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Refuting Pro-Quarantine Arguments

In my last post, I discussed the underlying worldview problem many Christians have. These believers, though perhaps well-intentioned, have believed in two falsehoods that are in contradiction to what the Scriptures clearly teach. Firstly, they believe that the future can be known apart from Divine revelation. Secondly, they believe that general conclusions can be soundly, inductively inferred. I began with these two assumptions because they are the most apparent, and they appear to be universal among those who are pro-quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. I then went on to state that I'd be dealing with the bad argumentation that has led to the current quarantine/lockdown situation we are facing in the world. This is what this post will be about.

But first, I want to make it known that I have not ever suggested, nor am I now suggesting, that COVID-19 isn't a real virus with serious health consequences, including death, for many. Having lost a family member to the virus, I know that it isn't a hoax. Having heard the testimony of loved ones regarding how fast and aggressive the virus is, I know that it really is dangerous and that we should be doing all that we can to be protecting those who are at risk. Contrary to popular opinion, however, one can know those things about COVID-19 and likewise know that hospitals and governing authorities are inflating numbers and misrepresenting the reality of the situation, the media is using the inflated numbers and incomplete data to profit off of their viewers' panic, and that a "universal" quarantine is neither morally acceptable nor rationally defensible.

Christians are called to be compassionate toward believers and unbelievers alike,1 but being compassionate doesn't entail jettisoning reason. If the first commandment is for us to love the Lord our God with all of our mind/heart,2 and the second is like it,3 then it follows that loving our neighbor as ourselves entails that we love him with our mind/heart as well. It is the case that we are to love God with all of our mind/heart, and it is the case that the command to love our neighbor as ourselves is like the first; therefore, it is the case that we are to love our neighbor with our mind/heart as well.

In the name of loving our neighbor, then, let us think clearly about the bad pro-quarantine argumentation that is being promoted by not an insignificant number of Christians, as well as many unbelievers.


Argument #1
"The Bible doesn't condemn quarantines. Therefore, quarantines are not in contradiction to the teaching of the Bible."
While Scripture does give instructions on how to quarantine infectious diseased individuals, its instructions do not match up with those of the present quarantine. Here are the reasons why.
  • Biblically, quarantine is commanded only for the infected individual. In our present case, the quarantine is required of all people.
  • Biblically, quarantine candidates must have symptoms indicating they are infected and highly contagious. In our present situation, everyone is being treated as if they are infected, despite not having any observable symptoms indicating they are infected and highly contagious.
  • In Scripture, if the infected have an incurable, highly contagious disease, then they are to be quarantined for the remainder of their life. In our present case, however, some have proposed that all people be quarantined indefinitely until there is a vaccine for COVID-19.
Argument #2
"If you don't quarantine, then you are likely endangering those who are at risk for a more severe case of COVID-19. And by doing that, you would not be loving your neighbor. You must love your neighbor by staying home!"
Sadly, this appeal to the second table of the Law of God is made by many today — believer and unbeliever alike  without any consideration being given to what the Scriptures teach us about loving our neighbor. In place of what the Bible teaches, many teach that love is, at root, a sentiment, a feeling of affection for others. 

The reality, however, is that the Bible defines love as the fulfilling of the Law. Romans 13:8-10  
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
"The Law" here refers not merely to the second table, but also the first table. So when giving consideration to what it means to love our neighbor, we cannot neglect the first table of the Law.

In the first table of the Law (i.e. commandments 1-4) we have the following commandments  

1. Exclusive worship of the only true God, the God of the Bible 
2. Absolute prohibition of graven images 
3. Absolute prohibition of taking God's name in vain 
4. Exclusive day of worship of the only true God
There are two major violations of the Law of God that are being committed when a quarantine of all people is forced upon them. These both can be found in the fourth commandment, which reads  
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.4
The first, and most obvious, commandment being broken by a universal quarantine is the command to keep the Sabbath holy. If God has commanded that one day in seven is to be set apart for worshiping him, and a quarantine keeps us from doing this, then we cannot comply with the quarantine.

But that is not all.


You see, the commandment tells us that the Sabbath day is to stand apart from the other six days in this one important regard  no work is to be performed on the Sabbath, whereas the other six days are ordained by God for working. God created us to work on the six days of the week. This also is a legal demand God makes of his image bearers, as Genesis 1:26-28 teaches us

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 
[...] 
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
The command to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it concerns the six non-Sabbath days of the week, whereas the fourth commandment concerns the Sabbath day. The Sabbath day and the work days complement one another, reminding us of our Creator and Covenant God. Without the creational mandate for man to work, the command for man to set apart the Sabbath for worship and not work is incoherent.

Universal quarantine, therefore, causes man to break God's command for him to work six days, as well as God's command for him to not work on the Sabbath.


Argument #3
"Okay. You have to work. But you can just do this from home. Why do you need to go outside to work? Stay home, work, and save lives."
This retort sounds reasonable. However, let us consider again the creation mandate of Gen 1:26-28. There we are told that God commands man to do the following  
  • Be fruitful
  • Multiply
  • Fill the earth
  • Subdue the earth
God commands all men to "fill the earth." This, however, can't take place while men are under quarantine. One cannot fulfill the command to be fruitful and multiply if he is unable to find a spouse, leave his home, establish a new home for his family, and fill his house with children who are free to come and go in order to fulfill their role as image bearers of God as well.
Moreover, one cannot subdue the earth if he is prohibited from traveling the earth and working on it.

Argument #4
"I understand your previous arguments, I do. But you need to remember that God has commanded us to submit to the government. It's for our own good."
Given that universal quarantine results in men breaking the Law of God several times over, this response is particularly egregious. The government's role is to reward good and punish evil. In our case, however, the governing powers (many, not all) have taken it upon themselves to punish what is good (e.g. working, traveling, building, selling, buying, worshiping God, and so on) and reward what is evil (e.g. not working, not traversing the land, not building, not selling, not buying, and not worshiping God). This means that we are under no obligation to obey the order to #stayathome.

Now, let me be clear: Just as the government can lawfully remove a criminal from society in order to keep its other citizens safe, the government can legally quarantine highly infectious symptomatic citizens (as in the case of  lepers in Leviticus 13) for the sake of keeping everyone else safe.


But just as the government cannot legally detain someone for possibly becoming a criminal later in life, the government cannot legally detain someone for possibly being a carrier of a virus that may, or may not, cause its host to become symptomatic later in life. Just as it is immoral for the government to arrest and imprison people on the presumption that they might become a criminal, it is immoral for the government to quarantine someone on the presumption that they might become carriers of a virus. 


Conclusion

While it is easy to succumb to the temptation to identify sentimentalism with love, that is not what Scripture teaches. Rather, love is the fulfillment of the law. Consequently, love cannot suspend the Law of God. The arguments being put forth in defense of the current universal quarantine, however, imply a disconnection between love and law, a disconnection that is entirely unbiblical.


Fulfilling the commands to work six days a week and rest on the Sabbath is not unloving. According to Scripture, it is an expression of love for God and our neighbor.

The truth is that it is the demand for those who are not symptomatic and highly contagious to quarantine themselves that is unloving toward God and neighbor.



1 See Col 3:12-13 & 4:5-6. 
2 Mark 12:30-31.
3 Matt 22:39.
4 Exodus 20:8-11.
Comments
John Bradshaw said…
Well argued Hiram. Some very helpful thoughts from Scripture here. So refreshing to get some good teaching to combat the barrage of lies from the MSM.