Romans 12:9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
The word “dissimulation” used by the old King James Version means unfeigned, or sincere, without hypocrisy. In ancient times a hypocrite was an actor, someone who wore a mask to play a part in a play.
Like modern day actors, when they play a role, they’re only pretending. Whatever they say or do as that character doesn’t represent who they are or what they themselves believe. The Apostle Paul commands us to love genuinely, sincerely, not pretentiously, but truly, from the heart.
A common idea among Christians is that wearing a mask is a way we love our neighbor, to help protect them from COVID-19. And on some occasions, that may be true. However, I would argue since masks are completely ineffective at stopping the transmission of this, or any, virus (more on that later), that you are actually lying to your neighbor by wearing a mask.
Are we to love our neighbor as Christians? Yes, it is the second greatest commandment, only behind loving God. And part of love is that it rejoices with truth (1 Cor. 13:6). If your neighbor is fearful, inform him of the truth, and hopefully facts will inform his feelings. See the below studies and quotes regarding masks.
Also see these mask facts
One of note: A study done by the University of Illinois at Chicago concluded: “Wearing masks will not reduce SARS-CoV-2,” the virus that causes COVID-19.
From the article: “We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection. Public health authorities define a significant exposure to Covid-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes). The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.”
I ask you, should Christians capitulate to anxiety and fear? What should be our response?
We know from Scripture that “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18) Therefore, if I love my neighbor, I will not do that which causes him to fear, but will allay those fears with truth.
From the New England Journal of Medicine article linked above:
“Masking all [symptomatic health care providers] providers might limit transmission from these sources by stopping asymptomatic and minimally symptomatic health care workers from spreading virus-laden oral and nasal droplets.
“What is clear, however, is that universal masking alone is not a panacea. A mask will not protect providers caring for a patient with active Covid-19 if it’s not accompanied by meticulous hand hygiene, eye protection, gloves, and a gown. A mask alone will not prevent health care workers with early Covid-19 from contaminating their hands and spreading the virus to patients and colleagues. Focusing on universal masking alone may, paradoxically, lead to more transmission of Covid-19 if it diverts attention from implementing more fundamental infection-control measures.
“It is also clear that masks serve symbolic roles. Masks are not only tools, they are also talismans that may help increase health care workers’ perceived sense of safety, well-being, and trust in their hospitals. Although such reactions may not be strictly logical, we are all subject to fear and anxiety, especially during times of crisis. One might argue that fear and anxiety are better countered with data and education than with a marginally beneficial mask, particularly in light of the worldwide mask shortage, but it is difficult to get clinicians to hear this message in the heat of the current crisis. Expanded masking protocols’ greatest contribution may be to reduce the transmission of anxiety, over and above whatever role they may play in reducing transmission of Covid-19. The potential value of universal masking in giving health care workers the confidence to absorb and implement the more foundational infection-prevention practices described above may be its greatest contribution.”
This says masks may reduce anxiety. But I thought they were a response to anxiety? If they make my neighbor feel better, shouldn’t I as a Christian love him enough to put one on? On one level, it makes sense that they would reduce anxiety. People feel anxious, they put on a mask, they feel less anxious. But have they actually done anything to protect them from COVID-19? The data suggest that they haven’t. Read the above quote again. You see words like “symbolic,” “talisman,” “may,” “perceived,” and “trust” (trust, like faith, is only as good as the object of that trust; if the object is untrustworthy, then that trust is worthless). So they may make the wearer feel better, but don’t offer any real protection. As Christians, we should be people of truth. To affirm someone in their mask-delusion is the equivalent of affirming a transgender that they are the gender they think they are, rather than the gender they were born as, something unthinkable for the Biblically minded Christian.
A couple more articles.
‘Masks Are Symbolic,’ say Dr Fauci and The New England Journal of Medicine (an opinion piece on the above NEJM article)
“Face masks should be used only by individuals who have symptoms of respiratory infection such as coughing, sneezing, or, in some cases, fever. Face masks should also be worn by health care workers, by individuals who are taking care of or are in close contact with people who have respiratory infections, or otherwise as directed by a doctor. Face masks should not be worn by healthy individuals to protect themselves from acquiring respiratory infection because there is no evidence to suggest that face masks worn by healthy individuals are effective in preventing people from becoming ill. Face masks should be reserved for those who need them because masks can be in short supply during periods of widespread respiratory infection. Because N95 respirators require special fit testing, they are not recommended for use by the general public.”
So love your neighbor, and don’t wear your mask, but tell him the truth. Love your neighbor in sincerity and truth, without a mask.
Disclaimer: I acknowledge that there are some circumstances when masks should be worn, and some people who should wear them. But this post explains just one of many reasons why I am against forced mask wearing.