How COVID Messaging Perverts Love
June 24, 2021 Blogs Tim Jennings, M.D.

I received this email recently:

Hello, Dr. Jennings.

I have been dealing with a situation concerning a member of my leadership team. These folks have chosen to agree with and follow all of the government’s COVID mandates here in [our state], which, in of itself, is ok with me. I know they have thought things through and have based their decision on what they believe is best for their family.

Here’s the kicker:  The message that is often repeated to me, from this family, essentially goes something like this—“You choosing to exercise your freedoms by not wearing a mask, not limiting attendance, not requiring social distancing, and not enforcing the government’s mandates, violates my liberties and takes away my freedom to choose if it’s safe for me to attend church.”

My spirit reflexively rebels against what is being said here. However, I have not been able to clearly understand what is happening. I want to reject coercive and manipulative methods, and I believe there are tons of accusations as well. For about six months now, I have been praying over this and searching for an answer to what is going on that makes sense.

How would you describe what is taking place here and, given your experience, how would you respond? Recently, I tend to freeze up.

Thank you for your work and ministry. I am having so much fun incorporating the truth about God’s character and design law into my teaching.


Thank you for your email and for thinking for yourself—for not allowing the views, opinions, and allegations of others to keep you from forming your conclusions. God has given each of us our own individuality, the ability to reason and think, and the mature are those who have exercised those abilities and have developed by practice the ability to discern right from wrong (Hebrews 5:14).

God’s design for human beings is that we grow up into the full stature of Christ, intelligent and competent sons and daughters of God (Ephesians 4:15). It is God’s purpose that we develop our individual abilities to think, reason, and act, that we choose for ourselves the right over the wrong because we can actually tell the difference and prefer the right over the wrong, that we experience, via the work of the Holy Spirit, ever-increasing godly traits of character—“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22, 23 NIV84).

When the Holy Spirit has His way in our lives, we develop self-control, the ability to think and to act in harmony with God and God’s design laws for life, which are the principles of truth, love, and liberty. We present the truth in love and then leave others free to come to their own conclusions. We have the capacity as mature Christians to discern, to think, to comprehend, to differentiate, to critically reason and, thus, make choices in harmony with God’s design, methods, and purposes.

Satan hates this. He wants to destroy our capacity for self-governance and mature decision-making. Satan’s goal is to enslave the minds of people in order to take away liberty, to destroy the capacity to reason, think, and act, to make us pawns and puppets controlled by him.

How does Satan achieve this? It is always through avenues that inflame fear and selfishness. The more intense our fear, the greater is our desire to protect self with an ever-increasing willingness to comply with rules and authority in order to be safe—and the more willing we are to compel others in order to protect ourselves.

Surrendering our judgment to others, to authorities, in order to feel safe—to avoid confrontation, legal trouble, punishment, or be considered a troublemaker—harms the mind, undermines thinking, and damages the image of God in us. Yet millions do this every day just so they can feel less fear, whether fear of the government or fear of social rejection—being an outcast, being labelled an anarchist, heretic, racist, sexist, super-spreader, anti-vaxxer, or conspiracy nut. Fear leads to compliance, to surrendering to the authorities, the majority, the accepted narrative.

Yeonmi Park, a North Korean defector who now lives in the United States, tells how her mind was programmed, how her ability to think and reason was obstructed by the practices of the communist regime. She says,

In North Korea I literally believed that my Dear Leader [Kim Jong-un] was starving. He’s the fattest guy – how can anyone believe that? And then somebody showed me a photo and said “Look at him, he’s the fattest guy. Other people are all thin.” And I was like, “Oh my God, why did I not notice that he was fat?” Because I never learned how to think critically. [1]

She goes on to say, “That is what is happening in America. People see things but they’ve just completely lost the ability to think critically.”

How is it that she thought her leader was starving? Because her teachers told her that he was; her party leaders told her that he was. She was trained to believe what she was told despite the evidence. She was trained to believe based on the authority of the person in office. If anyone did question the party line in North Korea, they were punished and would eventually be killed. Dissenting opinion was not to be tolerated.

This is exactly how the church of the Dark Ages operated. The masses were told to believe merely because the priest said it, the bishop said it, the pope said it. The church was the authority; their word was not to be questioned. It didn’t matter what the evidence, facts, or truth revealed. And if anyone did question, they were punished, ostracized, and eventually killed.

These exact methods are being employed in America today. People are being told what to think not how to think. The school systems have indoctrinated generations on philosophies that are contradictory to reality, requiring the suspension of critical reason to believe, just like the church of the Dark Ages did. And now, the various authorities give proclamations and people are incapable of thinking through the claims and discerning the reality for themselves. “The CDC says, Dr. so and so says, the NIH says, the World Health Organization says, CNN says, MSNBC says, Fox News says.” People are being taught to believe solely on the weight of authority of office, on who said it, and have lost the capacity to critically reason, to weigh evidences. And then they are threatened: If you don’t obey, if you don’t wear the mask, social distance, you will be fined, have your business license revoked, or even be imprisoned. Don’t question, don’t think—obey! The image of God in people is being destroyed, and fear is rising!

Love and truth are the divine powers that demolish Satan’s strongholds. Only truth can destroy lies. Only love can overcome fear and selfishness.

God is love, and the foundational law of heaven is love. Jesus said,

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matthew 22:37–40 NIV84).

God’s law is the law of love. Every law of God is an expression of love. This love is functional, operational, and constant. It goes far beyond mere feelings. It is not sentiment. Love doesn’t take the easy road. Love does the hard work, the painful work, the work of healing and of redemption. Love suffers. Love risks. Love sacrifices. Ultimately, love conquers—but “‘not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6 NIV84). It is love operating in freedom that frees the heart from fear!

Very few people know God’s love. Instead, most have accepted a counterfeit, a self-soothing, self-protecting, fear-avoiding, risk-avoiding, and safety-promoting fraud built on fear—fear of loss, fear of rejection, or fear of failure—by which the removal of this corrosive fear makes one feel so safe, feel so good, that they consider the loss of freedom to be an act of love.

One of the greatest perversions of God’s kingdom is Satan’s replacement of God’s love with fear and selfishness and then getting people to seek to relieve their fear and selfishness by manipulating others, controlling others, and exploiting others and calling that a godly love.

This is what we are seeing in your friends’ viewpoints, using the claim of love as a way to incite guilt in you, to accuse you, to manipulate you, to get you and others to conform your behavior in ways that make them feel safe. It is a lie. It is a fraud. It is not love. It is fear and selfishness.

The way of love is always the way of truth. For the same Spirit of love is the Spirit of truth. Truth and love originate in the heart of God and will be the primary motivators of all who are on God’s team.

But the proponents of the “if you love, you will comply—you will wear a mask, stop worshiping together, stop visiting your beloved grandmother in her assisted living facility, no longer minister to your dying aunt in hospice care, stop your 12-step meetings, prevent children from going to school, and by all means get an experimental injection with no long-term safety data”—yes, the proponents of this lie about love are the same ones who want to restrict liberties, use coercive powers to force their way, and obstruct open and honest dialogue, prevent any truth, facts, or evidences that refute their views from coming into the open. So they censor, deplatform, accuse, and malign.

These same twisted motives are what led Saul of Tarsus to use the power of the state to imprison the worshipers of Jesus, the Dark Ages church leaders to burn people at the stake, and the Pharisees to crucify Christ. It was all about saving lives, saving souls, and stopping the spread of soul-destroying heresies—just as the high priest who led the Sanhedrin to crucify Christ said, “It is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish” (John 11:50 NIV84).

But after Paul’s conversion, after he rejected the methods of this world, the methods of fear and selfishness, and was reborn with a heart operating on the principles of God, he wrote that God wants His people to present the truth in love and that every person is to be persuaded fully in their own minds (Ephesians 4:15; Romans 14:5). This is the way of God. This is the way of righteousness. This is the way of our King, who did not use power and might to force Satan to comply but left His ancient enemy free. Jesus doesn’t win by compelling power, by force, by manipulation. Jesus wins by truth and love. The way of truth and love is the long road, the painful road, the sacrificing road, but it is the only road to eternal life.

The methods employed by these so-called “love-promoters” are not the methods of God; they are the methods of Satan, the methods of coercion, deceit, and restriction of liberties, and they expose those who use these methods as frauds. They may be ignorant of what they are doing, they may be well-intentioned, but it doesn’t make what they are doing right—and it won’t stop the damage that occurs to hearts and minds of all who practice such perverse methods.

Love stands firm; it presents the truth and leaves others free. It is time for love to rule!

So a way to respond to your friend is to say: “I respect your individuality, your ability to think and to choose for yourself. I would never try to dictate the decisions you must make for your life. In love, I will share facts, evidences, and my concerns for your welfare. But at the end of the day, I respect you as a child of God and will leave you free—because I love you. Do you love me enough to show me the same respect? Are your actions motivated by your love for me or your fear for yourself? So, if you think there is a healthier way, win me with the evidence, with truth, but don’t try to manipulate me with the false allegation that my choices over my health restrict your liberties. Love simply doesn’t work that way.”


[1] https://www.foxnews.com/us/north-korean-defector-ivy-league-nuts

 

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Tim Jennings, M.D. Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist, master psychopharmacologist, international speaker, Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and Fellow of the Southern Psychiatric Association. He is President and Founder of Come and Reason Ministries and has served as President of the Southern and Tennessee Psychiatric Associations. Dr. Jennings has authored many books, including The God-Shaped Brain, The God-Shaped Heart, and The Aging Brain.