Recovering Christian Ethics in the Age of Covid19

These months of Covid19 have been wearing on our souls and our spirits.  Numbers on the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center Global Map continue to rise. Each number representing another precious life ended, another family in grief.

What has been most troubling to me are those who have chosen not to take the disease seriously. I’ve been distressed by a health crisis turned into a political football. I’m discouraged when I hear someone look at the numbers of deaths and discount the dead as “only the vulnerable.”  In a Christian world-view we look out for each other.  We care what happens to our neighbors.

Barbara Brown Taylor tells a powerful story about watching out for each other in her book,  *God in Pain.  One day Barbara’s ninety-seven year old friend  began to talk about her childhood.    Barbara writes,  “She told me about a summer’s day when she and some of her girlfriends hitched up their long skirts and climbed Mount Washington in The White Mountains of New Hampshire. They went too far and stayed too long, she said, and before they knew it the beautiful summer sunset they were watching had turned into a foggy dusk – so that no one could see their hands in front of their faces.

No one had a flashlight – flashlights hadn’t been invented yet – and no one knew for sure which way was down, but they agreed they would all hold hands and that they would not, under any circumstance, let go of one another. So that is how they did it . . . one girl at the front, picking her way down the mountain one step at a time and all the rest of them strung out behind her, holding onto each other’s wrists so that they made a living human chain. Every now and then, someone would want to argue about which way to go and the others would listen, but what none of them did was let go.

“Sometimes,” her friend said, “all I knew or could see of the world was the hand ahead of me and the one behind. Sometimes my arms ached so badly I thought I would cry out loud, but that is how we made it at last. We found our way home by holding on to one another.”

Ethics are embedded in our actions.  They speak to our deepest beliefs and attitudes.   Wearing a mask, is not a political statement but it can be a Christian one.  It says, “I care about you.  I care about your health and your well-being.”   While Covid19 is a strange illness, today we know more about protecting one another. We know that social distancing, wearing a mask and avoiding crowded indoor spaces cuts down on the transmission of the disease.  We know that not paying attention to these simple guidelines is fueling Covid19, raising hospitalizations and increasing deaths.    We know that  indifference is prolonging physical, emotional and economic suffering.

The only way out of a pandemic is by all of us working together . . . Each of us doing our part . . . Each of us caring for people around us . . . Each of us using the means available to us to protect one another . . . Each of us holding tight,  (in our hearts) to one another . . . And all the while, making sure that no one, but no one, is left behind.

“Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:10

* God in Pain Barbara Brown Taylor, 1998 Pg 79-80