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Corona, Corona

Not a good example of social distancing . . .

Thanks for all of your work on these posts.

I notice the Lord’s hand on this virus. He has done this in a way that protects children, exposes hearts, and knocks over idols (NBA, NCAA, PGA, MLB, NHL, and maybe the Olymipics).

Blessings to you.

JP

JP, yes, more than a little divine iconoclasm going on.

Thank you for your two articles on the Corona virus. I’ve been struck for the last couple of month how historically plagues/sicknesses have been reasons to cause the church to repent and yet I’ve heard nothing along these lines until now. Of course God doesn’t want us to return to ‘what it was like before’ so how can we pray along those lines? I’m in China, and we’ve had online church for about 6 weeks now. Churches that had been tolerated were told to close. My fear is that we will never get the signal to say “the virus is over, let’s move back to the unofficially tolerated situation you were in.” Please pray for us.

And when it applies to you, please keep posting how Christ Church is responding to the virus. Online services seem to be a good emergency step under lock down, but it poses big question about things like communion. If the main services closed down and were done online, would things like communion stop (and would it be seen as a sign of God’s discipline that you weren’t able to worship him as before?) or would it continue in some other form? Would it be appropriate for home groups to act as church for a period – assuming that meetings of 20 or so were allowed, but nothing bigger?

Thanks

Josh

Josh, we would want to discourage taking communion at home. It would, in my view, do more harm than good. It would be sort of an oxymoronic koinonia, which is the last thing we need right now.

Thank you for this very thoughtful and timely article. May I please ask for more regarding Romans 13 vs “Public Safety.” Every tyrant has cried “Public Safety” to sell restrictions to God -given rights, and the freedom of assembly, while currently imprudent to exercise, cannot be stripped but by due process. No POTUS, SCOTUS, FBI nor CDC can either veto Natural Law or save a soul. God is not mocked. Nebuchadnezzar is getting his comeuppance, as you foretold.

Please forgive us if we’re slow to grant them the benefit of the doubt.

Ron

Ron, I understand fully why you don’t want to grant the benefit of the doubt. This is why I believe that the leaders of the church should monitor the whole situation on a week-to-week basis. But right now, it is not as though churches are being specially targeted, not at all.

Regarding “At Least No Presidential Candidate Has Called It COVID-18 Yet,” I found it highly amusing that soon after I read this post, I read an email with the subject line “SEBTS Update: Monitoring COVID-18.” (Not long after the first, I received the requisite “Correction:” email.) I like to think that there is a Doug Wilson fan at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, having a bit of fun with all of us. Alas, the email was sent before your post. Perhaps we should just ascribe the humor to the Almighty Hand of Providence.

David

David, that’s always a safe ascription in many situations.

Letters From the Doghouse

RE: In The Doghouse This is essentially the plot of Hemingway’s “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.”

Ken got off easier , I think.

Thomas

Thomas, thanks. Maybe he did.

n response to “Not in the Doghouse”: the vignette tidily suggests the woman left because she could no longer control her spouse through guilt. That would be an extremely unhealthy and unfortunate dynamic. In this story, though, I am left wondering what else was going on. I have read nearly identical narratives in which it turns out that the reformed spouse had been abusive, and was using the influence of the church to exert social control over his partner. I am uneasy about morality tales like this one because of the complete consistency between it and actual accounts of abuse. Respectfully,

Christina

Christina, thanks for the note. But if I might reply, with equal respect, the advantage of such a tale is that it is hypothetical. I made it up to illustrate a situation where the woman had by far the deeper and more serious problem. Now I know there are many situations where that is not the case, and where the abusive man feigns repentance, etc. But not in this one, and I know that because I made it up. The wife here was never abused by her husband, but routinely abused him. Not only that, her father was a kind and gentle soul, who always gave her what she wanted, which was the original source of the problem. So unless we are prepared to say that the wife is never the problem (which our culture currently wants to do), we have to acknowledge the way it tends to work out when she is the problem. The tale I told represents real situations, as they actually are. Only a partisan would say that it “has to be the man,” or “it has to be the woman.” We are a sinful

RE: Not in the Doghouse:

Ok, Mr. Wilson, I’m surprised you didn’t notice the real villain here is the elder’s wife who overheard the conversation in the parking lot. Had she just kept quiet, as she should have, everything would have been fine and the marriage still intact. But instead, she had to gossip and share the juicy morsel with the pastor’s wife who then told her husband who then stuck his nose into Ken’s business, and in short order, a marriage is destroyed.

Now I’m not the expert here, but I’m pretty sure the Bible has some advice about gossips and what to do with them. Mayhaps the church needs some strong policy documents on how to administer proper discipline in this regard, eh?

David

David, I think you are pulling my leg. But with the off-chance that you are not, I wrote the story (see above) in such a way as to keep the elder’s wife free of any hint of gossipy motives.

Thank you for “Not in the Doghouse” about “Ken” and “Cherise.” Ken was acceptable to Cherise only while she had a club to beat him with. In your example, Ken had a definite sin problem that needed to be dealt with and repented of. Cherise had Ken right where she wanted him. I’d like to mention a few other variations on this topic and get some feedback. There are Kens out there who are tempted by porn partly for reasons related to their spouse’s unilateral and years-long refusal to be a wife. Despite I Cor 7:5, wives know that refusal of sexual intimacy is a very sneaky and effective club because it’s one that husbands generally won’t discuss with anyone. For the husband who still loves his wife, hope deferred really does make the heart sick (Prov 13:12). Of course, sin on the husband’s part is totally inexcusable regardless. There are other cases where the wife, seeking to justify her own rebellion, believes the husband to be utterly sinful and believes herself a long-suffering and innocent victim of something she cannot define. The latter is illustrated by the old adage, “If a husband speaks in the forest, and there’s no woman around to hear him, is he still wrong?” where the husband, from the wife’s viewpoint, can’t do anything right and she wants to pound that theme home.

My question is, how do any of these Kens, with the support of their pastor and elders, manage their households and compassionately influence their wives in the direction of godliness? What if the wife steadfastly dismisses them all?

Thank you,

R

R, thanks for writing, and this is a very real problem. It is not a universal problem, but it a very real one. I would suggest, initially, three things to do. The first would be to clean house personally before the Lord, confessing all your sins, including especially the sins of bitterness and resentment. Secondly I would whatever you can to educate yourself on your options — whether familial, financial, theological, etc. Study the problem as though it were a class you are taking, because it is. Here is one place to start. And third, I would take the situation to your pastor and elders, and request that they provide you with guidance over what to do.

Oaths and Vows

I enjoy reading your blog, and have been greatly edified by it, so a hearty thank you is in order. The question I have concerns an older blog post, which is an annotation of Westminster XXII, concerning oaths and vows.

Westminster (and your notes) observe that oaths that bind to grievous and difficult requirements are legitimate, as long as those requirements are not sinful. However, you mention that a vow to abstain from alcohol is something that would not be binding.

Is this suggesting that vowing to abstain from alcohol is sinful, or perhaps only sinful in some scenarios? Does it make a difference if the promise was made to a person (an oath, which is the situation I am in) rather than it being a vow?

Thank you again, your willingness to take Scripture at its word is a delight.

Luke

Luke, generally when people have taken a vow to refrain from alcohol, it is done under a false representation. This is the idea that Scripture prohibits the use of alcohol, and the person, a young Christian, say, is told that God requires this from him. He wants to obey God, and so he takes the vow. Later, he discovers that God did not in fact require this. When you discover that the contract you signed had a number of false representations in it, there comes a time when you can abrogate the contract.

The Grandparents’ View

In your videos on Why Children Matter, you mention that grandparents should refrain from offering unsolicited advice to their children on parenting matters. Elsewhere, you encourage church members to check up on younger parents whose children are a bit out of control. Also, your family members describe cultivating a non-defensive attitude about criticisms of their children. Are you advising a different approach for grandparents specifically? How does one decide if saying something to a fellow parent would be helpful or unhelpful meddling? Thank you!

Rebekah

Rebekah, no, not a different approach, although I think grandparents should exercise an extra measure of caution. Because they are so close, and because they may still be correcting their grown children in ways that they cannot even see, they need an extra helping of humility in this. Their comments may be entirely invisible to them. But with that said, I do think that grandparents have important things to offer, and if we saw something serious going on with one of the grand kids, we would certainly ask their parents if they would be open for some input. But we would ask if they were open to the input, and would not just volunteer it. And we would not want to offer anything “in the moment.”

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kyriosity
kyriosity
1 year ago

To David — It’s not gossiping to report wrongdoing to proper authorities. If she’d witnessed a fellow church member holding up a liquor store, calling the cops would have been the right thing to do. If she’d seen a couple of ten-year-olds smoking behind the sanctuary, calling their parents would have been the right thing to do. In this case, calling the elders was the right thing to do. Now if she’d had gotten on the phone to her BFF Susie, that would have been gossip. The rule of thumb is to report such things to those who can help,… Read more »

JohnM
JohnM
1 year ago
Reply to  kyriosity

The proper authorities. I don’t know. Maybe. Sometimes. Depends. It’s Doug Wilson’s hypothetical scenario, but I can imagine bad motives besides gossip for rushing to report to “the authorities”, and I can imagine bad motives as well as good for the authorities swooping in to “help”.

All that said, the whole thing is a net gain for Ken. He gets shed of a sinful habit AND her.

Jane
Jane
1 year ago
Reply to  JohnM

We don’t get to decide whether our motives are good enough to do the right thing, or whether the proper authorities will have good motives if we do the right thing. Reporting something like this to the elders is the right thing to do for the sake of the people involved. The fact that someone might do it for the wrong reasons is completely irrelevant. The fact that someone might think she has pure motives in telling Susie is completely irrelevant — it’s not the right thing to do. I think Doug missed the point on relying on the purity… Read more »

JohnM
JohnM
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane

“suspicion arose because of an overheard conversation in the parking lot” Not only is it something less than crystal-clear that the right thing to do is report “something like this” to anyone, but reporting to the elders is not even what we are told the overhearer did. It is not made clear just how it got to the pastors ears. All made up, once again, so I guess we are to make some assumptions. Of course motives matter, to the good of the person doing the telling, if to nothing else, and of course, anyone taking it upon them self… Read more »

Jane
Jane
1 year ago
Reply to  JohnM

I agree that whether it was the right thing to do is relevant. I am saying that if it’s the right thing to do, the motives matter, but not to what I should do.

kyriosity
kyriosity
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane

“sufficient proof to convict” — She wasn’t convicting anybody, though. She witnessed a marital conflict being conducted in a public place, and presumably brought it to her husband’s attention, who in turn took appropriate action. This was a marriage that was lying wounded on the road to Jericho, and she did not pass by on the other side.

Andrew Lohr
1 year ago
Reply to  JohnM

Mt 18, she should’ve talked with them first? And maybe we assume she did. Or if she was afraid they might beat her to a pulp, maybe we assume Mt 18 would let her delegate a husky ex-Marine to do the Mt 18 first step for her. And we could assume she did; that she told ONLY the pastor (not even her husband; or he is her husband) and that his fast draw prowess is well known. Pastor sounds like at least the MT 18 second step, or maybe delegated first step. (The action of an agent is the action… Read more »

kyriosity
kyriosity
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Lohr

Matthew 18 says, “If your brother sins against you.” This wasn’t a personal offense against the elder’s wife, and it wasn’t one where her personal direct intervention would have been appropriate.

Megan
Megan
1 year ago
Reply to  kyriosity

I was accused in a Reformed Singles facebook group of “gossip/slander” for reporting a member to her employer (a healthcare facility which she made available on her facebook page) for posting pictures of their internal billing system and talking very specifically about services that they offered to a local high school girl (she didn’t post the girl’s name or anything). I sent her employer screenshots so they could make an unbiased decision about the situation. Of course, this was all under the guise of prayer request. She was reprimanded at work, and then the admins of the group proceeded to… Read more »

Jane
Jane
1 year ago
Reply to  Megan

Yes. Here’s the thing — even if you handled it wrong (I don’t think you did, since the matter was already public, and the issue was not personal to you nor was the offense against you) and even if the elder’s wife in the story was wrong for not proceeding the right way (may be the case), the story wasn’t about gossip or the elder’s wife, and the issues still needed to be addressed. Let’s say Doug inserted the phrase “after admonishing the elder’s wife for repeating hearsay” into his story. Does that change anything about the story itself? Should… Read more »

Megan
Megan
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane

Jane – I wasn’t attacking Doug. I’m more so calling out that what offended people call gossip sometimes actually isn’t gossip. Offend elders or a pastor like James MacDonald? It’s gossip that it was discussed at all – never mind if there’s an actual issue that the supposed gossip exposed.

Jane
Jane
1 year ago
Reply to  Megan

I’m sorry for not being clearer. I know you weren’t attacking Doug. I was referring to those in the conversation who were using “you ignored the fact that it’s gossip” to attack Doug.

kyriosity
kyriosity
1 year ago
Reply to  kyriosity

I am trusting this is sarcasm! 😆

Ginny Yeager
Ginny Yeager
1 year ago

Pastor Wilson, I tried to send this as a Letter but it must have been lost in the internetosphere  Let’s put it here in the comments instead. Thank you for your very biblical and balanced exhortation regarding the Coronavirus. “What we have here is a failure to communicate!” Who among us was merrily going about his business, only to be completely blindsided by government shutdowns, school closings, etc? “I thought it was just the flu?” Apparently, the media in America, both liberal and conservative cannot be trusted to give the straight scoop in a timely manner, even about something… Read more »

Ken B
Ken B
1 year ago

I have greatly appreciated DW calling the church back to its senses regarding the rather silly arguing going about obeying God or the governing authorities when it comes to church services and preventing the spread of the virus. I don’t think some apologists in particular are doing themselves or the church in general a favour by trying to make this an issue of rendering to Caesar or not. I’d go further and say it makes you wonder if some of their criticism of the current secular ‘foolish hearts being darkened’ we see around us is driven by the same OCD,… Read more »

Jane
Jane
1 year ago
Reply to  Ken B

Sometimes I think American Christians turn a healthy concern over government encroachment into a strange ethical principle of “the right thing to do becomes the wrong thing to do if the government oversteps its authority and tells you to do it.” There are occasions when it works that way, but it’s not a sound or safe ethical rule in general.

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  Ken B

“I’d go further and say it makes you wonder if some of their criticism of the current secular ‘foolish hearts being darkened’ we see around us is driven by the same OCD, and may not perhaps be quite as accurate as first thought.” I wouldn’t make such assumptions without reading Taleb’s “Skin in the Game” first. Highly paid bureaucrats can make terrible decisions (based on political bias, expediency, etc.) that can cost billions of dollars (or thousands of lives)…and still receive their comfortable 6-figure salaries and pensions. I think social distancing and avoiding mass gatherings is smart…but that doesn’t mean… Read more »

Ken B
Ken B
1 year ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

The point I am getting at JPS is the tendency to assume that the govt is out to curtail normally enjoyed freedoms. That can of course be true, but in the current situation we are all facing it seems silly to focus on this as if maintaining normal freedoms should take priority over saving health and lives. I’ve seen Heb 10:25 being quoted as though this overrides any health concerns. ‘Divine Service’ must be held at all costs – even when the cost is risking the lives of others? What kind of a witness to the gospel is that? Has… Read more »

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  Ken B

“I simply do not understand the American obsession, often defended by conservative evangelicals, of the right to carry guns, opposing any restrictions at all. I get it for self-defence, but fear of the govt getting too much power?”

You’re in Germany, know what happened there in the 20th century, and don’t understand that?

JohnM
JohnM
1 year ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

JP,
The thing is, what happened in Germany in the 20th century didn’t happen against the will of the German people, but with their concurrence. If individualism is the American idol, the German one is ordnung.

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  JohnM

Fighting a Hitler or Lenin has nothing to do with idolizing American individualism. Germans were already used to strict gun control in the Weimar Republic, so my point isn’t just about the rise of Hitler but the entire century.

JohnM
JohnM
1 year ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

No, fighting a Hitler or Lenin has nothing to do with idolizing American individualism, but reflexive resentment of being governed does. However, that wasn’t mainly what I was getting at. I understand your point about what happened, but it is not certain, or even likely, that Germans, or enough of them, would have been interested in using their guns to resist Hitler even if they’d had them. That’s one thing. The other is, a point that seems obvious to you might not register as readily as you would think with people who’s mindset and priorities are different. As you you… Read more »

JohnM
JohnM
1 year ago
Reply to  Ken B

I think pastors in particular can be susceptible to making an idol of the worship service, which, is understandable, (though of course not right) given how central it is to what they do as pastors. Of course, Heb 10:25 should no more be disregarded than any other scripture, and no one is a Christian who deliberately and permanently “opts out” of the assembly, however, we can too easily forget that true worship has to do with how you live your life every day, and much less to do with a “Divine Service”. It would be interesting to track the evolution… Read more »

Ken B
Ken B
1 year ago
Reply to  JohnM

Well I still think DW has got it right over against, for example, the Triablogue crew, whom I usually appreciate but this time are nitpicking and displaying an unhealthy sceptism about government – after all, God did institute it in the first place. The virus as background is really not the time to trumpet free market enterprise versus government action, and Donald Trump increasing his election chances. Trump, incidentally, has failed in his attempt to get a German vaccine research company to send its expertise to America so a potential vaccine could be made there for Americans and earn money… Read more »

Matt
Matt
1 year ago
Reply to  Ken B

Trump has failed his way through this whole thing. He’s proven to be the last person you want in charge during a crisis.

Ginny
Ginny
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt

No, the last person I would want in charge would be the woman whose homebrewed, basement server was hacked by the Chinese, allowing the CCP to dismantle our intelligence gathering in China, leading to the death of a dozen American spies.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/20/world/asia/china-cia-spies-espionage.html

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt

No, I think these guys are the last ones I want dealing with a crisis.
https://twitter.com/i/status/1241468535534043136

Doesn’t fit your narrative, though, does it?

Robert
1 year ago

I think an unforseen consequence of this Corona virus shutdown is that there will be a huge jump in online education next year. School districts in various states intend to use distance learning for the foreseeable future. Parents will have a chance to test it out.

Jane
Jane
1 year ago
Reply to  Robert

There will be something of a jump, but with single parent and two-earner families being the overwhelming majority, it won’t be that huge. Someone still has to be home with the kids, if the kids are home. There might be a big effect on high school age students, though.

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane

Unless there’s a similar jump in work telecommuting which is also feasible for many people. Unfortunately, I’m already seeing people on Twitter saying “teachers need to be millionaires because I can’t handle homeschooling my kids for 2 hours” and other garbage. Our culture has widely accepted a different type of social distancing in households, unfortunately.

Jane
Jane
1 year ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

What’s bizarre is that people think that making sure your kids do the online assignments created by their teachers is “homsechooling,” and that’s STILL too much to handle. That’s just parenting, except with a somewhat different set of things you’re supervising them in.

Ginny Yeager
Ginny Yeager
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane

Kind of makes this homeschool mom feel better about herself ;)
Seriously though, to be fair, a lot of parents are being tossed into the whole homeschooling thing during a very stressful time.

Jane
Jane
1 year ago
Reply to  Ginny Yeager

I agree, but while I agree that being tossed suddenly into the situation is stressful, I think some people are piling the stress on themselves by thinking it is a bigger deal that it is. If the schools are providing instructional materials, then people need to make sure their kids are doing that. That’s a disruption in routine but it’s really not the same as suddenly starting to homeschool. If they’re not, there’s no need to stress over it. They need to make sure the kids are keeping their minds busy, but no one’s really expecting them to suddenly develop… Read more »

Ginny Yeager
Ginny Yeager
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane

I meant it’s a stressful time because of the fear of the virus and the economic meltdown. Often, the first hurdle in homeschooling is the issue of discipline and getting children to listen to/take instruction from their parents. So, while I agree with you that when we take a deep breath, it’s not as overwhelming as we might think, when you have parents contemplating an existential threat and economic woes as well as, in their minds, taking on the role of “teacher,” it can certainly seem overwhelming to them in the moment. I think all those we know who are… Read more »

Jane
Jane
1 year ago
Reply to  Robert

What? Where does that comment come from?

kyriosity
kyriosity
1 year ago

I’d never seen the sketch in the gif, so I looked up the full thing: https://youtu.be/zK2a8sglkDU

Andrew Lohr
1 year ago

Re communion with C-19 social distancing: seems Reformed elders COULD say, communion is a church thang to be overseen by the overseers (=elders), and under these circumstances, small groups (eg two families, or existing church small groups if small enough; note that the Supper started in a group of 13 or so, unless others not noted were with them) can call up the elders, say when and with exactly whom they’re celebrating, and if no objection go ahead. Or even have the elders make sure they’re totally sanitary in a medical sense, break bread into packets and distribute wine from… Read more »

Jane
Jane
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Lohr

Extraordinary situations are precisely when it’s legitimate to start considering doing what is permissible, but not ordinarily proper. We don’t want to set a precedent, but you avoid that by saying, “This is not a precedent. When we can meet again normally, this will not be proper to do.”

Ken B
Ken B
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Lohr

Why do you need elders to hold a communion service? There is little prescription in the NT – it’s mainly the attitude of those participating that counts. If you believe in every member ministry, this releases the elders to do what they are supposed to do – oversee the ministry of the church, that is, its members rather than ‘do’ the ministry themselves.

Jane
Jane
1 year ago
Reply to  Ken B

Because communion is a sacrament of the church. A group of people who all tell themselves they have the right thoughts in their head is a not a church. A church is a body with a physical nature, with characteristics clearly outlined in the scriptures, among which is the leadership that scripture calls for.