A Friend From Montana Asks About Masks
A friend of mine back in Montana texted me last week to ask my opinion on mask mandates. His pastor had recently preached a sermon declaring that because Steve Bullock (Montana’s governor, and former Democratic presidential candidate) had recently mandated the wearing of masks in public places like churches, it was the duty of all Christians to submit to the governing authorities and wear masks.
Romans 13 says “submit yourselves to the governing authorities.” Governor Bullock is allegedly the governing authority. Therefore, all Montanans must submit. So the line of reasoning goes. And such was the sermon my friend heard.
So what did I think about that? He told me I could take my time and write a book before getting back with him if I wanted. He was just curious.
Well, I may not have a book to write, but I do have something to say more than just what I initially shared with my friend over text message. So here we go.
Like many conservative Americans, I find mask mandates concerning. They are, to me, more ‘problematic’ than the worst micro-aggression.
But before we get into the mandates, let us consider the science concerning masks. Supposedly, all masks – even those made of cloth like the one my wife sewed just in case for me – filter at least some particulates. Everyone agrees that even the crudest of masks offer at least a little protection from inhaling airborne coronavirus.
Even so, there is a big difference between wearing an N95 medical mask and tying a bandana around your face. And at a certain point, the low level of protection that simple cloth masks afford begs the question. Are they doing more harm than good?
What about false senses of security? Suppose most people are wearing cloth masks over their faces, and therefore practice less “social distancing” – a term I still find unsettling for its rapid rise from complete non-existence to ever-presence in all conversations seemingly overnight. But suppose most people are wearing masks that afford both them and those around them little actual protection compared with basic hygiene and keeping your distance from others. Are masks in such a case more of an asset than a liability?
Also, what about decreased oxygen intake?
What are the health risks associated with a mask causing you to breath in more of your own CO2?
What are the health risks with you potentially breathing in your own activated virus?
And are you at a higher risk of pneumonia from breathing damp air through a moist mask all day?
These are valid concerns.
And color me confused, but I still remember back in early March when the surgeon general warned that improperly worn masks could actually increase your risk of coronavirus.
Much of my frustration with the mask mandates stems from the contradictory messaging regarding masks the past six months.
We were told masks were optional if they made us feel better.
Then we were told masks were useless.
Next we were told masks were essential. And we obviously wanted people to die if we refused to wear one.
But I still remember when the messaging abruptly changed from masks being useless for the general public to their being essential for medical workers. How stupid did the “experts” really think most people are that they would believe that? My incredulity was off the charts.
Are healthcare workers some other species? Is their biology completely different from the rest of society to where masks magically work for them but not for us?
But then the line changed. There was a shortage of N95 masks. If the public had believed they needed masks to protect themselves, the public would have bought up all the masks. That would have left none for doctors, nurses, and EMT’s.
Therefore, it was apparently okay for public health officials to lie to the public in order to get the results they wanted – in this case, conserving the supply of N95 masks.
A consequence of this, however, is that forever after this, you can hardly blame the general public for being skeptical of public health officials.
Again, Doctor Fauci said masks were basically just to make us feel safer.
But the surgeon general said masks were useless and might even make us less safe.
Then governors and mayors across the country said we had to wear them or else get fined and go to jail.
And the CDC director and Doctor Fauci said it was either that, or else shut down the economy again and lose our jobs.
It would also be easier to bear seemingly arbitrary mask mandates were it not for the double standards. Who was and was not permitted to gather in large crowds or go to work was painfully obvious.
Churches were shuttered. Liquor stores, dispensaries, and gun stores meanwhile stayed open. So did the big box stores like Walmart, Kroger, Home Depot, and Lowe’s.
Churches had to keep their doors closed for months. But Black Lives Matter protests, and even riots were permitted. Police were even told to stand down and stand by as businesses and public property were ransacked and destroyed. Innocent people were assaulted, terrorized, and even murdered by mindless mobs of lawless anarchist Leftists. But the protestors were definitely not spreading coronavirus, insisted those on the Left pushing for the harshest coronavirus restrictions.
Schools were closed down. And even now, teachers’ unions across the country melodramatically complain en masse about being forced to go back to work. But then the list of demands to be met before they could reopen often include things like defunding the police. And what exactly does that have to do with COVID-19 again? For those keeping score at home, the answer is ‘nada.’
Yes, coronavirus is an actual sickness which people can catch and die from in rare cases. But the media and politician response together have convinced me the COVID-19 threat is primarily an over-hyped political ploy to wrest power from conservatives generally, and President Trump in particular.
There is just no other explanation which adequately explains the double standards, duplicity, funny numbers, and fuzzy math.
In light of that, how exactly am I supposed to feel as a conservative American man when mask mandates are passed down from public health officials, mayors, and governors? To say I feel nonplussed is an understatement.
I pay close attention to the news and read a lot of history. Even were that not the case, however, it is such a truism that politicians lie. It hardly feels worth mentioning. Everyone knows it. We all believe it. But that does not necessarily mean we all equally realize precisely how and when we are being lied to by politicians.
So also, trust in the media is extremely low by all accounts. Yet false impressions of consensus are still incredibly persuasive to many who are unthinkingly accustomed to following the crowd.
Mask mandates are a great example of this.
When the coronavirus panic first hit in mid-March, I remember going unawares to the grocery store to pick up some bananas and coffee creamer. To my shock and frustration, I found that the store was packed with frenzied and wild-eyed shoppers. Checkout lines stretched to the back of King Soopers on 10th in Greeley. But I do not recall anyone wearing masks.
A few weeks later, I went into the same store and a few others searching in vain for toilet paper. There still was none. But now some people were wearing masks. The majority were still not.
A few weeks later, and maybe half the shoppers were masked, the other half unmasked like I was.
But now when I go to the store, I am in the minority. Looking around for anyone else similarly bare faced, there are always one or two others. And we half-grin and nod to one another in solidarity.
But I can feel it the pressure to conform to the crowd. It is real and palpable.
But since when was that a good reason to do anything?
God and Government
The Apostle Paul wrote the lion’s share of the New Testament epistles – letters to the churches. In the epistles, he encouraged, rebuked, corrected, and taught new believers to believe the truth, live out the gospel, and beware of false teachers and bad doctrine.
In his letter to the church in Rome in particular, Paul took time in the thirteenth chapter to explain the relationship between God and government and man. And how was the Christian specifically to relate to the government?
Yet two important truths become clear when we read the rest of the story.
First, there must be limits to our subjection to human authority. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah in the court of Babylon exemplify this in the Old Testament. So do Peter and Paul in the New Testament.
When the civil government tells us to do something that contradicts what God has told us to do, “we must obey God rather than men.”
Second, the argument Paul makes for why we must submit to governing authorities is reverence for God. In other words, Christians submit to earthly authority out of respect for God’s authority.
Similarly, we love God because he first loved us, and we love our neighbor as we love ourselves as an extension of the greatest commandment – loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind.
So then, with regards to mask mandates for instance, are we disobeying God if we obey such a mandate? And are we being unloving toward our neighbor to refuse to wear masks?
To be clear, there is no prohibition on masks in the Scriptures so far as I know. Therefore, we are not disobeying God to wear masks if our governor or mayor command us to.
As for whether we are being unloving toward our neighbor to refuse to wear masks, I do not believe that based on the “science” I have seen.
Yet I can see how people who have been led to believe that masks save lives would logically conclude that refusing to wear masks will cost lives. Therefore, a flippant attitude toward other people being endangered by non-compliance with mask mandates is characterized as a lack of love.
Unfortunately, Christians like the pastor of my friend from Montana have missed out on a critically important question in all of this, particularly with regards to Romans 13.
“…Whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”Romans 13:2 (ESV)
But your mayor and city council and governor are not all that is meant by “the authorities.” And they are not the only authorities here. They are not all of the authorities. And they are not the highest authorities.
This one says go to work. That one says stay home. This one says go to church. That one prohibited you from going to church. Wear masks. Or else you are free to wear a mask if you want to.
Who has the final say? The various self-proclaimed authorities often disagree and contradict one another. They cannot all be right.
More than that, however, in the United States of America, our government is founded on the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. And many government officials have willfully forgotten that fact. And they need to be reminded. So we must remind them.
Mask Mandates and The Resistance
Many forces in this country and around the world – for good and for ill – are heavily invested in the outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election.
But four years ago we had another presidential election, which Donald Trump won. And as if on cue, a movement was immediately born to oppose him. Its members literally called themselves “The Resistance,” and shamelessly declared their rebellion. And their mission for the past four years has been to obstruct, harass, besmirch, oppose, and undermine President Trump and anyone associated with him.
Practicing lawfare, launching illegal investigations, bearing false witness in the media and courts – the attacks have been non-stop and exhaustive.
But then also, Antifa and Black Lives Matter have played the street game. Looting stores, burning cars and businesses, smashing windows, and generally vandalizing American cities – the “anti-fascists” have made these their mission. They punish and counteract the president and his supporters, as well as conservative pundits and thinkers in general. Acting like an American gestapo, they use force and threats of violence to promote a kind of rigid conformity with the new laws of Leftism.
Now ask yourself how convenient masks are to these looters, rioters, and insurrectionists who might otherwise be caught on camera, identified, and brought to justice.
My answer is that it is too convenient if everyone is supposed to wear masks – mandated to, even – when such provides cover for these lawless persons to carry out the terroristic aspects of “the resistance” in anonymity.
To put it more bluntly, I am strongly opposed to mask mandates not because I am intent on resisting governing authorities. I am strongly opposed to mask mandates because I see them as an extension of a years-long campaign to resist and overthrow the governing authorities.
But what about private businesses?
King Soopers, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and others here in Greeley, Colorado have signs at their entrances telling shoppers that masks are required for entrance to the store. I know. Naked-faced I have walked right past most of them at least once in the past month.
“But Garrett,” you may say. “Do you similarly flaunt signs that say ‘no shoes, no shirt, no service?”
To that I answer that I do not. Those signs are not the slightest issue for me because they are not at all politically motivated. Mask mandates obviously are, however.
And if I cannot walk into the store without a mask on, I surely hope curbside pickup is an option. Or else deliver my groceries. Or else I will take my business elsewhere.
And the same holds true for church. If a church and pastor insist I must wear a mask in order to enter, I will either find another church to attend, or I will stay home. It is as simple as that.
If your pastor disagrees, that is between him and the Lord. As for me and my house, however, I cannot in good conscience participate in the mandatory mask-wearing trend, or jump on that bandwagon, because it lends credence to the larger insurrectionist movement which mask mandates represent to me.
Today they insist we have to wear masks. If they succeed in getting us to obey that order, we have empowered and encouraged them to give us more orders tomorrow.
Next they will insist we get their experimental vaccine. Then they will insist on implanting a medical bio-chip to monitor our vitals.
By the power vested in me as a man, husband, father, and American citizen, I decline. I am disinclined to acquiesce with their request.