What should a Christian response to the Coronavirus look like? There is so much misinformation available today about COVID-19. Social media is filled with panicked messages and outlandish suggestions for avoiding the virus. The news media offers hour by hour reports of cancellations, quarantines, shortages. Some of the suggestions given might actually be helpful, but as you sift through what they report, bear in mind that the media is in the business of selling stories and gaining the largest audience share. Caveat emptor.
So, as a Christian, how should you react to this pandemic? I would suggest first relying on a credible source for information about where the virus is, how to protect yourself, and, if you should become infected, how you should then react. The CDC would be a far better choice than Facebook!
Back in the 14th century, long before the days of modern medicine, Europe was decimated by the Black Plague. In fact, the plague is estimated to have killed about 25 million people in Europe—about one third of the population of the continent! This was clearly a very, very serious situation. Martin Luther was one of the great theologians of the day, and he was asked how Christians should respond to this health crisis. Here’s what he said:
I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”
That sounds like reasonable advice to me! So a Christian response to the Coronavirus boils down to this:
- Take reasonable precautions
- Don’t take unnecessary chances
- Take care of your neighbors
- Put yourself in God’s hands, and leave the rest to Him.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (emphasis added).
 Full disclosure: A friend posted this Martin Luther quote to Facebook, which prompted me to write this article. So, do I need to rethink that statement? No, I’m going to stick with caveat emptor!
 Luther’s Works Volume 43 pg. 132 the letter “Whether one may flee from a Deadly Plague” written to Rev. Dr. John Hess.