Wear a Mask for Freedom’s Sake
The virus isn’t just destroying lung cells. It’s tearing our country apart.
Many freedom lovers want everything open again, no masks, no precautions. After all, the government is overreaching and trampling on constitutionally protected liberties, like the right to assemble and the right to expression of religion. The coronavirus is a conspiracy. The diagnosis and deaths counts are inflated. Unemployment is at Great Depression-era levels. The cure is worse than the disease. We must return to life as normal!
Many safety lovers want us to shelter in place until we have a vaccine, or zero deaths for 2 weeks, or a well-vetted treatment. After all, the disease is very serious. Cases are still rising. Reopening now would invite disaster. In the meantime, the government will take care of us with unemployment benefits and reoccurring stimulus payments. If continued lockdowns mean closed beaches, no car parades, arresting salon owners, so be it. Lives are more important than profit!
Is There a Third Way?
But there is another way. We can re-open our society and economy, and still protect the vulnerable. We can re-open the economy, without (yet) returning to life as normal. We can social distance, do curbside pick-ups, and schedule multiple, modified church services, each with fewer people.
Masks are a pain. Maybe they’re not a silver bullet. Maybe we can’t agree that they have value. But is there more to think about than our own personal comfort, or even our rights?
But the CDC Told Us Not to Wear Masks!
The CDC originally said the general public should not wear them, but now they recommend we wear them in public, as a part of social distancing. The flip-flopping and unclear messaging damaged trust. But studies, recent ones, show that masks are helpful. Yes, sick people should stay home. And no, masks are not 100% effective. But because the virus can be caught from asymptomatic carriers, the masks can at least slow the speed and limit the distance that virus particles spread.
But Wearing a Mask Infringes on My Civil Liberties!
You’ve probably come across this logic: “Wearing a mask is hot. It makes it harder to breathe. The straps cause irritation behind the ears. It’s my body. The government can’t make me wear a mask! Anyone who thinks they have to wear a mask is a sheep, thoughtlessly yielding to unconstitutional government overreach.”
We have the promise of liberty in the Declaration of Independence and our government is limited by the Constitution. There’s a time to fight for these rights. But Rod Dreher is right when he tells us to get a grip. Mask-wearing is nowhere close to slavery, the struggle for civil rights, or swastikas spray-painted on a synagogue. Inconvenience to protect our neighbors, or at least make them comfortable, is not a cowardly surrender.
The Purpose of Freedom — for Christians
Jesus promised us freedom (John 8:36). But to what end? Is our freedom the right to do whatever we want, whenever we want? Jesus frees us from the power of sin. He frees us to be in relationship with Him, to become the men and women He created us to be. We’re not free to pursue selfishness (Galatians 5:13).
But isn’t there a line? If we give in when it comes to masks, what about when vaccines are mandatory? Or when something more invasive is required?
There is a line, but it’s not here. It’s not masks, a mild irritant. When the government says the convention center can open but not the church, then we respectfully disobey. But if our God-ordained government is not asking us to sin, we should obey.
Serving the Greater Good
A friend recently compared mask-wearing to the Chinese complying with the one-child policy. The Chinese government was concerned about mass starvation if the population kept growing. It asked citizens to limit their family size “for the greater good.” Eventually, the Chinese people tragically submitted to sterilization and abortions. Complying with such a policy is not comparable to the inconvenience of wearing a mask to protect others. This is a logical fallacy, a weak analogy, comparing two situations that are not closely related.
God has called us, as Christians, to show His love during this pandemic. We are not called to cling to our rights. We’re called to look beyond ourselves — to be ambassadors for Christ in a suffering, fearful world. What will do more to win an audience for the saving message of Christ? Appealing to our rights, or accounting for the public health concerns of others?
We are to look out not only for our own interests, but also to the interests of others. Wearing masks offers protection to others if we are asymptomatic carriers. It will bless others who are fearful of contracting the virus. Social distancing, handwashing, and mask-wearing are small prices to pay for the sake of others.
So Wear a Mask. So We Can Heal the Division. So We Can Move Forward.
A large percentage of our country is desperately fearful of this virus. Those of us who want to see our economy and rights restored would be wise to consider our fellow Americans. God calls us to love not only our neighbors but our enemies, to act out of consideration of others. Most conservatives want these restrictive health orders to be lifted. Strategically, we will be far more persuasive if we can say and show by our actions, “We’re in this together. We get it. We will comply with public health guidelines and wear masks. Let’s get our economy going.” You may not want to wear a mask. But mask-wearing is for others. Sacrificing your comfort and personal preferences is not being a sheep. It’s loving our neighbors as Christ commanded.
Dr. Alex Chediak (Ph.D., U.C. Berkeley) is a professor and the author of Thriving at College (Tyndale House, 2011), a roadmap for how students can best navigate the challenges of their college years. His latest book is Beating the College Debt Trap. Learn more about him at www.alexchediak.com or follow him on Twitter (@chediak).
Mrs. Marni Chediak is a graduate of Stanford University. Before becoming a mom, she worked in various management positions for AT&T and General Mills. She has been homeschooling her three children in Southern California for the past nine years. She is currently a Challenge director in her local Classical Conversations community.