Set Apart

Set Apart: Should Churches and Christian Businesses Be Practising Segregation?

13 December 2021

6.8 MINS

Christians are called to be ‘set apart’ for God and to separate themselves from sin and worldliness. But segregation – the kind being practiced in today’s society against the unvaccinated – is completely unbiblical. Churches and Christian businesses should know better.

Should churches and Christian businesses segregate? It depends on what sort of segregation we are discussing. Some segregation is entirely proper and biblical.

A simple definition of segregate is “set apart from each other; isolated or divided”. In many cases, this is no problem for Christians. The very words “saint”, “sanctification” and “holiness” all have as their root the notion of being set apart. Believers are set apart for God and his use, and we are set apart from the world. As Paul put it in 2 Timothy 2:21,

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonourable, he will be a vessel for honourable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

Paul himself was “set apart for the gospel of God”, as he says in Romans 1:1. Believers are to be separated from the world and the world system in various ways. As we read in 2 Corinthians 6:14-15:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?

When Churches Should Practice ‘Segregation’

So individual believers can and should be separate and should segregate at times. But what about churches? Is it right for them to segregate? Again, it depends.

Consider the issue of church membership: here, the church must segregate. Church membership is only for actual Christians. They are in a covenant relationship with God and others in a local body of believers. Church discipline is a crucial part of church membership.

But that is quite different from when people simply attend church to hear the gospel on a Sunday morning. In that sense, anyone can come and visit a church: no one should be excluded; there should be no segregation. All can come: people of every ethnicity; redeemed sinners and unredeemed sinners. But membership is the exclusive domain of the born-again believer.

So a church is wrong to discriminate against, for example, Black people or women. But it is right to exclude certain people from the church life and ministry, including those who are not saved and believers who are living in willful sin. The church must segregate for such reasons.

When Churches Shouldn’t Practice Segregation

But now we have a new type of segregation: keeping out “the unclean”, otherwise known as the unvaccinated. As I have argued many times previously, this is wrong.

I would go so far as to say that churches that are discriminating against those who have doubts about a provisionally approved drug being injected into their bodies are not really Christian churches but apostate churches. They have sold out and become a docile tool of the Total State.

Jesus never turned away the sick, the unclean, or those others considered impure. He welcomed them all. “Let only the vaccinated children come unto me” is not what Jesus said. He excluded no one based on their medical condition, and neither should we.

Sure, we can take some sensible steps in the interests of health. Say your child has just come down with the measles. The wise thing to do would be to keep him home for a while and not send him to school or Sunday School. But bear in mind that the diseased are to be quarantined, not the healthy. That is how the “unclean” were treated in the Old Testament (see, for example, Leviticus 14:7-9 and Numbers 5:1-4).

Sadly, many churches have sold out. Thankfully, I found one Melbourne church this past Sunday that did not demand my papers nor sought to exclude me from fellowship. This church was an exception to the rule. As one Australian Christian pastor has written on the situation in Victoria:

Dear Pastor, do you remember an important declaration penned by some brave Queensland pastors advocating against segregation? The declaration many in your state decided to oppose on the basis of ‘tone’ and ‘dubious association’? That declaration has accurately painted the exact same scenario you and many other Australians, especially Victorians, are now being forced to live in.

Did you just not see this coming? Because if that’s the case, this situation is quite concerning since we are talking about one who is called to oversee and protect the flock of God placed under his care. One who is called to keep watch but cannot see obvious threats that will, as you said in your own words, harm the church and stop her from fulfilling its dutiful ministry to all? That can’t work, can it?

Dear Pastor, the care of your flock was given to you, not to Daniel Andrews. Make no mistake, you are responsible, not him. Christ has already ruled on what the life of the church is supposed to be like. That’s settled. There is to be no change on those matters.

If Christ says segregation is wrong and harmful, there is no point in time in which it is okay. Not even for a second. Why, dear Pastor? Why then did you decide to usurp the authority of Christ over your congregation? Why did you believe that the Lord of the flock would be okay with you running the show as per what you thought would be best, in complete opposition to his word?

Christian Businesses Practicing Segregation

What about a Christian business? This scenario is a bit different. While, in theory, a Christian business exists to serve God and others, it is also there to make a profit. Anyone – Christian or non-Christian – can normally partake of their goods and services.

Consider a Christian bookstore. Should they segregate, in this case, against the unvaccinated?

I hate to say it, but this has happened to me. Recently, I was not allowed to enter a high profile Christian bookstore, one that I had been to countless times over the past three decades and at which I have spent untold dollars. I do not desire to single this store out since almost all Christian businesses are now practising segregation. But let me speak briefly about my recent unfortunate encounter there.

I was met there by a ‘guard’ who asked to see my papers. When I said I had none, he told me he could not let me enter. Presumably, he was being paid to exclude customers like me, and he was not the one making the decision. So I could not get upset with him.

But I knew the store manager, and I was able to get her attention. We chatted for a bit outside of the store. She was apologetic, yet she too was presumably doing what her bosses – as well as Dan Andrews – demanded of her. I pointed out to her what a terrific customer I had been for so long and how sad it was to be treated like this.

I even had my list of books in my hand that I was hoping to purchase. The manager offered to get them for me, but I told her that she was far too busy in her role and thanked her for the kind offer.

She explained that Covid was real and a problem. I responded by saying that so is AIDS, herpes, the common cold, and the annual flu, but I was not asked to show my medical status on those infectious diseases.

I told her that if her store and a hundred other Christian stores stood firm, banded together, and resisted these unjust and discriminatory orders, we could probably see things turned around. But all these businesses have just given in and complied without a whimper.

There is no resolve to stand up for what is right. There is no determination among these Christian business owners and managers to let their Christianity make a practical difference. There is no Christian courage or conviction. “We are just following orders” is sadly the mindset for most people. Where have we heard that before?

This Is a Trial Run for the Future

With most churches and Christian businesses simply rolling over before the secular state and doing its bidding, we live in very dark days. I thought that Christians – be they pastors or bookshop owners – were supposed to be different. Sadly, many lives as though it is business as usual.

Too many Christians seem to believe that above all, they should not rock the boat and they simply should do whatever Big Brother tells them to do. So much for a Christian witness. So much for being set apart. So much for letting your light shine in a dark place.

American author Rod Dreher takes a quick tour of the West in a recent column, looking at all the segregation and bigotry inspired by Covid hysteria and Statist overkill. He has collected a series of images making the rounds on social media, where fences can be seen running down the middle of grocery stores and shopping malls to keep the vaccinated and the unvaccinated apart. Dreher writes:

I don’t think these governments believe that fences and shopping restrictions directly hinder the spread of Covid. They are trying to make everyday life harder for the unvaxxed, and to turn them into social pariahs, to compel them to conform and get the vaccines.

Don’t you see what’s happening here?! This is also a trial run for the future. You will have seen academics, medical authorities and even governments declaring that “racism is a public health issue.” It is not difficult to imagine a future in which the state, in the name of health and hygiene, imposes restrictions on those it determines to be bigots.

Does it sound far-fetched? Maybe. But look, if parents angry over what school systems are doing to their kids can be considered potential “domestic terrorists,” the potential is there. Do you really think that the Woke in power would not use public health as an excuse to punish their political opponents?

All around us, we see the rise of ugly Big Brother Statism and the stealing away of our liberties and human rights. We expect the secular left tyrants to engage in this sort of behaviour. We should not expect Christian churches and businesses to happily go along with it.

What did Jesus say about the role of believers in the world?

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. (Matthew 5:13).

Originally published at CultureWatch. Image via the Wall Street Journal.

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  1. Sondy Ward 13 December 2021 at 9:39 am - Reply

    100% agree with you. Many Christians don’t fully understand who they actually are and Who’s they are. Isaiah 9:6-7 needs application here. He lives within us and governs us. We then govern our surroundings in the light of His word.

  2. Paul Copeland 13 December 2021 at 11:15 am - Reply

    Great article.

    I agree 100% with everything written.

  3. Vivienne Williams 13 December 2021 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    So true and refreshing and encouraging!
    There are many standing firm against the state that is and has been for a long time, against God, His Word and His laws.

  4. Leonie Robson 14 December 2021 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    All deeply disturbing trends undermining our beloved nation.

  5. Bill Muehlenberg 24 December 2021 at 10:57 am - Reply

    Many thanks guys.

  6. Elizabeth Ayres 7 January 2022 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    Re the Christian bookstore.. I have read that one major Christian book outlet, (which I’m guessing is the one you tried to visit, one synonymous with Christian Bibles and books).. is no longer owned by Christians.. I haven’t verified this, but that could explain their stance.

  7. Jennifer Starling 7 January 2022 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    Great article. I agree entirely. This seems to be a very real ‘dress rehearsal’ for what is to come and it is amazing how many are being deceived about what and who is behind this. I’m grateful to be in a church which doesn’t segregate the members and visitors. From the very first time they shut churches down I spoke against going along with Governmental over reach. God tells us to ‘not give up meeting together’.
    I feel incredibly sad for those who are made to be separated from the body. I love hearing of congregations who refused to be separated from each other that is what we should be doing. God commands a Blessing when brethren dwell in unity. Don’t we want His blessing. We can’t survive without it. Love the Lord your God with all your heart mind and strength and love others as you love yourself. Christ unites He doesn’t divide. Please wake up as to who the real enemy is it’s NOT each other. 🙌🙏❤️

  8. Michael Horgan 7 January 2022 at 9:20 pm - Reply

    What about Romans 13:1? This is not a black and white issue like in many countries where authorities have outlawed Christian worship, which is against God’s intention for us without question. Christians have various views on vaccinations, which they are entitled to have. We also have the ability to lobby our politicians (whether we think they will listen or not). But Christians should not be advocating civil disobedience (i.e. advocating Christians bookshops should ignore the law of the land) on non black and white issues. Or are you saying that the apostle Paul was wrong?

  9. Meryl Lee 8 January 2022 at 7:20 am - Reply

    I so appreciate your clear, Godly, carefully thought through perspective. Thank you for your leadership in speaking the Truth. I pray that all believers will see, hear and stop being deceived into unGodly compliance with the state.

  10. Julie Shapland 8 January 2022 at 9:37 am - Reply

    Coercion is always wrong. God always gives us the right of choice… we can choose to go to to hell if we want to, which is a far greater consequence than the Covid flu.
    Great article.

  11. Ron Chambers 8 January 2022 at 6:00 pm - Reply

    I completely agree with Michael Horgan and would add “What about Romans 13:2?” also. I am so disappointed with this whole article, as most of the work done by this organisation, particularly the promotion of group prayer for Australia, is so important. This article has dented my support for Canberra Declaration, but certainly not for Jesus.

  12. Marie 8 January 2022 at 11:21 pm - Reply

    I live in Queensland and I am sure that unvaccinated and vaccinated customers can visit a bookstore if they use the sign in app and wear a face mask (unless they have Doctors approval to not wear).

    I agree with Michael Horgan, if Christians have an issue, they can pray for and Lobby state Government.

  13. Yvonne Gu 10 January 2022 at 11:31 am - Reply

    Great article! Yes Romans 13:1 instructs us to obey the governing authorities. However God’s Word shall not be isolated either! Romans 13:4 “For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good…” And Acts 5:29 “…We must obey God rather than human beings!…” If the government is against God which they are, do we obey God or the government?

  14. Bill Muehlenberg 11 January 2022 at 11:29 am - Reply

    Thanks guys. Sadly, Romans 13 is often very wrongly understood. The state is NOT absolute – only God is:

    And Scripture makes it quite clear that there is a place for civil disobedience – sometimes even an obligation for it:

  15. Barbara 11 January 2022 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    Great article. I totally agree.

  16. Kaylene Emery 11 January 2022 at 10:01 pm - Reply

    The devastation caused by churches closing their doors to the faithful is extensive and ongoing.
    As one who attended Mass daily for almost 2 years, I experienced first hand, and witnessed the harm done to others.
    Small wonder so many do not trust christians n those who lead us…not so long ago I was one of ‘them’ . I pray daily for the grace to forgive n keep forgiving.

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