Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Germ Warfare

Well, my respiratory infection has progressed to the relative annoyance of a veddy stuffy nodse...but, sadly, also to Fellow Traveler, who despite our best sanitation and self-quarantine efforts started getting scratchy-throated New Year's weekend and wound up needing a trip to the doctor and a dose of antibiotics.

In a fit of online pique last week, I posted on a discussion forum about my displeasure with people who come to church sick -- I don't mean in the latter stages of a soon-to-pass cold, but who arrive at the church door flushed and feverish, sneezing and in the full-tilt-boogie prime of contagiousness (or bring their very sick children to church). I pointed out that these people need to weigh their own motivation, whatever that may be, to attend services no matter what with the needs of people in their congregation who may have compromised immune systems -- the very young; the very old; cancer patients; HIV patients; persons recovering from major surgeries. I suggested that in such cases the best way to be a person for others, to serve one's neighbor, would be to stay home from church on a Sunday when one was very sick and likely to spread germs.

Well. You would have thought that I was advocating the torture of kittens with lit cigarettes. How dare I suggest that people with fevers and sore throats stay home from church! Why don't those annoying old folks and immune-compromised people stay home instead (presumably forever)?

I was scolded with the observation that persons on the low end of the employment continuum, who have no health insurance or paid sick days, can't afford to stay home when they are stricken with a bad infection. (The fact that we were talking about voluntary assembly at church services, which at least in my neighborhood no one is forced to attend at gunpoint, and not about employment, didn't seem to matter.)

I was also presented with the interesting proposal that God magically circumvents the contagion process in the context of worship services.

Honestly, sometimes the best way I can be a Christian is to avoid paying too much attention to Christians.

And, by the way, Fellow Traveler and I both stayed home from church this past Sunday.


Sacred Art of Living said...

LC, what a great discussion topic! As someone who has a compromised immune system myself, I wholeheartedly agree with your suggestions and wish more folks thought that way. I am shocked at some of the replies you received! I like your closing statement: "Honestly, sometimes the best way I can be a Christian is to avoid paying too much attention to Christians." Amen, sister. Blessings of good health to you. Christine

zorra said...

I get phone calls from the parents of my young clients: "He/she [has been throwing up all night, is running a 101 degree fever, has a sinus infection and a cough]. Do you still want us to come in?" When I gently (I hope!) point out that (a) a sick child will probably not test very well and (b) none of our staff, not to mention other clients and their families, want what your child has, some seem genuinely surprised.
People. I swear.
Thank you for staying home.

hipastorzwife2B said...

Yup. Children who are sent home sick often end up at the Library too. Take yourself and your germs home, the both of you have some soup and tuck yourselves into bed!

Anonymous said...

Yes, indeed ... don't come sick to church. There's at least two people in one of my congregations right now whom, if you came to my church as ill as you are, you'd endanger their lives. They are also, by the way, careful when they come to church too.