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Opinions of Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Columnist: Samuel Y. Xenyo

Do you know COVID-19 safety protocols are Biblical?

File photo: Handwashing File photo: Handwashing

Albert Einstein once said: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” In like manner, reference could be made to a press release on 9th May, 2020 - by Ghana Medical Association (GMA) indicating what all Ghanaians should do in the fight against COVID-19.

In this press release, the following measures were and should be considered as our collective effort to fight against COVID-19 in Ghana: ban on public gathering/social [physical] distancing; use of face mask; hand washing under running water with soap; and the use of alcohol based sanitizer.

All these measures could be considered as scientific approaches to the fight against COVID-19. Even so, Ghanaians are well noted to be very religious as Christianity is the most dominant religion in Ghana. The mighty dollar question here is: shall it be a sin or an issue of lack of faith if any believer follows these safety protocols? Below, are some biblical references to support each of these measures put out by the Ghana Medical Association.

Ban on public gathering/social [physical] distancing/quarantine: This is the first scientific measure of Ghana Medical Association, which can be traced to at least two (2) texts in the Bible: “Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves until his wrath has passed by” (Isaiah 26:20, Good News Bible). “When the plague of leprosy is in a man, then he shall be brought unto the priest; And the priest shall see him: and, behold, if the rising be white in the skin, and it have turned the hair white, and be quick raw flesh in the rising; It is an old leprosy in the skin of his flesh, and the priest shall pronounce him unclean, and shall not shut him up: for he is unclean” (Leviticus 13:9-11, KJV). Social distancing and quarantine are therefore biblical. Read also: Romans 13:1-9 and 1 Peter 2:20-25.

Use of face mask (covering of the face): The first Bible quotation on face covering is in Genesis 24:65 “For she had said unto the servant, what man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a vail, and covered herself.” People who have ever been to the Middle East or attended any wedding, would understand what Rebekah had done here. In Exodus 34:33-35 Moses had been in the presence of the Lord, and his face was shining so bright that it was terrifying the people. He had to use a face covering so that they would not run from him. It is not clear as to how many years Moses had to do this. In Isaiah 6:2, the Bible tells us about a vision of heaven: “Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.” These angels are covering their faces with wings. However, the New Testament speaks of the mask on their hearts (II Corinthians 3:13-15).

Hand washing under running water with soap: One of the very important scientific measures on the list of Ghana Medical Association (GMA) is washing of hand under running water. This is what the Bible has to say on it: “Now Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found there a well of living [spring] water” – (Genesis 26:19, AMP). The reference in the book of Genesis was just to lay the foundation that spring water was a common thing in Jewish settlements. Leviticus 15:13 (KJV): “And when he that hath an issue is cleansed of his issue; then he shall number to himself seven days for his cleansing, and wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in running water, and shall be clean.” Read also: Exodus 30:17-21; Deuteronomy 21:4-6; Matthew 27:24; and Mark 7:1-9, the issue of hand washing with water is captured in each of them.

The use of alcohol based sanitizer (fumigation): The last but not least of the scientific measures of Ghana Medical Association (GMA) is the use of hand sanitizer which was then in the form of oil as recorded in Exodus 30:22-31. This oil was not an alcohol but alcohol based. The above text could be put into two main parts: the ingredients used in its preparation and how the oil was to be used.
Moreover the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels, And of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin: And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil. And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony, And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick… And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy. And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office…” (Exo. 30:22-31, KJV).

It must be noted that Cinnamyl alcohol is a naturally occurring compound that is found within Cinnamon, just as Calamus is used in the preparation of Calamus Alcohol Liquid. The oil mentioned there was not only for spiritual purity but also for physical cleanliness and of character.

Whoever will live a long and healthy life, should go back to the Bible and humble himself/herself to study diligently as stated in 2 Timothy 2:15. “God cannot do by miracle what must be done by obedience; partial obedience is disobedience and delayed obedience is disobedience.” In our fight against COVID-19, it is important to take note of the word of wisdom and caution from Martin Luther’s pastoral advice during the Black Plague (Bubonic plague, 1346 – 1353):
I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, He will surely find me, and I have done what He has expected of me and… so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbour needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God. – Martin Luther, Works v. 43, p. 132. Letter “Whether one may flee a Deadly Plague” written to Dr. John Hess.
It is worth noting that the plague indicated above is “what is now called the Black Death, also known as the Pestilence and the Great Mortality, was the most fatal pandemic recorded in human history.” It resulted in the deaths of up to 75 – 200 million people in the world.

We all need to get on board and help in fighting COVID-19 by praying to God everywhere we find ourselves for the sake of Ghana and the entire world against the pandemic as though it all depends on prayer. And let us also follow all the safety protocols religiously and scientifically as though it all depends on the safety measures as we also work hard at discovering a drug for its cure. Don’t be afraid and don’t stigmatize those who tested positive for the virus around you. Victory shall surely be ours!

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