Masks, Lockdowns, COVID-19, and the Christian Response
As we navigate these difficult times, there are a lot of voices telling us how to behave. One side tells us masks that wearing a mask will help us to keep others safe if we are carrying the COVID-19 virus (something like 80% of people who have the virus show no symptoms and can spread it without even knowing). The other side tells us that the masks are useless and even dangerous (the virus can attach to the outside of the mask and be spread to every person you go around whenever you breathe out). Those two sides have a lot to say about the lockdowns and how deadly COVID-19 actually is, as well.
What makes this whole thing so dangerous is not that the two sides disagree with each other, but that each side has totally dehumanized the other. It's not unusual for people to act this way, especially in a climate like ours where everything gets politicized, but how is a Christian supposed to respond to this culture war we are involved in? How are we supposed to respond when our governing authorities mandate something as trivial as wearing masks? What about if they tell us to not gather in groups for a while? In order to answer these questions, we need to look at what the Bible has to say.
Romans 13:1-7 (NASB)
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
1 Peter 2:11-17 (NASB) Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
First, let me state that I don't agree with the mask mandate. I think it's overreaching and, at best, the science behind it is highly controversial. The same can be said with lockdown orders and a few other mandates we are seeing from our governors. There is a lot of evidence that the best thing to do is protect our most vulnerable and let the rest of us develop herd immunity. I personally think many of these mandates are bad policy, bad science, and in many ways are politically motivated. That being said, scripture reminds us that, ultimately, we are to be subject to the governing authorities above us and that we are to submit to those authorities. 1 Peter 2 actually states that we are aliens living in a world that is not our own. Our home is heaven, not this earth. While we are here, God tells us to submit to governing authorities, so long as their laws do not violate the laws of the kingdom we truly hold our citizenship in...the kingdom of God. There are many such laws in this world and anytime the laws of our world come into conflict with the laws of God, we must always follow God's law instead. When the law demanded people in Germany to turn over Jews to be killed, it was good that Christians hid Jews in order to protect their lives. When the law declares that abortion is legal, that violates God's law and should be opposed by Christians. When the law redefines marriage as anything other than one man and one woman, Christian pastors must refuse to perform those weddings. Our citizenship is first in heaven, and then on earth secondarily, and we are not to submit to any law that violates God's law.
I love this country and I am proud to be an American, but if that comes into conflict with me being a Christian, I will always side with being a Christian first. Even still, many of our laws do not conflict with God's laws. We have laws that govern our cars, for instance. We are required to have a license to drive, there are restrictions on who qualifies for certain parking spaces, we must pay for parking tickets and even keep our tags up to date. We have laws that govern how old a person must be to start working, how many hours we can work, how we must be paid, and how much we must pay in taxes. These kinds of laws are not against God's laws, and so we are called upon, as Christians, to submit to those laws, even if we don't like or agree with them. This isn't a matter of "just do it because the Bible says so" either. The "why" is far more important to understand.
Why does the Bible insist that we submit to things we disagree with on principle, but are not morally wrong? Because God uses our submission as a witness to the world around us. Whether we like it or not, people see us wearing a mask as a way of showing them that we care about them. As I said earlier, I think the mask mandate is overreaching and I have many doubts about the validity of the science they are using to justify it, but there are many people who truly believe it makes them safer if people around them are wearing a mask. When I understand this, I have to ask the question..."if putting on a mask can show someone I care about them and that small act of putting down my pride can point them to Christ, why am I fighting so hard against it?" 1 Peter 2:12 says is like this: "Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation."
If a law or mandate is given that violates God's law, it is our obligation to disobey it. If the law does not violate God's law, we are to humbly submit ourselves to it. The Romans used tax dollars for things that Paul certainly didn't agree with, yet he still encouraged believers in Rome to pay taxes (as did Jesus). Christians should be the best citizens and we should do so with an attitude of love and humility because it is this attitude that is the most powerful witness in times like this where everyone is being so vile towards one another. This means that we shouldn't be calling people names (Communist, lib-tard, snowflake, "Karen," etc) just because we disagree with them. We should not be posting things just to provoke arguments. We should not be trying to stir up conflict for the sake of conflict. This is flooding social media (from Christians) right now, and it severely hurts the image of Christ every time we post things like that.
One more issue. In this time, some have encouraged people to just lie and say they have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask. The reason is that HIPPA regulations prohibit anyone from asking what the condition is that you have, so you are almost guaranteed to "get away with it." If you are a Christian, I'm asking you not to do that. You are called to a higher standard than that. Lying may or may not violate U.S. law, but it certainly violates God's law.
Maybe you truly believe that submitting to these mandates violates scripture. I may disagree with you, but that is between you and God, not you and me. I'm only asking that we be honest with ourselves and act in a way that is humble and loving. Everyone is angry and at each other's throats right now. If there was ever a time that Christians should stand out, it's now. Jesus said the world would know that we are his disciples by the love we show one another, so I encourage you as your brother in Christ, act in a way that demonstrates love. Look through your Facebook posts over the last few months and ask the question, "if I didn't know me, would I see love on this page?"
We cannot hold ourselves to the same standard this world holds itself to. We are called to a higher standard. Some people fight to represent the Democrat party. Some fight to represent the Republican party. Some fight for capitalism or socialism. We can argue those ideas or platforms, but we aren't called to represent them. We are called to represent Christ. We can represent Christ while contending for ideas, principles, and even while engaging in civil disobedience of laws that violate God's laws, but if we abandon the call to represent Christ in order to defend anything else, we are in the wrong.
I hope that you will consider these thoughts and that ultimately, this post will serve to remind us all that whatever we do, it must be done in love. We are representing Christ to people who desperately need him.
New Beginnings Family