Let me preface this by saying that I hate masks. I think they are ridiculous and not as effective as we think they are. Even more so since I had Covid myself and know that I’m presently not at risk of catching it, or more importantly, passing it on to others.
I travel, go to the gym, and coffee shops and restaurants and don’t cower inside my home in fear of the big, bad Covid.
However, last week, two of my favorite YouTubers posted a video where they infiltrated a Christian church worship service. It took me approximately 0.04 seconds to realize that in this video, the nonchristian outsiders who were poking fun at Christians were far more correct than the Christians they interviewed who ended up looking like, well, fools.
The YouTubers showed up at the service with hazmat suits, masks, and face shields, while the ENTIRE Christian congregation bared their faces to the crowd. Multiple times, they asked the churchgoers why ‘no one here has a mask on,’ and almost each time the response was the same: God doesn’t want us to be afraid. God will protect us from getting sick. And so on.
Let’s look at a few of the problems with this mentality, especially among Christians. Again, this is coming from a relatively non-mask dude.
Inconsiderate to, like, everyone
The vast majority of folks at the church agreed with the general anti-mask mindset. No one interviewed seemed too bothered by the naked mouths and clouds of vapor spreading around.
What if 10% of the congregation felt uncomfortable but didn’t say anything? Would it be worth it to cover their mouth for an hour to make that 10% feel more safe at their church?
What if only 5% felt unsafe—should Christians be respectful of even 5% of a population?
What about 1%? Should we go out of our way, making ourselves feel a little less comfortable, so that 1% of people present feel safer in the gathering?
It’s almost like Jesus had a parable about leaving the 99 to go out of His way to bring back the 1…
But not this church.
Swallow your health concerns or GTFO, old lady.
Or, consider everyone who stopped going to their church because they felt unsafe, and therefore wasn’t in the video. Is your personal opinion on masks more important to you than someone coming to your church? If so, you’d have an enormous amount of soul-searching to do.
This doesn’t even touch on how terribly faulty our witness would be in a situation like this; if an outsider who was nervous about the virus showed up, what would their first impression of Christianity be? Would they feel welcomed or uncomfortable? Would your reckless antics drive someone away from the church for good just because you couldn’t put a 6×6 cloth over your mouth for an hour?
You really want to formulate your argument in defense of something that doesn’t hurt you and which drives people away from Jesus? Come on.
This virus has revealed just how far many Christians are willing to go down the path of selfishness and paranoia (myself often included). We’ve done a great job of driving outsiders away from churches ever since the term ‘celebrity pastor’ came into existence; now we’re boarding up the doors and windows to be sure they don’t come back.
Faulty theology of healing
At one point, a woman tells the interviewer that God will protect her and her family from the virus so she doesn’t need a mask (then, strangely, proceeds to drop the F-word).
He brilliantly replies with, “Do you wear a seatbelt in your car?”
That’s the idea, except it’s more than that. A seatbelt protects you from injury. Not wearing one doesn’t necessarily endanger other drivers on the road; a mask or lack of one, does. This ‘Christian’ lady flaunts her divine protection as an act of rebellion against some oppressive regime, and in turn drives away many people who might think Christianity is a reasonable belief system.
I don’t know what world she lives in, but basically everything on earth is trying to kill us in one way or another. And sooner or later, something will succeed with each and every one of us, Christian or not.
100% of Christians die.
Does she think that no Christians have been killed by Covid?
More alarmingly—does she think their faith was weaker than hers? I’m sure there are some who believe along these lines, and this theology is beyond damaging. This is what happens when the prosperity gospel is allowed to take root in a culture for decades and then gets exposed by a worldwide pandemic. People start blindly exiting reality and living in some delusional reality constructed in the bubbly confines of their weird church’s pews.
Their pastors weekly feed them lies about the very world they inhabit, and eventually they end up forgetting that not only did our God come to earth to suffer Himself, but to promise that our own lives would involve suffering, conflict, rejection, and humiliation. Ours is not a Trumpian/Nietzschian religion of the victors, but of the downtrodden and the outcast.
The Bible is overtly clear in the New Testament that we should put no barrier between outsiders and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christians who refuse to wear masks because of personal liberty, a skewed theology of healing, or just plain apathy are keeping people away from churches. They are making us all look foolish and inconsiderate.
This mindset is the opposite of the hospitality Christ embodied and which Paul spurred us toward. If someone is uncomfortable or feels unsafe because of our actions, we should bend over backward to make them feel more at home in our churches, no matter how we personally feel about masks.
This is very good, Ethan. Wise and sound! Thank you sir.
This is very narrow and bigoted Ethan. Really, lay this at the feet of Christians at large because of an outlier congregation? Way to go for the narrow extremists and paint them as mainstream. At our church, we all wear masks and yes, we wear our seatbelts on the way to the service:) Just remember, when you use the name of a religious group, and then pick an outlier group to represent the norm of the faith, maybe you need to look a little deeper at your own motives, and objectivity. It’s pretty much the same mentality I see among some of the radical right that paint all Muslims as extremists. Things are rarely as simple as they seem. When we get all riled up and begin to lump all members of a group together based on outliers within the group, it’s time to pause. I think we’ve all had enough extremism, don’t you?
Yes. Just yes.
Thank you. I have felt alone as a Christian asking others to mask up, accused of not having enough faith, and pushed out of our community because we were the odd ones out. Your words are a comfort to me that I’m not the only one who feels we should be kind and wear masks to make others comfortable.
I am just now reading this even though it was written a while ago. Much has changed in the pandemic and we are in a far worse situation in the United States of America now than we were back when this was written. But unfortunately division within families and within churches has continued and maybe even grown. It is heartbreaking. We now know that those of us were vaccinated could unknowingly share a virus with someone else … We also have seen that it’s not just a small outlier radical church who has been so heavily influenced by American politics and misinformation to the point where they refuse to wear masks in their church that meets indoors. That is in the midst of a pandemic that makes some people sick, some people really sick, And some don’t survive it. We also, wear I live, have a mandate from the government to wear masks when we are indoors so that we can stop spreading this virus so rapidly. Wouldn’t it be nice if our doctors and nurses and everyone else involved in caring for the very sick with covid-19 could have a bit of a break? Unless burnout? Despite the mandate that should have not even been needed but due to our culture and it’s very individualistic nature needed to be made … There definitely our churches ignoring what the government has instructed. My family includes an immune compromised little boy who is of course not even old enough to get the vaccine. That’s a whole other issue I don’t even want to talk about. But whether you are for the vaccine or not it is so simple to wear a mask for an hour! By churchgoers not responding with kindness, compassion, understanding, truth seeking, a desire to create a comfortable place for the immune compromised or more at risk groups or the outsider who might not know Jesus yet … Not only my family and many others within the church are excluded from in person services, Bible studies, fellowship, activities, youth groups, etc. But we are not able to invite our neighbors or friends who might actually be interested in seeking God. Because it is not a safe place. Our kids have to wear masks in school for 6 hours a day and yet churchgoers aren’t willing to wear one for an hour too allow people to feel more safe in church. I think this should be considered far outside of American politics. Let’s look at what the Bible says. What are we to put on? Who are we supposed to be following? Are we to show kindness and compassion? Are we to give to Caesar what is Caesars? Are we too provide every opportunity possible for people to learn about the love of Jesus? Or are we to push them away and believe unreasonable things? Even if someone believed the mask did nothing and the pandemic is fake (I know that sounds crazy but there are people who actually believe that somehow?) Why not wear it for an hour once a week for your community. Why let it be a barrier that excludes people from being able to gather and worship together and fellowship? Why let it be a barrier for those who do not follow Jesus yet?
Whether it is covid-19 or some other illness I might be carrying would you rather me sneeze or cough one foot away from your face with a mask on or a mask off? Let’s talk to the chemist at the church and see what he thinks? Do masks help at all? Even if they are only 30% effective when worn by the general public who doesn’t always do a great job wearing masks well or wearing the correct masks that are more effective that’s 30%! Isn’t it worth it for 30% of your church community? Sure someone might be miserably sick and then recover because you unknowingly exposed to them to the virus. But someone else might get it and suffer for years to come with what has been commonly called “long haulers.”. Do I think it is unreasonable and selfish for Christians to not consider those around them and those in their community and be willing to humble themselves and wear a mask for an hour? Of course I do. Do I think Jesus would wear a mask? Given the situation we are in? Hmmm. Do I think Jesus would go maskless during a pandemic just because a well known religious leader of his time decided he didn’t want to wear a mask? These are questions we should ask ourselves. Am I frustrated by the situation? Yes! Do I feel like I cannot safely bring my family or neighbors to church? Yes! Are there other churches in my area who are doing the right thing which includes respectfully wearing a mask in church? Yes! It is not all Christians. But it is many…
Earlier in the pandemic I visited one of my Muslim friends and her new baby. She vocalized with her best attempts in English the same sentiment that I had heard from some Christians. Basically that there’s no need for any of us to wear a mask because God will take care of us. I love my Muslim friends very much and my Christian family, but I must ask that we seek wisdom from God. Does God keep his promises is he faithful? Of course! Did he give us brains? Of course! Does he give wisdom to those who seek it? Yes! Has he blessed us with the ability to understand quite a few things and have scientists and research studies that can help us make the best decision to show love to our communities? Yes! Should we put ourselves in a position of unnecessary risk and also put others in that position? Is wearing a mask a very small thing that we can do? And how trivial is it as we consider what is happening around the world and places like Afghanistan. Last week I was in tears with a few women from Afghanistan who have only lived in the US for 4 and 7 years. The majority of their family still in Afghanistan dealing with such challenging and terrible situations. Can we focus our passions and efforts on loving our community instead of this mask issue? Let’s put them on, be a good witness in community member, and move on!
It is high time that this be verbalize and good for Ethan being brave enough to do it. I have family members who are leaving their beloved church because of the self- righteousness and selfishness of church members refusing to wear masks. This is not what Christ has called us to and shame on the churches that are turning people away over a mask.
Yes! Thank you for your article. 1 Cor 8, especially verse 13 teaches us exactly what you said. If it will offend our brothers and sisters, and it is not sinful, we should do it. I also agree that it absolutely weakens our witness to not comply with mask wearing.
Masking is living in fear. Period. Full Stop end of story.
Stop Virtue Signaling to a group that hates us for our faith. Pandemic or not.