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COVID-19 & Church Membership

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  • COVID-19 & Church Membership

    My company finally made the decision a couple days ago to terminate all employees who refuse vaccination. I'm seeing winds of this in the church also.

    I'm not using the term "discrimination" in the common political sense that discrimination is necessarily unjust. Rather, I'm using it here to simply describe making distinctions between people and treating them differently, such as a clerk to a customer vs employee, or a man to his spouse vs children. The church is being forced to make decisions as to whether or not it will discriminate. Of course, this also applies to the CDC guidelines for mask wearing and social distancing but I'm focusing on vaccination because it will probably outlive the guidelines and is also being strictly used to determine employment status.

    Should the church discriminate between vaccinated & unvaccinated members and to what degree? What biblical warrant do you have to support your position?

  • #2
    It seems like your post is conflating two different situations. The first paragraph talks about churches and employees, but then you're asking about applying this to membership.

    As far as the latter, this reminds me of where Paul talked about the "weaker brother" and where different people have different levels of conviction. He didn't say that the weaker brother who would not eat meat that might have been sacrificed to idols was to be cast out of the church. And along those lines, I might personally think that people who refuse to get vaccinated are obstinate, but there is no grounds for spiritually condemning them.

    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

    Comment


    • #3
      As far as the latter, this reminds me of where Paul talked about the "weaker brother" and where different people have different levels of conviction. He didn't say that the weaker brother who would not eat meat that might have been sacrificed to idols was to be cast out of the church. And along those lines, I might personally think that people who refuse to get vaccinated are obstinate, but there is no grounds for spiritually condemning them.
      It doesn't have to be about condemning a church member, although it can be. Rather, in what way can or should the church discriminate between vaccinated & unvaccinated members? Should there be no discrimination, some, plenty, or, as stated earlier, condemned as some might see it in terms of being disallowed communion and baptism for example?

      Comment


      • #4
        Mandates should not be considered legal, moral, or scriptural.
        That's what
        - She

        Without a clear-cut definition of sin, morality becomes a mere argument over the best way to train animals
        - Manya the Holy Szin (The Quintara Marathon)

        I may not be as old as dirt, but me and dirt are starting to have an awful lot in common
        Stephen R. Donaldson

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Bill the Cat View Post
          Mandates should not be considered legal, moral, or scriptural.
          By "mandates" do you mean an elder/pastor led decision to discriminate between vaccinated & unvaccinated members?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by nico View Post

            By "mandates" do you mean an elder/pastor led decision to discriminate between vaccinated & unvaccinated members?
            I mean no one should discriminate. It is personal medical information.
            That's what
            - She

            Without a clear-cut definition of sin, morality becomes a mere argument over the best way to train animals
            - Manya the Holy Szin (The Quintara Marathon)

            I may not be as old as dirt, but me and dirt are starting to have an awful lot in common
            Stephen R. Donaldson

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Bill the Cat View Post

              I mean no one should discriminate. It is personal medical information.
              So church leadership shouldn't discriminate based on personal medical information. Some would argue that heart disease and genetic abnormalities is personal medical information, but a highly infectious virus evidenced to hurt and kill other people is not. Putting others interests before ourselves, caring for older men and women(at risk groups) as mothers and fathers comes to mind. International mission trips often require vaccination status to malaria, by example, before engaging. Is that not also personal medical information or should the church not ask those questions?

              Comment


              • #8
                I would be fine with refusing to employ somebody unvaccinated who was in charge of childcare, since this is legally permissible. This would have no bearing on membership; it relates to the business side of things (or possibly the volunteer side of things).
                Last edited by KingsGambit; 10-08-2021, 05:14 PM.
                "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
                  I would be fine with refusing to employ somebody unvaccinated who was in charge of childcare, since this is legally permissible.
                  How so? The risk of COVID to children of that age is minuscule.
                  Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

                  Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio
                  sigpic
                  I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
                    How so? The risk of COVID to children of that age is minuscule.
                    True, but they can bring it home to their parents.
                    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by nico View Post
                      My company finally made the decision a couple days ago to terminate all employees who refuse vaccination. I'm seeing winds of this in the church also.

                      I'm not using the term "discrimination" in the common political sense that discrimination is necessarily unjust. Rather, I'm using it here to simply describe making distinctions between people and treating them differently, such as a clerk to a customer vs employee, or a man to his spouse vs children. The church is being forced to make decisions as to whether or not it will discriminate. Of course, this also applies to the CDC guidelines for mask wearing and social distancing but I'm focusing on vaccination because it will probably outlive the guidelines and is also being strictly used to determine employment status.

                      Should the church discriminate between vaccinated & unvaccinated members and to what degree? What biblical warrant do you have to support your position?
                      I agree with KG that you seem to be talking about church as an employer and church membership issues. I'm going to respond to both.

                      Church as an Employer: to get the benefits of being able to own property and give a tax break to it's members, church have to set-up legally as a corporation and register with the IRS as a 501(c) charity. At that moment, the church has become a business and compromised itself to the government. So if the government mandates all employees have to vaccinated, I don't see much room for the church to refuse. I don't think the courts will be sympathetic to a religious exception unless the church can point to it's long standing and not a recent discovery in the last year or so.

                      Church Members: this is a lot trickier as church membership is a voluntary. I agree with the poster who said the church has no business prying into members' private medical information. Setting up discrimination seems to violate the spirit of James 2:1-4 and Galatians 3:28. I don't think the leadership should be setting up a discriminatory system. However, I think the membership needs to be considerate of other members. For example, my mother has an underlying condition that makes getting Covid potentially worse. The church should be a place where she can be comfortable disclosing this and the other members responding accordingly. Also, the membership may need to make special effort to connect regularly with members who are staying away due to fears of Covid exposure. I think now it's time for the church to stand-up and show the world what love really is.

                      "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

                      "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post

                        True, but they can bring it home to their parents.
                        The risk of transmission by children of that age is also minuscule.
                        Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

                        Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio
                        sigpic
                        I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post

                          I agree with KG that you seem to be talking about church as an employer and church membership issues. I'm going to respond to both.
                          Gotcha. To clarify, my company is not a church, and I don't mean church as an employer but I can see why you would, although that is also worth discussion. I'm more interested in church membership. I used my company as an example of what the secular world is doing and stated "there is winds of this in the church also", meaning that the church reacts and is putting actions together in similar vein to the secular world, as is normally the case when discrimination (or no discrimination) takes place at the national level (e.g., homosexuality). Again, the term "discrimination" does not necessarily mean something negative but simply distinguishing between people groups and treating them differently. Apologies for the confusion.


                          Church Members: this is a lot trickier as church membership is a voluntary.
                          I don't disagree with the other things you said. On this part, I don't know if church membership being a voluntary notion is meaningful in terms of church authority. It really shouldn't bear any weight to making judgments, although I recognize that it does.

                          Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post

                          True, but they can bring it home to their parents.
                          I think this identifies the underlying paradigm shift taking place. This is a fundamentally different position to justify discrimination that has ever been historically tolerated by either the church or the state. Forcing or coercing either the vaccine or other guidelines on otherwise healthy, not at-risk people on behalf of other persons or groups is perceived as undemocratic. I perceive this as a very new idea, so the church should be cautious to adopt it.

                          In the OT there was clear guidance for treating disease (Lev 13-15). They were not permitted in the assembly. They were to identify themselves as diseased if anyone approached them ("Unclean! Unclean!"). But this did not pertain to exposure (however that is defined), that is, people with no symptoms (notwithstanding touching dead bodies, etc.).


                          Scripture Verse: Lev 13:45-46

                          45 “The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip[b] and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ 46 He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.

                          © Copyright Original Source


                          It might be said we know more about disease from modern medicine therefore we should improve on this instruction to include restrictions on asymptomatic persons. That can be argued, but what biblical warrant would a church have to require a COVID vaccine before a member can partake of church community & sacraments? What level of authority does the state have, or the scientific community, to dictate either doctrine or practice in the church?

                          I think the loving neighbor type passages come into play here. But surely we would need to be tentative to stretch those passages to justify total discrimination (community & sacrament exclusion). I imagine there are sensible, biblically permissible compromises that does not leave the door open to suffer the fate of Eastern European churches in the face of the former Soviet Union.



                          Comment


                          • #14
                            We have made it very clear from the beginning that "Church is open", and we will observe reasonable precautions, but we will not stop "being the Church".

                            I have actually had somebody suggest a "vaccinated" and "non-vaccinated" section, and I very politely responded "we don't have a 'black' and a 'white' section, and we're not going to divide the Church along any other lines either".

                            We have made it very clear - if you are not ready to come back to church, you can watch us on Facebook or Youtube, but we have plenty of room to spread out.

                            Funny - the lady who brought this up to me is often seen in HEB and Walmart not wearing a mask, and in close proximity to others at the checkout counter.
                            The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                              We have made it very clear from the beginning that "Church is open", and we will observe reasonable precautions, but we will not stop "being the Church".

                              I have actually had somebody suggest a "vaccinated" and "non-vaccinated" section, and I very politely responded "we don't have a 'black' and a 'white' section, and we're not going to divide the Church along any other lines either".

                              We have made it very clear - if you are not ready to come back to church, you can watch us on Facebook or Youtube, but we have plenty of room to spread out.

                              Funny - the lady who brought this up to me is often seen in HEB and Walmart not wearing a mask, and in close proximity to others at the checkout counter.
                              My church's senior pastor was hospitalized, and a worship leader just passed away. Another pastor wasn't hospitalized but did go in for an antibody infusion.

                              Are we saying that this is merely a conscience issue? It seems that at least the "at-risk" category of people have reason to be tentative. Is the lack of action to protect them passive discrimination? We discriminate between children and adults with nursery & preschool regulations in order to protect them. What's the difference? What comes to mind here is maybe CDC guidelines vs established regulation, news media narratives, and overall politicization of these issues.

                              Comment

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