As we transition from the short and fun (for statists) “killer flu” panic –
Time to show the uppity commoner trash whose boss!
It’s not the fault of Our Betters! It’s your fault!
The fault of the businessmen! The virus’ fault! Too many filthy religious types, who Just Won’t Obey ORDERS!
it pays to take another look at Biblical guidelines on how to handle a epidemic. (As opposed to the desires of the Right Sort.)
Rushdoony’s point is that pity for a diseased victim should not override the well being and health of the family and broader community by allowing the infected person to destroy either. Indeed, he goes on to say,
“Quarantine, it should be noted, is a moral fact: it asserts that there is a good and evil response to a situation. Quarantine does not say that the sick man is evil, but to expose others to a serious illness or disease is evil, and therefore separation is good, healthy, and necessary.” (2)
So, this is an open and shut case today, then, right? We have a virus making its rounds across the world so all actions taken by the state are, thus, good and right? Or, is there more to this issue than initially thought?
“Many commentators have seen the forms of “leprosy” or diseases described in Leviticus 13-14 as types or symbols of sin. However, as Harrison reminds us, the Bible never does so. Disease is simply presented as disease, one consequence of a fallen world. Quarantine is a separation of disease, and more quarantine is a separation of evil from society. This is very important to note. We do not flee from disease and sin, but rather separate sin and contagious disease from the community. Our Lord says, “I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil (or, the evil one)” (John 17:15). Modern separationism too often quarantines the healthy and the moral, not the diseased and the criminal members of society .”(3)
There are two points that are missed when considering whether quarantine actions are lawful. First, note that in all cases it is the sick individual that is quarantined, not the healthy. As pointed out in these same chapters, the fact that the healed member is required to be consecrated back into his priestly, dominion work means that the healthy member is expected to continue in his, without interruption. Rushdoony recognized this in the earlier quotes where, historically, infectious persons, plants, homes, etc were placed in quarantine; in other words, those confirmed to be sick or, as Leviticus 13:1-8 points out, those who were believed to be sick by outward evidence . This requirement of outward evidence is crucial as it strikes the balance between the freedom of the individual (this would include protections opposed to mandatory invasive testing) against the protections for the community. We have a similar practice in the legal sphere: the Biblical requirement of “innocent until proven guilty” is likewise to be applied here as “healthy until proven diseased.”
Second, Rushdoony has pointed out that disease in the Bible is “presented as disease, one consequence of a fallen world.” Inherent to true freedom are the risks of life in a fallen world: you could fail in business, you could be injured or killed in a collision or you could be exposed to any number of sicknesses that abound in our world. That world, true, is being renewed by the Lord through His actions and those of His people in their dominion work but the pushing back of the curse means we must deal with the problems of the curse along the way. This means exposure to a hidden illness is not the same as being made ill by it. We regularly swap viruses and bacteria in our daily interactions with others without a single incident due to the body’s normal, God given immunities. So, while we must apply the laws of quarantine to those who are actually ill and manifesting the symptoms thereof, we must also protect the work for the kingdom among those that are healthy.
The implications of this in light of the present debate are enormous: so called “social distancing” should be between the diagnosed ill and the healthy, not between the healthy alone. Businesses should function as normal but those that become ill should remain at home until healthy. Risks of disease have always been present in any large gathering of people, today’s virus notwithstanding. It is a simple fact that we must choose to live in the reality of this fallen world, God’s world marred by man’s sin and full of risks (and blessings), or we will be forced to submit to increasing tyranny “for our own safety.”
We must therefore recognize that while it is wrong for Christians to think that the state has zero authority in regard to disease it is also equally wrong to lock down the healthy with the sick. Christians alone bear the Truth in this world and we need to be about the business of directing the debate on this issue accordingly so that true freedom can be realized. To just blindly follow the masses only adds to our judgment and is our assent to tyranny.
It is the sick that is to be quarantined: the healthy should be permitted to live their lives freely.
“Oh, that’s a lot of religious babble. How on earth are the Right Sort supposed to build their powerbase by just restricting the liberty of the sick? Crippling — or better yet, smashing — the economy in the name of equality/safety/public health is a venerable tradition that Our Betters have always indulged in!”