Bishop T.D. Jakes slammed Christians who flout social distancing guidelines as a demonstration of how their faith will protect them from the coronavirus as “foolishness” and “dumb.”
“I believe in faith, I believe in God, I believe in the Bible, I believe in the Word of God, but I also believe in common sense,” said Jakes, senior pastor of The Potter's House in Dallas, Texas, in a Facebook Live broadcast Sunday.
“When the Bible said Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days and Satan said, ‘if though be the Son of God cast yourself off of this mountain for it is written that the angels will bear you up,' Jesus did not throw Himself off the mountain just to see if angels would catch Him. That’s not faith, that’s foolishness,” Jakes continued in response to some Christians who think people of faith shouldn’t be restrained by state lockdowns in response to the coronavirus.
“To put yourself in a situation where you disregard common sense, disregard it just to see if God has got you, please don’t do that. I’m on here talking to you today because I’m concerned and I’m worried, and I love you and I’m scared for you. And I’m scared for all of us to the degree that I don’t live in fear but I don’t make dumb decisions either,” he said.
The 62-year-old preacher, who is considered at-risk of developing serious complications if he catches the virus due to his age, revealed that he has not seen his own children for weeks.
“Not to hug my grandchildren, not to see my own children for the past six or seven weeks has not been fun. But If I make good decisions right now I get to see them for another 30 years or so. If I make good decisions right now I’ll get to go outside and I’ll get to go to the beach. And I’ll get to go to my favorite restaurants,” he said, listing other things that he will eventually get to do as long as he tries to do as much as he can to protect himself.
Jakes' warning comes as several states across the country have started to slowly reopen after weeks of lockdowns in an effort to reduce the number of coronavirus hospitalizations at one time. More than 67,000 people nationwide have died from complications related to the coronavirus.
He acknowledged the delicate balance many people are now facing in deciding whether they will stay home.
“I know that most of us cross country have been shut up in the house for weeks and weeks and weeks on end and now the standards are changing and the government officials, in different areas, are beginning to open up. And I understand why they’re trying to open up and I understand the dynamics between the … economic perils verses pandemic perils, and I don’t really criticize either side of the argument,” he said.
“Both of them have certain merits that we cannot ignore. We cannot ignore the food lines that we see across the country in Florida. I cannot ignore the foods lines I see at my own church as we desperately try to feed people who have lost their jobs and don’t have income and don’t have money. I know that we need ... our economic infrastructure has to withstand this or we’ll fall into the great depression. I understand that,” he said.
“But on the other hand, I look at the pandemic and I look at the atrocities that it has created not only amongst the horrific death rate that is attacking all people and people of color even more so, people without means even more so, people with pre-existing conditions even more so, elderly people even more so,” he continued.
“I can’t tell you how my phone has rung off the hook over the last six weeks with screaming, grieving, crying, weeping people, upset because they couldn’t say goodbye to their mothers, fathers. And sometimes both mother and father have it and sometimes sisters, aunts and uncles … and even children,” he said, noting that “maybe that has something to do with how I feel.”
He said he cried for the dead in New York City because “those are like real people.”
Jakes further stressed that whatever decision they make during the pandemic, it will be their own.
“Just because they’re lifting up some of the restrictions does not necessarily mean that you have to lift up you’re restrictions on what is best for you. That is not a political decision. That is not a Democratic, Republican decision. That is not a presidential decision. It’s not a governor’s decision. It’s not a mayor’s decision. It’s not a preacher’s decision. You will live or die based on your decisions and how you handle the days ahead,” he said.
“I know there are some of you that you have to get to work and you have things that you have to do, and you have to go to the store sometimes and you have to do all kinds of things. But when there’s something that you have to do, please, please be very, very careful,” he added.
He explained that even though people are tired of being in the house and they “crave normal” they should not allow those feelings to cloud common sense “survival instincts.”
“I’ve had members all around me who have contracted COVID-19. Even the young people took a terrible beating. It is a tough sickness. It is not like the flu for many people who contract it,” he said. “We’ve lost people I knew. We’ve lost a lot of people I knew. We’ve lost a lot of preachers. We’ve lost a lot of entertainers, we’ve lost a lot of people.”