Have you ever wondered why we go to church? You might say, I was raised that way.” Or, It’s what we are supposed to do on Sunday morning.” You might think that it’s just a habit, and you feel guilty if you are not in church on Sunday. Or, you might believe that church is your best social outlet — the chance to be with other people.
Scientists offer a different explanation. The famous scholar Émile Durkheim studied early primitive religions extensively. He found that religions were not primarily created to bring people to God but were, instead, formed to help people from seeing the world as a hostile and lonely place. Religion provided a refuge for people who had to face hostilities from many directions — weather, famine, war, natural disasters, drought, earthquakes, etc. They did not understand the genesis of such disasters, but they found that they were comforted in facing them together in a group. For more on this, search the internet for “Loneliness: Tracing the Roots of Social Isolation.”
We can see this in our current situation vis-a-vis COVID. We don’t think that our church and our faith will solve the COVID virus problem, but we find solace and comfort as we face this serious health situation together. This is why we are upset that we cannot gather together and comfort each other in our stress. Basically, we all need a Christian handshake and hug.
Think about events in your life, good or bad. Wasn’t your first impulse to share it with a loved one or friend? Church services, weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc. all serve as public expressions so we do not have to face difficulties or celebrate successes alone. Religion is our faith community. COVID is causing stress because we cannot fully participate in our community from which we gather strength and confidence.