There is a meme spreading throughout social media like…OK, I’ll say it…like a virus. It says Easter has not been canceled. Someone tried to cancel it 2000 years ago and they failed. There are a few variations on the wording, but you get the idea.

Don’t kid yourself. 

Easter is not the resurrection of Christ, it’s the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. The resurrection happened 2000 years ago, never to be repeated. Easter is the time of year when we celebrate the resurrection. This is a religious event.

At the current moment in history, the government has made it illegal to gather together and celebrate Easter like we always do. For all intents and purposes, Easter has absolutely been canceled in a very meaningful and maleficent way.

The current lockdown orders from various government authorities are unjustified. They have been imposed by politicians and bureaucrats who have neither the authority nor a scientific basis for doing so. Even if they did have data indicating the public is in danger from the current viral event, they don’t have the authority to address the problem through state force.

So there are two dreadful facts which are incontrovertibly true and from which we cannot escape: 

1. Easter has been canceled, despite the claim of that cavalier meme to the contrary.

2. The measures the state has imposed on the people and on the church amount to nothing less than tyranny.

There are two concepts that the American people no longer understand. Tyranny is one of them. This idea is simply absent from the consciousness of the people of this country, especially those belonging to the younger generation. 

The intellectual awareness of those who founded our country was fundamentally different. They knew what tyranny was because they experienced it in their daily lives. It is the condition human beings find themselves in when a government body has violated their freedom and taken away their God-given rights. Tyranny is one of the worst forms of evil in existence. Why? Because it is a malicious assault on God’s image-bearers. When you oppress those who are made in the image of God, it is a direct attack on God himself. God will not be mocked, but that is exactly what tyrants do.

The flavor of theism we find in the Bible and in the Christian Faith is in dramatic decline in this country. Since tyranny is a direct slap in the face to the God this theism speaks of, any concern over the evil of tyranny will diminish along with the world view that condemns it.

So there are two groups of people who will fail to grasp the depth of evil tyranny represents. The first is those who don’t believe in the God who is offended by tyranny. The second is those who believe in that God but have never experienced tyranny first hand in any personal way. When you have never personally experienced tyranny, you don’t have the tools to recognize it when it occurs.

This is cause for grave concern. What is happening as I write this is that the Body of Christ in this country have glibly accepted the tyranny being imposed on them as though it is their civic duty to do so. A tragic misapplication of the Biblical imperative to be subordinate to the civil authorities has driven this problem to an even deeper level. 

As Christians, there are limits to our obedience to the civil authorities. Francis Schaeffer was fond of saying, “when the government negates the law of God, it abrogates its authority.” In the Book of Acts, the apostles disobeyed the law and the governing authorities, citing the universal principle that “we must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) We are called to obey the law as long as the law is just and compatible with God’s law. These forced isolation orders are a glaring form of tyranny that violates the rights of God’s image-bearers. They are prohibiting our obedience to God to meet and worship him as a body without sufficient justification. It’s been said that when the government imposes policies that violate our rights, we not only have the option but the duty to disobey. If we don’t, we are putting the government above God. This is known as idolatry.

I said there are two concepts the American people do not comprehend. The first is tyranny, and the second is courage. When people don’t recognize the gravity of being oppressed by tyranny, they will have no motivation to do anything about it. The American people, including the Body of Christ, live in what until recently has been the most free and prosperous country in the world. This can easily make people turn soft and weak. When this happens, they become docile and easily manipulated when hardship does occur. They turn to the government for answers because they have none inside them, and don’t have the courage to live them out if they did. 

The end-result of all this is a church in the United States that wouldn’t be able to recognize tyranny if it set their hair on fire. What’s worse is they don’t have the courage to do anything about it even if they recognized it. In other words, the Body of Christ in the United States is made up largely of cowards. The Body of Christ has many parts just as the human body does: head, hands, feet, skin, etc. But in America, the Body of Christ is sadly missing a critical part: a backbone.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel. I am not ashamed of the resurrection of Christ. I am not ashamed to be his disciple. But I am definitely ashamed to be associated with the Body of Christ in America at this moment in history. For you see, the excuse Christians are using right now is that gathering for worship on Easter would put people in danger, and that would be unloving. But this notion is absurd. Gathering together for Easter worship does not put anyone in danger. No one is putting a gun to the congregation’s heads and forcing them to attend. If people don’t feel it’s safe to come to church, they are free to stay home and watch the live stream. The agenda here is not to force people to go to church, but to strongly oppose the spiteful tyrants who are forcing us not to.

If the church had courage and an intelligent awareness that they are being oppressed by an evil and insidious form of tyranny, traditional physical (as opposed to digital) Easter services would continue in defiance of that tyranny. But they won’t, which brings us back to the original inescapable reality: Easter has been canceled.

3 comments
  1. In principle, I fundamentally disagree with the orders that prohibit gatherings larger than 10 people that also impact our ability to worship corporately. I don’t think such orders were necessary for the church because most that I’m aware of wanted to adjust their services in a way that would accommodate the public health advice we received for two reasons: 1. Out of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are at risk, and 2. Out of love for our neighbor.

    In most instances, though certainly not all, the orders were broad and were not intended to target Christians. I wouldn’t consider these orders, again by most, not all, malicious. (I can think of some examples however where I don’t believe that is the case.) That doesn’t mean it was the correct action to take. I think many of these actions were based on fear, not on a desire to exert control over churches or businesses.

    Also, Phil, I think why you are not seeing civil disobedience is due to the fact many churches do think not worshipping physically is the right action to take temporarily, and since they headed this direction before the order they’re not going to exercise civil disobedience.

    Had this been for something other than a pandemic, and reasonable people can disagree about the seriousness of it, I think you would see civil disobedience.

    Anyway, I’d encourage you to be a little more charitable to churches who are not offering physical services this weekend and in the near future while we are in the midst of this pandemic. There may come a time where we need to push back if they extend these orders further and further out, but I don’t believe now is that time.

    That said, the governors who are using heavy handed tactics to enforce their orders should most definitely be held accountable.

    1. Shane, accommodating the public health “orders” had nothing to do with “love for our brothers and sisters…who are at risk.” I think you missed the point in the article that even if the church held physical services as before, no one would be forcing those at risk (the elderly or immune-compromised) to attend. As I said, this is not about forcing people to come to church if they don’t feel it’s safe, it’s about opposing the tyrants who are forcing us not to.

      Second, what does our love for our neighbor have to do with whether we hold church services? That’s incoherent.

      The church leadership must recognize that whether there is a direct agenda to persecute the church or not, it is being persecuted nevertheless. The intentions of the politicians are irrelevant. The only thing that matters is the reality that it is a crime to hold physical church services, whether that government force is being applied temporarily or permanently. The Constitution doesn’t give any government officials the power to temporarily suspend our rights.

      So the facts in my article remain intact. We are facing a contemptible form of tyranny, and the church is cowering in fear rather than standing against government oppression as it should.

  2. This is like dealing with death, the physical contact is gone from the relationship but we are being forced to reckon with the company of God without physical props.I feel God is allowing this to happen.

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