Masks Mandates and Modern Day Pharisees
The State of Facebook
With the coronavirus in the country, we have been forced to think through and make decisions on many things we hadn't considered before. And the pressure is on us to make the "right" decision right now. These are life and death decisions, we are told. And looming over our choices are these freshly appointed authorities, who are far more qualified than us to make them. They know the science. We're just knuckle-dragging dummies who should be browsing less on the dunny.
A friend on Facebook posted this meme on the right. He is no more of a scientist than me, but I think I am one of the intended targets. He, like me, has probably done some scrolling on the john, but he must think his poopoo research is superior. I get the joke. It's kind of funny. We don't know crap compared to a scientist. But doesn't the meme imply that we regular folk should just volunteer our arms for every vaccine that the scientists invent for us? Think about it - if we should believe every vaccine is good because someone smarter than us made it, there is no reason for us to inform ourselves. We are just sheep that should gratefully receive the path to flock immunity.
I can hardly believe where we are at as a society, and I'm sure that many of you feel the same way. Friends that used to respect me think that I'm a selfish know-it-all for my stand against lockdowns. Christians that I know are cheering on governments that put pressure on people like me that don't conform. And pastors are preaching from their pulpits the government's interpretation of loving your neighbour.
The State of the Church
It is sad. The Church is divided and in trouble. For the rest of this blog, I'm going to give my opinion on why this is the case. For years, we have not addressed from the pulpit how Christians can become Pharisees in the "secular" realm.
In the Gospel of Mark chapter 7, Jesus addressed the ways that the Pharisees had supplanted the law of God for their own. Typically, the applications drawn from these verses are limited to the realm of religion; how men should not presumptively speak of what pleases God without revelation to support it. But the implications of the principle taught here extend much further than we have typically acknowledged. In his discourse with the Pharisees, Jesus addressed a few examples from his day of man-made laws, and demonstrated the wicked consequences that come from them. I'm going to push us to make applications to our current time as Jesus did in His. What would God think of the new requirements we are making for each other?
"And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” (Mark 7:9–13)
The Pharisees did not understand the implications of God's law. In order to obey the command "honor your father and mother," you had to consider how this related to your wealth. God expects us to use it to support our aging parents. The Pharisees added to the law, and the effect of that was to take away from parents what was theirs by right. And they did this with the facade of righteous reasoning. It was detestable to Christ.
The Old Pharisaism Warmed-Up
There is a resurgence of this kind of Pharisaism in the church today. Like the Pharisees of old, people are pushing lockdown and masking requirements on others using "righteous" arguments. If you don't wear a mask you might murder someone's grandmother. Murder is a sin. Therefore, God would require masks. That argument has a powerful emotional tug and it is making a very strong moral claim. Unfortunately, we have been trained to think that emotion and public sensitivity should be the guide of our discerning faculties, especially if the issue is not specifically addressed in Scripture.
But we need to remember that the Corban law (that the Pharisees invented) had not been directly addressed in Scripture before Jesus came. We need to ask, on what grounds did Jesus condemn the Pharisees? There is a simple answer and a less simple answer. The simple one is that the Pharisees added to the Mosaic Law which God prohibited them from doing in the book of Deuteronomy.
"You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you." (Deuteronomy 4:2)
If Mosaic law speaks with authority to our situation today (and I believe it does), then I've just opened a big can of worms. I'm not going to be able to address all the implications of this position here. That will have to be left for other blogs. But that is the simple answer. The Pharisees added to the Mosaic Law.
The less simple answer is that Jesus held the Pharisees accountable for not seeing the necessary implications of a basic principle taught in Scripture. It was required of all Old Testament readers to take the command "honour your father and mother," and spread that truth out into the corners of life. As New Testament Christians, we are also bound to make these applications. Since honour is due to our parents, other specific applications must necessarily follow.
Let's make some Christ-like applications from the command "honour your father and mother" in our locked-down situation. The Lockdown laws have prohibited us from obeying God's Law concerning our families. We can't visit our parents in the hospital when we should. We are prohibited from caring for them ourselves if we are equipped to. Their bubble must be limited so that only a few of their children can visit them at home. Large families can't honour their deceased parents with a large funeral. The honour that is due to them at the weddings of their children can be limited.
The commandments of God are sufficient and far-reaching, laying the responsibility of each command at the feet of those to whom it applies. With every man-made law, it necessarily encroaches on another's God-given duty and freedoms. We might choose to wear a mask around our parents if they are vulnerable or if they ask us to, but we shouldn't mandate it for all father-son/mother-daughter interactions. Some parents might think the loss of face-to-face interaction would be worse than the virus itself. Some might already have immunity. Some might have a strong immune system and are not scared to use it. The applications must be made by individuals, not experts. Their cookie-cutter approach to problems is inefficient, operating on insufficient information. We all have a variety of circumstances and a variety of needs.
Prejudices in Viral Projection
No matter how effective a mask is at preventing the spread of an air-born virus, mask mandates are a pharisaical form of law. No man should use the force of law to impose his preferences, no matter how scientific he believes he is being. It is that simple.
But the science supporting masks is terrible too. Many arguments have been made, pre and post-Covid, that they do nothing. The reason masks don't work is that what comes in must go out. Our choice is in which direction it will leave us. Mask enforcers believe that we should not be projecting our air forward. So we must wear masks that project our air to our sides, and in a number of other directions. But this might be worse in some situations. Shopping in a supermarket aisle for instance. People are more likely to be passing by us to our sides. Every pro-masker needs to take up vaping for a day and see where their breath is going. Masks are a false hope.
Now I realise that these lightweight face coverings might catch a sneeze, depending on how hard the sneeze is. But who wants to wear snot on their face all day? My guess is that most people are going to sneeze outside of these things. And the droplets that it does catch from our regular breathing - they turn the mask into a wet germ-infested facial nappy. In the end, they might just be worse for our health than breathing in normal fresh air. With all this being said, the viral-loaded air particles can escape the masks anyway. They are useless. At least this is how the CDC argued in 2016 before politics changed the way we considered airborne viruses (Website below).
The information war that we are having today is not between those on the toilet and those in a lab. It is between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of false Messiahs. In time, it will be pointed out that these false Messiahs, like Baal in Elijah's day, were actually the ones on the toilet.
If your elders mandate masks in your congregation, and they do not repent after you've shown them Mark 7, I recommend that you leave and call them Pharisees on your way out. This will be good for the people of God. We need to be purified of all our Pharisaiacal behavior. Seek out Christians who don't bow to the false messiahs of this age and worship the Lord with an unveiled face. Trust and obey. There is no other way to be happy in Jesus.
"Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked." (Proverbs 25:26 )