill has just become Prime Minister.  The Nazi’s have just invaded France and it has become obvious that France is all but lost.  Churchill is just heading out for his second visit to Paris in as many weeks.  He recollects:

This was the moment when my colleagues felt it right to obtain from Parliament the extraordinary powers for which a bill had been prepared during the last few days. This measure would give the Government practically unlimited power over the life, liberty, and property of all His Majesty’s subjects in Great Britain. In general terms of law the powers granted by Parliament were absolute. The Act was to “include power by Order in Council to make such Defence Regulations making provision for requiring persons to place themselves, their services, and their property at the disposal of His Majesty as appear to him to be necessary or expedient for securing the public safety, the defence of the Realm, the maintenance of public order, or the efficient prosecution of any war in which His Majesty may be engaged, or for maintaining supplies or services essential to the life of the community.”

In regard to persons, the Minister of Labour was empowered to direct anyone to perform any service required. The regulation giving him this power included a fair wages clause which was inserted in the Act to regulate wage conditions. Labour supply committees were to be set up in important centres. The control of property in the widest sense was imposed in equal manner. Control of all establishments, including banks, was imposed under the authority of Government orders. Employers could be required to produce their books, and excess profits were to be taxed at 100 per cent. A Production Council to be presided over by Mr. Greenwood was to be formed, and a Director of Labour Supply to be appointed.

This bill was accordingly presented to Parliament on the afternoon of the 22d by Mr. Chamberlain and Mr. Attlee, the latter himself moving the second reading. Both the Commons and the Lords with their immense Conservative majorities passed it unanimously through all its stages in a single afternoon, and it received the Royal Assent that night:

“For Romans in Rome’s quarrel
Spared neither land nor gold,
Nor son nor wife, nor limb nor life,
In the brave days of old.”

Such was the temper of the hour.


It is worth noting that Greenwood and Attlee were of the Labour Party, Churchill was Conservative.

As I read this passage, I wondered how different the world would be if those living now had lived in 1940 instead of the greatest generation.

Our “temper of the hour” is not even up to our relatively less significant task.


Orwell Was Pro-Truth, Not Against Anything You Don’t Like

So I came across this picture (above) on one of my social media feeds.  It wasn’t the first time I’ve seen this sort of thing. References to “Big Brother,” “doublethink,” and “Orwellian” have regularly crossed my Twitter and Facebook feeds in recent months.

I love George Orwell.  I have no idea how many times I’ve read Nineteen Eighty-Four.   Over 20 times for sure, so you could say I am familiar with the novel.   I find it very interesting that every time I see Orwell referenced on social media, it’s by someone who is concerned with government management of the Covid-19 pandemic.

If you are using Orwell to object to government overreach, you should stop.  It shows that you’ve never read Nineteen Eighty-Four, or you forgot what it is about.

Media personality, Alan Jones is a case in point.  He said that “We have Reached what George Orwell warned about in 1984.”  He was talking about vaccine passports.  Jones quotes this passage from Nineteen Eighty-Four in order to illustrate that vaccine passports are proof that we are now living in an Orwellian world.

“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

In many ways, Jones is right, we are living in a more Orwellian world than we were two years ago.  But it’s not in the way that Jones supposes.  He is on the wrong side of Orwell.

In this passage, the protagonist, Winston Smith, is explaining to Julia the destruction of public records and their replacement with new ones.  Orwell’s warning has to do with governments altering history–trying to control the present, by controlling the past.

Jones is claiming that Orwell is, in this passage, warning about the government taking away our rights and freedoms when it imposes restrictions on those who freely choose to pass on the vaccinations.  He is angered that one cannot have the same rights and freedoms regardless of vaccination status.  That’s fine, be angry about that.  I love to have my cake and eat it too, and get grumpy when I can’t have it.

But I do have a problem with using Orwell’s words to say something that Orwell didn’t say?

Manipulating language in order to manipulate reality is what Orwell warns us about in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Orwell and Freedom

First, let’s clear some things up about George Orwell and governmental limitation of individual freedoms.  Orwell was a socialist.  He advocated the nationalization of all sorts of industries.  He was a big-government kind of guy.  He was very concerned with freedom, but not in the same way as Alan Jones and others who oppose masks and vaccine passports, etc.  Orwell was concerned with freedom of speech and freedom of the press.   In Nineteen Eighty-Four his concern is freedom of thought.

Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.

Like everyone else who lived 80 years ago, Orwell didn’t have a problem with the governments limiting all kinds of rights and freedoms when it was necessary to do so.  To demand freedom from consequences, as Alan Jones demands, is a very recent development.

Orwell’s Warning

Orwell’s problem with the government in Nineteen Eighty-Four, and with the Soviet Union’s version of Communism, was dehumanization.  People were not flourishing, and he believed they ought to do so.   Part I of the novel shows how the Party twists all aspects of being human: the physical, the sexual, the social, the intellectual, and the soul.  In Part II, with Julia, Winston attempted to reclaim humanity. In Part III, the Party anihilates Winston, the last man.

A significant part of the dehumanization in the novel was a result of the abandonment of objective reality–the rejection of reason.  The Party saw objective reality as a threat because it represented an external idea to which the human mind might submit, and the Party brooks no competition.

So they wage war on reason and objective reality.  You may remember Newspeak, double-think, and Thoughtcrime.  These are some of the weapons that The Party employed to undermine reason.  Here are some of the proclamations of O’Brien, the Party’s spokesman:

Reality “is not external.  Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else.”

“Reality is inside your skull.  [Consequently] there is nothing that we could not do.  Invisibility, levitation, anything.  I could float off this floor like a soap bubble if I wished to.  You must get rid of those nineteenth-century ideas about the laws of Nature.  We make the laws of Nature.”

If reality is in the human mind, and the Party controls the human mind, then Party controls reality.

This is what Orwell opposed and the main thing he warned us about–the dangerous step away from objective truth.  He warned us of those in power who might, in all seriousness, call an some untruth, an “alternate fact.”  He warned us of a world in which people deliberately manipulate language in order to twist the truth or outright lie or re-post the same on social media in order to gain viewers or subscribers.  In other words, to gain more power.   Here’s a wonderful example of this:


To invoke Orwell to argue against objective reality is exactly the sort of thing that his Nineteen Eighty-Four warned us about.  The Thought Police were the enemy of facts–and the fact-checkers, like Winston Smith.

The Pandemic is an Objective Fact

Instead of asking questions and having conversations about the objective truth about the Covid-19 pandemic, we have begun to demonize those who hold a view that’s different from the one we’ve been manipulated to believe bys of social media and unscrupulous news outlets who see revenues increase proportionally to the amount of hate they can generate.

Objective reality is something like this:

  • There is a pandemic that is making people sick and killing some that wouldn’t be dead otherwise.
  • This is not a good thing.
  • A collective response is necessary for these circumstances.
  • The government is responsible to coordinate collective responses.
  • The economy is important.
  • The number of Covid-19 infections needs to be managed so the medical system is not overwhelmed and people can receive the healthcare that they need.
  • Vaccines help reduce infection and the severity of infection.
  • Natural immunity is a good thing as well.
  • All forms of treatment and suppression of the Covid-19 pandemic should be explored.
  • We need to follow the science.
  • Science is subject to various interpretations that can change as more data becomes available.
  • Freedom is important, so we ought not to force people to do things, like get vaccinations, except as a last resort.
  • Social Media and biased news outlets are, generally, not interested in truth or objective reality.
  • Big Corporations are not to be trusted to serve our best interests.

Orwell’s main concern in Nineteen Eighty-Four is not the loss of rights and freedoms, but the manipulation of reality–of truth.  The novel is an indictment against using language for manipulative or propagandistic purposes and using words to excite emotions, particularly hatred toward a fabricated enemy.

Many people who use Orwell to oppose government management of the pandemic are doing exactly the thing that Orwell opposed.

Nazi Germany and Vaccines

Nazis and Vaccine Passports and Mandates

Educated citizens are necessary for a healthy democracy.  It has become all too apparent that an increasing number of citizens have a very limited understanding of history and literature.  A lot of people like to invoke Nazi Germany or George Orwell in arguments opposing the government policies intended to combat the spread and effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.  It is not my intention to argue whether these policies are good or bad–it is my intention to get bad arguments out of the conversation.

The above image is an example of a bad argument.  The poster maker clearly has an extremely superficial and sentimental understanding of history.  The argument here is that the Nazis were primarily the sort of people who limited the freedoms of their citizens.  As a totalitarian regime, they certainly did restrict freedoms.  But this is not what National Socialism in Germany in the 1930s was all about.  And it’s not why they are still held up as among the greatest criminals in history.

Consider, which government besides the National Socialists, has put restrictions on the freedoms of its people?  Stalin?  Yes, Stalin’s Communists certainly did.  But, he is another guy you ought not to reference when you are objecting to vaccine passports, and for the same reasons as you shouldn’t reference Nazis.  While we are talking about Communism, let’s put China on the list.

OK, who else has restricted the freedom of its citizens?  How about every government that has ever existed?  It’s what governments do.  To advance the common good, governments restrict individual freedoms.  Every American and Canadian government has done it.  The best governments restrict freedoms; the worst governments restrict freedoms.

Thus, it is absurd to argue that our current government’s pandemic policies are like Nazi policies just because they limit individual freedom.  Arguably because they are designed to protect people, they are not like Nationalist Socialist policies that involved the systematic identification, humiliation, and murder of six million Jews.   To make such a comparison belittles the tremendous suffering of Hitler’s victims and it trivializes the heinous crimes of the Nazi regime.

“If You’ve Ever Wondered . . . “

I’ve read quite a few books about Germany in the 1930s and I have a sense as to how National Socialism got into power.  I have often wondered if such a thing could happen today.  I no longer wonder.  The last 10 years has convinced me that it could easily happen again.  The last months, with the vaccine kerfluffle, even more so.

The above poster targets compliance as the problem.  I suppose the logic goes something like this: Hitler came to power because freedom lovers refused to stand against him.  If you wear masks and get vaccinated, you are the same as the people who easily caved to the Nazis and let the Holocaust happen.

There are many problems with this comparison.

First, the Nazis didn’t get into power because of a compliant majority.  Hitler and the National Socialists never had more than 38% of the popular vote.   He got control of Germany with the support of a passionate minority.  What is instructional here is the nature of that passion.  Where did it come from?  In whom was it exploited?  How was it manipulated?  And to where was it directed?

So how did Hitler come to control Germany in 1933?

In the early 30s, The German people were living in “unprecedented times.”  They had high unemployment and had to line up for food.  Inflation wiped out the savings of the middle class, and then The Great Depression hit and everything that was bad, got worse. Combine all this with the bitter pill of the Treaty of Versaille and you’ve got a lot of turmoil.  Political demonstrations and counter-demonstrations and then violence.  The political parties had their own paramilitary units.  All this drove people from the centre to the right and to the left.  Hitler focused on the right.  Society was changing–people had to adjust from living under a monarchy to a democracy.  Add to that, women were working and they had won the right to vote.  New values were replacing old values.  In 1932, the right-wing, using methods similar to what we find on social media today, played upon the fear of the left and warned of an impending Communist Revolution in Germany.

Because there was no center, no government could ever achieve a majority.  Consequently, no one could govern for long and no one could govern effectively.

The conservatives, under President Hindenberg, brokered a coalition with the Nazis and offered Hitler the chancellorship.  Support for the National Socialists was waning and this offer from the conservatives was enthusiastically accepted.  The radical step could be taken only because the left had been demonized.   The conservatives thought they could control Hitler.   Just four weeks later, the Reichstag, the lower house of German democracy, was attacked by arsonists.   Hitler declared an emergency and Hindenberg was compelled to suspend all basic civil rights and constitutional protections.  Now he was free to deal with his enemies.  Hitler blamed the left and arrested trade unionists and Communist leaders, expelling even the legitimately elected Communist delegates from the parliament.  With the Communist delegates removed, the Nazi Party had a majority.  And the rest is, as they say, history.

“Now You Know”

So, there are significant misunderstandings of history in an attempt to equate government policies for dealing with Covid-19 and the rise of National Socialism.

The problem in Germany before 19330 was not those who obeyed the government.  But there was a problem–some people accepted lies and half-truths for truths.  They accepted the narrative that separated the US from THEM, and they abandoned the centre, where the truth was and went to the extremes.  They believed what Hitler said about his political opponents.  They believed that they could hitch their wagon to the Nazis in order to gain control over their political enemies.

But is there anything we can learn from history?  Does understanding the rise of the Nazis help us in our current situation?  I think so.

  1. Citizens need to be very aware that democracy is never in more danger than in “unprecedented times.”
  2. We need to understand that the threat is not who we are being told it is.  The threat is non THEM–the people on the other side of the political spectrum.  The threat is not the “enemy” before us, but the “friend” behind us.
  3. Do not allow the lies and half-truths spread by those “friends” to pull you from the centre.  Don’t listen to those we seek to inflame the fears and the conflict–the politicians who are only interested in votes or the media personalities only interested in subscribers.  You can find them all over social media.  Social media is emptying the centre.  This, and not “them,” is the true threat to our freedom.
  4. Conversations about things like vaccine passports and individual rights are very important.  Those on the extremes have no interest in such conversations.  They don’t want us to have them.  Reasonable discussions of complex issues will bring people toward understanding other perspectives and will end up with compromises and safeguards.  This sort of thing is a threat to the “ultras” who want others to join them on the fringes.    Consequently, they will ignore complexity and seek powerful emotions by invoking Hitler and the Holocaust.  Or Stalin and Communism.  Or whatever.

Some of the compliant people referred to in the poster above are people that have not yet been radicalized–they live in the centre.

If you are concerned with losing our rights and freedoms as did the German people in 1933, make a poster that says something like, “Don’t believe, the lies–join me in the center, and let’s talk about this.  I’ll bring the beer.”

I Bet I Could Get You to Believe Anything

I bet I could get you to believe that the world was flat.

At least I’m pretty sure that I could get you to shove aside everything that you’ve ever learned or read about the round earth–I could get you to deny your own experience and the expertise of every expert on this round planet–and fully embrace a flat earth.

All I’d need to do is get into your social media apps, search up “flat earth real” and click on 3 or 4 posts that support this preposterous assertion.

By clicking on these few posts, the algorithm that decides what you see (and what you don’t see) on social media would be changed, and all but your most closely held opinions and beliefs would change in a few short months.  You’d gradually see more posts about the flat earth, and if you read them, you’d find “proofs” that you will, at first, doubt, but eventually you would wonder, “Could this be true?” These carefully curated posts would mock the ridiculous round Earthers and debunk their so-called “science.”  In about 6 months, you’d be a fundamentalist flat earther.

A year ago, I never would have made such a bet.  I didn’t believe it was possible. But from what I’ve seen in the last few months, I have lost all faith in humanities ability to maintain a grip on reality in the Tik Tok/Facebook/Twitter/Instagram saturated world.

I should have known.  I’ve read Othello.  (Why would I ever think that Shakespeare was just writing some fun fiction when he wrote Othello?)  Othello is a great soldier who’s has the best, most faithful wife a guy could ever have.  Her name is Desi.  Iago, one of Othello’s attendants, gets into Othello’s social media, changes the algorithm, and Othello ends up strangling Desi on their bed because he thinks, no he knows, that she’s been unfaithful.  He knows until she’s dead.  Then he finds out the truth.  Too late. Tragedy.

When I was a kid there was a lot of concern about cults.  Our parents were worried that when went off to college, there was a 50/50 chance of us becoming bourgeois or joining a cult.  They hoped for the first, and feared the latter.  I remember being a little freaked out by the Moonies myself.  I knew they got you, somehow, by making you lose all grip on reality.  This worried me because somehow they got you without you even knowing they were doing it.  The fear really kicked in with Jim Jones, who coerced his followers to commit mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana in 1978.  How do rational people end up in that mess?  A few years after that, I was at a party and there were these young people all wearing red: red pants, red shirts, red socks, the whole deal.  I asked them, “What’s with all the red?” and they told me that they were followers of a spiritual teacher named Rajneesh.   Look him up on Wikipedia, interesting stuff–these dudes were in a cult, and some of them would end up badly.  As young people, we were often warned about the brainwashing that was a part of this fervent, irrational loyalty toward cult leaders.

I did some research about brainwashing when I started wondering about the “Two-Minute Hate” in 1984 by George Orwell.  It turns out there are a few common factors in the recruitment practices of cults to attract the kind of followers that would deny their past, reject their family, and abandon all reason.

Here’s how they brainwash you:

  1. They create stress so that the target becomes emotionally vulnerable.  It doesn’t matter what kind of stress, physical, emotional, spiritual–there just needed to be stress.
  2. They make the target feel loved, special or unique.
  3. They isolate the target–they can’t have access to family or newspapers–those things offer perspective because perspective can wreck everything.
  4. They keep the disciple caught between fear and belonging.   The fear creates enemies of the world, enemies of the family.  Fear drives you back into the loving arms of the cult for the reassurance of belonging.

After the early 80s, I hadn’t thought too much about cults.  But somewhere around 2015, we started to see people begin to believe all sorts of ridiculous things.  Now in the Covid-19 pandemic, the lunacy has gone off the charts.  I think I know why.  The pandemic coupled with social media has created the same conditions necessary for brainwashing.

  1. The pandemic and associated lockdowns created stress.  We don’t need a cult leader anymore–social media provides everything that a cult leader would.
  2. It provided the consistent message that “You are special and unique.”
  3. A cult would confiscate your phone to cut all contact from the outside world, but what if the phone becomes the very thing that isolates your from those who could actually bring you back to reality?  Because of the isolation of the lockdowns and social distancing, our main contact with the world was mediated by social media and the algorithms decided what we wanted, what we needed.  We were isolated from reality, we lost all sense of perspective and everything and everyone in the outside world became the enemy.
  4. This created the necessary fear.   Fear creates enemies of those who would see us thrive.  Social media news, politicians and talk show hosts wanting to increase supporters and viewers by exploiting the fear, they offer the solace of belonging.

I have seen people who I know to be devout Christians, abandoning the central tenants of our faith and defending ideas that are blatantly contrary to the teachings of Jesus.  All in the name of Jesus.  They are denying past experience, previously held religious beliefs, family, and reason.  Like cult followers, we don’t think how everyone else thinks.  We reject all other voices that might counter the lies and half-truths we’ve been consuming–close friends and family members can’t even talk any sense to us.  We think they are the deluded ones.  Any doubts we have, send us back to our leader, social media, for reassurance.


Social media has that much power.

That’s why I am so confident that I can get you to believe in absolutely anything if I can get your social media to tell it to you.

So what can we do?

  1. Be curious.  Don’t accept what pops up on your feed even if you completely agree with it.  Be curious.
  2. Then take your curiosity to the right place.  Look to the peer-reviewed medical journals.  Look at the websites that are reliant on the data and don’t have a political agenda.
  3. Don’t get your news from social media.  Social media is for sharing pics of your dinner plate or selfies or your holiday shots, not news.
  4. Where to get your news?   Consider this chart:


There is a reason that as you move to the center, the adherence to the facts increases as well.

If you want to know what is actually going on, what is actually true, go to the places close to the middle of this chart.  If you think that the places in the middle are far more left, or far more right than this chart suggests, it might be an indication of how far you’ve drifted from reality because of social-media-algorithmic-brainwashing.

Still, if you take immediate action, you can reverse this process.

How Christians Might Oppose Vaccine Mandates

Now that we’ve looked at some things that Christians ought not to do, let’s turn to what we can do to argue against vaccine passports and mandates.


Listen to the Experts 

Generally, don’t use an argument that runs contrary to the general consensus of experts.  We might not like what they are saying, but if 95% of the engineers say a bridge is unsafe to use, it’s probably unsafe to use, no matter how much I want to use it.   You can always find another expert who disagrees with the general consensus.  Where the interpretation of the data is more contentious, you can make one side or the other our own, but don’t declare it to be Truth–admit that there is still disagreement among the experts.  Read articles from more neutral sources that offer both sides of the issue.  If, after time and more data, your position eventually ends up going against the consensus of the experts, let it go.

Don’t get your information about anything from articles in your social media feeds.

Be honest with your use of statistics

In their argument against restrictions imposed on the unvaccinated, a group of Christian students used statistics to argue that the vaccines are more deadly than Covid-19.

This is of course a ridiculous assertion, but they were convinced of the veracity of this claim and offered the following statistics.

  • There have been Canadian 67 deaths from Covid-19 among 20-29 year-olds between March 2020 and August 20, 2021.   
  • There have been 48 deaths among “university-age students” between December 2020-July 16, 2021.  This data came from “Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) from December 2020-July 16, 2021 which [also] records: 620 cases of myocarditis and pericarditis (heart inflammation), 88 heart attacks, 263 reports of blood clotting disorders.”

It doesn’t take a degree in statistical analysis to see the problems with these statistics offered by the students.  First, they compare the Covid deaths across 5 months with vaccine deaths is across 8 months. The time frame needs to be the same for a fair comparison.  Second,  the Covid-19 deaths involve victims falling within a ten-year age range, but supposed vaccination deaths involve the ambiguous “university-age students” which, in my mind is only a 4 or 5-year range.   As bad as these errors are, this is just the beginning,  The numbers for Covid-19 deaths come from Canada, the vaccine deaths from the USA.  Given that the USA has a population 10 times the size of Canada, all things being equal, their numbers are probably off by a factor of 10.

But there’s an even bigger problem here.  The VAERS is set up to help the CDC in the US to monitor any possible adverse side effects from all vaccines.  Anyone and everyone is encouraged to report everything to the CDC.  Doctors are required to report.  So, if someone got vaccinated and three days later they drowned in a lake, the family doctor is required to report it to the VAERS.  If someone has a heart attack, the doctor must report it to the VAERS.  This does not mean that the drowning death or heart attack was caused by the vaccination.  The CDC wants this data as a tool to uncover side effects.  Anything that might be statistically significant is tested to see if there is a connection with the vaccine. This is exactly how the blood clotting questions came out. This reporting gave out numbers that prompted the testing of one of the vaccines and discovered that clotting occurs more frequently in those who catch covid than those who are vaccinated. The system worked.

The numbers from the VAERS do not indicate vaccination events.  The numbers in the VAERS data, as used above, suggests drowning deaths as Covid deaths.  They suggest all heart attacks after vaccination was caused by vaccination.  I’m sure the students didn’t intend to claim this, but they inadvertently did.  Use stats.  But remember, like the Bible, they can be made to say anything you want.

Anticipate the Biblical arguments of the Christians you disagree with

Assume that Christians with whom you disagree have come to their position, not because they are suddenly in league with the devil, but because they have considered what scripture says and they believe that their conclusions are faithful to our Lord’s wishes.

On social media we find people using what is called the “strawman argument.”  It’s when one presents the opposing argument in its weakest or most ridiculous form.  This and similar approaches are off-limits for Christians.  We need to contend for the truth with integrity.

To argue with integrity you need to honestly present the position of the opposition in its strongest form and then counter it with your superior argument.  For instance: Christian leaders may be grounding their compliance with government rules on Romans 13:3-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-14.  You need to explain the strength of this argument and then argue why these verses do not apply in the current situation.  (I will do just this in the next section.)

It’s a bad idea to ignore this argument and it’s even worse to demean it.

Appeal to God’s Law is a higher law.

Having said all that, this is my main point.  It is the one instance in which we can directly ignore or challenge the riles and restrictions of earthly authorities, the one instance in which we can demand our Christian leaders to take another way.

We are commanded to obey earthly authorities.  That’s the bad news.

But the good news is that there are four exceptions found in the Bible:

You can defy those in authority over us if

  • they instruct you not to pray (Daniel 6).
  • they instruct you to stop sharing the gospel (Acts 4:17-20; 5:27-29; 5:40-42).
  • they instruct you to kill someone (Exodus 1:15-21).
  • they instruct you to engage in the worship of idols (Daniel 3).

If the authorities demand you stop praying, pray anyway.  If they demand you to stop sharing the gospel, keep on sharing.  If the authorities tell you to kill someone, just don’t.   In these three situations, there is no need for public protests, or petitions, or even nasty emails.

However, for the last exception, there might be a possible legitimate reason for a public expression of indignation and disobedience.  As discussed earlier, idol worship is common in our society.  If we can show that government policies and restrictions are grounded in the worship of an idol, we can legitimately resist and disobey.   Idol worship degrades the creatures made in God’s image as a good thing takes a higher position than the human being.  If we are being asked to bow down to an idol, as we see in Daniel 3, we have a justification for our protests and petitions.

So, in the case of vaccine passports, etc., are we being asked to bow down to an idol?

If the answer is yes, we are on the right track.  If the answer is no, we should either get the vaccine or decline the vaccination and accept the consequences.

Is the government saying that Freedom or Rights are more important than human lives in the case of vaccine passports?   Is the government saying that the Economy is more important than human lives when they restrict unvaccinated students’ full participation in campus life?  Is Pleasure more important than people?  If the answer to these, or any question like them, is yes, then we can resist.

A big problem in making a case for this exception is that we are in the middle of a pandemic in which human lives are threatened.  Asking, “Is the health of human beings being placed above human beings?” does not reveal an idol.  The greatest of all dehumanizers is death so the case can be made that loving our neighbour means doing whatever we can to prevent them from catching the virus, even if that means we might have to make sacrifices.  Sacrifices like getting vaccinated, or if not, like giving up our right to live in the dorms, go to a movie, or participate in sports.

Still, there might be something here to justify defiance, but unless there is an idol involved, it’s possible that we are being called to risk our lives (or, temporarily, our access to movies, restaurants, and student housing) out of love for other people.

If the vaccine passports and related restrictions don’t turn out to be unbiblical, don’t fret.  There are plenty of other directions toward which we can direct our passions in fighting against injustices that may actually be idolatrous.   The abortion issue has some possibilities.  Perhaps helping fearful expectant mothers who feel they have no realistic alternatives to abortion.  Racism is idolatrous at its core–we could direct our energy there.  We could help people understand that the system where I get to buy a $10 t-shirt is propped up by a lot of people working for low wages under terrible conditions.  If you are American, you can easily point out the dehumanization that has resulted in such high incarceration rates, or the idols that make it so difficult to put any limits on firearms.

These and causes like them, lack some of the natural appeals of affecting us directly, but channeling our passions and energies toward these has the advantage of not making us look so self-serving.

How Not to Use the Bible to Argue Against Vaccines

Photo by Lukas on Unsplash

It looks like vaccine passports are becoming a reality in many jurisdictions.  The British Columbia government is requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination to access activities like ticketed sporting events, dining in restaurants, fitness centres, and conferences.  On post-secondary campuses,  proof of vaccination will be required to participate in sports and clubs and to live in student housing.

And some people are upset by this. 

Among the upset are Christians.  On the news, I saw protestors carrying signs with Bible verses.  Stories are popping up on my social media feeds of students at Christian colleges and universities who are upset because their plans for the fall have been disrupted by vaccine requirements.  Their frustrations are supported by biblical texts.  One group of Christian students started a petition demanding the school’s leadership reject government rules on biblical grounds. 

Many of these attempts to use biblical texts and principles to challenge vaccine passports are quite weak.  But, under certain circumstances, it is possible to find a biblical justification for disobedience.  Here is my list of do’s and don’ts to help Christians use the Bible to present a strong challenge to government rules and restrictions, not just for vaccine passports, but for a wide variety of situations in which it is appropriate to actively challenge and even disobey earthly authorities.

For Christians, winning the argument and getting what we want isn’t the ultimate prize.  My assumption in compiling this list assumed that integrity in pursuit of the truth is our concern.


Don’t argue using the principle of Unity

Christian unity is very important.  After all, Jesus prayed for one thing and that was for unity amongst his disciples (John 17:11, 21-23).  Some Christians are using the unity argument to justify their position on all sorts of Covid-19 measures from masks to vaccination requirements.   This is ill-advised.  The problem is that both sides can use the unity argument.  And since the significant majority of British Columbians are vaccinated, some may argue that it falls on the minority to submit to the majority in order to preserve unity.  

Don’t argue that their motives are nefarious

This argument is out there, but Christians ought only to use it if there is, in fact, some sort of plot or power grab by the government and, by extension, Christian leaders who are adhering to government requirements.  I read one post that accused Christian leaders of following government guidelines “under the guise of protecting our community.”  Under other circumstances, this might be an effective argument, but in this case, the government’s actions can easily be viewed as motivated solely on protecting the community.   

Here is the line of reasoning that the government and its supporters follow to arrive at vaccine passports and other limitations:

  1. They think we are in the middle of a pandemic–the virus is contagious and it kills people.
  2. They believe that it is the government’s responsibility, among other things, to protect people. 
  3. They trust science and so they believe that there are two main ways to protect people in a pandemic–a lockdown or an effective vaccination. 
  4. They trust the data and believe that the vaccine is effective.
  5. They think that it is important that we respect people’s rights to not receive a vaccination.
  6. They think that another lockdown would be very bad for a lot of people–lots of businesses would fold, education would be compromised, and mental health would suffer, to name a few.
  7. They conclude a hybrid system (whereby the vaccinated can go to a movie, and the unvaccinated can’t) is the best way to both protect people’s rights to refuse the vaccine and protect other people from dying, while, at the same time, avoiding the negative effects of a full lockdown.

Because this line of argument makes sense, these people will not take seriously an accusation that there is an ulterior motive at work.  

If you still want to accuse the powers that be of some sinister motive,  you need to be specific and the sinister motive must be, at least, plausible.  

Don’t be careless with the Bible  

Some people will believe that the very presence of a Bible verse makes our position biblical.   But we need to be careful.  The Bible is the Word of God, so it goes without saying that it needs to be treated accordingly.  We can’t just Google “Bible verses about freedom” and then argue that they all support our freedom to attend a basketball game without two doses.  For instance, John 8:36 (“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”) does not say that no one has a right to limit my freedom in any way.  Used in this way, one can manipulate the Bible to justify anything.  

Scripture is authoritative in the life of a Chrisitan, so we must have Biblical support for our position, but the Bible must be used responsibly.   I’m not saying that you need to be a Bible scholar to quote the Bible, but you can’t just toss verses in here and there.  You have to do a little bit of thinking in order to line up what you want the Bible to say and what it actually says.

Don’t be too quick to cry “Discrimination!”:

Discrimination is a powerful word these days.  I understand the desire to harness such power for our side, but its power should be used simply as a rhetorical tool–this demeans actual discrimination. 

For many people, discrimination is real, not an abstract concept.   When we use the term in this diminished sense, it diminishes the very real experience of others.   You see, unlike discrimination by gender, race, sexual orientation, or even socioeconomic position, the category of unvaccinated is not rigid.   An unvaccinated person can move to the vaccinated category very easily.  And as soon as the pandemic is over, so too will be the vaccine restrictions.  By the strictest definition of the term, there is discrimination (like when I discriminate ripeness of avocados in the grocery store) going on here, but because the categories are not rigid and temporary, applying it to ourselves in this instance, is inappropriate.

One of the most frequently used, or misused, Bible verses that is brought to bear against the “discrimination” in vaccine passports is Galatians 3:28.

28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

If we read one verse further we realize that this verse is about unity in Christ transcending ethnic, social, and gender distinctions. It does not mean that no Christians should ever be treated differently than any other Christian.  As a matter of fact, Jesus excludes some from the alter (Matthew 5:23) and Paul excludes some Christians from Communion (1 Corinthians 11: 27-34).

Don’t appeal to Pagan Idols

By pagan, I mean “unlit by the light of the gospel.”  In essence, pagans worship idols.  What is an idol?  I am riffing off Tim Keller here: Christians believe that God created everything and he called it all good.  So we have the ultimate thing, God, and a bunch of good things.   When God made people, he made them “in his image” (Genesis 1:26-27).  We are above the good things.  We are to enjoy the good things, worship God, and love our neighbour.   Idolatry is when we worship a good thing instead of God.  This inversion always results in dehumanization and often in human sacrifice.  This is why idol worship is, in God’s view, a detestable practice.  In the ancient world, when we made fertility the ultimate thing, children end up on the altars of the fertility gods. 

A good thing, fertility, replaced God as the ultimate thing, and people suffered.   Our culture has largely abandoned the worship of the true God and replaced him with many different idols.  Wealth, success, beauty, fame, and pleasure are some of the common ones. The worship of each of these has resulted in a wake of human suffering and misery.  Perhaps the most important deity in our society today is individual autonomy, aka “Freedom” or “Rights.”  These are good things–they can’t be the main thing.  When they are, people are sacrificed.  (Watch my video on this subject here.)

Christians ought not to invoke the names of these pagan gods to challenge the government or its policies.  For one thing, these gods have no authority over Christians.  But more importantly, if we allow these false gods to force the opening up of the dorms, restaurants, and sports teams to both vaccinated and unvaccinated, human lives would necessarily be sacrificed on the alters to these pagan gods.  God will find this detestable. 

So when making your placards, Instagram posts, and petitions, be very careful that you do not invoke the names of these good things as if they were the ultimate things. 

This is my list of “Don’ts.”

In my next post, I offer some things we can do and conclude with the one biblical exemption that permits Christians to resist the authorities God has placed over us.  (Read it here.

Why Does the Bible Compare Us to Sheep?

The Bible is full of references to sheep and shepherds, and while I didn’t raise sheep in the Holy Land, sheep are still sheep, and my experiences have helped me to understand the parallels that the biblical authors draw between sheep and his people. And let me tell you, the comparison is not always complimentary.

Going Back to Church with “Those” People

Soon, we will be returning to in-person church services.

As is often the case, in my church, there were differences of opinions over the wearing of masks and the safety of vaccines.  There was more disagreement over the appropriate Christian response to the governmental closures of religious gatherings and quite a bit of controversy over the use of our church building as a vaccination site.

Since last March, I have been researching the Covid-19 pandemic.  I’ve read all kinds of articles from various perspectives, and I have read whole books on the subject.  I went to a Liberal Arts university, so I have some ability to understand science and as I digested all this material, I developed opinions that I believe are the right ones–they are grounded in my analytical skills and my expertise in the evaluation of sources; they are built upon my understanding of human nature and culture derived from a lot of experience and more than a little reading; they rest upon the foundation of 40 years of deeply reading and studying the Bible.  And lastly, conversations with experts.

So I am confused, frustrated, and sometimes angered by those who do not share my opinions on the Christian response to the various issues arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

I can’t believe they could be so dumb and so unfaithful to the general themes of scripture, the teachings of Jesus Christ our Lord, and the instructions of Paul to the early church.

And soon, I will be sitting in the pew next to these people with whom I have disagreed.  One’s whose views I believe are totally wrong.  And we will together be worshiping our Lord and King.   So how is that supposed to work?

[click_to_tweet tweet=”I am frustrated by those who do not share my opinions on the Christian response to the issues arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. And soon, I will be sitting in the pew next to these people. And we will together be worshiping our Lord. How?” quote=”I am frustrated by those who do not share my opinions on the Christian response to the issues arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. And soon, I will be sitting in the pew next to these people. And we will together be worshiping our Lord. How?”]

The Screwtape Letters (1942) by C. S. Lewis offers us some help here.     In The Screwtape Letters, a senior demon named Screwtape provides advice to a novice tempter, his nephew Wormwood, about how best to lead his human ”patient” to damnation.  “Our Father,” then is Satan, and “the Enemy” is Jesus Christ.  Screwtape’s letters give a pretty clear indication as to how the demons plan to use the disagreements about WWII to weaken the church and thwart any of the purposes that God might have through the turmoil.   These demonic intentions are no different in our current situation and it is clear from Lewis’s book that we will either be agents of heaven or the instruments of hell as we encounter events like Covid-19.  Indeed, we already have been.

I have found in these letters three insights that will make it possible for me to come together in worship next to those with whom I disagree on all the issues around the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Best We Knew

In the fifth letter, Screwtape talks about the Second World War.   Obviously, this was a big deal for the original audience of Lewis’s book; it was a time of tremendous turmoil and uncertainty.  He explains to Wormwood,

But, if we are not careful, we shall see thousands turning in this tribulation to the Enemy, while tens of thousands who do not go so far as that will nevertheless have their attention diverted from themselves to values and causes which they believe to be higher than the self. I know that the Enemy disapproves many of these causes. But that is where He is so unfair. He often makes prizes of humans who have given their lives for causes He thinks bad on the monstrously sophistical ground that the humans thought them good and were following the best they knew.

As you can see from this excerpt, in times of turmoil and uncertainty, the demons want to exacerbate division by turning my focus on the rightness of my own position and the wrongness of those who disagree with me.

This is exactly what has happened during the pandemic.  We’ve taken opposing opinions about masks and vaccines and church closures and using the church as a vaccination site.   I am right, obviously.  If you can’t see that, you are obviously wrong.  So how can we get along?  Well, we can’t because not only are you wrong, you are ignorant and probably not even really a Christian.  Have you thought this?  It’s exactly what the demons want, and exactly what God does not.

The amazing thing about this passage is that all our passion about masks, or vaccines, or church closures might be completely misplaced.  And God’s OK with that.  As long as we are looking to values and causes higher than the self.  God wants us to look beyond ourselves–to principles that we believe to be important because we believe we are being faithful to his will.

So there is a lot of soul searching required.  How much of my passion is about serving the self?  Be honest, some of it is.  If you think you are 100% focused on the good of the Kingdom, you don’t know yourself very well.

Let’s get back to the point: How can I get along with people on the opposite side of the issues?  They held their views because they thought they were the right ones.  God doesn’t care very much if they were wrong.  And neither should I.

And be honest, there is a possibility that you were the one who was wrong.  Take comfort in the truth that God likes it that you were trying to be faithful.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”How can I get along with people on the opposite side of the issues?  They care about the issue and they think they are right.  God cares more that they care than that they are right.   #Covid-19 #Church #Disagreements #Issues” quote=”How can I get along with people on the opposite side of the issues?  They care about the issue and they think they are right.  God cares more that they care than that they are right.”]

Don’t be Extreme

If you still wonder if you can go back to church with those people, here’s a second insight.  In the seventh letter, Screwtape returns to a subject he refers to in an earlier letter.  Again, in the context of the Second World War, Christians obviously took opposing positions regarding the appropriate Christian response to the war.  Some were in favour of the war and others opposed it.   I’m sure that there was a lot of division within the church, and strong feelings, and broken relationships–and behaviours akin to unfollowing someone on Facebook.  Even without social media, there were arguments about which side was faithful, and which was in league with the forces of hell.

So here’s what the demons are up to.  Screwtape says,

I had not forgotten my promise to consider whether we should make the patient an extreme patriot or an extreme pacifist. All extremes, except extreme devotion to the Enemy, are to be encouraged. Not always, of course, but at this period. [The current age is] unbalanced and prone to faction, and it is our business to inflame [it].

It’s like Lewis has written these words for today, not just for 80 years ago.  Did you notice what side the devils are on?  Neither!  The side doesn’t matter, they just want the extremes.  Extremes are emotional and unstable, and they create divisions that are difficult to overcome–because of the damage they create; people on the extremes can’t listen, they can only shout.  I watch the exchanges on Twitter.  If you have a Twitter account, you know exactly what I am talking about.  Extreme this, versus extreme that.  They talk as if those with whom they disagree are in league with the devil.  What they don’t understand is the devil isn’t on one side or the other.  The devil is behind the demonizing of others regardless of the side.

The divisions in our culture are getting more and more extreme–liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans.  And Covid-19 created new issues with new extremes.  The issues are in the church, but we need to keep the extremes out.  In the States, many politicians and much of the media know better but are using the extremes, both sides, for their own political ends.  This, whether liberal or conservative, whether mask or no mask, is what makes the devils dance with hateful glee.  We can’t expect those in politics and media to live in obedience to the king, but it is expected from the children of God.  By his Spirit, we must stay away from the extremes.

It’s not too difficult to infer that God isn’t very concerned about what side we are on.  He is a lot more interested in you still talking to your brothers and sisters in Christ.  And singing with them, and praying.  And disagreeing with them, and still finishing your coffee and shaking hands when you leave each other.

If God doesn’t really care which side you are on, then neither should I.

Charity and Humility

In the sixteenth letter, the local church is described as being “a unity of place and not of likings.”   It brings together people with whom you might not naturally associate too closely. In the church, different classes, generations, races, and political views come together in unity in a particular place.  This is the kind of unity the Lord desires.  The devils want divisions about “likings”:

The real fun is working up hatred between those who say “mass” and those who say “holy communion” . . . .  And all the purely indifferent things—candles and clothes and what not—are an admirable ground for our activities. We have quite removed from men’s minds what that pestilent fellow Paul used to teach about food and other unessentials—namely, that the human without scruples should always give in to the human with scruples. You would think they could not fail to see the application.

We will always have disagreements.  They had them in the early church and we have them now.  The argument around circumcision was a big deal; it was about fully understanding the extent of Grace.  But not all conflict is as significant. Screwtape calls these “unessentials.”  I think sometimes, when we are in the middle of it all, we can’t tell if we are dealing with a serious issue or an unessential liking.  A good rule of thumb is that the closer it gets to Christ, the more essential it is.

The Corinthian church had a contentious issue to deal with.  The issue was about eating meat that has been associated with idol worship.  Most of the meat available in the Corinthian marketplace and at public social gatherings was associated with idol worship.  You can imagine that some Christian thought it was was a sin to eat this meat and that Christians must, then, eat only vegetables.  Others argued that since the Greek gods didn’t exist, the meat was fine.  You can imagine the same passions from both sides of the issue as we have about masks and vaccines and defying government closures and using the church as a vaccination site.

So what does Paul say? Well, he says, go ahead and eat the meat.  But then he says that love is more important than anything else, so consider how eating meat will affect others and refrain from any action that will cause others to stumble.

I’m not sure which side is supposed to move when it comes to the Covid 19 issues.  We have to determine who might be stumbling.  I won’t be stumbling.  That means I’m the one that is supposed to concede.  Crap!

Hell wants us to focus on being right and heaven wants us to focus on loving each other.  When we thwart the plans of the demons, the church becomes “a positive hotbed for charity and humility.”  Whatever side we are on, we’ve got to get out of the “fight because you are right” mindset and embrace an attitude of love.

There are a lot more issues pulling against Church unity today.  It’s not just the Covid-19 pandemic.  Most of the issues have nothing to do with orthodox doctrines about Jesus Christ. I wonder if we can’t take these three insights into all the big issue conflicts we find ourselves in.

  1. Believe in your position, but remember that God is more interested in motives than rightness.
  2. Don’t be extreme, except in your devotion to Him.
  3. If your causing your brother to stumble, his position is the one we are going with.

These are the three insights that I will be trying to remember as we head back into in-person corporate worship because Christ prayed for unity above all things.  These are the very circumstances in which he prays it.  Who am I to place my desire to be right (even though I am…stop it! Just stop it!) above the prayers of the King?

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