WARNING: This is one of those posts that’s going to lose me followers, get me in trouble, incur more dislike from friends and family, and you know what? I’m okay with that. I think. I have a lot of thoughts and this is my blog, so I’m venting them a little bit. This is definitely a disorganised hot take, so I apologise for that. You’re about to see a lot of raw Emily feelings.
I’ve been thinking over a J.C. Ryle quote this week. “What you are in the day of trial, that you are and nothing more.”
It is my deepest grief to say that, from what I’ve witnessed, the church is no longer the church.
What do I mean by this heavy accusation? I mean that we have substituted fear for worship, we have forsaken the body of believers, and we no longer treat people as brothers and sisters made in the image and likeness of God, but plague rats and disease cesspools.
The Covid Pandemic of 2020 has taken many things from us, including seemingly trivial things like entertainment and travel, and deeply important things like family members and precious lives. But what makes this a real horror story is the fact that one of our most important identifiers has been stripped away: our humanity.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, between the grievous sin of racism and the murder of abortion, we’ve been watching society steadily chip away at the Imago Dei for years. Cancel culture and the ability to completely disregard anybody who disagrees with you has only helped in heating relational tensions to a boiling point and spreading discord. Social media has turned comment threads into something out of Lord of the Flies. There is civil war everywhere you turn—not necessarily with weapons, but with sharp words. The political and social climate has reduced people to nothing more than inconveniences. Every person seems to see themselves as morally superior to everyone else. And with each man, woman, and child the god of their own life, what do others matter?
But now, we actively avoid one another. Don’t come too near another human being, they might KILL you! A scathing article in USA Today called all of us “potential serial killers” simply for breathing. We cloister in our houses, safe and secure from all human contact. We cover our faces when we dare exit our bubble, backing up whichever science suits our narrative.
I won’t take this time to weigh into the mask debate. I will say that when this started, I was determined to always be loving to my brethren and that if somebody was more comfortable talking to me through sheets of fabric, I’d oblige. The same loving curtesy to those who may have their anxiety triggered by wear a mask, however, has not been extended. I suppose only some peoples’ irrational fears are valid. Isn’t that how it goes in Animal Farm? All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others?
Our society has become so fond of masks that we even use them to disguise our motives! Churches are near empty, but that’s just because people love others soooo much that they can’t obey that pesky part in Hebrews where it says to not forsake the gathering of the body. People will look for any excuse to sin and none of these excuses are valid. If it’s not “everybody’s not wearing a mask!,” it’s “there’s no children’s church,” or something else. It is never convenient to give up your whole Sunday for church. But I can’t seem to remember Jesus ever saying, “Come to me, all ye who want leisure and security, and I will give you convenience.” We in 21st century America make such an idol out of personal safety and convenience, which is shocking given the sacrifice Jesus had to make for us. The cross stands in direct opposition of personal safety and convenience.
I am Covid exhausted. I’m frustrated with a seemingly spineless Christendom. I am tired of people being seen as disease carriers instead of image bearers. I am angry at the winking at sin. I am disheartened by seeing in this time of trial a weak, shivering church that doesn’t reflect the strong and sovereign God we serve. I’m sorry to be writing a frustrated hot take blog post, but all this has been pent up inside me and I’m hoping that by writing about it, I can just get it off my chest.
I wish I had the energy to defend the other side, as I do actually (despite what this frustrated blog post might tell you) strive to look at both or all sides of the argument. I try desperately to be gracious, but all energy is spent defending the fearful. Little energy is given to those who have visual or audio problems and struggle to communicate with those in masks. Little energy is expended on the extroverts who just want to see their loved ones in a healthy manner. Little energy is expended on the people who, after wearing a mask for a certain amount of time, experience claustrophobic panic attacks. Nobody cares about the child sitting with a pile of her own drool on her face, crusting her mask to her already eczema prone skin. Nobody cares about the people for whom church has become a place where they feel judgmental eyes on them. Nobody cares about the opposite side, because that’s not the side the media tells you to care about. And I’m so frustrated.
I just want to ask the church at large… When did we start taking cues from culture? When did we decide to let fear dictate how we live and serve? When did loving the weaker brethren ever mean excusing fear-based sin? When did we trade our trust in God for a sole dependence on man?
And there it is. My muddled, angry hot take. You have all witnessed my breakdown and I’m expecting about half of my friends to “unfriend” me. But seeing as we’re not allowed to visit friends anyway, I don’t think I’ll be that missed.