Christian Writing in the Days of the COVID-19 Peril
As a Christian writer, you may be writing blog posts or a book about the COVID-19 pandemic.
What approach are you taking? Frankly, I’ve seen some articles that are embarrassing to me as a Christian. They reflect a very narcissistic Christian view, and they ultimately damage the cause of Christ.
It is important to think about what we are saying to the public in these fearful times. Here are some positive and negative approaches to think about before you start tapping your keyboard.
Christian Writing Approaches to Embrace
The model for Christian writers in our COVID-19 infested world is the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, not some dark apocalyptic foreboding from the bowels of the Book of Revelation.
That means our goal should be to offer hope.
A Model for Hopefulness
When Jesus spoke about the man attacked on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, he did address his race, class, or spiritual state. He identified the person as a man in half-dead and in physical pain.
Who helped the man? Was it the priest or pastor? Was it the holy person from the tribe of Levi? No. It was a Samaritan, the bastard son of the Israelites, both in terms of his ethnicity and theology.
Samaritans might have been imperfect in regard to Jewish law, but the one Jesus speaks about had heart. He willingly stopped to help. He administered first aid, then took the man to a place where he could heal.
Jesus asked who was the best neighbor in this case. The priest, the spiritual person, or the person who helped in a practical way?
The answer was, “The one who showed mercy.”
In this time of COVID-19 peril, Christian writers should show mercy as they write their blog posts or stories. Offer hope.
What are the ways Christian writers can do that? Here are some suggestions.
Provide Accurate Information
As a Christian writer, you have an obligation to provide trustworthy information about COVID-19. Embrace that idea.
Most medical misinformation is based on opinion rather than fact. Misinformation comes through anecdotal stories. Facts come via research and statements by qualified professionals.
Anecdotal stories are the Christian writers worse enemy when it comes to something like the practice of medicine. The Internet has made it worse. Someone will post about how their uncle’s friend’s cousin was healed of COVID-19, and suddenly that becomes the best cure. But it is not a cure. It is widely spread gossip, and Christian writers should never be guilty of spreading it.
Repeating gossip, even as a reporter of it, is an evil deed according to James 1:26. Do not spread anecdotal stories about medical treatments or healing unless you personally talk with the person making the claims and their doctor.
The Importance of Fact-Checking
Christian writers must become expert fact-checkers. Not just about COVID-19, but about all the topics they write about. The basics of fact-checking include asking these questions:
• Who made the statement? What are their credentials? Do those credentials add veracity to the statement?
• When and where was the statement made? Did you see or hear it firsthand? Was it made in a trusted publication or on a website? If so, was the information collaborated on other credible publications or sites?
• Is the information factual or is it opinion? You need to know the difference. Opinion presents only one side of the story. It is biased information and not reliable. A fact is different. A fact is defined as “A thing that is known to be consistent with objective reality and can be proven to be true with evidence.”
Also, Christian writers must be aware of what is known as “confirmation bias.” That’s when you deem something to be true because it agrees with your own bias, not objective reality. Learn more about confirmation bias here.
Offer Helpful Resources
Another way to convey Christian hope is to offer your readers reliable resources. They may be factual information about the spread of COVID-19, what his being done to treat and cure the disease, and what people should do if they get it.
And of course, offer spiritual resources. Tell them where they can go to talk with someone if they are fearful or lonely. Let them know where they can get someone to pray for them.
Due to COVID-19 social distancing, it’s best to offer website links or phone numbers. Google resources in your area and publish them.
In all cases, use reliable, trusted sources. Avoid fringe resources.
Christian Writing Approaches to Avoid
Many Christians are prone to use a crisis like this one to claim what is known as a “vindictive triumph.” They use the claims of Christ to beat people, in a subtle way, into submission to the gospel. They have an “I told you so” attitude.
Of course, that approach has never been the way of Christ. No one should ever be coerced into following Christ.
Avoid Hard-Nosed Soul-Saving Attempts
Years ago we showed a film in our church called, “A Thief in the Night.” It was about the rapture when believers were whisked upward to heaven at the end of the age.
I was surprised that many children came forward to receive Christ at the end of the film. It took me years to figure out that most of these children wanted to accept Christ because they feared separation from their Christian parents, not because they desired to follow Christ.
That was many years ago, and those children have grown up. Most who made decisions that night have fallen away. You cannot expect much when people are motivated by fear rather than love for God.
COVID-19 is generating a lot of fear, to the point of hysteria in some places. It is morally wrong to use the fear of sickness and death to convert people. Woo them to Christ, but do not terrorize them into God’s Kingdom.
Avoid End-Time Proclamations
In that regard, the COVID-19 peril is not the time to talk about end-time prophecy. Some preachers on TV are saying tor that it’s God’s judgment upon us.
Other preachers have said that before, and it turned out to be untrue. It was just more of that unfounded sensationalism that brings Christians into disrepute.
There is no doubt that God will judge humanity as it says in the Bible, but there is nothing in the Bible that indicates that time is now upon us. During the Black Plague of the mid-1300s, it is said that 50% of the world’s population died. In the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, up to 100 million people died in around the world, 650,000 in the US alone, all in about 18 months.
Yet, with these epidemics, humanity survived and continued on as before. In future years, we will see the same is true of COVID-19. End-time proclamations at this point will only mark you as a charlatan, and you will lose your authority as God’s messenger.
Shun Medical Quackery
Most of my Facebook friends are Christians, and frankly, I am appalled by the low level of medical acumen many exhibit. Many of them rail against “Big Pharma,” embrace alleged quacks like Dr. Joseph Mecola, and sing the praises of treatments like aromatherapy.
The poster boy for all this is Televangelist Jim Bakker, who is no stranger to fraud. He is now under legal indictment for hawking “Silver Solution” as a COVID-19 cure.
The worst are those who are anti-vaccination, in my view. They make every excuse to not avail themselves of the help God has provided through modern medicine. They blindly put their own children, their neighbors, and society at risk.
They have convictions built on sand. When Christians hold such ignorant opinions about vaccinations, they shame all believers. Instead, Christians should be praying that we’ll have a vaccination for COVID-19 sooner rather than later.
Modern medicine may be imperfect. In fact, I have always said, “God does the healing, but the doctor takes the fee.” But medicine is better than it has ever been in history and it’s improving all the time.
Use trusted medical sources as I mentioned. Avoid websites that are conspiracy driven. Disavow sources that claim they have inside information about a treatment or cure.
Keep Politics Out of It
When you write about COVID-19, keep politics out of it. We live in a polarized nation and people love to play the political blame game. Or they are out to defend their favorite politician.
My advice is to keep your personal political opinions out of your COVID-19 writing. As Christians, we are all citizens of the Kingdom of God and squabbling about contemporary politics, especially as it relates to COVID-19, is completely inappropriate.
As Christian writers, we want to serve Jesus, and not mix political opinion with that. In the future, you may wish to tackle political issues from the perspective of Christian values but now is not the time.
Your Christian Writing Can Offer Healing
Christian writing is a creative endeavor. It is also a way to earn extra income. But in these times we need to realize, more than ever, that Christian writers can offer healing.
That healing can come in many forms. It can be:
• Helping others deal emotionally and physically with COVID restrictions.
• Assisting people to find the help they need at churches or other places in your community or state (Google in your area).
• Offering practical suggestions for parents at home about teaching their kids.
• Helping someone through the loss and grief of losing a friend or loved one to the virus.
Adapt some of the ideas in these links to our Christian worldview. The role of a Christian writer in these times is to offer inspiration and hope to fearful and confused people. Do it with love and grace.