We’ve all heard about the science of wearing a face mask during this pandemic. We’ve certainly encountered the politics of wearing a mask. But what about the theology of mask-wearing? Here are three brief theological reflections.
- Freedom Freedom is an important Christian value: “For freedom,” says Galatians 5:1, “Christ has set us free.” Some people interpret freedom to mean that we should be free from government mandates, free from being told what to do—in other words, free not to wear a mask. But Christian freedom is freedom from sin and freedom to obey Christ. Freedom in Christ is not freedom to do whatever we want, but freedom from our sinful impulses and freedom to love God and others. Galatians 5:13 goes on, “For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another.” Christians are free in Christ to love others enough to wear a mask.
- Pascal’s Wager Some people question whether wearing a mask really helps prevent the spread of Corona virus. The scientific evidence seems abundantly clear, but in case you’re not sure: Pascal, the 17th century philosopher, argued that rational people, whether they believe in God or not, should live as though God does exist and seek to believe in Him—because if God does not exist, they have suffered only small losses, whereas if God does exist, they receive great and eternal gains. Even so, whether we believe in the effectiveness of masks or not, we should wear one either way. If masks don’t work, we have endured some small discomforts, whereas if they do work, we have potentially saved people’s lives. Even if you’re not convinced of the science, wearing a mask is the rational thing to do.
- Moses’ Veil Exodus 34 says that when Moses would come down from Mt. Sinai, his face would shine from having been in the Lord’s presence. Moses’ shining face frightened the people. So he began to wear a veil when he had been with the Lord—not because he needed to, but because it made others more comfortable. The same with masks. If you don’t need one for your own health, fine. But wear one out of consideration for others.