To Unmask = Sin and Poor Witnessing? I think not.

During this time of Covid-19, I’ve read many things by well-meaning Christians that seem to imply certain behaviors carry the weight of sin behind them. Specifically, I am speaking of compliance or noncompliance to governmental/business guidelines of social distancing, wearing masks, etc. I’ve read articles in newspapers, emails, and viewed social media postings that accuse Christians choosing to not comply with certain standards as committing sin or being poor witnesses.

I am considered high risk during this pandemic and have my own beliefs and responses to the guidelines. But let’s back up a moment, friends. The bible is clear to us about living with love and respect for one another and for our authorities. It does not, however, say that if you don’t wear a mask you are not living in love. It doesn’t say opening your business to feed your family when the government tells you not to will make you a poor witness. If that were the case, no soldier in the American Revolution could be considered a good witness or loving christian for defying their authorities and acting in accordance with war.

Placing a moral burden on behaviors that are not consistent with our own personal beliefs is dangerous territory. Sometimes behaviors are not good or bad, sometimes they simply ‘are’. Trauma survivors of severe abuse may have a difficult time wearing masks due to the particulars of abuse they’ve suffered. Does that mean they do not ‘love’ appropriately? A recovering alcoholic may resist the urge to drink by leaving his home on quarantine and buying paint to have a project. Does that mean leaving his house was nonessential? If someone falls in front of you, are you to cross more than six feet away to avoid helping in the name of love? 

Again, general blanket statements about behavior are not wise and should not be taken seriously. Remember, God sees the heart, God is in control, God is bigger than Covid-19. This is not to say we should not respect the space and desires of others or that we should be unwise in our own behavior. But let’s remember that the bible was written with the notion of freedom in Christ. Invoking scripture to support a personal belief or blanket statement is an inappropriate use of scripture. 

So, within your own heart, through prayer and your relationship with Jesus Christ, act in accordance with the way the Holy Spirit is guiding you in each moment.

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