During the last few months, Christian bloggers have weighed in on the “to wear or not to wear a mask” debate. Mostly, they haven’t been very helpful. Some have been downright harmful—burdening people’s consciences over a topic that is confusing and definitely not clear cut.
The most common recommendation is to wear the mask out of love and deference to other people, even if you don’t think it’s necessary.
But at least one writer just went out there and said it, “It Is a Sin Not to Wear a Mask.” His argumentation is unique, creative, judgmental, and does not address the main issue—it doesn’t look at the presuppositions underscoring both the “Wear a mask!” group and the “I Won’t Wear a Mask!” group. Worse, he assumes that the “I Won’t Wear a Mask!” group only cares about personal freedom, rights, and convenience.
Let’s state those presuppositions, shall we?
Wear a mask!
These folks believe one set of experts—Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, their state epidemiologist, their local health department head, etc.
They believe the science says that if they wear a mask, the mask will prevent them from transmitting the virus to someone else—thus stopping the spread of the virus to vulnerable people, leading to fewer deaths.
This presupposition is backed up 24/7 by all media and any health official who is in the public eye right now, so I will refrain from linking to any sources for this.
I Won’t Wear a Mask!
These folks do not believe the Dr. Faucis and Dr. Birxes of the world. They believe that the research leading up to the mask mandates which concluded that masks make little or no difference when it comes to the spread of respiratory viruses is correct, and are suspicious about all of the studies that have come out rapid fire since mask mandates were instated that contradict the previous research.
They also are skeptical concerning the asymptomatic spread bogeyman, especially since Dr. Fauci himself has stated that in the history of respiratory viruses, asymptomatic spread has never been the driving factor for outbreaks.
They are listening to and reading other experts who are not sold on the masks for all approach, and they are paying attention to Covid spikes taking place in countries with strict mandates. Finally, they are also genuinely concerned about negative health outcomes with prolonged mask wearing.
So, are you a bad Christian if you don’t wear a mask?
Yes and no. If you believe that masks absolutely work to stop the spread of Covid and could save thousands of lives, then you should absolutely wear one and avoid violating your conscience. Because if your presupposition is true, then you are literally killing people when you refuse to wear one.
However, if your presupposition is that masks do not work and could do more harm than good for some people, you should definitely not wear a mask just because other people want you to or say that you must.
This last sentence will be a hard pill for many to swallow, so allow me to elaborate by asking and answering a few questions.
If I refuse to wear a mask, won’t people think I’m being selfish and ruin my Christian testimony?
Yes, they will. And no, it won’t.
First, you cannot control what people think about you, nor should you care. God’s opinion of you is far more important.
Secondly, this can only ruin your Christian testimony if you fail to communicate your stance in a kind, humble, and firm way. If you walk into a store maskless with both middle fingers extended, that would be damaging your Christian testimony. If you get all up in people’s personal space while maskless because you enjoy seeing them squirm and wish to make a point, that would ruin your testimony. But if you simply do what is right with a kind smile on your face and give calm, respectful answers to obnoxious and fearful people, you’re doing it right.
Shouldn’t I wear a mask out of deference to those who are susceptible?
It depends. Once again, if masks don’t work to reduce the spread and save lives, and could harm your health if you wear them longterm, I wouldn’t.
But if a dear friend needed a visit and was too afraid to be close to me unless I had a mask on, I might. However if you are sick, don’t put on a mask to go visit that susceptible person. Wait until you’re well to visit your friend, because we know they don’t stop the spread and visiting would be irresponsible.
Shouldn’t I wear a mask out of deference and kindness to Christian brothers and sisters who believe I should?
No. Why would you participate in what you believe to be a lie? It is not kind to lie. Ever. Not even when people are afraid. Not even when Christian’s think you should.
“[I]f you say yes when no needs to be said, as many people do, you transform yourself into someone who could only say ‘yes,’ even when it is very clearly time to say ‘no.’
“If you ever wonder how perfectly ordinary decent people could find themselves doing the terrible things that the gulag camp guards did, you now have your answer. By the time no seriously needed to be said, there was no one left capable of saying it.”
—Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life
But shouldn’t I wear a mask in obedience to Romans 13?
No, not if the government is acting illegally or telling you to do something wrong. There is a place for civil disobedience in the Christian life. We must obey God rather than men always. If the government wishes us to participate in a lie or even a half truth, we must decline.
In conclusion, choosing not to wear a mask you don’t believe in does not necessarily make you a bad Christian. Of course, this is not license to act purposely ugly or in a provocative manner in reaction to others who disagree on this issue.
But anyone who says that “it is a sin to not wear a mask” is adding to Scripture. That person should re-examine what the Bible actually says, and they should re-examine their own motives.