I have made an interesting observation. I regret to say that many Christians have mistaken the act of wearing masks as conforming to the world. It’s disheartening to say the least. What should be viewed as merely upholding health precautions is being twisted into being seen as something with ill-intent. I’d like to take this time to offer my opinion and reasoning behind my support of wearing masks and social distancing. If I can change anyone’s mind or have this essay serve as an opportunity to learn and grow, I will have succeeded. I’m asking you from the bottom of my heart to consider wearing your masks and social distancing, for the good of everyone around you.
Masks, Not Muzzles.
Despite contrary belief, these recent mask-wearing and social distancing mandates have no political agenda behind them. There is nothing worldly to gain from upholding health precautions. No one has financially, politically, or economically benefited from limiting the influx of people in public. That's why at the onset of Covid-19's spread in the U.S., our government barely acknowledged and even outright diminished the severity of the outbreak for fear of the economic meltdown that could result from a lockdown. It has flipped the structure of society upside down. This only goes to show that when governors or world leaders are FINALLY enforcing mask-wearing and social distancing, it is ENTIRELY for the greater good and collective health of the people. Life is precious, and it is worth destroying our economy over.
We Are Not Specifically Targeted.
I can assure you that Christians are not specifically targeted in this situation. Restricting the public’s access to large gatherings is not strictly affecting churches. Concerts, sports games, etc., have all been controlled. While it has been commonly seen as discriminatory towards religious gatherings, I think it’s quite the opposite. Crowds of ALL kinds are high risk, especially when singing is involved. As much as I love and miss going to church & worshipping alongside my peers, I’m sure we can all agree that the health of our members should be our #1 priority.
Use This Time At Home To Grow.
Though we’re obligated to stay home, that doesn’t mean we should allow ourselves to become lazy in the faith. What we can do right now is pray and utilize what few avenues we have (social media, care packages, online outreaches, etc.) to continue spreading the love of Christ to the people who are suffering and in need of hope. In my experience, my church has been using this time to develop our media and worship teams, as well as working on other projects we probably wouldn’t have had time to do before. Stay vigilant. And before you say it, I’m definitely not afraid of going “back to church.” I still attend it regularly, but in the comforts of my own home. It is often forgotten that we need not meet in person to keep faith alive. We do not need to rely on physical attendance in church in order to further nourish our relationships with God. Think back to Pricilla and Aquila’s house church (Romans 16:3,5) or Philemon and Apphia’s house church (Philemon verses 1 & 2). Even in dark and confusing times, we need to remember that worship is not limited to a place. Church is not a place, but a people.
What Is Our Duty?
Our job as Christians is to be the world’s solution: not to be a part of perpetuating the problem. To go against the grain in these circumstances would put us on the wrong side of history. Though many things can be used to discriminate against Christians, I do not believe that mask-wearing is one of them. This is a global health crisis, if it wasn’t clear before! By protecting yourself, your family, and your community, even in as little a way as wearing a mask, you will be fulfilling your duties as a Christian, not hindering them. You are forsaking your duties as a Christian the moment you put your own comfort and selfish desires before the lives of others.
The Purpose Of A Mask Is Selfless.
Amidst all of these back-and-forths between everyone on social media and news outlets, I think many people have forgotten the true function of masks. Masks are not meant to protect you from contracting the virus; they are meant to protect OTHERS from contracting it. For all we know, you could be asymptomatic, and by holding in your droplets to yourself, you could save someone from getting the Coronavirus. Honestly, the safest thing we can do to protect ourselves from getting infected or infecting others is staying home. But if you must go out, it is safest to refrain from close contact with anyone and fervently wearing a mask.
4 Common Arguments.
(1) Many people refute the wearing of masks because they apparently “don’t work.” This is entirely false. Before we even had a pandemic, why else did we use disinfectant sprays, wash our hands, or require surgeons to wear masks when operating on patients? Because they have been proven to work. I do not see how taking precautions could be a bad thing. It is beyond the realm of thinking that wearing masks, disinfecting surfaces, or the like could possibly CAUSE anyone to contract a disease. You can only be so safe and pray to God for divine intervention beyond that. I do not believe that we should completely disregard health precautions on the slight chance that the disease won’t be persistent. Being careful can only help you. Even if masks DIDN’T work, the worst that could happen to you is the minor inconvenience of remembering to wear a mask to the store. Here is a table that illustrates my point:
As this table demonstrates, the worst that could happen is we experience a slight inconvenience if we do wear masks and masks supposedly don't work, However, if masks do work (and they DO!), you risk endangering the lives of others. I do not consider wearing a mask as conforming to anyone or anything. Everyone does in fact have a choice to wear one or not. But if you care for others, wearing a mask can do no harm. All it does is inspire cleanliness. However, not wearing a mask could incite the perpetual spread of the virus. I do not think taking that chance is worth it in the best interest of Christians.
(2) Another common argument against mask-wearing is the fact that some people cannot physically wear masks because of underlying respiratory problems, which I understand. My only gripe with this is that it is extremely rare to be debilitated to the point of not being suitable enough for a mask. I'd also like to note that, if someone is safer NOT wearing a mask than wearing one (due to being immunosuppressed, I’m guessing), wouldn’t they simply be safer at home? It would be extremely reckless to try to go out without taking proper precautions tailored to your disease. If you have such a severe respiratory problem to the point that you cannot wear a cloth mask, why would you even risk going out in the first place? My own brother is asthmatic, and he does just fine with a mask on.
(3) Often, the mask-wearing mandate is associated with feeling like we’re being controlled, muzzled, or forced into being a “sheep.” You do realize enforcing mask-wearing during a GLOBAL PANDEMIC is a safety rule? Are we going to call ourselves “sheep” if we follow driving etiquette? Those are safety rules too. Wearing a seatbelt, observing stop lights and speed limits, using turn signals, etc. All of these are mandated by the government for your own and other people’s safety. Don’t get me wrong: You have the choice to stop observing these rules, but the government has the right to fine you, arrest you, or at worst, you could possibly get into an accident. So why do we even have rules? To keep us SAFE. I’m tired of the toxic mindset of individualism. “If this inconveniences me in any way, it infringes on my rights and therefore I can expect to get the same treatment whilst not following the rules.” WHAT?! That’s what you sound like when you choose not to wear a mask. Think about others for once and wear a mask for goodness sake.
(4) And finally, we come to the argument that often goes unsaid: “I don’t want to wear a mask because it’s uncomfortable.” Masks may be uncomfortable at times, I know. But I promise you, in the long run, you’ll have saved many more lives than if you didn’t. There is no harm in staying safe and keeping others’ health at the forefront of your worries. In fact, by being wary of others, you are being Christlike. From what I understand, a majority of the distaste towards masks are due to the uncomfortability of them, but a few minutes of wearing a mask to the store is nothing compared to my mom who works 12 hour shifts, wearing a mask the entire time. We can sacrifice a few minutes for the sake of others, right?
You Can Wear A Mask & Still Be A Christian.
Science and religion can go hand in hand without cancelling out each other. The media is constantly bombarding us with information to the point that we don’t know who or what to believe anymore. We are being pitted against each other, but in reality, you can be a Christian and a health advocate at the same time. I believe staying safe and promoting healthy lifestyle changes should be our priority. Stay vigilant and continue spreading the joy of the Lord to those around you. I believe the confusion is coming from thinking that masks or social distancing is the world’s way of trying to control us, but in fact, it’s the opposite. The disease itself is the work of the enemy: It is how we react to it that shows our true colors. Do we allow ourselves to succumb to the nonsense that is refusing to keep ourselves and our families safe, or will we be a good example to the world? The coronavirus knows no gender, no age, no political stance, nothing. It will infect anyone and everyone it can find. Wearing your masks and promoting safety precautions should not go against your beliefs. It is entirely hygienic.
It’s in times like these that we must keep our eyes on Christ. His ways are above ours. Oftentimes we get distracted by our own wants and desires (for example, wanting everything to go back to normal, wishing we could just be comfortable hanging out with people in public again, wanting to participate in large gatherings, etc.). However, we must remember what it means to be Christian: we must deny our old selves and find our new selves in Christ. Our selfish desires and longings for comfort and alleviation should be put away. We must be actively going against the grain and being “uncomfortable” in the world. Step out of our comfort zones and work towards what’s right. We cannot FORCE God’s hand, begging Him to change our future. We must work with what He has given us, and hopefully take this storm as a lesson. Maybe He’s trying to tell us not to depend on the comfortability of everyday life, and to solely depend on Him and His timing. We need to stop pretending like we’re in control of everything and offer up our lives to Him so He can use us as the solution.
My own mother is a NICU nurse, and she has experienced firsthand the tragedy of Covid-19 in her work. Ask anyone in the medical field, front-liner or not, how their experience with the virus has gone thus far, and they’ll 100% tell you it’s safer to stay home than even risk going outside at all. One of my best friend’s father has tragically passed away from complications due to the virus. A family friend and her husband had both just recently entered the ER due to the virus. Do not take this lightly. Whether or not the virus has directly affected you or your family at all, I pray you see beyond what’s immediately surrounding you and strive towards being a light in this time of darkness. I do hope you realize I am not trying to ridicule you. My only goal is to encourage and educate you. So I will continue imploring as many people as I can to consider wearing masks because I feel a conviction in my heart to do so. We Christians should be encouraging safety and optimism rather than deliberately discouraging common sense. Once again, I ask you from the bottom of my heart to consider wearing your mask.
A message from the CDC about the importance of masks, especially when sick https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-guidance.html
A video demonstration depicting how masks work to shield others from droplets https://youtu.be/x6cTDGqcUpA
A certified healthcare profession, Dr. Kohli, responds to common misconceptions about masks https://www.9news.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/doctor-responds-to-reasons-for-not-wearing-masks/73-d2c5c731-da4a-4fc0-b8d7-b0195e9abf50
D.J.T. diminishing the severity of Covid-19 https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/08/trumps-lies-about-coronavirus/608647/