Opinion

Fallouts from Covid-19 pandemic – Tempting God

Everything happens for a reason and has positive and negative consequences. We must look intently and learn hard lessons. So, how can good come out of a pandemic like Coronavirus? The impact of this pandemic has been far-reaching with enormous effects. It has decimated economies of the world, rendered millions jobless, denied graduating students in the class of 2020 one last time for recognition, and left more than a quarter of a million people dead.

Despite these outcomes, COVID-19 has helped us rediscover the gem of people-centeredness. Advances in technology, including social media platforms and around-the-clock work schedules, meant that we hardly had time for each other within our families until the Coronavirus came onto the scene. With the emergence of the lockdowns or quarantining and with countless people working remotely or teleworking and children being schooled at home, we have finally been forced to come to appreciate the incredible treasure in spending time together as families.

COVID-19 has reminded us of the strength we find in each other and the genuine goodness of our shared humanity. We gradually learned that at the core of our being, we are social beings. We find our strength not in the part of the individual, but in the whole. Now more than ever, we need to realize that “We are, therefore I am” or “I am because we are.”

Individualism, egotism, and selfishness mean nothing in the struggle for survival. These actually pose an existential threat to us when fighting a pandemic as vicious as COVID-19. Even our collective strength isn’t impervious. The Coronavirus has laid bare how frail human life is without the presence of the Divine. Everything becomes clear and meaningful when we recognize the hand of the Divine ruling in the affairs of humanity.

Apart from promising eternal life, one of the most critical roles religion plays for believers is giving comfort, consolation, and support in times of distress, grief, and crisis. No wonder the absence of communal religious gatherings amid this pandemic has made the pain and the grief tough to get through or bear.

The more I think about religion, the more I believe that in advanced and developing nations, religion has left much to be desired in the face of this pandemic. Faith isn’t merely about promising a life hereafter, it also exists to help people lead a fruitful, fulfilling, and promising life in the here and now. Millions of religious believers have been excellent in following the science of the pandemic and painstakingly following the advice and guidance of scientists and experts. Sadly, a few disgruntled believers, by their actions, have given ammunition to fuel religious critics, and rightly so.

In a recent news story on CitiTV, a Ghanaian news outlet, two women on separate occasions, wrestled with law enforcement officers over wearing a facemask. One woman wouldn’t wear a mask because she believed that only those who have a fractured relationship with God and live in sin contract the virus. The other woman wouldn’t put on a facemask because she believed that she was protected by her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If she contracted the virus, that would mean that “God is dead.”

The last woman’s thinking reminds me of some residents of the state of Ohio in the U.S. who defied lockdown to attend a worship service organized by their recalcitrant pastor. When interviewed by a CNN reporter asking if she was afraid of contracting the virus, she responded that she was “covered by the blood of Jesus.” She and the other worshipers did not change their stance even when the reporter suggested that if they became infected, they could give the virus to others in the congregation. 

In fact, a few pastors‘ displays of arrogance and pomposity by defying scientific guidelines demonstrate their poor understanding of what religion really is. In their misguided belief and pride, these self-acclaimed men of God denigrated experts’ advice and organized church gatherings recklessly endangering the lives of the worshippers themselves.

Gross misconduct on the part of a few believers once again brings to the fore the age-old imaginary conflict between religion and science and even common sense. However, it is essential to emphasize that in no way is genuine, authentic worship an enemy of science. In fact, science is a handmaid of religion and sheds light on religious faith through reason. No wonder theology has been famously defined as “Faith seeking understanding.”

Science helps us in the search for understanding faith. It is crucial that in exercising one’s faith, common sense must be applied that when the known laws of nature cannot, particularly when miracles happen. It is atrocious that people of faith view themselves as superhuman and feel the need to prove their power by defying a lawful, civil order designed to protect lives. Their blatant, prideful disobedience does not serve God’s purpose or their followers’ needs. It only proves that they are actors or self-identified magicians wrongfully interpreting God’s will. Their actions are an affront to God’s divinity.

To such religious braggarts or showoffs, we must be quick to say that Jesus never performed a miracle to show off. Jesus’ miracles were always prompted by the wellbeing of others–-to alleviate human suffering, misery, and pain. He never used them to show that He was holier or better than man or to confront the known laws of nature merely for the sake of doing so. Jesus, acting through God, broke into the human sphere only when we could no longer help ourselves. 

Even if some religious adherents do not care about dying from the virus, they must not incur the wrath of God by acting recklessly by endangering the lives of others. They may do well to listen to the great St. Augustine, who pointed out: “The God who created you without your permission, will not save you without your cooperation.”  To put one’s self in harm’s way and expect God to intervene isn’t only against common sense; it is, more importantly, an affront to God’s being and intelligence. It is mere stupidity and spiritual pride.

About the author: Dominic Obour holds a Master of Arts in Public Relations from Iona College, New Rochelle, New York. He’s currently based in California. He is a mentor and has a keen interest in issues affecting common people every day. Email: oboursavio@gmail.com