There are two viruses, and I do not believe coronavirus
is the more dangerous of the two.
Mask Mandates and Love
Even if mask mandates are illegal, is it loving to resist wearing them? I believe defying mask mandates whenever possible is loving for two reasons. First, we should speak the truth in love. Second, we should protect one another from danger. When I say Christians should defy the mandates, I am talking about the normative case, understanding that there will be valid exceptions. For example, defying mask mandates whenever possible, might not include when you are trying to get onto a plane to visit a dying relative across the country.
We should also remember that not wearing a mask in public will almost universally be misinterpreted as foolish and selfish, which is the opposite of what we are trying to communicate. Therefore, we will need to have a cogent and gracious answer ready to give anyone who asks, explaining how and why our actions are motivated by love. In most cases we will have no more than a few seconds to communicate this.
I know you may disagree, but I am unmasked because I care about the health of our society and believe this constant masking has serious public health consequences. Furthermore, I want to preserve the freedoms we have in this country for my children and for my neighbors, and I believe those are in danger of being lost if we don’t resist this illegal encroachment.
Or, if something even shorter is called for, something meant to plant a small seed of disquiet for later reflection, how about something like this:
There are two viruses, and I do not believe coronavirus is the more dangerous of the two.
Such short explanations cannot be expected to change anyone’s mind, but our duty is to speak truth in love, trying to season our words and our actions with grace. We should not be surprised when much of the world reviles us for it.
My explanation to a store owner is different. They are usually not interested in the propriety of masking so much as they are in the legality of it. They want to know why I am justified in their store without a mask. For them I simply say, “I am exempt.” That is all they need to hear. And that is also the truth. If they believe it to be a health exemption, I am happy to let them assume so (Matt 10:16). The reason I am exempt, however, is two-fold. First, because the mandates violate the laws of men, so I am free before God and my conscience. Second, because the mandates violate the law of love (Matt 22:36-40), since they are bound up in dangers that love demands we bring to light (Eph 5:13). To those dangers we now turn.
(1) Mask mandates pave the way for authoritarian enslavement
These mandates are a tyrannical abuse of human authority because they are demanded by those that have no right to demand them. But one unchecked abuse paves the way for another. As Lord Acton famously said, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” If history is our guide, those drunk on power will keep on grabbing more for themselves if they can. As Montesquieu wrote, “Every man who has power is drawn to abuse it; he proceeds until he finds the limits.” (1)
The current appetite of our ruling elites is to control all the information, messaging, and activity around this pandemic. Free speech is actively suppressed, which is exceedingly dangerous for a free society. Credentialled medical professionals who disagree with the approved medical narrative are being de-platformed, ostracized, and even targeted for licensure removal, making it seem as if there is no educated opposition to our nation’s approach to this pandemic.
But isn’t this the stuff of conspiracies that the Church should wash their hands of (1 Tim 4:7, 2 Tim 2:23)? I remind my readers that Christ purchased liberty for us, and subsequently put the American Church in a time and a place where we enjoy freedom from the tyranny of men. Therefore, it is not only right, but it is a duty for us to treasure that gift and be watchful for any schemes against it. We use it or we lose it. Furthermore, because we love the Bride of Christ, we do not want to see her endure the brutality of godless tyranny that nations have so easily fallen into over the centuries. If we must live in such a time and place, then we will do so as God’s faithful servants. But while we are here at the cusp, I do not see a Biblical basis on which the Church can justify giving away our liberty freely. Here is C.S. Lewis:
Let the doctor tell me I shall die unless I do so-and-so, but whether life is worth having on those terms is no more a question for him than any other man… on just the same ground I dread government in the name of science. That is how tyrannies come in. (2)
C. S. Lewis
Willing Slaves of the Welfare State
That is why it is loving our neighbor to defy these mask mandates. We want them and subsequent generations to live their lives and worship their God in a free country. In my opinion, those who call these mandates a trifling matter are failing to see that those seeds of tyranny have already budded and are now beginning to bloom right before our apathetic eyes.
(2) Mask mandates propagate lies and weaken the discernment of God’s people
Believing and participating in lies will have a deleterious effect on society. On that premise, not wearing a mask is loving because it is not reinforcing those lies and helps root out deceitful schemes by speaking the truth in love (Eph 4:14-16). How do we know that we are being lied to? We know because medically informed experts are being suppressed. We know because the ones suppressing these voices have too much riding on their narrative being accepted. And we know because close scrutiny of the available data makes it manifestly clear that we are being lied to. It is unfortunate that the Church is not more skeptical of these voices, given their moral framework. Here is Doug Wilson:
Never forget who these people are who are lecturing us about “following the science.” We have a medical establishment that will cut up babies for money, and who will also (again, for money) cut off a teenager’s breasts, or penis, and all on the basis of an adolescent emotional storm. Remember, you can’t have a corrupt establishment and not have it ooze corruption. In fact, it has been oozing so much that many in the church have gotten some all over them. (3)
On Humming a Mighty Fortress Through Your Masks
When we wear a mask, we are giving credence to a dark and multifaceted deception. And every time we do this, we experience a micro-eclipse of our good senses, which over time adds up to a full shroud (Rom 1:21-23). This in turn substantially weakens both our discernment and our prerogative to make any judgements at all. Theodore Dalrymple astutely observes why this is so:
In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lost once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. (4)
For the Win
Masks are not without their dangers. Furthermore, no evidence shows mandates improve outcomes compared to their voluntary use. This can quickly be verified with public data. (5) For example, Germany, France, and Italy with their strict mask mandates have higher case fatality and death rates than their Scandinavian neighbors to the North (Sweden, Norway, and Finland) who made mask wearing primarily voluntary. In fact, Sweden, who was long demonized for their lax mitigation efforts, still has lower death and case fatality rates than our own country. In other words, we could immediately remove the danger of government overreach by simply keeping mask use voluntary.
In addition to the dangers of government overreach, think of how habitual masking affects developing babies who begin lip reading before they are a year old. (6) Think of the social, emotional, and linguistic signals that our faces communicate to each other. Consider the psychological effect of losing one’s personal autonomy and identity or the heightened sense of helplessness and fear. In other words, there is a social cost. And yet, in the absence of compelling evidence, our nation has embraced a risky strategy and silenced anyone who suggests alternatives, such as the liberal use of early outpatient treatments, which could have prevented many hospitalizations and saved lives. (7, 8)
A dark lie is being told that self-preservation is ultimate and achievable by government and medicine. While these are a gift from God, only He can save us (Acts 4:12). But the secular worldview teaches that the preeminent purpose for our existence is simply to keep on existing. But we know our main purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (Ps 16:5-11, 1 Cor 10:31). This is how Ted Fenske of the Ezra Institute puts it:
Rather than considering the human person in scriptural terms, as a complex, multi-faceted creature “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14), we have been reduced to mere viral targets and potential viral spreaders, or even super spreaders. The seemingly singular attention focused by governing authorities on containing the COVID-19 contagion – at all costs – has raised our biological survival to the lofty plain of end-all-and-be-all. It’s as if our ability to simply survive – even at the expense of meaning or purpose – has ironically become the sole end to life. Rather than living sanctified lives, set apart from worldly ways, to co-labour with the Holy Spirit in the ministry of reconciliation, we are living separated lives, set apart from each other, restricted in our movements, forbidden from gathering or worshiping together, or ministering to each other, our facial expressions masked, our young and healthy quarantined, and our elderly abandoned to the point of neglect. (9)
To Be or Not to Be Vaccinated?
A great danger of masking, then, is that it codifies the lie that merely having a beating heart is of higher value than experiencing the heartbeat of life: face-to-face fellowship and worship of the living God.
3) Masks obscure the Image of God and replace it with a symbol of false religion
Masks cover the image of God by obscuring personal identity and cloaking His divine imprint. It is the face of Jesus that gives us “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God” (2 Cor 4:6). We behold God’s glory and are transformed into His image with unveiled faces (2 Cor 3:16-18). In other words, the human face is central to bearing the image of God, both in our beholding and our reflecting. When we seek Him, it is his face we seek (Ps 27:8, 30:7, 44:24). When we veil our own faces, we restrict our ability to see God’s glory in its full (Ex. 34:33–35), even as a reflection (2 Cor 3:7,13). Meanwhile, our congregations continue to meet with masks donned, calling out with the Psalmist, “Hide not your face from us” (Ps 13:1, 27:9). I imagine God responding, “Why then are you hiding your face from me?”
Instead of beholding and reflecting the image of God, we are covering our faces with the symbol of a false religion, and in this way, participating in false worship.
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry…Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy?
1 Corinthians 10:14-22
If there is something idolatrous about our current mask hysteria, how very sad that we are bringing that symbol into our churches. Here is Douglas Wilson:
When everyone covers their faces in a situation like this, it is a sign of submission. When a populace covers its collective face like this, it is a flag that is flying over a conquered country. And when church leadership requires believers to worship God while masked like this, it has the effect of bringing the flag of that conquest into the sanctuary. (10)
How Masks Became the Flag of an Arrogant Ignorance
We are not only wearing the white flag of surrender on our faces, but also the black flag of fear. Not only have we made the State ultimate, but we have made the virus itself ultimate. Once again, here is Ted Fenske of The Ezra Project:
The COVID narrative, in which the contagion concern is paramount, represents a certain worldview, and sharply contrasts with the gospel of Christ. The starting point of this narrative is the virus, sitting there smug and sovereign, all covered in those royal purple antenna-like spike proteins. Although the cartoon images resemble more of a dog’s throw toy, or some morphed version of a vile ‘60s bathing cap, it is this virus which is considered before all things and holding all things together. In brief, the COVID-19 virus has become ultimatized. From the first thoughts of the morning to the last considerations at night, concerns of the viral spread reign supreme. (11)
To Be or Not to Be Vaccinated?
It is bad enough that we are dimming out the light of God’s glory (Matt 5:15-16). It is doubly tragic that we are doing it with a symbol of a substitute glory. May the Church wizen to this offense against God.
1 Charles de Secondat baron de Montesquieu. The spirit of laws. 2.11.14
2 Liberty-Tree.ca. (n.d.). Willing slaves of the welfare state, by C. S. Lewis. http://liberty-tree.ca/research/willing_slaves_of_the_welfare_state
3 On humming “A mighty fortress” Through your masks. (2021, September 27). Blog & Mablog. https://dougwils.com/books-and-culture/s7-engaging-the-culture/on-humming-a-mighty-fortress-through-your-masks.html
4 Theodore Dalrymple, for the win
5 For example, see https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality.
6 Infants deploy selective attention to the mouth of a talking face when learning speech. (2012, January 31). PNAS. https://www.pnas.org/content/109/5/1431
7 Pathophysiological basis and rationale for early outpatient treatment of SARS-Cov-2 (COVID-19) infection. ScienceDirect.com. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002934320306732
8 I-mask+ protocol. (2021, October 16). FLCCC | Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance. https://covid19criticalcare.com/covid-19-protocols/i-mask-plus-protocol/
9 To be or not to be… vaccinated? Ezra Institute. https://www.ezrainstitute.ca/resource-library/articles/to-be-or-not-to-be-vaccinated/
10 How masks became the flag of an arrogant Ignorance. (2020, December 21). Blog & Mablog. https://dougwils.com/books-and-culture/s7-engaging-the-culture/how-masks-became-the-flag-of-an-arrogant-ignorance.html
11 To be or not to be… vaccinated? Ezra Institute. https://www.ezrainstitute.ca/resource-library/articles/to-be-or-not-to-be-vaccinated/