Coronavirus Article 6
The Natives are Restless: A Theology of Protest
by Dr. Jim Garlow
April 23, 2020
In the 1868 New Zealand Parliamentary Debates: Third Session of the Fourth Parliament, Volume 2, on page 387, it states “As to the Native question…. The Natives are restless, and seem desirous of fighting.” This might increasingly describe everyday Americans wanting to get out of their houses and wanting to get back to work.
DISCLAIMER: I have stayed at home for six weeks, washing my hands very often, and have tried not to touch my face. On those rare occasions when I have to go out, I wear a mask, gloves, protective eyewear, and observe the six-foot rule. Succinctly stated, I take the Coronavirus and its associated guidelines very seriously. Having said that, I recognize that things need to change. Let’s take a look at what is unfolding in “Week Six.”
- ENCOURAGEMENT: Numbers of infected have flattened or nearly flattened in many places. The number of deaths is considerably lower than originally prognosticated.
- STAGES: It seems to me that Americans have gone through major “shifts,” best described by three stages (dates are approximate):
- Stage One – Mid February to Thursday, March 12: Disbelief, Surprise, Bewilderment;
- Stage Two – Friday, March 13 – Thursday, April 16: Compliance; Americans honored the requests of their government, and did so quickly. Whether that compliance is good (and it likely is, in reducing disease) or could be our future downfall (anti-Constitutional government overreach to which citizens “folded” too quickly) is yet to be determined.
- Stage Three – Friday, April 17 to the present: Frustration, Annoyance, Feelings of Betrayal, Anger, Protest. Exaggerated numbers that were forecasted have caused feelings of distrust. There is a growing awareness that the old axiom that “the patient did not die from the disease, but the treatment killed him” might apply to our nation. The risk/reward balance would indicate that if we would not allow anyone to drive a car, no one would ever die of a car accident. This logic may have been applied to Coronavirus. In addition, since one study has shown that 94% of persons who died had underlying conditions, perhaps those with underlying conditions could have been quarantined, not the entire population. What constitutes a bona fide Coronavirus death is even being questioned. Some are listed as dying from COVID-19 who were never tested.
- Stage Four – there has not been a “stage four” yet, but if the government does not allow greater freedoms, this next stage could be one of rebellion. Assuming that various government entities allow a proactive plan of re-activation, the next stage would hopefully be “early phase opening.”
- Stage Five – could potentially be the taking of legal action to protect churches (and other entities) from being harassed and shuttered while Walmart, Costco, liquor stores and tattoo parlors are allowed to be open, or lawsuits that might result from destruction of companies due to government overreach.
- LOCKED IN: Shelter in place is beginning to feel to many as more of a “shuttered in space.” Lockdown has become “locked in,” that is, being penalized for doing nothing wrong, and for an indefinite amount of time.
- GOVERNMENT LEADERS – POSITIVE: The President and multiple governors who believe in the Constitutional limitations of government are providing superb leadership. Praise God that President Trump is one who has respect for our Constitution, loves free-market economics, and is a strong advocate for religious liberty. I was privileged to be at the United Nations in New York City on September 22, 2019, when the President spoke on religious freedom, the first-ever such speech there. I also attended the first and second “Ministerials” at the US State Department which dealt with this critical topic. My wife and I attended the 2nd Annual Conference on the Persecution of Christians in Budapest, Hungary which was attended by several from the Trump Administration. Bottom line: President Trump cares deeply about the triumvirate of freedoms: political, economic, and religious. Just today, many faith leaders were on an extended conference call in which Attorney General William Barr outlined – in the face of closed churches – his strong commitment to our cherished First Amendment. He was followed by US Surgeon General Jeff Adams who outlined a potential strategy for re-opening houses of worship.
- GOVERNMENT LEADERS – NEGATIVE: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer continues to be the poster child of Constitutional overreach. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has now tied with her for first place when he established his Coronavirus “snitch hotline” that would have made China’s Communist President Xi Jinping profoundly proud. Fortunately the phone lines created by the Mayor’s draconian order were overloaded with prank calls, forcing de Blasio to shut down his Orwellian devise. And who can forget his threat to “permanently” close houses of worship! Mendocino County Supervisors (California) brought quick lawsuits on themselves when they ruled that a pastor could not even livestream his services from his church, in which the soundman and camera person were the only persons in the auditorium, up to as much as 60 feet apart. Tragically, these are not the only despots who have unleashed their hatred for the church. Going beyond the churches are the issues of our parks and beaches. Miles of beaches in my city of San Diego are empty, with police riding ATV making certain that – because of some government fiat – no one enjoys them. A 40-year-old mother was arrested in Meridian, ID – in front of her children – for being in a park!
- PROTESTERS: Protests have erupted in multiple states. Most of these are, in my opinion, quite justified as they are often in states where government leaders have acted in tyrannical, despotic ways. (Reminder my “disclaimer” above: I have willingly complied with governmental requests. My objection is excessive tyrannical behavior by some elected officials and bureaucrats.)
- A THEOLOGY OF PROTEST: Given the national climate, we need to have a “theology of protest.” The defense of protesting is a very narrow and slippery road, with deep ditches on both sides. On one side is the “ditch” of rebellion, never honored by God, in contrast to biblically grounded protestation (a la Martin Luther in 1517 or Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s). On the other side is the “ditch” of acquiescence, capitulation, yielding to ungodly forces which result in catastrophic losses of freedoms.
- KNOWING WHEN, KNOWING WHERE TO PROTEST: Romans 13 is the classic passage on obeying government. In contrast, Acts 5 presents the dichotomy of obeying God but not man. Jesus told Pilot his authority was from God, implying that if it is used sinfully there will be judgement on him for abusing its use (John 19:11). Midwives (Exodus 1), Rahab (Ex 2), Saul & Jonathan (1 Samuel 14), the Book of Daniel (Daniel 3,6), Esther (Esther 4), Obadiah hiding prophets (1 Kings 18), Jesus overturning moneychangers tables (Matthew 21) are only a few Scriptural examples of going against existing laws. Written into our fabric as a nation is the Boston Tea Party and the acts of civil disobedience of Martin Luther King, Jr. Many people have rightfully protested in front of the abortuaries – the killing centers of America – for their slaughter of innocent children.
- CONSEQUENCES: Protesters must realize that part of the “theology of protest” is the willingness to accept the consequences of disobedience.
- DISCERNMENT: Protesting should be based on matters of faith and conscience, that is, a godly conscience based on Truth, not merely preference. The Coronavirus protesters are legitimately aggrieved over violations of Constitutionally protected rights. For the believer, participating in such protests needs to be tempered by the Holy Spirit, with an eye for always exalting the Name of our Lord, and looking for ways to honor God. Also one should examine one’s motives carefully. It is wise for believers to repent of that which allowed conditions to deteriorate to where they now are. Agree with God on this matter before you protest. If Jesus-followers go into protests with anything but a pure spirit, we pick up the spirit of the world, of that which we are opposing. We then fail to walk in holiness and Truth, and end up falling into the trap that the evil one has set for us.
- APPROPRIATE TOLERATION: The word “tolerant” has been abused by the radical leftists, most notably by the LGBTQ, who have been obsessively anti-tolerant by forcing the radical sexual orientation/gender identity agenda upon everyone they can. Appropriate tolerance is exactly the opposite. It is, in a word, tolerant. During this season, those who protest should be truly tolerant, that is, not being critical of those who don’t, and vice versa.
- ANARCHISTS: My wife and I were in France in December 2018 during the “yellow vest movement.” This very legitimate anti-globalism strike and protest was later undermined when anarchists – quite likely funded by a well-known international agitator – penetrated the movement in Paris bringing violence, burning, injuries and death. Coronavirus protesters will need to keep a watchful eye for violent left-wing anarchists who will attempt to damage the reputation of the movement, much like they tried to do in 2016 in Trump rallies and at Tea Party rallies in previous years.
- ADVOCATES: When moving in the legal realm, we need to make certain that we are not sinfully impacted by a litigious-prone culture, but are riveted to Constitutional truth that reflects the precepts of Scripture. God has provided many godly attorneys to guide us during this time, organizations such as the Alliance Defending Freedom, The American Center for Law and Justice, Liberty Counsel, Liberty Institute, Pacific Justice Institute, Freedom of Conscience Fund, Becket Fund, National Center for Law and Policy, and many others.
- PROTESTERS’ PROTOCOL: For starters, while the protesters have a right to express their frustration, they would have much greater credibility with those they are trying to persuade if they would demonstrate that they can – while gathering – follow basic protocol such as wearing masks and social distancing. Those simple guidelines (even if the protesters do not agree with them) would give them greater influence, as they would be demonstrating that they can gather in groups while following the “new norms,” thus ready to go back into the workforce.
- PROGRESSIVES, GLOBALISTS: The potential for seizing power during a time of real or perceived crisis is the dream of “one-world government, Nanny-state” progressives. And it is the moment for which globalists have been salivating. In past years I would have dismissed most statements about globalists as mere “conspiracy theories.” After being involved in Washington, DC, and going to numerous global political capitals, I see that it is not merely a theory. The “deep state,” “globalists” and radial “progressives” are for real and are bringing destruction wherever they go. For the record, Trump is disliked for his pro-life, pro-free market, pro-Israel and other stances, but he is hated – severely hated – for his anti-globalist, pro-Western Civilization historic values, and pro-American views. The globalists disdain Trump. He has frustrated their plans. Discerning people know this.
- CONSPIRACY THEORIES: Speaking of “conspiracy theories,” much of what is floating around the internet today is likely merely theories, so beware. Yet at the same time, some ill-informed persons are far too quick to dismiss the reality of what is happening in our nation and in our globe. Sin is much more deeply embedded in governments than most realize. Because most people desire to live their lives right, they naively assume that everyone else is the same way. They can’t conceive of a horrific “dark side” in government, simply because they don’t know people like that. This grand “pause” has given people lots of free internet time which has possibly caused some imaginations to take unsubstantiated leaps, based on videos floating around cyberspace. But on the other hand, this downtime has caused some people to be aware of the evil that lurks behind much of today’s shadow governments. Alert people are informed. The uninformed will someday be surprised. Not everything labeled “conspiracy” is one. Not everything labeled “theory” is one. Pray for discernment.
- VACCINATIONS: There is a national conversation swirling around regarding vaccinations. I receive vaccinations, with no hesitation. Always have. However, a word to government officials: “Leave people alone who don’t want vaccinations. Let people decide for themselves. Stop being tyrants. If people don’t want themselves or their children vaccinated, leave them alone. When you, as government or globalists, force it upon people, you only confirm their belief in nefarious plans. Leave people alone! Parents have every right to determine the medical treatment for their children.” It is interesting to note that the most disdained person in the “Coronavirus constellation of videos” is likely Bill Gates. His comments on vaccinations (“reducing the world’s population”) were at best blundering, at worst diabolical.
- VALUES: Avoid excessive listening to the news. It is probably best not to listen to more than two hours of the news in any one day. Beware of overdosing on even the best of internet videos. Calm your heart. Phone an old friend and laugh as you swap stories. Hold your family members (if they are with you) close. Take walks. Take naps. Watch movies, that is, good and uplifting movies. Breathe deeply. Love your neighbor. Love God. Look at flowers or mountains or streams or some aspect of nature. Thank God for all that is good. Read your Bible. Meditate. Pray. Talk to God. He will listen. Then listen to Him. He still speaks.