To my friends: a modest proposal

New Warhorn Media post by Tim Bayly:

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Would they all have died from something else instead?

I do think mask skeptics like me are headed toward the callousness ditch, if we’re not already in it. Surely the above sentiment is not how we honor father and mother.

Love,

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Replace “mask” with “aluminum foil hat” (for preventing alien mind control) in this article and you can understand how many of us view the issue. Now you can see why it is a bigger deal than seatbelt laws and why we think it dishonors there Lord to put our children in them.
My question back would be, by this logic, where do YOU draw the line? Would you put your kids in a foil hat if that was what “Christian unity” looked like? Would you cluck like a chicken if the civil “authorities” said cluck like a chicken? Where do you draw the line? There’s nothing sinful about clucking like a chicken or wearing aluminum on your head. I’m not trying to be coy. This is honestly how I view this and these are honest questions, and would ask grace in return for those of us who think the emperor has no clothes on this.

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Steven, I think the issue is flattening two very different things into one, treating them as if they are the same.

Tin foil hats are not masks. Masks are not tin foil hats. If you believe that masks are medically meaningless, I doubt that I could convince you otherwise. I accept that the medical community has given what could be called “mixed signals” on this issue.

However, just because they have given cause for confusion doesn’t give us good reason to create even greater confusion. Comparing masks, which a significant percentage of medical professionals state are helpful in limiting infections, with tin foil hats, the universal symbol of conspiratorial insanity, seems singularly unhelpful in coming to greater understanding.

And if you truly view those of us submitting to the wearing of masks without serious protest as exhibiting the sort of craziness the accompanies tin foil headgear, that may be the problem.

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MartinB,

Thanks for the reply.
I think the challenge goes both ways. What this author is doing is flattening the difference between things like the mask mandates and seatbelt laws. She asks what the difference is. And the difference is clear: data. There are boatloads of data that show seatbelts save lives. There is zero pre-Covid data that I am aware of that says the sort of mask business going on now helps to stop the spread of respiratory transferred viruses. And there have been fourteen studies in the past ten years saying the opposite. Seatbelts have some science behind them. Covid masks and aluminum foil hats do not. That is my point. If there is a tug of war between what masks are more like, seatbelts or foil hats, I think foil hats are pulling harder. That said, and maybe this is the real issue, I don’t believe the government has any business requiring people to wear any of the three things. They do not have the authority to do that.

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And I think leading with that honest admission, i.e. that the government has no business making mandates of this kind, would be clarifying. Obviously you have the freedom to hold to that sort of strong libertarian view. It’s just not one I share.

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Do you believe that state and local governments have the authority to require people to wear pants for the purpose of modesty? If so, then why would they not have the authority to require people to wear masks for the sake of slowing a pandemic? Or tin foil hats for any purpose they saw fit?

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Dear Steven, this is the sort of statement that shows how rampant rebellion against civil authority is in the church today. You have no basis Biblically or legally to say this, but you don’t blush to do so. We have shown the men declaring their rebellion in this way are wrong, but they just keep saying it over and over again. Nevermind Scripture. Nevermind church history. Nevermind legal history. Nevermind precedent. Nevermind even the most basic form of argument, logically. You simply declare it, and that’s that. I’d tell you to read the thousands of words we’ve written documenting the error of men like you, but forget it. Just a warning to those reading your declaration not to follow your error. Love,

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You could essentially write this letter in reverse with the focus on freedom to not wear a mask and it should still fall within an orthodox and accepted Christian expression of the faith. I am not sure if it would. Alternatively, you could rewrite the article and substitute vaccine for mask and see how people feel about it (note: I am not an anti-vaxxer). I won’t rewrite the whole article, but will highlight a few rewrites with the only changes to reverse the discussion in [square brackets]. Just to be clear, I firmly support those who choose to wear a mask and are more comfortable remaining social isolated. I also firmly support those who choose not to wear a mask and are more comfortable in close social contact with others. On with the show…

Most of us have accepted this current reality and the part [mask freedom] plays in it, like it or not. But many of you have not. And that is where I am confused.

Somehow Christians, who are to be known by our love, who have the responsibility of demonstrating God’s love to the watching world around us, and typically the [less] conservatively committed Christians, are the ones known currently for their refusal to submit to the mask [freedoms]. They are the ones who “won’t be snookered.” By the media. By the government. By anyone who suggests mask [freedom of choice] might be a good idea.

The conversations with these friends just leave me puzzled. But they aren’t open to discussing the matter. They make assumptions in our conversations that I clearly must feel identically. So I’m left wondering on my own why they react so strongly and why they assume anyone who shares a similar worldview must feel the same way. Maybe I’m a coward not to answer my friend’s rant on the phone with some of my questions. I did feel like one when we hung up. In fact, I felt like a liar for having allowed her to assume I feel the same way without correction. But I don’t WANT to spend my conversations arguing about masks.

So here are my questions I would like to ask. Why [is mask freedom of choice] suddenly the one single line in the sand in our current world beyond which you will not cross?

Why are [people who prefer not to wear] masks “so sad” to some of you? Why do you consider them indoctrination of your children? What kind of indoctrination? What are they being indoctrinated to believe? That masks don’t work [as many pre-Covid studies show]? That we want to keep from getting sick [like from bacterial infections carried on many masks]? That we want to keep other people from getting sick?

Why are masks worth breaking fellowship over? Why did you pull your children from their Christian school that you have loved because [not everyone was required to wear a mask all the time]? Why have you stopped helping with your church youth group because [not everyone is required to wear a mask all the time]? Why are you not allowing your children to go to youth group [even though they are at almost no risk from Covid]? Why are you not attending church? Are these things really worth sacrificing over masks?

You would tell me, I’m guessing, that your children won’t grow up to [disobey Romans 13]. Are they receiving the right message? Are you possibly teaching them instead that [forced mask wearing] is more important than following God’s command to “forsake not the gathering together with the saints?” <Aside, because some refuse to attend church if not everyone is wearing a mask>. Are you maybe teaching them that they are above needing the teaching and encouragement of their youth group leaders? Are you by any chance teaching them that you are above the authority of your church’s leaders [who have supported Christian freedom to wear or not wear masks], that your thoughts are above their thoughts, that your ways are above their ways?

Consider instead: setting aside your personal [beliefs] for the greater good of Christian fellowship; teaching your children that sometimes we do what we don’t agree with for the sake of [the weaker brother who does not want to wear a mask]; loving others with a love that allows you to love those who will not put a “worthless piece of cloth” on [their] face; being humble enough to admit you might not be as right as you think you are and humility is one of the beatitudes. Come back to fellowship. Greet the rest of us at church, [even those not wearing masks, even if it is with a wave from 15 feet away and a smile behind your mask]. Thank your pastors and elders for making hard decisions that they are facing much criticism over no matter which call they made. Send your children to youth group. Allow others to feel and think differently than you without making them feel your scorn. And my most modest proposal of all: have a sense of proportion. It’s a worthless piece of cloth after all.

With love in Christ,

Dale

Dale,

Your rewrite may be applicable if there are people who are unwilling to attend church because the elders won’t require congregants to wear masks. But that is not the situation that many conservative reformed churches are dealing with now. I won’t speak for Pastor Bayly, but I would assume that his advice to a parishioner in such a situation where they were refusing to attend church because everyone wasn’t masked (absent a reasonable prudential decisions discussed with the elders) would be to stop being rebellious, head the call of his elders, and attend church.

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And you’d be right, Clay. What nobody wants to talk about is obedience. Respect for authority. Submission. Love,

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Clay,

That is part of the reason I wrote this note. There are congregations that are not requiring masks, and some people are upset and refusing to attend. And, I agree that this can be a issue of obedience in both cases.

However, my bigger issue with the article was not about submission to elders, but what I believe was poor argumentation. If the same line of argumentation can be used for both sides, then nothing is being accomplished. And, I did not even address lines like the following which have nothing to do at all with submission or even data, but are simply feelings based, derisive to those who disagree, and designed to be emotionally manipulative:

“Or is it scorn they deserve rather than pity because they are overweight and diabetic? Or, heaven help us, do they deserve it because lots of them are probably illegals anyway? When they hear about someone’s mom dying of COVID, do you imply that she was old and it was time for her to go?”

So, yes, if you are under faithful elders in your church, submit willingly. And, elders need to communicate clearly and often in these situations when there may be weak brothers and sisters on both sides of the issue. There is a lot of heat about this issue, but very little light these days.

Best,

Dale

Hi Tim,

Hopefully this will help churches have long discussions about obedience. Unfortunately, we haven’t thought much about it for a long time. If we had discussed obedience when the emotions weren’t running so high and the issues were less complex, we might be able to respond better today.

Thanks,

Dale

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Not quite true. The whole point is that the “other side” is not saying the same thing. They could, in which case, there would be no argument.

I think you underestimate the dismissiveness of many, many people to these deaths.

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John M.,

Are you saying that if a government has the right to make people wear pants then they also have the right to make them wear aluminum foil hats to prevent aliens from controlling their minds?

Governments (and authorities in general) don’t have rights, they have powers. And yes, if an authority has the power to compel the wearing of hats, then they have the power to compel the wearing of them for whatever reason they want to, irrespective of your thoughts about it or mine. That’s what makes them the authority and us not the authority.

Do you see something in your Bible that would indicate otherwise?

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Well, for one, I have not gotten the impression in The conversations that I’ve had with friends that they were concerned with dishonoring the Lord by putting masks on themselves or their children. Nor have I heard of any single person having the kind of consistency where they won’t give in and do it if they’re in some situation where they have to—you know, like in a business transaction where it’s being required.

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I have a couple problems. First, do you really think I am more comfortable wearing a mask and social distancing? I’m not. I only do it where necessary and then only because of laws requiring it. Now, for a little rewrite of my own:

“Just to be clear, I firmly support those who choose to obey laws. I also firmly support those who choose to disregard the laws of the state authorities over them.”

Just to be fair and acknowledge what you’re saying so we can actually have a discussion about that and whether it is warranted.

Second, totally not fair to equate mask wearing with a possible required vaccine. I guarantee you everything has changed at that point and all responses will be back on the table. An innocuous piece of cloth over your mouth that is irritating but harms no one and that might be helpful in allowing us to go about our normal lives and prevent some spread of Covid cannot be compared with a required vaccine that might be developed unethically from aborted baby fetal cell lines and that requires us to put something into the bodies of ourselves and our children’s that we have no idea what the ramifications might be. Totally different.

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Yes, but the powers are to enable them to fulfill their responsibilities. They are responsible for punishing evil and rewarding good, and just like husbands with wives and fathers of households, they are delegated by God the duty, the responsibility, of protecting them/us. Thus masks are required. So very simple except to rebels who hate authority.

Motive is the basic issue here among the schismatics and rebels—not theology or medicine or law. Unless, of course, we believe authority doesn’t exist unless and until we agree with it. There’s no end to mask schismatics accusing mask submissionists of sinful motives, the most prominent being fear. The real sinful motive in all this is rebellion ooozing from fear and pride. Love,

Our church has lifted restrictions for distancing and masks in the main sanctuary, and opened a classroom with a monitors and speakers and requiring both distancing and masks.

They desire to allow Christian Liberty of conscience in this regard. I appreciate that. They also don’t push others who attend remotely from home to violate their conscience, if it is truly out of fear of a deadly virus and not for avoidance of the church. I appreciate that also.

Nevertheless I don’t see how this will play out well when the people in the main sanctuary have in mind that the mask is akin to a tin foil hat or the mark of the beast (yes, I’ve actually heard the latter).

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