A pastor is frustrated seeing Christians use Bible verses to justify not following the Public Health Orders.
People have been gathering in large groups against the Public Health Orders in Manitoba, including as recently as at The Forks on Sunday. Arguments being brought forward are the health orders are creating mental health and economic issues.
"We are really at this point where everyone is tired of these restrictions. This could really be our last push," Dr. Brent Roussin says in a Monday Press Conference, saying with vaccinations picking up large restrictions may soon be a thing of the past.
The doctor says hospitals are filling with COVID-19 patients, making it tougher to offer other medical treatments and surgeries to Manitobans. There are currently 83 people in hospital with COVID-19 in Manitoba, with another 65 in hospital no longer considered infectious but still dealing with the after-effects of the virus. There are a total of 37 in ICU with 21 still infectious.
Premier Brian Pallister says they consider mental health and other aspects when orders are being created. He says across the world they are seeing repercussions of the pandemic, noting that Manitoba's case numbers and death toll remain lower because of the orders and efforts of Roussin and his team.
Another topic being brought up during demonstrations is people saying the Public Health Orders are violating the right to worship.
"They say we should engage in a civil disobedience sort of as protest, and I do not believe what we are seeing right now meets the threshold for civil disobedience," Pastor Thom Van Dyke says. "Are our rights being infringed upon? Of course they are, but they are being infringed on across the board. They are not infringing on Christian rights."
Van Dyke is a former pastor at Southland Church in Steinbach and will be serving as a teaching pastor for four months with Eastview Community Church in East St. Paul.
He says that in his own social media circles, he is seeing people quote Hebrews as a reason to gather but says many people are misinterpreting the context and history of the verse, mistakenly directing it towards the government. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (NIV)
"What Christians do is they look at Hebrews where it says you should not give up meeting together, and they apply that to what the government is doing."
The Pastor says the context of this verse is directed towards Christians who individually decide to not go to church for various reasons, such as being tired.
"For everything that I can see, (government officials) are actually working actively to try and reduce the pressure of COVID so we can get back to worshiping together.
Loving your neighbour
He is asking if someone knows another person is struggling with their finances or mental health, to reach out with love.
"I just think we are blowing it as Christians when we go on social media and we cite crazy conspiracy theories... I think we need to do a better job of demonstrating what I believe is the heart of the gospel which is love, submission, and laying down our rights."
This weekend he did a sermon about state and society, and the Christian responsibility regarding this.
"I really do believe that it is our responsibility to protect the most vulnerable."
He is encouraging people to reach out to those in need, whether it be financially to those struggling or dropping off a cup of coffee to someone feeling alone.
Van Dyke believes demonstrating love will have a greater impact on society. Getting the thought from pastor Kris Duerksen at Crossview Church in Steinbach, Van Dyke says he is seeing people idolize their individual freedoms, fearing the loss of them over God.
The Pastor says he and his wife both received the AstraZeneca vaccine as one of their children has health care needs that make them vulnerable. He says he does not think faith plays into the decision to get a vaccine.
"The Bible does not have any medical precedence because the Bible is not a medical textbook."
He is urging Manitobans to care for and love each other, even while apart.