My purpose in writing is to show this new practice of habitual masking falls under the shadow of the Cross and requires our attention.
A Gospel Issue
How should the body of Christ respond to mask mandates? Are we permitted to disobey, and if so, should we? Does the answer depend on the context, such as whether we are in a grocery store or in a church? My purpose in writing is to show that this new practice of habitual masking falls under the shadow of the Cross and requires our attention. Here are several reasons why I believe we should engage thoughtfully and Biblically with these questions:
(1) Jesus is Lord over all of life, and because masking has become such a pervasive activity, I believe it is unwise to simply assume that this new social habit is God-honoring. We extol constant and habitual prayer (Eph 6:18, 1 Thes 5:17), but we caution against constant and habitual social media engagement (Prov 23:9, 2 Tim 2:16-17, 22-26). Where does masking lie on that continuum, and is there is a difference between habitual and occasional use? Should we mask up in the same way we meditate on God’s Word, as we walk along the way and as we enter and leave the house (Deut 11:18-20), or with the same caution one might use if touching a serpent (Ecc 10:11)? I do not think we should toss these questions into the “great mystery” bin so soon.
(2) The church is divided over this issue with a spirit of tribalism dominating any theological considerations (1 Cor 1:12). So far, the discussion has been about loving one another vs. worshipping God unhindered. This is a good start, but it is only a start. Even if unified thinking is not possible, we should labor to help the body of Christ understand the issues at stake and how Scripture informs our thinking so that each may be “fully convinced in his own mind” (Rom 14:5).
(3) The way we respond to these mask mandates is a Gospel issue. First, they question the nature and effects of our blood-bought freedom. Does that freedom include enslavement to men (Gal 5:1, 1 Cor 7:23), and do mask mandates challenge this in any way? Second, it questions what it means to love one another. Are we to joyfully lay down our rights or stand firm in the truth? Third, it questions how our actions witness to others. We are to be salt and light, a city on a hill (Matt 5:13-16). Will our actions preach the Gospel of peace (Eph 6:15), the Gospel of freedom (Gal 5:1), or—may it never be so—a false Gospel (Gal 1:6-9, 2 Tim 4:3-4)?
(4) Christians are to be sanctified toward holiness (Eph 5:25-26, 1 Pet 1:16), worshipping God with all our being (Mark 12:30, John 4:24, 1 Cor 10:31), and mature in our thinking (1 Cor 2:6, 14:20, Eph 4:1-15). While not everyone may agree, masks have an impact on our life and worship. Some even believe habitual masking enters the territory of idolatry and Satanic attack. Many will disagree with this characterization, but we should investigate if this is the spirit of anti-Christ at work (1 John 2:18-27, 4:1-6).
(5) Because all human authority is from God, we honor or dishonor Him by the way we respond to human authority. There are times to submit and times to resist. Should we submit to these mandates because our elected leaders have jurisdiction over public health? Or should we resist because they overstep their boundaries of authority? How do we honor the Lordship of Christ regarding these mandates?
As the reader can see, this is primarily a Gospel issue, not a political one. The Church needs to wrestle with these questions and develop a Theology of Masking.