COVID-19: it's not about face masks, actually

New Warhorn Media post by Tim Bayly:

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I thought I knew the instigators being discussed here. Then came across:

“Often I’ve said I’d have more sympathy for these men if they were calling for civil disobedience against the wholesale slaughter of our nation’s babies going on year after year, the pervasive murder of the aged through starvation, dehydration, and narcotic suppression of vital functions, or the murder of handicapped newborns.”

Who has been silent on these things and just now become vocal because of masks?

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Not being silent and “calling for civil disobedience” are two different things.

I can count on one hand the number of men I know who have practiced civil disobedience to try to save the lives of the weak and helpless. The number who have publicly called others to such civil disobedience is… nil.

The number of men who have practiced civil disobedience because they think they feel put upon when told to wear a mask are innumerable.

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I’m going to continue with the presumption that we’re talking about a church out west that has a fairly popular podcast.

If the purpose of the article was dealing with what this group has been saying, then that group is known for saying things against what I pulled from the article above. That’s why I was confused when I came across the charge.

Are you implyng that you can’t start practicing civil disobedience over the wearing of masks if you haven’t done so over these larger issues?

Have we been commanded to abort our children? Have we been commanded to kill our parents?

It looks to me that a command to wear a mask is different. Admittedly much smaller in comparison (hardly valid for comparison), but also personal - this actually affects us right now.

Think they feel put upon?

From the article:
“Local county health authorities issued a mask requirement allowing no exception for public worship leadership. Reading the decree, we called a special meeting of our session and deacons for the purpose of acting on a motion that we proceed with civil disobedience. Then, in the final minutes prior to the meeting, our county health authorities issued a clarification in which they specifically excluded preaching and worship leadership from those who must wear masks.”

How can I not understand this as,
“We would have practiced civil disobedience but then found out we were exempt. Now everyone else should just wear their masks.”?

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What I’m implying is just precisely what I wrote: “Often I’ve said I’d have more sympathy for these men if they were calling for civil disobedience against the wholesale slaughter of our nation’s babies going on year after year, the pervasive murder of the aged through starvation, dehydration, and narcotic suppression of vital functions, or the murder of handicapped newborns.”

That’s pretty much it.

Love,

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I think the point is clear. Is there a difference between the positive command to wear a mask and the “legalization” of abortion? Of course, but both come with commands. “Don’t block the doors of Planned Parenthood,” being one that’s apropos.

The question is what justifies civil disobedience? And the answer from many today seems to be, “It’s justified when I’m told to put a cloth over my mouth and I don’t think it helps, but if babies are being murdered, that doesn’t affect me.” If civil disobedience is justified for so light a matter, then why has the weightier matter been neglected?

It also reveals a significant problem because there is no command of God to not wear a mask, but there is a command to rescue those being led to the slaughter. And along the same lines, the law that is intended save life is leading to civil disobedience, but the law that is intended to take life results in no civil disobedience. Something doesn’t add up. Lots of somethings, in fact.

Just to clarify, there was a small typo in my sentence. It should have read just “they feel put upon.”

Masks are an inconvenience in some situations and impossible to wear in other situations. That’s why there are many exceptions written into the orders requiring masks. They make worship in the pew a bit harder. Preaching is significantly harder when you can’t see people’s faces, but it’s certainly still possible to preach to a masked congregation. However, preaching with a mask on would be practically impossible, as indeed would any sort of communication from one person to many. Listening with a mask on? Not impossible. Just irritating. Eating and drinking? Impossible. Sitting at a table talking? Miserable, but not that hard. This is why there are many exceptions written into the orders.

If you approach the whole issue from the standpoint that we ought to attempt to obey and honor authority where we can and where it doesn’t prevent obedience to the commands of God, then the reasoning will make sense to you.

If you approach the whole issue from the standpoint of earthly authorities only being able to tell you to do what you already want to do yourself (ie they have no actual authority), then the reasoning will look like hypocrisy. When parishioners are required to wear a mask, pastors don’t care, but when pastors are required to wear a mask, they suddenly grow a backbone and resist authority. Of course, a man that refuses to submit to the civil authority can be expected to view the church authorities with the same sort of attitude. Thus it leads to men who would rather forsake the assembly of the believers than submit to earthly authorities—either civil or ecclesiastical—though the authorities are not asking anything against the ordinances of God.

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The lack of proportion over face masks is something to behold. Mere months ago, the vast majority of the country were under stay at home orders. You were not technically permitted to go anywhere, let alone church, unless it was an “essential” trip. If you were a well to do Presbyterian with a white collar job you could do from home, you were ordered to do so.

That’s an extreme hardship to put on people. And it some parts of the country, the bluer parts, it went on for months. Here in Indiana it began to end in early May. We were the lucky ones.

Word now comes that our GDP dropped by one third in the second quarter of 2020. One third.

By comparison, being told you can go where you like but you have to wear a mask is orders of magnitude less burdensome. It is much less risky from a public policy standpoint.

What’s the problem here? The Moscow men, at first, urged obedience to stay at home orders. They pushed for reopening and got it. What’s the big deal about masks?

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I wanted to reject the comparison between the two outright, it being so silly. Yet, here we find ourselves.

The approved method of civil disobedience regarding abortion is asinine.

Civil disobedience by way of blocking doors… for a few hours until you’re arrested and the even-handed media ignores the event altogether or spins it as yet another evidence of “white privilege”.

If babies are being slaughtered there daily, this is the appropriate response?

Maybe that’s why more people don’t go to address that issue.

Are we going to wait 50 years and elect presidents solely on the hope for more conservative Supreme Court Justices to live without masks too?

The mask issue is a tossed softball.

  • It’s new - not set in stone by generations of complacent churchmen.
  • It’s based on nothing, it was rejected by “the experts” just months ago, it’s not just a contrary nature that causes men to say “I don’t think it helps”. We were told before that they are just emotional support face nappies.
  • It takes very little to disobey. Most churches would be able to disobey without anyone even noticing.

Such an easy pitch and we don’t even swing at it.

Babies are being murdered, and it doesn’t affect most. There’s a baby, a mother (maybe the father knows), a doctor, some staff, and a dozen third parties with financial interest. I can live my life without ever being actually affected by that wickedness. It’s not a callous comment to say it doesn’t affect me, it’s an honest answer lacking theatrics to move people emotionally. How dare I say that? I point to the lack of Christians in prison for actually meeting the issue with… what would normally be understood as proper reaction to an active attempt of murder.

Let’s not play here. Our mask mandates intrude in our lives and the abortions don’t.

If we can’t be bothered to disobey so small a mask order, how can we be expected to disobey something of true import and consequences?

Do you really think these mask mandates are about saving lives?

Something that doesn’t add up: while we’re on the subject of apparel during service, have the women put on their head-coverings or is it only Governor DeWine’s mandates that matter?

The exceptions are evidence of how arbitrary the mandates are.

I don’t envy a pastor who preaches to a masked congregation. A step better than online conference, but we’re not charismatic, they’ve taken away your means of gauging reception.

Communication is a lot more than clearly articulated words reaching unmuffled ears. We read the faces of people. The reception of harsh words behind a grin becomes destructive when that grin is also behind a mask. I’m not ready for the death of sarcasm.

Speaking to many or speaking to one, either way the speaker becomes a mumbling idiot behind these masks. How’s it different for a preacher? We have the technology to amplify the mumbling all the way to the back. People don’t want to listen to a muffled elder? I assure you, taking technical notes from a muffled co-worker becomes vexing.

The magistrates are ministers of God, and as such their scope of authority has nothing to do with what I want, nor does it have to do with what they want - as is the case with masks. God has already given them laws, punishments, and judgments - from there is the work of wisely applying them today. Their authority is not a blank check as long as it doesn’t go directly against God’s commands. Why does this magisterial creative license get appended without question?

What would you have men do, if they have a conscience against these masks, but want to respect their church leaders decision, knowing that disobeying the magistrate could cause trouble with regard to the continued meeting space approval as well as the attitude of others in attendance?

It’ll only be a short time right?

How long will everyone continue to wear their masks?

Remember: We just need a couple weeks to flatten the curve folks. Just a couple weeks to solidify… our new normal.

We can revisit the overlap of Corona Virus, the Magistrate, and Abortion when the vaccines become mandatory. You might want to go ahead and start practicing pushing back now.

I can’t speak for Moscow, but I personally was just as worried as everyone else when this started so many months ago. I remember reading about something going on in China long before NPR finally picked it up and began running their special nightly expert interviews. Yeah, I listened to NPR, and every night.

We were all scared, we all thought this was going to be something big - mass graves, refrigeration trucks, hospital triage, and no more toilet paper! Not allowing ourselves to be taken advantage of, our country decided to preemptively strike our own economy and workforce. - Nobody’s going to hurt us unless it’s us!

Now we find that it’s not like they said it would be.

I think it’s a “fool me once…” kinda thing. Some people are tired of playing the game.

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I’m having trouble following your argument. Why, Biblically, should we refuse to obey our civil magistrates in this particular instance?

I think everyone here can stipulate that our magistrates are, by and large, foolish liars with no fear of God before their eyes. I’m not sure how that bears on this particular command.

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I gathered as much. But in the end, you can’t deny the point, because men who have never found civil disobedience necessary over the single most egregious moral failing of our nation are now getting their panties in a wad over a non-moral failing and have found the need to “resist.” Isn’t it convenient that the resistance that is supposedly necessary doesn’t come with a worldly cost?

It is indeed. Incredibly easy to comply. Nothing whatsoever wrong with it. Or we could disobey authority because they changed their mind about what they want us to do. That’s not allowed of authorities? Parents?

If this is so small, unimportant, and inconsequential, then perhaps the appropriate thing to do would be to simply comply one more time each week. Consider it.

In the meantime, I will note that if a man has a “conscience issue” against wearing a mask and he is putting a mask on all the time for other reasons, my response is that he doesn’t have a conscience issue. He has what he wants to call a conscience issue. If you would like to appeal to the governor for a trial exception, like Daniel’s three friends, I would support you fully.

But to answer your question more fully, disobedience to authority is not something we need to practice on things that don’t matter. Disobedience to authority is something you must have justification for. It is never to be done lightly, nor on things that don’t matter.

Some of it, yes, which is why I said it is hard. Head nodding still happens, and I can still tell when people fall asleep. :slight_smile:

Agreed. But after this you get your argument turned around, talking about how you won’t be able to understand a masked preacher. As you know, that is unnecessary. You’ll still be able to see my smile if I say something sarcastic while preaching.

That’s an interesting question that you’ve never bothered to ask me before. It also happens to be equally applicable to the men you are following now. I’ll gladly answer after they do.

Speaking of the men you are following now, they aren’t missing you, but I am. They aren’t saddened that you now assume and accuse your pastors and elders publicly of gross hypocrisy. They aren’t saddened that our fellowship is broken. They don’t know (or perhaps they simply don’t care) that they are dividing churches through their words. They don’t know what your kids were saying on the playground this week. They don’t know you or care for you at all, but I do.

Then don’t play the game. Be subversive. Obey out of deference to authority instead of out of fear of a disease. Do it to teach your children what it looks like to obey and submit so that those who will give an account for your soul can do their work with joy and not with grief (Hebrews 13:17). Do it to demonstrate fear of the Lord (Col 3:22) and humility under the hand of judgment He has laid on us. Do it to show your wife and children what it looks like to be submissive to masters that are unreasonable (1 Peter 2:18). Do it so you don’t have to miss church.

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Maybe this experiment will help. Go to your kitchen, take your store-ordered, home-made, or disposable face mask in one hand and an aerosol can of non-stick spray in another. First, spray the non-stick aerosol openly under the kitchen lights. What do you notice? Then, spray the can of non-stick spray into the face mask, about as far away as a nose and mouth would be from it. What do you notice? Then go to YouTube and search “live abortion.” What do you notice? Then write a lab report on which topic Christians should be more vocal about.

I don’t believe it is within the government’s scope of authority, and I only briefly touched on that in my last post towards the end. It’s not because I see the mask mandates as breaking a command in Scripture.

I don’t think this is going to stop at masks. This is just the beginning. I look at the way the government plays with us with masks while cities burn and real racism is encouraged as righteousness. Maybe I’m just paranoid.

If the state chooses to enforce it there will be, something like up to 90 days in jail or a fine up to $750 says the Columbus Dispatch.

This is another mandate that employers will enforce rather than the state. When the threat was “We’ll shut your business down if your employees don’t wear their masks.” So started that beautiful enforcement via the private business. “If you don’t want to wear a mask, you can go home.”

Just trying to get ahead of the next switch up. :wink:

  • When this all started: "Don’t wear masks, they don’t help, and there will be a shortage for the health professionals who properly use them under legitimate circumstances.
  • Sometime early May: DeWine mandates masks for all.
  • A day later: Mandate Rescinded.
  • About a month ago: "Ok, we’ll have a color coded map with each county doing something different.
  • About a week after that: "Ok, nevermind the map idea, everybody just wear them.

If I ran my children around with rules like that I’d surely have provoked them to anger.

I get your point, sure, we err and have to make corrections. That’s why we don’t make arbitrary rules in the first place.

It’s not the hill I’m willing to die on. I’ll wear it to keep my job. I don’t expect there are many who would have a conscience so strong as to put their food, home, and family in jeopardy over this issue, nor is my goal to tell them to. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t bother me.

What’s the alternative? Let everything slide in all aggravating circumstances until some final heroic stand? Why not try to deal with the slow boil now while the water is just heating up? A little push-back in the present could have made for a much calmer future. The friction received the first time it was mandated was what caused the earlier repeal, so they waited another month while the media stirred up the fear some more. (We’ll see what happens, maybe I’ll have to apologize for my paranoia later.)

Of course! Let’s not forget those exceptions! :+1:

That’s because I’ve bothered you with so many other items that it didn’t seem worth it. Feels like a small issue when compared to our other conversations, except this mask thing, it’s more important than that.

Also, I don’t follow those other guys very close at all anymore. I didn’t even know what their opinion was until I was asked recently by another elder if I agreed with them that the churches that do wear masks were “statist idolaters”. I didn’t agree with that then, I don’t agree with that now.

I didn’t think the charge against those other guys in the original article was fair and so I said something. You responded by saying that some “think they feel put upon”, which I counted as an unjustified nudge given the articles account of how the meeting went. It doesn’t make sense to make light of what someone else is bothered by when your own camp happened to be planning to make a stink over the very same thing. That reads like hypocrisy to me. There’s a lot of other occupations that the mask makes more difficult, occupations that require it be worn for many more hours in comparison.

Must you try to crush me with your words?

I’ll consider this.

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Noticing that the students recently arrested in Washington DC, obtained permits and even wore face masks, but when the local magistrate arbitrarily revoked permission, wouldn’t concede to various accommodations the protestors were willing to make, the protestors defied the police and faced arrest.

Their willingness to obtain permits, follow health and safety requirements actually makes their case against abortion so much stronger. From the information available they aren’t rebel but they are doing their Christian duty both to the authorities above them and their neighbors being dragged to slaughter.

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I see what you are saying and I am sympathetic to it. Masks, as Tim Bayly wrote in his article, are about more than just masks. It’s true in more than direction. People are frustrated. They feel like they have been taken for a ride. They are not inclined to put up with mask mandates, even though those mandates are less draconian that what the states ordered before.

I get it. I’m not going to “punch right” against a Christian that decides conscientiously to resist mask orders. Still, I don’t see why it’s worth it to fight here but not elsewhere. Why put up with lockdown but not with masks? Why put up with legal abortion, talking about “smashmouth incrementalism,” but with masks, it’s full on immediatism with no shades of gray?

(Hat tip to Jody Killingsworth for that last sentence.)

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Or why put up with masks at work, but not at church? The thing that boggles my mind is that we would be willing to suffer the loss of gathering for worship, but not willing to suffer the risk of the loss of livelihood. It is persecution of the worst sort in two ways.

First because losing worship is about the worst thing a Christian can face. The martyrs of the past would have been willing to give up anything, and often did give up life and limb, for the sake of gathering. But there are those today that refuse to suffer anything except the loss of worship.

Secondly, it is the worst because it is self-inflicted, chosen suffering. It is cutting off your nose to spite your face. They are persecuting themselves. I can choose to wear a mask, but the moment you tell me to, I’ll stop going to church. In what world is this even seen as resistance? It’s not resistance. It’s absurd. It’s giving them exactly what the liberals actually want but don’t have the power to accomplish—preventing you from gathering with God’s people for worship.

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But what neither of you are responding to is the railing and denunciation of Christians and there elders who have chosen another place for their civil disobedience. Those are the heart of my concerns. Love

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I know this doesn’t really add to the discussion much, but I found it humorous…regarding this point…talking with a friend, he mentioned that having courage and being brave almost always costs us something and is often very inconvenient to us…but when it comes to standing against the government re: masks (in most places) there’s no cost to us to disobey and it’s actually more convenient/comfortable to disobey.

Just ironic.

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Someone mentioned to me a few months back (when face mask wearing was just really getting started) that there were going to be church splits over the issue. I thought he was exaggerating act first, until right after that when I heard people saying some variation of either “you’re an ignorant sheep” and “you hate your neighbor,” depending on whether you think mask wearing is wise or not. The rhetoric has only grown more heated since.

Unity among the brethren is a precious thing, and shouldn’t be easily cast aside. There are times to call out someone or something as unloving, or statist idolatry, or some other form of wickedness. There are times to break fellowship. But, it should never be done lightly, without much sorrow.

As I’ve read the articles Pastor Bayly and other at Warhorn have written on this topic, there’s been much I’ve appreciated, namely the calls for consistency in applying biblical principles. Some of it I’ve agreed with, and some things I’ve disagreed with, but I have appreciated all of them. It saddens me to see some speak so poorly of those whom they disagree with on this.

This is one of the reasons I’ve largely stayed silent in the discussions of these articles. The last thing I would want is a member of my church stumbling across some argument that I made on the internet about this issue, causing a break in our church body fellowship, when, to be honest, situations and regulations vary so much. How could I call someone a statist idolator for wearing a mask at church when I am required to wear one while doing commercial roofing , and do so? Do I idolize labor? How can I call someone a hater of their neighbor for not wanting to wear a mask when I don’t do it unless I am required? Do I hate my neighbor?

Elders often have to make hard calls, and say hard things, but those hard calls and hard words had better come from a soft heart.

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In Kansas, we have a situation where the Governor has ordered masks, subject to approval by our county commissioners. Numerous counties (including my own) have rejected the Governor’s order. So there is no mask mandate here.

However, the County Commissioners (and school board) have “strongly recommended” that people wear masks. A strong recommendation falls short of a legal order. So there’s no civil disobedience issue here – and very few are regularly wearing masks.

How does Christian submission to authority relate to a “strong recommendation” as opposed to an “order”?

No one is saying, “Thou shall…” and there’s no power of the sword that comes along with the suggestion. My thought is, a Christian should preserve the honor of the authority by complying with their “strong recommendation.” It seems a part of liberty: we are given the opportunity to exercise self restraint, preventing our governing authorities from having to exercise this authority over us.

My other thought is, that this is a flavor of cowardice from our authorities. Instead of actually wielding authority, and making a decision, they are trying to have their cake and eat it too. By issuing a “strong recommendation,” they want to protect themselves from liability (political or otherwise) by saying the right thing, without putting any teeth behind their instructions.

I get the strangest look from other believers when having this conversation. So I thought I’d step in to Sanityville for another opinion.

Quite likely, I’d say.

As to whether you should, an authority’s strong recommendation should certainly bear heavy weight in our decisions, but we must recognize that crucial difference between advice and orders.

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