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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Luther on What To Do in Case of Avian Flu

The World Health Organization - not that they know everything - is stating that an avian flu pandemic that could kill millions of people is inevitable. It's a matter of when, not if.

Of course, Martin Luther, writing 450 years ago, did not address the bird flu specifically. But he did write a pamphlet on whether Christians ought to flee the bubonic plague when it came to town. In short, the answer is, "It depends." He clearly states that pastors, local officials, and doctors, for instance, must not flee but tend to the their duties for the sake of those inflicted. One of these individuals might possibly flee to safety if his services are honestly not needed. But the general citizen is also obliged to stay to serve his neighbor. To care for the orphans and nurse the sick. If this is already being adequately provided for and one is not needed, one may go. Luther says that if you see a drowning man and do nothing to help save him when it is within your power to do so, you are guilty of murder. Likewise, abandoning your sick neighbor who has no one else to care for him is a sin.

Along the same lines, a Christian cannot neglect to help his neighbor out of fear that doing so might inconvenience him, disrupt his plans, or even result in him being harmed. That is simply a risk that MUST be taken. Luther writes:

He will always reckon with the possibility that doing so will bring some disadvantage and damage, danger and loss. No neighbor can live alongside another without risk to his safety, property, wife, or child. He must run the risk that fire or some other accident will start in the neighbor’s house and destroy him bodily or deprive him of his goods, wife, children, and all he has.

Anyone who does not do that for his neighbor, but forsakes him and leaves him to his misfortune, becomes a murderer in the sight of God...
If you would like to read all of Luther's pamphlet, and I suggest that you do, go to Beggar's All where they have kindly provided it.

The U.S. Department of Defense now has a webpage devoted to bird flu.

Check out the Wall Street Journal's Avian Flu News Tracker here.

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1 comment:

Orikinla Osinachi. said...

Absolutely correct.

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