April 2021 A.D.
On Resisting a Private Business
“No shoes, no shirt, no mask, no service.”
Today is April 1st, as I write, which is also Maundy Thursday. I admit, I completely forgot to write a newsletter article this month—no April Fool’s joke needed. Last month’s topic was, “On Resisting the Government”. I thought you might also appreciate some Biblical guidance on resisting rules of a private business. Are private businesses an authority to be obeyed like the government? Can you resist a private business’s rules in good conscience? Obviously, I bring this up since masks are no longer mandated by the government for private businesses in Texas, but they are free to make their own mask policies. And, obviously, my role is to give any Biblical guidance and try avoid legal counsel or just my red-blooded opinion since those aren’t my vocations here…I’ll try.
Are private businesses an authority to be obeyed like the government?
No. Private businesses are not in a God-given office of authority over you like the offices of parent in the home, government in the state, or pastor in the church. Private businesses run by your neighbors fall into the realm of dealing with equals in a love your neighbor as yourself way. Now, that is the clear Biblical rule; private businesses are not an authority over you. With that said, in resisting a private business, the application can get very muddy depending on the specifics. I like to think small scale: since this is a neighbor-to-neighbor relationship, let’s think of your neighbor inviting you over to his house for dinner and extrapolate from there.
You go over to his house and he tells you that the house rule is that, “You must wash your hands before supper.” You are free to comply or not. He is free to allow your resistance or insist that you leave his property. So, let’s say you obey, “You wash your hands before supper.” But, let’s say he feels like hands need to be washed every 5 minutes during dinner to keep everything clean and safe. You are dealing with an equal. You are free to comply or not. He is free to allow your resistance or insist that you leave his property. And, you are free to say, “I don’t think I want to go back there for supper.” This is not a moral/sinful issue. You are not commanded to go into and remain in your neighbor’s house and obey all of his rules that aren’t rules of God or government.
The same logic would be true if your neighbor was running a private business. If he makes a rule for his building that goes above and beyond any government mandate—then you are free to obey, resist to a degree, or leave and not return.
But, “no shoes, no shirt, no service” is no big deal. Is it any different to add a mask into the mix?
Well, I’ve always been a Jimmy Buffet fan myself, but I digress. If the government mandates that a private business must mandate shoes, shirts, and masks that is one thing. If it is simply their policy, that is another. And, even in the former, there are exceptions and nuance—see last month’s article on “Resisting the Government”. I’ll give a few more example and then call it a day of fools:
So, again, let’s say you go into a private business (they are not a God-given authority over you that you must obey, just like your neighbor isn’t either), let’s say a restaurant. And as you are eating, the owner comes over and says, “Our policy is that you must eat your food with chopsticks, stop using your anti-communism fork.” I would laugh and refuse and would NOT say I was sinning. He could choose to allow my ‘resistance’ or escalate it and say, “It’s my business, you need to leave or I’m calling the cops.” It is at this point that I would respectfully leave and never eat there again.
Or, what if he required a mask and shirt, but they must be stamped with the name, President Biden. Would you obey, resist, or leave? Private businesses, like your neighbor’s house, can make their own rules.
Again, apply this to being invited to your neighbor’s house for dinner. If they told you to obey their rules, you would decide which ones to obey and which to resist–and when it is time to leave. “Please take your shoes off, we just got new floors.” “Okay, fine.” “Please, put on this aluminum hat so the aliens can’t find us while we eat dinner.” You are free to play along, see if they are really serious, or leave. Actually, playing along might harm your neighbor by sharing in their delusion.
Could I give examples that slant the other way toward obeying your neighbor’s rules in freedom for their benefit? Yes. What if your neighbor just finished chemo? The right thing to do might be to “wash your hands every 5 min.” As I said at the start, the application of the Biblical rule isn’t always easy to see. We do our best, while always relying on the mercy of God and erring on the side of humility and loving our neighbor.
I know my above examples are extreme and maybe miss the mark in making a fair comparison of stores like Costco insisting on the impossible—that my three-year-old wear a mask. And, maybe my opinions bled into this rushed article also. But, the main takeaway is that private businesses are not a God-given authority.
Seasonal Introduction to Eastertide
At first, the resurrection of Jesus was the only festival celebrated by the Church, and it on a weekly basis. As the Church Year gradually developed, however, an annual celebration of the resurrection became the norm. There was much debate about when to celebrate, and the Council of Nicaea in 325 directed that for the Western Church, Easter would be celebrated the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. This keeps it in close proximity to the Passover but not in exact agreement. This avoids the problem of celebrating Good Friday and Easter Sunday on other days of the week as would happen if the dates were historically accurate.
For the early Church, the Church Year began with the Pascha as is still the case with the Eastern Churches. The whole period from Easter to Pentecost was one long festival. By the fourth century, a distinction was made between the separate events: the Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost.
This is a time of great joy! Gold (not yellow!) may be substituted for white paraments and can be very effective especially with a Jacobean frontal. Flowers, ancient symbols of the resurrection, are used in abundance (although never on the altar). The alleluia is restored to the service. An ancient custom is to stand for parts of the service where kneeling would be customary at other times. Another ancient custom, especially involved with the vigil service on our Saturday evening, is the striking of new fire. The pastor and participants gather for a procession at the beginning of the service in darkness. With appropriate readings, a flame is struck, used to light the Paschal Candle, and carried in procession to the front of the church where it is used to light all other candles.
The Paschal Candle is lighted during the reading of the Gospel at the announcement of the angel: “He is not here, He has risen as He said.” This candle is then lighted for all worship services during the Easter season. (It is appropriate for it to be lighted before worshipers gather and to be extinguished after all have left). Flame may be taken from this Paschal Candle to light other candles used in worship. It burns for all services until Ascension where it is extinguished at the reading of the account of the ascension. It then is lighted throughout the year at all baptisms, a reminder of Christ’s parting command to make disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching.
Many customs of Easter celebration are of pagan origin, such as the Easter egg, the bunnies and chicks, the traditional ham dinner, even the name “Easter”. Over the years these have taken on Christian connotations and the deciding factor in their use should be how they are regarded by people today.
Easter as the chief feast of the Christian Church Year lasts for a week of weeks, that is 7 Sundays. White is the proper color throughout and each Sunday of Easter is regarded as a major festival, not to be pushed aside for any lesser event. Other concerns, such as local events, mothers’ day and the like, can be observed with a special prayer or passing reference but should not upstage the victory of Jesus Christ. The use of Easter hymns should predominate throughout the season, including toward the end. At least the opening hymn ought to reflect the resurrection message.
Consideration should be given to occasionally returning to the traditional sequence of Sundays in the Easter season, perhaps renumbering them to fit the modern scheme, but using the traditional emphases of Quasi Modo Geniti, Misericordias Domini, Jubilate, Cantate, Rogate and Exaudi. The themes and lessons of this traditional series seem too appropriate to simply lie forgotten because of modern revisions. (pericope.org)
To God be the Glory!
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