Humbly offered for your consideration by The Rev. Dr. Brad Miller
The Great Commandment (Matthew 22)
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Loving our neighbor is not a warm fuzzy thing that we ought to do if it isn’t too inconvenient – it is a command. Opting to be sensibly cautious in avoiding the spread of dangerous disease is quite obviously a Christian duty.
Shall not kill (Exodus 20:13)
Thou shall not kill. OR You shall not murder. OR Equivalents
We are not supposed to kill our neighbor. This extends beyond criminal acts. We should drive safely. We should use care with dangerous tools. And, in a pandemic, we should breathe safely. That is, we should exhale through a mask when near others in public to avoid accidentally spreading Covid19. At some future with widespread testing and/or vaccines, we may be able to say with confidence that we are not an asymptomatic carrier. For now, we must err on the side of respecting human life around us.
Wisdom (Proverbs 1:7)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Let us not broadcast to the world that we reject science and medicine. Science has demonstrated that the transmission of respiratory diseases like Covid19 is substantially reduced when everyone in near proximity to others wears a mask. Even with zealous precautions and liberal application of signs and tapes, many churches and public spaces were simply not designed for 6+ feet of social distance throughout. There remain narrow halls and doorways and simply the random nearness that occurs when we are not marching in formation.
Wisdom (Proverbs 4:6-7)
6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. 7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Do not get tripped up by the broader complexities of this crisis. Christians do not need to agree on political motivations in the name of the disease, who to blame for PPE (personal protective equipment) shortages, or which of businesses are essential. Masks are a simple and logical measure to protect others.
Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20)
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
A persistent challenge in efforts to evangelize arises from the legitimate and illegitimate doubts of non-believers with regard to our motivations. When we demonstrate disregard for their safety (by not wearing a mask) we feed the suspicion that our faith witness at other times is driven by some motivation other than their wellbeing.
Stewardship of people (Matthew 9:37-38)
37 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
We do not live in a world with a surplus of harvest workers. Most of the world still needs to know the Good News of Jesus Christ. Does it make sense to needlessly sicken the harvest work force? Ought we not be more aware of the need to equip all believers for various works of ministry in a desperately needful world? If we don’t have spare workers, we ought not recklessly sicken the ones that we have! Wearing masks keeps the harvest workers able to work.
Stewardship of liability (I Corinthians 4:2)
2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
Least in all of these arguments, but still relevant: is the issue of legal liability. We should primarily be motivated by higher things. Still, churches who shun wise counsel and choose to risk needlessly spreading infection may be abusing the trust of wisely stewarding the financial resources of each particular place of worship.
NOT a political statement. NOT a surrender of rights
My doctorate is in Ministry, not Epidemiology. These reflections are based on ministry experience of 30 years in 30 plus countries, but not on medical qualifications.
I commend skepticism and non-Lemming behavior. I do not wish my flock nor any other to be driven by mere propaganda or thoughtless repetition. We should all seek after wisdom and seek the will of our God.
As for me and my household: we will wear masks!
The Rev. Dr. Brad Miller is an ordained minister in Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ and the Director of ChurchTech Institute.