Covid-19 Ate Our Fig Leaves

Novel corona, perennial issue. That issue is, we are all headed toward death. Death is the most final state any living human can enter, though we know there is life after death for some, and eternal dying after death for others.

Our culture has forgotten our frailty. Or, it’s not so much that society has forgotten it, so much as people have done a good job at hiding it. Like Adam and Eve, we have donned fig leaves to cover our exposure (Genesis 3:7), only to find that COVDI-19 has eaten them up. And now we are scrambling for a solution.

The Emperor’s New Clothes

There is the classic children’s tale from Hans Christian Andersen of The Emperor’s New Clothes. I remember when we read it in class as a child that the emperor was a lion. This made it a bit less awkward that he was walking around naked while everyone pretended that he was wearing clothes. The irony is no one wants to admit they cannot see the clothes because they don’t want to appear stupid. But, how ridiculous is it to walk around exposed all the while pretending you are covered?

Yet, this is the essence of our fig leaf life. We have all been involved in the fall of man through Adam (Romans 5:12), but pretend like everything is okay. So many pretend to be intelligent as they walk around with complicated philosophical musings about the world, humanity, and even the afterlife. What they fail to accept is that apart from Christ, they are the walking dead.[1]

You Shall Surely Die

God said Adam and Eve would surely die if they ate from the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil. And yet, they ate, and here they are in Genesis 3:7 throwing together fig leaves, not dead. But, as Dan Phillips writes, “Not dead? Are you sure? You don’t think they died right away? I think they did. Just like that. It simply took their bodies a few centuries to catch up to the fact.” [2]

The wages of sin is death. These wages first earned by Adam and Eve are still our inheritance. Death is like a trust fund that never runs out. Every human being gets a cut. This has been the human reality for millennia.

What 21st century Westerners have gotten really good at is prolonging the inevitable. Billions of dollars are spent every year keeping people not only from dying, but even from the appearance of old age.

Of course, we should be grateful for the advancement of medical technology, longer life spans, low infant mortality rates, and the like. Praise God for modern medicine.

It appears, however, that medicine has become just another fig leaf we’ve added to our wardrobe. It has made us push the inescapable out of our minds. In our pride we modeled our beautiful dress down the runway, only to have COVID-19 destroy it.

Naked and Afraid

Here we are now, naked and afraid. And it’s not as though the corona virus is as deadly as the bubonic plague. It is, however, deadly enough to remind us something we already know – we are living on borrowed time and one day we will have to give an account for our loan.

I do not mean to dismiss the fact that death is a serious issue, even for the Christian. It’s one of the most difficult things to go through in losing someone you love. But our great hope is beyond this life. And there is no other way to that gate to the Celestial City but through the river of death.

The world does not have this hope. And so, when something as serious as the COVID-19 pandemic comes along, it exposes their hearts and panic ensues. The world is now dealing with what they try so hard not to accept – each person’s frail life is just a mist, a blip on the radar, and then it’s gone, and eternity awaits.

So, What Will We Do?

This post is more of an observation than an attempt to propose any hard and fast solutions. I do, however, have two closing applicatory thoughts.

First, we must remember we are dust and to dust we shall return. May Christians give their lives over fully to Christ in all ways. To live is Christ, and to die is gain. May we eschew any idols we’ve had in our own lives, including the idol of a life unencumbered by pandemic. What we consider extraordinary as Christians in the 21st century, some of our brothers and sisters have had to deal with (and worse) for much of their lives the last 2,000 years.

Secondly, it may be that the exposure caused by COVID-19 will precipitate sinners to seek another covering. That is, instead of picking up their shredded fig leaves, perhaps they will be looking for something else to wear. And this is where we have the opportunity to preach Christ to them and offer them His robes of righteousness if they will repent of their sins and believe the gospel.

These are unique times, beloved. May redeem the time well for our neighbors’ good, and God’s glory.

[1] See chapter 2 of From Death to Life: How Salvation Works (Free Grace Press, 2018).

[2] The World Tilting Gospel, p. 47


Follow Allen S. Nelson IV: