Why did God Command Social Distancing? (Y1.T1.D36)
Updated: Nov 6
While working for the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon, I found myself in places previously considered mysterious, like Quantico.
Every Wednesday, I would take the I-95 corridor to coach members of the Marine Corps Intelligence Agency. When I first arrived, my secret clearance had not yet been processed so I had to be accompanied to my meeting rooms. This was very eventful.
As we navigated the halls, a bright red light would flash. My escort would loudly shout, “Unclassed!, Unclassed!” until I reached my meeting location.
The proclamation made me want to tell the uniformed people I passed, “I have class, I do.” But I reminded my heart they weren’t judging me. Their goal at that moment was to ensure I didn’t hear or see anything I shouldn’t, and honestly didn’t want to know.
Even the most uncomfortable laws are built on necessity. This includes the Levitical laws of social distancing. God’s intention wasn’t to condemn a sick person by making them proclaim they were “unclean”—he commanded it to protect the community.
Years before the pandemic, no one was offended when a co-worker refused a hand-shake because they weren’t feeling well.
The more I lay the Old Testament laws next to the New Testament gospel accounts, the more I see the kindness of God. Our Lord has always elevated community over individual rights. It’s central to the command to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Essentially, God commanded social distancing laws for the same reason as every other law: because he loves us.
Help Us See Your Love
1 When he came down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. ( Matthew 8:1)
12a While he was in one of the cities, (Luke 5:12a)
43 He strictly warned him and immediately sent him out, (Mark 1:43)
1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
2 “This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought to the priest, 3 and the priest shall go out of the camp. The priest shall examine him. Behold, if the plague of leprosy is healed in the leper, 4 then the priest shall command them to take for him who is to be cleansed two living clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop. 5 The priest shall command them to kill one of the birds in an earthen vessel over running water. 6 As for the living bird, he shall take it, the cedar wood, the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water. 7 He shall sprinkle on him who is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird go into the open field.
8 “He who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and bathe himself in water; and he shall be clean. After that he shall come into the camp, but shall dwell outside his tent seven days. 9 It shall be on the seventh day, that he shall shave all his hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows. He shall shave off all his hair. He shall wash his clothes, and he shall bathe his body in water. Then he shall be clean.
10 “On the eighth day he shall take two male lambs without defect, one ewe lamb a year old without defect, three tenths of an ephah of fine flour for a meal offering, mixed with oil, and one log of oil. 11 The priest who cleanses him shall set the man who is to be cleansed, and those things, before Yahweh, at the door of the Tent of Meeting.
12 “The priest shall take one of the male lambs, and offer him for a trespass offering, with the log of oil, and wave them for a wave offering before Yahweh. 13 He shall kill the male lamb in the place where they kill the sin offering and the burnt offering, in the place of the sanctuary; for as the sin offering is the priest’s, so is the trespass offering. It is most holy. 14 The priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering, and the priest shall put it on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot. 15 The priest shall take some of the log of oil, and pour it into the palm of his own left hand. 16 The priest shall dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand, and shall sprinkle some of the oil with his finger seven times before Yahweh. 17 The priest shall put some of the rest of the oil that is in his hand on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot, upon the blood of the trespass offering. 18 The rest of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed, and the priest shall make atonement for him before Yahweh.
19 “The priest shall offer the sin offering, and make atonement for him who is to be cleansed because of his uncleanness. Afterward he shall kill the burnt offering; 20 then the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the meal offering on the altar. The priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be clean.
21 “If he is poor, and can’t afford so much, then he shall take one male lamb for a trespass offering to be waved, to make atonement for him, and one tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil for a meal offering, and a log of oil; 22 and two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, such as he is able to afford; and the one shall be a sin offering, and the other a burnt offering.
23 “On the eighth day he shall bring them for his cleansing to the priest, to the door of the Tent of Meeting, before Yahweh. 24 The priest shall take the lamb of the trespass offering, and the log of oil, and the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before Yahweh. 25 He shall kill the lamb of the trespass offering. The priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering and put it on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot. 26 The priest shall pour some of the oil into the palm of his own left hand; 27 and the priest shall sprinkle with his right finger some of the oil that is in his left hand seven times before Yahweh. 28 Then the priest shall put some of the oil that is in his hand on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot, on the place of the blood of the trespass offering. 29 The rest of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed, to make atonement for him before Yahweh. 30 He shall offer one of the turtledoves, or of the young pigeons, which ever he is able to afford, 31 of the kind he is able to afford, the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, with the meal offering. The priest shall make atonement for him who is to be cleansed before Yahweh.”
32 This is the law for him in whom is the plague of leprosy, who is not able to afford the sacrifice for his cleansing. (Leviticus 14:1–4)
15b and to be healed by him of their infirmities. 16 But he withdrew himself into the desert, and prayed. Luke 5:15b–16
Heal me of my infirmities, especially those that could cause harm to others. I know You wrote the laws to make me knowledgeable of sin (Romans 3:20). You taught me the mind of the flesh is hostile toward God, for it is not subject to God’s law (Romans 8:7). Show me instead how to put aside my personal comfort and opinion for the betterment of those around me, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).
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