Quarantine and Church Attendance

  • Hebrews 10:25 “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
  •  
  • Daniel 1:8 “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.”
  •  

There may come a day in the near future when mandatory stay-at-homes are regularly issued. At the time of this writing, COVID-19 was the reason for mandatory mass quarantine, and certain around the world have indicated that future events might necessitate more stay-at-homes. For this reason, it seems necessary to deal with this from a biblical perspective.

First of all, it must be pointed out that God never quarantined all of Israel all at once. You can read my article on “What If You Are Sick, Incapacitated, etc…?” to see God’s guidelines for individual separation. But God never issued a mass quarantine. Even when ruthless plagues ravaged Israel, God did not ever command everyone, the healthy and the sick, to stay in their house until the plague was gone. Such a move does not make sense. Businesses die that way. Economies die that way. People die that way. (The death of the first born in Egypt is called “plague” in Ex. 11, but it was God’s judgment on Egypt, not an actual disease, a picture of redemption under the blood, and only for one night.)

Secondly, mandatory stay-at-homes and mass quarantines force healthy believers to disobey God’s Word concerning the physical gathering together and assembling of ourselves together. Granted, as we saw in “Church and the Government”, Christians definitely should obey the laws of the government as long as those laws don’t contradict God’s law. Romans 13 and I Peter 2 instruct believers in obeying our secular leaders. And churches should never encourage the weak, sick, infirmed, etc… to attend church during pandemics (Read “What If You Are Sick, Incapacitated, etc…?”); only the healthy should attend. But the very word for church requires the assembly of believers. The assembling of ourselves together is one of the most basic, foundational, fundamental truths of Christianity. There is no more “church” if we neglect this fundamental truth.

So what should believers do? If mandatory quarantine, stay-at-home, etc… orders are given, consider the following:

  • – Find some way to not forsake the assembling of yourselves together. Look at the regulations carefully. Know the laws and your rights like Paul did in Acts 22:25. Is there some way, like Daniel did in Dan. 1, to accommodate both God and government? Can a tent be set up? Can you have drive-in church services with a short wave frequency for radio or loud speakers? Can believers be separated into small groups on the property of the church like some on the church buses, some in classes, some in the auditorium, and some in the fellowship hall?
  •  
  • – Like Daniel in Dan. 1:8, talk respectfully to your local leaders and see what can be done. See if you can assuage their fears like Daniel did with his superior in Dan. 1:12-13 with assurances that can be backed up.
  •  
  • – Make sure to catalog everything in your church services for proof. (II Cor. 8:21)
  •  
  • – Whatever you are allowed to do, go above and beyond the requirements to give the best testimony possible for the name of Christ. (I Cor. 10:31; I Pt. 2:12)
  •  
  • – Make sure you are assembling together. Online preaching is not assembling ourselves together nor is it exhorting one another nor are the brethren provoking unto love and good works nor is it the very meaning of church (“called out assembly”).
  •  
  • – Another option is dividing the church into various trusted peoples’ houses. In this way, the local church would be fulfilling both the assembling of ourselves together and the exhorting one another and the provoking one another unto love and good works and also hearing the online Bible preaching from their local church’s pastor. Although it has been abused and some therefore are completely opposed to the idea, biblically-formatted church services in people’s houses have been a regular practice from the early church to this present day from church plants to church persecution. (Rom. 16:5; I Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Col. 4:15; Philemon 1:2)
  •  
  • – There may be more options. I am just trying to get the reader to think.
  •  
  • – If there is not a way around stay-at-home orders, you must obey God not man. If at all possible, though, make sure to keep your eyes and ears open for anything the Lord can use to give you, your church, other believers, and your Savior a testimony before a lost world.
  •  
  • I Peter 2:12 “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
  •  
  • – Please note that even if the quarantine/stay-at-home orders are temporary, God did not give timed exceptions to the assembling of believers. If we are left to our own reasoning (many scriptures against that), one will decide two weeks, two months, or two years is an acceptable time to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. The law to pray only to the king in Daniel 8:7 was only for 1 month; 30 days. Yet Daniel did not wait one day!
  •  
  • – Daniel could have changed his prayer life and closed his windows like many changed their services and closed their church doors for the pandemic. The need to pray toward Jerusalem or to specifically pray three times a day were not even direct commands from God. They were examples from King Solomon, David, and Jonah. The assembly of the believers is a command. “So much the more” is a command.
  •  

No matter what you absolutely cannot forsake the physical, bodily assembling of ourselves together. Otherwise, you do not have “church.”