Thoughts on Face Masks

Dear Church Family,

It has been interesting to me concerning how wide a spectrum of opinions and attitudes have been expressed over the mandate to wear masks. I thought it might be helpful if I weighed in on this.

Let’s open by saying that, personally, I think the governor has gone too far in mandating that everyone wear masks in public. I think it is reprehensible that he then put the burden on business owners to enforce it. I don’t like it, I question the effectiveness of the masks, I question the wisdom of wearing them for extended periods of time, and fundamentally, I really do not like being told what to do. That’s my opinion.

Now, there are medical reasons that some people should not wear a mask, and the governor’s mandate recognizes and allows for that. If there is a medical reason you should not wear a mask, the business owners must take your word for it and allow you in. I have a copy of the mandate in my office if you’re curious.

Having said that, let’s think this through from a Christian perspective. Are Christians being unfairly singled out with this requirement? No. Are any Christian principles being violated? None that I can think of. Does this, in any way, prevent me from living out my faith in practical ways? No.

Is it a violation of my rights? Here’s where it gets sticky. Do we, as Christians have rights? I’m not thinking of this in the sense of being citizens of the United States in which our rights are protected by the Constitution. I’m thinking in the much more fundamental sense of being a follower of Jesus Christ… before anything else. As Christians, we are slaves to Christ. I wouldn’t want to push this too far, but I question the idea that we need to “stand up for our rights” in this case. I think our priorities may have, at that point, moved away from a biblical foundation. What’s more, as Christians, we’re repeatedly told to submit ourselves to the governing authorities… so long as what the governing authorities want is not opposed to what God wants. Is wearing a mask a violation of the commands of God? No.

Even more uncomfortably, it is implied by many that not wearing a mask is an indication that we don’t care about the wellbeing of those around us. Whether that’s true or not, that is often the perception. When I was working as a consulting engineer, the owner of the company often said that it is perception that matters, not the truth. Personally, I seriously doubt the effectiveness of homemade masks, but for many the perception is, if I’m not wearing one in public, I don’t care about their health. That’s not true, but that is their perception.

Are we actually prepared to make it virtually impossible to tell someone about the love of Jesus simply because we don’t like the masks? If all they perceive is an uncaring, or unthoughtful, or selfish person, they’re not going to be open to hearing anything we have to say. What happened to Paul’s attitude, “I have become all things to all men so that, somehow, I might save some”? If wearing a mask allows us to maintain a more open platform to share, why not do so?

As much as I dislike wearing facemasks, doing so does not violate any Christian principles that I can think of. By not wearing a mask, are we actually violating any Christian principles? Possibly. Submission to the governing authorities, Christian love, and maintaining an open door to witnessing to the love of Jesus Christ.

Having said all that, I will not be the face-mask cop. That decision is between you and your Lord.

Pastor John J

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