Original Research - Special Collection: COVID-19 from a Theological Perspective

The church and the indispensability and fragility of morality revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic

D. Etienne de Villiers
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 1 | a6180 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i1.6180 | © 2020 D. Etienne de Villiers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 June 2020 | Published: 03 November 2020

About the author(s)

D. Etienne de Villiers, Department of Systematic Theology and Church History, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


In this article the view that the Covid-19 pandemic – especially the lockdown that went hand in hand with it – revealed both the indispensability and fragility of morality was substantiated and the response of the church to the moral challenges posed by the pandemic discussed. Findings were based on information gained from South African media regarding the pandemic and the response to it in the South African context interpreted with the assistance of research in academic publications. Various respects in which the pandemic underlined the indispensability of morality were discussed first. This was followed by a discussion of ways in which the pandemic also demonstrated the fragility of morality. The fragility of morality was traced back to the undermining influence of modern life on morality. Finally, the mixed record of South African churches in providing guidance on the moral challenges the Covid-19 pandemic posed, was noted. It was pointed out that the challenge remains to the church to provide moral guidance on life after the pandemic. The church would also have to effectively deal with the challenge to overcome the curtailment of its ability to provide such moral guidance in contemporary modern societies.

Contribution: The contribution of the article lies in identifying the moral issues posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and in gauging the response of the church in the South African context to these issues. The challenges that remain to the church to also after the pandemic provide moral guidance and overcome obstacles in providing such guidance were also highlighted.


alternative lifestyle; church; COVID-19 pandemic; economic inequality; fragility of morality; flourishing; indispensability of morality; modern culture; morality


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