For those who are or will be impacted by the coronavirus — either physically or economically, directly or indirectly — mine and the Whosoever staff’s prayers go out to you. This is a difficult, challenging and frightening time for all. Support from our friends and family is critical to us coming through this.
Yet as those in the LGBTQ+ community know, we have been here before. My friend Cleve Jones gave us this reminder on Facebook:
So as the United States government appears flat-footed in comparison to, say, Australia’s after weeks of hearing our President downplay COVID-19 as a foreign event while encouraging Americans to double down on the stock market, we Americans slide into panic mode, wiping out the grocery stores and clucking our tongues over the Tennessee sanitizer hoarder.
My husband went shopping yesterday morning and found the rumors to be true: No toilet paper, no hand sanitizer, no paper towels, almost zero cleaning supplies, no bread, and precious little fresh meat. We haven’t seen this kind of run on grocery stores here in Atlanta since there were two snowflakes seen on the ground with a forecast of five more to follow.
That same panic has emptied the pews of the shuttered churches not hosting worship services today — including many who had boldly proclaimed God to be “greater than AIDS” during the worst hours of that pandemic. Now we need to hear them saying God is greater than the coronavirus.
Otherwise the voices of the affirming churches risk not being heard over those of the idiots of the faith, who still can’t resist an Old Testament-style scapegoating when the chips are down. Take these two examples:
God’s love shows it is urgent to repent, because the Bible teaches homosexuals lose their souls and God destroys LGBT societies. Obeying God protects the USA from diseases, such as the coronavirus.
— Steven Andrews, pastor of the virtual USA Christian Church
My spirit bears witness that this is a genuine plague that is coming upon the earth, and God is about to purge a lot of sin off this planet. Look at the spiritual rebellion that is in this country, the hatred of God, the hatred of the Bible, the hatred of righteousness, Just vile, disgusting people in this country now, transgendering little children, perverting them. Look at the rapes and the sexual immorality and the filth on our TVs and our movies.
— Rick Wiles, Florida minister and TruNews founder
Somebody needs to send Wiles, who has also been known to blame natural disasters on LGBTQ people, a “God is Coming and Is She Pissed” T-shirt.
Meanwhile, we can all take a deep breath and acknowledge that God isn’t pissed, or even cranky. The God we know so well hasn’t stopped loving us through this episode in God’s creation where something that the human body doesn’t get along with can actually have terrifying results. That’s why it’s called a pandemic.
God created us with functioning brains and an intellect that puts us far above everything else that has life on this planet and has blessed us with memory, reason and skill. And the free will that God has given us is for just such a time as this: So we can figure out how to get around, get over, live with or even stop something like coronavirus in its tracks — or at least reduce its ability to harm us.
Sadly, the longer we try to blame something or somebody for this, including God, the more the virus will get a foothold and people will continue doing stupid and insane stuff. Like thinking about nobody but themselves and emptying a grocery store. Or shutting down an entire school system with no plan in place to feed the kids who depend on free school meals for basic nutrition. Or hoarding hand sanitizer.
What is the plan for the working class, who face potential job loss — and the resulting loss of health insurance — or at the very least the inability to pay rent or mortgages? What’s the plan for the homeless? Or will they also end up as scapegoats, uncared for, suffering and dying in our streets and then buried in the most anonymous and undignified ways imaginable?
We as a people of faith need to stand up and proclaim loudly: “God is greater than this virus.” And then we need to turn off the TV, put our phones down, stop gossiping and make time and space to listen to God in that place where only we and God go.
A pastor friend of mine posted this meditation on Facebook:
As I stood in a grocery store line for three hours giving at best fist bumps to familiar faces (miss those bear Hugs), I pondered on the words of challenge given to me in my ordination vows by my father, Dr. William Edward Flippin, Sr. to “preach in season and out of season.” After reading the Royal gossip magazines and Kobe Bryant photos and tributes at least three times, I literally wrestled with myself and had a conversation with God about how can I proclaim to be an ambassador of Christ and stand publicly in line for groceries exposing myself to a large gathering of people, yet churches around the nation are cancelling for good reason but the stores are full of not robots but people? Ethically for me based on my participation in this public gathering of three hours in a grocery store line confined space, I am looking forward to preaching and worshipping publicly on Sunday. I hear the words of A.W. Tozer right now: “a scared world needs a fearless church.”
We need to use the brain power, the spiritual power, and soul power God has given us to be able to say with conviction, “God is greater than this virus.” And then act accordingly.
And what does that look like? It means we require our leadership to be responsible, to be courageous, to think about this not in terms of votes or political parties but as life and death, as humanity.
It means we will trust the people that are trained to handle this stuff and follow their guidelines, such as these from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water; if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
A good friend of mine who is in the medical field has offered this:
Here’s some NON-ALARMING VALUABLE information for your health and well-being regarding COVID-19, the respiratory syndrome caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2:
- If you have a runny nose and sputum, you have a common cold. Coronavirus pneumonia is a dry cough with no runny nose.
- This new virus is not heat-resistant and will be killed by a temperature of just 78°/81° Fahrenheit. It hates the sun.
- If someone sneezes with it, it takes about 10 feet before it drops to the ground and is no longer airborne.
- If it drops on a metal surface, it will live for at least 12 hours — so if you come into contact with any metal surface — wash your hands as soon as you can with a bacterial soap.
- On fabric it can survive for 6-12 hours. Normal laundry detergent will kill it.
- Drinking warm water is effective for all viruses. Try not to drink liquids with ice.
- Wash your hands frequently as the virus can only live on your hands for 5-10 minutes, but — a lot can happen during that time — you can rub your eyes, pick your nose unwittingly and so on.
- You should also gargle as a prevention. A simple solution of salt in warm water will suffice.
- Can’t emphasize enough — drink plenty of water!
- It will first infect the throat, so you’ll have a sore throat lasting 3-4 days.
- The virus then blends into a nasal fluid that enters the trachea and then the lungs, causing pneumonia. This takes about 5-6 days further.
- With the pneumonia comes high fever and difficulty in breathing.
- The nasal congestion is not like the normal kind. If you feel real shortness of breath then it’s imperative you seek immediate attention.
MORE HELPFUL advice by Japanese doctors treating COVID-19 cases: “Everyone should ensure your mouth & throat are moist, never dry. Take a few sips of water every 15 minutes at least.” Why? Even if the virus gets into your mouth, drinking water or other liquids will wash them down through your throat and into the stomach. Once there, your stomach acid will kill all the virus. If you don’t drink enough water more regularly, the virus can enter your windpipe and into the lungs. That’s very dangerous. Please send and share this with family and friends. Take care everyone and may the world recover from this Coronavirus soon.
The new Coronavirus may not show sign of infection for many days. How can one know if he/she is infected? By the time they have fever and/or cough and go to the hospital, the lung is usually 50% Fibrosis and it’s too late (Fibrosis is not reversible). Taiwan experts provide a simple self-check that we can do every morning. Take a deep breath and hold your breath for more than 10 seconds. If you complete it successfully without coughing, without discomfort, stiffness or tightness, etc., it proves there is no Fibrosis in the lungs, basically indicates no infection. In critical times, please self-check every morning in an environment with clean air.
OBVIOUSLY this is just general information. When in doubt, call your doctor!!
My friends: We are smart, we are courageous, and we belong to a creative universe that is designed to expand and grow, not shrivel and die. Our higher power celebrates our ability to grow, to expand, to overcome.
Let us not forget: Viruses aren’t the only things that are contagious. So are fear, panic, hysteria. Most importantly: So are calmness, unconditional love, gratitude, kindness, and joy. Choose wisely today! Choose to walk with God.
Say it with me one more time: “God is greater than this virus.“
Editor-in-Chief of Whosoever and Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church of Atlanta, Rev. Paul M. Turner (he/him) grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994, have been in a committed partnership since the early 1980s and have been legally married since 2015.