Shall I or shall I not wear a mask?

IMG_0134“‘To mask or not to mask?’ that is the question,” or at least one of the many questions facing us all today.

A couple of days ago, a woman parked on our street and walked into a house she was apparently visiting because I’ve never seen her or her car before, or since, for that matter. I was driving by when I saw her walking away from her car. We smiled and waved, and I noticed she has a message printed on her back window so I slowed down to read it. It read: “You have a right to self-quarantine; I have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

I had to think about that for a while as I drove away. I wished I had read that in time to flag her down and ask her a question. I didn’t, and in fact, I don’t think fast enough to respond that quickly, but if I could have, I would have wanted to ask her something like this. “Excuse me, but if you are open to a friendly chat, I would like to ask you one question in relation to the statements on your window.” And assuming she was, I would have wanted to ask her, “Actually, I have two questions. First, don’t we both have both of these rights? And second, what do we do if these rights are ever in conflict?” It would have been interesting to know what she would have said.

Paul would say that if we have rights in conflict, the other guy’s comes first. Tell me how often you see that in action today?

I’m telling this story because it brings up something we talked about here earlier, and I think it is important enough to make the point again, and maybe even make it more clearly and emphatically. There are lots of opinions going around about when to open back up businesses, schools, sporting events and church gatherings, and the fact that governments, both local and federal, are mandating these things has turned them into political, civil rights issues. The government is involved because we are a society and we all must live together; we are not autonomous. If people could just choose what they wanted without affecting others, it wouldn’t be so hard, but our choices affect each other in ways that can end up being life-threatening for some, and therein lies the conflict. That’s why we have a government — to help seek what’s best for everybody and support the common good.

This is where I think you and I can set an example as Christians and followers of Christ. We have a reason to go beyond the greatest good for the greatest number of people. We are following Christ, and Christ asks us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Paul goes even farther when he tells us to “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4) Or in Galatians, he says, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)

I believe that if you and I with boots on the ground lived like this in the world — serving and putting others first — more people might be asking, “If this is what it means to be a Christian, I want to hear more.” We would be expressing grace turned outward. When will Christians start speaking out for other peoples’ rights instead of just their own?

Our vision is to introduce the gospel of welcome — grace turned outward — to everyone, everywhere. We can’t do that when we are putting our own rights before everyone else’s.

So, shall I or shall I not wear a mask? I’ll let you answer that.

This entry was posted in community, freedom, grace turned outward, pandemic and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Shall I or shall I not wear a mask?

  1. Gary Mintchell says:

    Excellent point, John. I almost made that my master’s thesis a long time ago. By the way, even the famous capitalist Scottish Adam Smith prefaced his analysis with the idea that this system serves the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Then his heirs (some anyway) lost that vision of the greatest good for many turning it into the greatest good for me.

    Keep plugging away. You’re doing good.

  2. drewdsnider says:

    The question of “rights” in this case boils down to the words of John B. Finch (and sometimes ascribed to Abraham Lincoln and Oliver Wendell Holmes): “My right to swing my arms ends where the other man’s nose begins.” I’m not self-quarantining because I’m afraid to get sick: I’m self-quarantining to keep you from getting sick. As for wearing a mask, one should research the efficacy of the masks: British Columbia’s Chief Medical Health Officer, who’s also an epidemiologist, advises that they’re not necessary if you maintain physical distancing. You’ve also uncovered a basic consideration when it comes to the question of “liberty”, in any context: should we be concerned about liberty *to* … or liberty *from*?

  3. Ron Estep says:

    I am not going to speak out for other peoples’ rights when their actions could injure others. You say that we are not autonomous, that we seek to do what’s best for everybody. I agree. But if Paul thinks the other guy’s rights ALWAYS come before mine, I disagree. I wear a mask in public so I don’t negatively impact someone else, not because I want to. It’s what’s best for everybody. When the other guy doesn’t wear a mask, he is saying to me: you are not important. Wear the mask, John!

  4. Beckwith407 says:

    Masks are harmful to your health. They cut off your oxygen. There are no credible studies to show that this “pandemic” is worse than any other flu. The only people saying this are politicians, health officials that were hired by said politicians, and those who get their information from the above sources. Saying no to tyranny is the best way to protect the rights of all. The free market approach to rights ensures that your freedom and the freedom of those around you remains intact. If we continue to believe lies put out by a government that does not have our best interest in mind, we will all suffer for it.

    God Bless,
    Aidan

  5. Mark D Seguin says:

    Great question & Catch Today, Pastor John! I’ll answer the question by telling a story: Most of the Catch family know I’ve the best home heath aide, Traycee & when MI Governor mandated when everyone leave’s their house they need to wear a mash. So seeing how I didn’t have one that would put a shop to me going grocery shopping, which completely bummed me out!

    Sure enough the next time she came over, she had one for me. (Her sister is an nurse in the operation room at UofM) And the next day I went to Kroger’s and sure enough as soon as I went in – I seen Ron the very cool Manager and he thanked me for wearing a mask. Later on I see Jessica the nice & helpful young woman in the bakery and she had seen this interaction between Ron & I, so she goes Mark do you know why Ron was sooo happy to see you wearing a mask, which I more or less just shrugged my shoulders…

    And see goes look around 50% of our customers are telling Ron if he stops them from shopping b/c of not wearing a mask, they’ll sue Kroger’s, so he just lets them in. But was so happy that I was wearing one – not for me and my protection, but for others protection, which others seem to refuse to try & understand…

  6. Bob S. says:

    Thought-provoking post, John.

    “When will Christians start speaking out for other peoples’ rights instead of just their own?”
    I see this quite often. And, funny enough, it often involves speaking out for other peoples’ rights that are being trounced on by the government. Examples include, police abuse that tends to target the most vulnerable, terrible drug laws that prey on the weakest in society, regulating people out of opportunities to make a living (e.g. license for EVERYTHING), regulations that ensure the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor, NOT enforcing laws against outright fraud (e.g. Wells Fargo), on and on it goes.

    My point is that you can be for liberty AND be a loving Christian. These two things are not opposed to one another.

  7. Bob Pusey says:

    Sorry, I have to speak up. Masks are NOT harmful to your health. I have been wearing one daily in my profession for over 30 years to protect both me and my patients. It’s part of any infection control regimen. The main reason to wear a mask now is to protect others encase you unknowingly have the virus. Health professionals may be selfless, but they are not suicidal or masochistic. They would not where masks if they were harmful.

    • Bob Pusey says:

      Wear, sorry

    • Beckwith407 says:

      Coronavirus germs are small enough that they can easily fit inside an N-95 mask and the wearer’s face, infecting them with the supposed virus. That being said, there is no benefit on that front. Plus, what little benefit there is in wearing a mask for disease prevention is outweighed by the health consequences (which do, in fact, exist). For example, one person crashed into a telephone pole after passing out effects of wearing a mask for hours. https://nypost.com/2020/04/24/driver-crashes-car-after-passing-out-from-wearing-n95-mask/

      As for infecting others, if someone is scared of the supposed virus, they should be the ones wearing masks, rather than everyone doing so against their will. If someone is not scared, they shouldn’t need to wear a mask. Thus, if the mask really does work, those who are willing to take the health consequences in an effort to supposedly protect from the COVID should do so and not make others do the same.

      -Colton

    • Beckwith407 says:

      EDIT: What I mean by “against their will” is situations where it is mandatory to wear a mask.

      -Colton

  8. Bob Pusey says:

    I just want to be clear no one is advocating for the public to wear an N95 mask. The masks being suggested are quite breathable. The purpose of the mask or even a bandanna is to limit the distance that droplets expressed during breathing , coughing or sneezing can travel. It is not harmful because it doesn’t inhibit breathing. It could cause fogging of your glasses, however. The idea is that the safe distance becomes safer because the germs that I breathe out are slowed down by the mask, and will not travel as far. Again, no one is forcing anyone to do this, and I’m not wearing one I order to protect myself (an easily breathable mask won’t do that). I think it is a good idea however, and shows others that I care about them. I don’t want to spread this virus unknowingly, and wearing a mask helps me not to do that. I hope this helps someone and don’t want to cause an argument. Peace.

  9. Lynn Suzanne says:

    I am a fact-oriented person. I seek out facts to support or debunk statements made by politicians or other influencers. I NEVER want to participate in spreading untruths. So… the article below is a thought-provoking piece about Flu vs. Covid-19. If you want to say that coronavirus is the same as the flu… AND if you want to talk TRUTH… you owe it to yourself and your conscience to investigate the facts.
    This article introduces you to facts that can be proven. YOU can research the claims in this article to verify the validity.
    PLEASE do not spread information that is not based in truth. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/05/02/theres-more-accurate-way-compare-coronavirus-deaths-flu/%3foutputType=amp

    • Bob Pusey says:

      Thanks for posting this!

    • Beckwith407 says:

      For one, deaths that are caused by things other than COVID in patients who have tested positive for the virus are still counted as COVID deaths. With that in mind, the official coronavirus death count is very exaggerated and is probably many times less than the “official” numbers. Thus, the death count is not a very valid way to compare the flu and coronavirus. Another thing to consider is that the death rate of coronavirus is less than 0.1%! That being said, actual virus deaths worldwide could be as low as 3940, by my calculations.

      Symptom-wise, the flu and the coronavirus are very similar. Of course, the coronavirus is not as deadly as the flu, according to the real numbers. The numbers the media provide are for the sole purpose of scaring people.

      Back on the original topic, does anyone here remember at the beginning of this “pandemic”, when the professionals actually said NOT to wear a mask, and that it was dangerous? It’s a psychological operation.

      -Colton

  10. Lynn Suzanne says:

    Colton— I respect your opinion and I certainly have no intention of debating on this platform. What I hope we both can agree on is that there are many thousands of healthcare providers (not government, not media, not politicians) in the United States who are fighting an invisible enemy that is killing THOUSANDS of people in our country. Every day. While healthcare providers are at their bedsides, fighting for them to live.
    “They” call it Covid-19. You perhaps call it by another name. No matter what label it has, logic tells you and I that it is highly contagious, because it spreads so quickly in nursing homes, prisons, and among people who were in large gatherings. And it is now killing children and people without known health issues.
    If you or I become infected, we hope that we will either be mildly sick or at least can expect a full recovery.
    And if we become infected, the same science that proves influenza-spread is telling us that we can actually spread this infection for two OR MORE days before we even know we have it. And some of those people we spread it to may get sick. And not recover.
    What you and I can hopefully agree on is that people are dying (and recovering after long periods of illness) of SOMETHING, and that reality is being communicated to us by people who are caring for them, and watching them die.
    So, even if no media reports this, and even if no politician speaks of it… It’s still happening, and we know it because regular folks, like us, are working in hospitals, and are getting sick.
    I choose to wear a mask, because IF I happen to carry this enemy bug, a mask is the only thing I can personally do to protect other people who are closer than six feet away from me.

  11. Sandie says:

    Prayers for wisdom, God’s wisdom, not our flawed version, seem to be in order all around. Are we building up, or tearing down? Are we praying for our leaders on every level? Are we holding ourselves accountable by the same measure we hold others accountable? Where is kindness?

  12. peter leenheer says:

    It seems to me that we are having a conversation about rights. We kept the defiance out of the statement. ‘that is my right.” That is a good thing ie. no defiance. Defiance is rooted in self centredness.

    While I agree with the authorities on some points and not on others, my decision has been to respect the decision of my leaders. I have to believe they have my best interest at heart. So I do what they ask despite my own opinion.

    I also think I do not have any rights. I gave up all my rights in the garden of Eden. The following story gets at it somewhat.
    In a college dorm room were four friends. They realzied that keeping the place neat was essential. They all agreed, yes they were going to clean up after themselves. After some time they noticed that there were four standards of neatness and willingness to clean up. The evidence was that the place was a mess.

    A consequential meeting led them to the following decision. EVERYBODY IN THIS DORM ROOM CLEANS UP 100% OF THE TIME. Guess what that worked.
    So it is with rights. If we exercise everyone else’s right before our own we are doing a loving deed. Love is sacrifice. Defiantly demanding rights is not love nor sacrifice.

    I do not wear a mask, but if others find that necessary good for them.
    How do I make up for not wearing a mask. When I was a young man we had a saying, ” I wouldn’t touch that with a 10 foot pole.” Never mind the 6.5 foot social distance rule, I for myself use the ten foot pole rule. It means that I backtrack and walk around a whole lot more while shopping to overdo the 6.5 foot rule. I am getting lots of exercise. It helps to get rid of the Covid-19 pounds I’ve put on. (LOL)

  13. Bob says:

    When I discuss rights, I’m addressing “negative rights”. I think this is an important distinction. What are others here thinking of?

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_and_positive_rights

  14. jwfisch says:

    Thank you to everyone for taking part in this important discussion. Try and stay informed as much as possible. I choose to follow the recommendations of the ruling authorities because I believe they have my best interests at heart. In this case it’s mostly our state and local governments. I do not believe any of the people in charge are trying to take over the world or take over my rights. I believe they are trying, based on the best information they can glean, to keep us all safe. And I am grateful for that.

  15. Pingback: Bring ’em in! Sign ’em up! Fill them pews! (really?) – Two Minutes for Cross-Checking!

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