Social Distancing and the False Narrative of John Allen Chau

While we’re in the middle of a plague scare, I want to take a moment to set straight something: John Allen Chau was not the first person to visit the North Sentinel islanders. He was more like the 500th person. People who had interacted with the natives included National Geographic, when they made an entire documentary of them in the 1970’s, or the anthropologists who were photographed exchanging food and gifts with them in the 1990’s, or the government contractor that lived on the island for 18 months and regularly interacted with the natives. Not a conspiracy, the government of India has openly admitted that they discouraged publication of images of peaceful interaction with the natives, over fears that criminals would flee there to avoid prosecution. Chau took extensive measures over the course of a year to vaccinate and self-quarantine — far more, it should be noted, than the government officials who had been visiting the island every year to check on the natives. The press disgraced him post-mortem with lies and exaggerations. Wherever you may stand on Christianity, the man came unarmed, preaching a peaceful message, practiced distancing, and avoided spreading disease. The only life he jeopardized was his own.

This information was gleaned from several sources, but the majority was derived from the Wikipedia entry for the Sentinelese.

Matthew 25:40

There’s a stage in adulthood where, for the sake of your family, career, etc., it becomes very important to become thought of as an upright, law-abiding, mannerly citizen. One of the “good” people. When you’ve been a Christian for a long time, it is surprisingly easy to lump your faith into this same category of “proofs that I am an upright, law-abiding, mannerly citizen”. Then this position becomes so internalized that you don’t stop and think about it, much the same way that you don’t stop and read your own name tag every morning before you go to work. If it no longer has the correct name on it, you probably wouldn’t notice, much the same way I didn’t immediately notice that the words “follower of Christ” no longer identified me.

Now, I’m not talking about wild living here. I’m not talking about “opening yourself up to new ideas” in terms of leaving behind your own faith, or going to places or people that you know are going to cause you to sin. Even if it’s not technically sinful but you know yourself well enough to know it will end in you sinning, don’t do it. But having said this, somewhere along, if you’re trying harder to keep to the straight and narrow than you’re trying to follow Christ, Satan starts whispering in your ear in an attempt to stop the love, and it usually takes the form of combining those 2 distinct roles and saying “that’s not what good, upright, law-abiding, mannerly Christian citizens do,” and then blurring the two together so much that it simply becomes, “that’s not what Christians do.” The Enemy whispers in my ear, “build a genuine friendship with that homosexual man? That’s not what Christians do. You can “love” him, but keep him at arms’ length, as if he was contagious. You can tell him that Jesus loves him, but make sure not to actually love him, because that’s not what Christians do… Treat a known prostitute and addict like she’s a real human being? That’s not what Christians do. Tell her Jesus loves her, but don’t really believe it. Don’t let yourself believe that she, too, is a human being made in the image of God, a person who Jesus would gladly die to set free from the burden of her sins, would gladly take into his arms and give glory to and present before His own Father, saying, ‘this is the one I brought home to you, the one I love as a groom loves his wife’? That’s not what Christians do… Give aid to an atheist, who spent their life loudly decrying God and now has a desperate physical need of help or food or shelter? No, be offended, tell him he’s profaned the family of God too much and isn’t welcome here. Bask in your righteous anger. Don’t have the humility to put aside your differences and help him now, because that’s not what Christians do.”

It’s all lies, of course. Jesus’ criteria for helping others was that they be human beings, not a certain kind of human beings, or even particularly good human beings.

Good afternoon, and God bless.

-Morgan Hart