Question:

If a law is passed that it is unlawful for the church to meet due to this coronavirus problem, would you obey it?

Answer:

We need to keep in mind that everything currently being discussed are temporary measures enacted in the hopes of keeping our healthcare system from being overloaded. We can't stop the spread of the virus. We can only slow the rate it spreads through society. Current projections are that this is going to last about a month or two.

While anything could happen, I suspect that it won't come to an outright ban on church services. What you are more likely to see are orders limiting the number of people meeting at the same place. For instance, I just heard on the news that the nearby city of Omaha is limiting gatherings to 50 or fewer people. This won't impact small churches, but it will definitely cause logistic problems for larger groups. (Since this was first written, the limit dropped to 10 or fewer people, which basically impacts everyone, and a few states have enacted total bans on assemblies.)

Thus, the first step is to see if we can fulfill God's commands within the boundaries of the current need. It might require some innovative thought, such as a large congregation temporarily splitting to multiple smaller services. Perhaps using video conferencing to limit the number of actual physical gatherings each week. Another idea tried is to pull into the parking lot, but have the families stay in their cars and have an abbreviated assembly there.

In essence, we should see this as a natural disaster, from which we will eventually recover. What happens in a community when a hurricane, tornado, or some other devastation occurs? We find a way to do fulfill the Lord's commands until we recover from the disaster. Consider that if a tornado went through town on a Saturday night and the town was locked-down to prevent looting, we would consider it a temporary hindrance to meeting for worship. I recall a time when a snowstorm brought my town to a complete halt for days because of downed trees and powerlines. We even had a hole in the back wall of the church building because the powerlines were literally ripped off the building. Those who lived near each other gathered for worship in someone's home. It was two weeks before we could meet in the building again, but we survived.

The difference here is that we have a natural disaster brewing that we cannot see and the impact of this disaster is not known. It could be minor. It could be hard-hitting. It doesn't hurt to be cautious, and we already know that some areas around this world were hit hard.

The very concept of isolation and distancing was promoted in Leviticus for contagious diseases, such as leprosy (Leviticus 13-14). Isolation was required even for someone suspected of leprosy until a firm diagnosis was able to be made. In our case, we have a disease that is spread long before symptoms are shown. To isolate to make sure someone does not have it is not unreasonable. Under the Jewish system, those who were unclean could not partake in the worship of God. We don't live under the Laws of Moses, but we should note that God understands the nature of diseases and the need to keep them from spreading.

A frequent question is: "Will God accept that I can't attend the assembly?" In speaking of giving, Paul gave this comment: "For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have" (II Corinthians 8:12).  There are people who would attend but are unable to do so because they are ill. God understands. We currently have a case where people don't know if they are ill yet and there are others whose health won't allow them to catch this disease. If you would be at services if you could, then do what you can and don't condemn yourself for what you cannot do.

Our plans are to continue meeting. We ask those who are at high risk to do what they must to reduce their risks. We ask those who are ill to stay home. At present, La Vista is split into three groups: those who cannot get out because of health issues and two groups of the healthy -- one group of ten meeting at the building and another group of ten meeting in one of the elders' home. The building group is broadcasting the Bible study and worship over YouTube's Livestream and members can text in their comments and questions during the Bible study. During the week, we are setting up multiple Bible studies for different age groups that will be conducted with video conferencing that is so far working well. The rest we will leave in God's hands.

Response:

Thanks for the information. You have given me some ideas that I believe will be helpful to all concerned. Therefore, I plan to talk to the men here about what we should do "in case". Since we are such a small congregation any laws passed are highly unlikely to affect us

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