Emmy Yang’s recent editorial, “Is It Faithful to Flee an Epidemic? What Martin Luther Teaches Us About Coronavirus,” in Christianity Today evaluates the insight Martin Luther’s teachings can provide for how Christians can respond faithfully to this outbreak. Emmy Yang is a current Theology, Medicine, and Culture Fellow and a medical student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
“What if a Christian still desires to flee? Luther affirms that this may, in fact, be the believer’s faithful response, provided that no emergency exists and that they arrange substitutes who will “take care of the sick in their stead and nurse them.” Notably, Luther also reminds readers that salvation is independent of these good works. He ultimately tasks them to decide whether to flee or to stay during plagues, trusting that they will arrive at a faithful decision through prayer and meditation on the Scriptures. Participation in aiding the sick arises out of grace, not obligation.”
“In a climate of fear surrounding the outbreak, I come back to Luther’s letter for guidance. As a medical student and a future physician, I have a clear vocational commitment to caring for the sick—whether they have coronavirus, tuberculosis, or influenza. Precautions I will take, yes. But I am reminded by Luther that they are individuals deserving of care all the same.”