Ask the Editor – WORLD’s coronavirus coverage

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Monday, April 13th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Next up: Ask the Editor. 

This time WORLD Editor in Chief Marvin Olasky explains WORLD’s approach to covering the coronavirus.

MARVIN OLASKY, EDITOR IN CHIEF: At the end of February I received letters asking WORLD to say the coronavirus was no worse than the normal flu: After all, every year we have x number of flu fatalities, so why was WORLD saying this is different?

I responded at that time with two reasons WORLD took the coronavirus seriously: physical reality and Biblical exegesis. The reality, which everyone now knows: People without symptoms can spread this flu for two or three weeks. A young, healthy person can unwittingly kill an older person or someone with weakened lungs or heart. 

The exegesis, which most Christians now know: The sixth commandment, you shall not murder, takes into account acting in foolhardy ways that jeopardize other people or ourselves. 

The Bible also has very strict laws about isolating those with infectious diseases: See, for example, chapter 13 of Leviticus. That’s not a ceremonial law abrogated by the coming of Christ, but an extension of the Ten Commandments.  The bottom line: We should love our neighbors as ourselves. 

Now, letters rarely ask about the seriousness. Now some say a governor has no right to advise a megachurch to meet electronically rather than in person. As WORLD readers know, we fight hard against threats to religious liberty, so that is certainly true when churches are discriminated against – but what if a governor is even-handed: No large secular meetings, no large religious meetings? 

A great Dutch theologian who was also prime minister, Abraham Kuyper, died 100 years ago. Kuyper developed a useful approach called “sphere sovereignty.” Churches have authority over religious activities, but governors have authority for public safety. If a governor discriminates against churches he’s overstepping his sphere. That’s when we need to yell loud and hard—but we should not become known for crying wolf. 

The good news in the coronavirus crisis is this: We all have more time to pray, more time to read the Bible, more time to think about our own sin. Some of our neighbors may realize: “What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” But the flip side is also true: What can make me sneer again? Misuse of the name of Jesus. 

When news spreads of Christians acting self-sacrificially to love our neighbors, that encourages a worried world to check out the Gospel and hear the good news. But if we harm our neighbors by ignoring medical advice, we place millstones around the necks of those who might otherwise see Christian love.

As Christians become known for saving lives, we have more opportunity to help save souls.  

I’m Marvin Olasky.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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3 comments on Ask the Editor – WORLD’s coronavirus coverage

  1. Megan Atkinson says:

    I have yet to figure out why college students seem to be the one target the stimulus missed. My 18 year old daughter is losing the $2500 she paid for room and board from her college for having to leave early because of CV. (No refunds are being given). She’s not getting the $1200 stimulus check and we’re not getting the $500 on her behalf. She doesn’t qualify for unemployment even though she was working part time at the college and can’t go get a job right now because her asthma makes her a high risk candidate if she comes in contact with corona virus. She planned on working full time all summer to help pay for what her scholarships and loans won’t cover next year. She may not be able to afford to go back next year. Can you lend an explanation as to why she, and others in her situation, are being excluded from receiving help? Thank you!

  2. Barbara DeVault says:

    This podcast by Marvin Olasky is excellent. Is it in print anywhere? I’d like to be able to share it with certain family members and others who are like-minded.

  3. Beth says:

    In regards to “the good news in this coronavirus crisis: we all have more time… “ , it is very important to remember that many of us do not have more time and are, in fact, working harder than we ever have before. Many parents of school age children are now working from home while also educating their children. This transition occurred without any time to prep for so we suddenly had to create new schedules and new routines and new systems for all the work to get done in a day. Including the fact that a house constantly filled with people requires a lot more time and energy to keep clean. Creating a new way of functioning is exhausting. Lesson planning, brainstorming creative ways to help siblings not fight and balance chores and school work, trying to keep a healthy routine for those prone to anxiety, suddenly climbing a steep technology curve to work from home…no, many of us do not have any extra time! And while this intense time together has resulted in some pretty special blessings, it is a A LOT of time consuming, hard work.

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