It seems the further we get into COVID regulations to flatten the elusive curve people are becoming more and more conditioned to wear masks. They have become normalized in everyday life, shifting American culture into three categories. The pro-mask, anti-mask and the apathetic.
My goal is not to attack one group or another but thoughtfully consider the dangers of what this precedent suggests. Also as a Christian my reason in writing this post comes from a sincere desire to rightly handle the word of Truth. I don’t want to mislead anyone or promote further discord than our present culture already has. However, I do believe Christians in particular have lacked discernment, giving way to fear of men, not rightly grasping our Father’s Sovereignty. Christians should not be easily swayed by whichever way the wind blows, but stand firm in the truth we know, even when we feel alone in the fight. Pushback in a clear yet gentle way can still co-exist while peaceably disagreeing with someone. There are many Christians whom I would disagree with on greater issues than masks, such as baptismal mode, eschatology, or worship style preference. Yet this does not nullify my love for someone I can completely disagree with. The Christian’s outward behavior should represent the inner reality of Christ’s redeeming work even as we work through different viewpoints.
Regarding the mandate of masks, I would ask Christians (not at high risk) to consider exercising their freedom in not wearing one where appropriate. For example, my state does not require masks when voting or in worship. Yet many still feel the need or pressure to adorn a mask even when it is lawful to go without. This ends up doing more harm than good because of what our actions say. Here are 4 ways we can exalt Christ by not wearing a mask:
- Love your neighbor by telling the truth. Wearing masks for COVID19 perpetuates the narrative of fear and a lie. This fear is unfounded and actually harmful to the healthy individual covering their faces for prolonged periods. Most are not properly trained in mask-wearing thereby creating a bacteria zoo in their PPE which is the real danger in making someone sick. Wearing a sheer homemade veneer or bandana might make someone feel safer but does not serve the intended purpose to keep away COVID, thereby giving false security. Although N95 masks are better to wear, such as what medical personnel have, even healthcare workers get sick. It has been shown people who wear masks and those who do not can get the virus.
President Trump rarely wore a mask and contracted COVID19. This actually wasn’t surprising to me, given the hundreds of people he is around every day, especially while campaigning. It is also interesting that he seemingly recovered so well. Yes he was given the best care known to man but he is considered high risk given his age and weight. Yet God willed his life to prolong just as He determines all lives.
A proper understanding of this virus reveals that there is a 99.9% survival rate for the general population. Only a small percentage are in the high risk category- persons over 70 years of age and immunocompromised individuals. This isn’t to say others cannot contract the virus but chances are low and your ability to fight it even higher. Notice in the news the cases are reported and emphasized much more than the mortality rate. When the death total is given the media typically clumps the total number for the United States, implying the virus is more dire than it actually is. As of November 5, 2020 the CDC is reporting 233,129 deaths from COVID in America. The U.S. population is 331,687,749. Doing the math, this indicates that the virus has taken 0.07% of lives. One life is one life too many but we desperately need perspective. There needs to be context as to 1) the age of the individual and 2) was it compounded with a weakened immune system or other factors which made them more susceptible? Because of God’s mercy, COVID did not claim 2 million lives over the summer as predicted. Even with the slow rise in cases, it has not turned out to be on par with the Black Death, yet we act like it is the end of the world.
There is also inconsistency with wearing a mask all the time. If COVID19 truly was an existential threat to our society then there would be no exceptions to the mandate such as when one is exercising, eating in a restaurant or children under a certain age. The country would have to shut down indefinitely. But apparently COVID can tell whether you are seated at a restaurant or waiting for a table and can also discern your age. The inconsistency from the mask police is more telling than anything else.
When a child is afraid of the dark because of a monster in the closet, a parent doesn’t laugh at the frightened child. Neither do you enable their fears by agreeing with them that an imaginary monster is hiding in the closet. Instead, a loving parent addresses this fear by exposing the truth. So, what can a believer do in response to the COVID fears held by others? Compassionately acknowledge their concerns and lovingly shine the light of truth on this issue. This is actually what it means to sincerely love your neighbor and honor others (Romans 13:8-10).
2. How we respect civil authority and church leadership matters. I think some Christians have a misunderstanding of what this entails. I’ve observed well meaning believers use Scripture about submitting to government but take it out of context. America isn’t governed by a king, queen or governors, but by the people (1 Peter 2:13-17; Romans 13). For the American government, our elected officials can not decide for themselves what the Constitution says and make laws on their own for the people to obey. In this case, America drafted the Constitution as the law of the land with the Bill of Rights enumerating our unalienable rights. In its original intent, rightly interpreted, American citizens are given personal liberties which we are free to exercise. Leaders we elect into office, are to serve the people discerning each decision/law through the lens of the Constitution. It is not a free-for-all dictatorship position led by mob rule. Yet this is where we are as each month governors extend a nefarious mask order on the people they are called to serve with integrity.
For the Christian, this means a) we live by the freedom our Constitution allows while b) simultaneously realizing wrong headed leaders overstep their God given authority. No authority is given to a man or woman except by the Lord. We appeal to Christ in this matter asking for continued discernment in our response to civil authority.
As for church leadership the consequences of compromising with the culture instead of using Biblical discernment has had and will continue to have detrimental effects on the testimony of His Church. We are supposed to be a people who trust in God’s Sovereignty, not comply with unfounded recommendations. The more churches agree to foster fear with outrageous requirements the more likely we are creating a mindset that this “new normal” is acceptable. For those who argue people are less likely to attend church without restrictions in place I would counter with this: those leaders are putting control into the hands of men rather than submitting to God’s authority. It is folly to follow the crowd instead of Biblically leading the congregation.
Generally speaking we are to trust our doctors where our health is concerned, however this topic has become a partisan matter meant to divide the country. This is no longer only about our health, as masks have become extremely politicized. There is a pull for control in making the public wear masks, weaponizing the issue. Why would anyone do this? Because it’s an election year. COVID19 is a virus which the Left has used to its advantage taking a page from their playbook to “never waste a crisis”. Masks are being used as a visual reminder to the people that President Trump has not defeated COVID (because he’s not God) but under Joe Biden things will be different. It has become clear that an enemy does not need an army to overthrow a government, just fear.
3. Your smile is a ministry. Did you know that you are a blessing to others just by smiling? It’s true. Think of when someone walked past you down the grocery aisle and looked your way with a friendly smile. Or perhaps a loved one cheered you with a compassionate smile. You’ve probably been the one to offer this token as well. It says ‘I see you’ and ‘I care’. We’re missing this important component in body language by covering our faces. The faceless crowd is conditioning people to be void of affection, promoting isolation instead. It is the opposite of what a Christian should communicate. Especially in our churches, we have a golden opportunity to be a refuge from the world and welcome each other with smiling, happy faces.
4. Those in Christ use their freedom not to wear a mask because death has no hold on us (Matthew 10:28; 1 Corinthians 15:54-57; Philippians 1:20-23). I don’t have to live in fear of how I will die. If worst case scenario were to happen and I perish from Coronavirus this would be to my advantage. I don’t have a death wish but I also rest secure in my eternity.
Each day we get up in the morning is a risk. Living is a risk because we cannot cheat death. A brain aneurism, heart attack, stroke, cancer, car wreck, lightning strike or even falling asleep into death are all possibilities that await us. You know why? Because we are not the giver or taker of human life. God is. Until Christ returns 100% of the human race will die, and another generation will follow and so on into history.
This isn’t a scare tactic but to offer hope. There is a needle of hope in the haystack of confusion. His name is Jesus and the Gospel can break the chains of fear to the temporal, the slavery to sin, and the hold of spiritual death. John MacArthur noted in an interview that the real pandemic is sin. There is a disease which infects every person- a nature we inherited from Adam. Christ is the only cure for what truly afflicts us. Taking an eternal perspective does not discount our temporal reality but helps us see things clearly. We can rightly view COVID19 in light of who God is and what He has done for us through His Son Jesus. Whether you agree with me concerning masks or not, my prayer is for all who belong to King Jesus to look to Him for wisdom gaining a Biblical perspective in response to our current events.
Grace upon grace,