Like a lot of people around the world, I’ve been wearing a mask for a few months. I used to always wonder why people from Asian nations wore masks and now I know. Most people are wearing them to protect other people from catching the coronavirus. The masks most of us wear aren’t going to protect us from the virus, but it can prevent the other person from you if you happen to have the virus and since you can be asymptomatic, it makes sense to wear a mask in public places. It’s weird for all of us to have to wear these masks covering our mouths, but if it can slow the spread of the virus it kind of makes sense.
Well, it makes sense to most people. Some like this gentleman in Florida, seem to think putting on a mask is some kind of conspiracy.
There is a movement taking place where wearing a mask is not something you do out of safety, but out of weakness. R.R. Reno, the editor of First Things magazine caused a stir in May as he shared his thoughts on the issue. In one of his widely shared tweets he said the following:
Just to reinforce. Talked to my son in Seattle. The mask culture if fear driven. Masks+cowardice. It’s a regime dominate by fear of infection and fear of causing of infection. Both are species of cowardice.
Just to make sure people got the point he added the following tweet:
By the way, the WWII vets did not wear masks. They’re men, not cowards. Masks=enforced cowardice.
To say that all of this caused a stir is an understatement. Many, many people responded to the series of tweets with a lot of righteous anger. That response must have rattled Reno because he not only deleted the tweets, he deleted his entire Twitter account. So much for being manly.
Wearing of masks is not unheard of in America. During the 1918 Flu Pandemic, there were people who wore masks and those that didn’t. Cities such as San Francisco and Seattle had ordinances requiring people to wear masks. Just as there were recommendations and laws were in place back then, there were people that opposed such a requirement. San Francisco had something called an Anti-Mask League.
Reno is a Christian, and he is presenting a view about what our faith says about wearing masks. In his view, Christianity is supposed to be strong and not weak. It isn’t cowardly and fearful, but it should be daring and bold.
But is that a Christian view? In the second chapter of Philippians, Paul lifts up Christ as an example of what it means to be a Christian. Paul says:
4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5 Let the same mind be in you that was[a] in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
To live as a follower of Jesus, means being willing to be humble and to live for other people. We aren’t wearing masks because we are scared, we wear them to protect others. Since someone can be asymptomatic, wearing a mask stops the virus from spreading to others. If we are follower of Jesus, we aren’t being cowards, but caring for the other. Wearing a mask protects my 86 year-old mother from getting the virus. Wearing a mask protects the person at the check out at the grocery store. Being a Christian is as much about living the faith than it is talking about faith.
One day, we won’t have to wear these masks and I will be happy. But for now, I’m going to wear the mask because when we wonder if Jesus would wear a mask, all I need to do is look to Philippians to know the answer.