This despicable and entirely unbiblical meme keeps popping up in the social media feeds of what I’ll assume (out of generosity) is a sincere desire to help others. 🤦🏻♂️
Anti-mask/vaxx Christians keep using these verses to support their anti-science aggression.
[2Timothy 1:7 CSB] 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.
[Hebrews 9:27 CSB] 27 And just as it is appointed for people to die once – and after this, judgment –
The easy one to dispense with is our appointment with death. The verse IS NOT saying that God has planned each one of our deaths. We are mortal beings who die once and then go to judgment. No do-overs, etc. Another translation makes that clear.
[Hebrews 9:27 NIV] 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,
What kind of fear are we talking about here? Consider another modern translation.
[2Timothy 1:7 NIV] 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
The Greek word translated as fear/timidity is deilia: timidity, fearfulness, or cowardice.
- STRONGS G1167: δειλία, -ας, ἡ, (δειλός), timidity, fearfullness, cowardice
- Outline of Biblical Usage: timidity, fearfulness, cowardice
The biblical solution for this “fear” is the God-given spirit of power, or dynamis.
- STRONGS G1411: δύναμις, -εως, ἡ; [from Homer down]; Sept. for חַיִל, גְּבוּרָה, עֹז, כֹּחַ, צָבָא (an army, a host); strength, ability, power;
- Outline of Biblical Usage: strength power, ability
- inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth
- power for performing miracles
- moral power and excellence of soul
- the power and influence which belong to riches and wealth
- power and resources arising from numbers
- power consisting in or resting upon armies, forces, hosts
Let’s take these options one-by-one.
- Inherent power? What inherent strength do we humans have against SARS-CoV-2? Our immune systems are monstrously complex and there is no telling how strong or weak yours is. World class athletes have been ruined by COVID, some of them to the point of death. Your level of physical fitness has nothing to do with how strong your immune system is. It simply doesn’t work that way. COVID is a disease whose severity is primarily linked to exposure levels and comorbidity.
- Miracle power? If this is what the faith over fear mantra is referring to, then why aren’t these Christians walking the hospital hallways healing everyone of the disease?
- Moral power? Is COVID a moral issue to solve by flexing the muscles of our soul? Can’t use this one here.
- Money power? NA.
- Power in numbers? Apparently the group of faith over fear chanters isn’t big enough to fix anything? Do they realize this means that God has failed them, or even worse, God Himself has failed? Either way, this use of the word destroys their cause.
- Military power? Thank God these folks have no military power!
It seems that the power solution to a timid spirit is for something else. This verse does not apply to the pandemic at all. More on that later.
What about sound judgment?
- STRONGS G4995: σωφρονισμός, σωφρονισμοῦ, ὁ ((σωφρονίζω);
- an admonishing or calling to soundness of mind, to moderation and self-control
Soundness of mind? Self-control? Yes! A sound mind wouldn’t go to a real sword fight with a toy light saber chanting faith over fear. This is what the anti-mask/vaxx Christian is doing when they post the ridiculous meme that twists Scripture into their little confirmation bias box. It is unbiblical and un-Christian. Merely citing a Bible verse DOES NOT make your claim biblical. Don’t put God in a box! This has never worked out well for those who try.
Hence the solution that Scripture is talking about here refers to something other than disease. The verse also speaks to love and sound judgment, which if applied to the pandemic would require that you love your neighbor by demonstrating the sound judgment to wear a mask to reduce transmission and get vaccinated for the same reason. The faith over fear crowd conveniently stops at verse 7 because verse 8 gives an immediate context that betrays their personal agenda.
[2Timothy 1:8 NIV] 8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.
Simple. The power that the Christian is supposed to have is one that is unafraid to share the Gospel regardless of circumstance. It IS NOT telling the believer that they should never ever be afraid of anything that happens. There are obviously some things that humans should fear, such as lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! Deadly diseases. Etc. Fear can be healthy when it prompts you to take actions rooted in sound judgment, such as wearing a mask or getting vaccinated rather than pretending that they do not work when the facts of Nature and an overwhelming amount of scientific data demand it. Denial of these things is a spirit of deliberate ignorance, or even worse, abject stupidity.
Are we to accept that God is telling us to remain deliberately ignorant to the collective peril of humanity? I think not.