What I Said about Masks at the School Board Meeting

Hi Chris, thanks for your comments. As I replied to Kendel above, if you want to argue that mask mandates, vaccine mandates, lockdowns, etc. are good public policy, fine, we can discuss those on the merits as a policy. Many people disagree and have serious concerns, both medically and morally, and I think this is one thing that differs between the examples you cite such as driving on the left side of the road etc… However, arguing that Jesus’s instructions in Mark to love your neighbor somehow means we as Christians are commanded ask government to adopt these measures is just not true and not scriptural in any sense of the word.

I do agree with your comments regarding the media (and social media) milieu. It’s not just anti-vax nonsense and conspiracy theories, of which there’s no shortage. We are now in a situation where we’ve polarized vaccinated and unvaccinated and demonized and scapegoated the large percentage of American’s who have so far chosen not to be vaccinated. Clear information, openly expressing and addressing concerns, creating reasonable exceptions to policy, are all a far more effective way of addressing these kind of hesitancies, but it seems that we’ve lost the habit of these approaches. Of all the tools in our tool kits why are we only reaching for the hammer?

Michael, I agree with you there. Although you could argue that mandates are pretty much universally not based on religious grounds, but rather on public health concerns. Jesus stayed out of Rome’s business remarkably well, an example the church often has not followed. However, those topics are legitimate questions for us to ask of ourselves as a local church community.

6 Likes

Hello Michael,
You have mistake my meaning entirely. I didn’t mention a view on mask mandates:

I rather, pointed out that it is normal for school boards to make rules about all sorts of things. Although school boards are tiny elected boards with extremely limited power, they seem to have become equated with “Big Government” in the minds of many people. Living with a school board member, I recognize how miniscule their power is. There is no slippery slope here. These people barely have power within their own sphere, much less outside of it.
Please, don’t take my word for it. Go start talking to school board members in your area.

4 Likes

I disagree, but I respect your right to disagree with me. :slight_smile:

Seriously, you think the one and only thing that the CDC has done is recommend mask mandates? The CDC has been issuing guidance on the benefits of mask wearing and vaccines since the beginning of the pandemic.

If there had not been a vociferous opposition to all things CDC and epidemiology, driven by identity politics among ~35% of the population which is (due to identity politics) not inclined to reasoned discussion, there would be no debate over mask mandates today because they would not have been needed.

A couple of my near relatives have rejected vaccines in favor of ivermectin, and they are completely closed to any data and studies I offer them to the contrary. As far as I can tell, those near relatives are typical of the 35% I referred to in the previous paragraph.

Respectfully,
Chris

6 Likes

Thanks for being kind.

Before going on, may I ask if you follow CDC guidelines in wearing masks in crowds, and have you been vaccinated? That helps in that I know where you are coming from. If you do not agree with and follow the arguments, then I think we will discuss past each other.

We have very good arguments in the public–CDC, NIH, MMWR, multiple radio ads all over the place. No one really has trouble understanding the basic ones. However, at some point, out of humility, we have to admit that epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists really do know more than we do. It’s not considered democratic, but it’s true. I’m a family doc, who has had a fair amount of formal virology and epidemiology courses–but at some point, I have to humbly acknowledge that Drs Collins and Fauci know the big picture better than I.

Despite a very good campaign to explain this, how many people that have heard the information follow it? In my wonderful church of 200, only one other than my family wears a mask. It is not from a lack of understanding. The really ironic thing is listening to requests for prayer for those who are hospitalized with Covid, when no one in the building is wearing a mask, and few are vaccinated.

The mask mandate (if it were implemented I don’t know where it is currently, if at all) is scarcely out of proportion. To compare, the government mandates seat belts. They save 14,000 lives/year. Seat Belts Save Lives | NHTSA. When the government mandated seatbelts, many felt it was being heavy handed.https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.history.com/.amp/news/seat-belt-laws-resistance However, no one questions the law now.

In contrast, in just a few months of the past year, we could have saved up to 130,000 lives if 95% of people used masks as recommended by the CDC. Face Coverings Could Save 130,000 American Lives from COVID-19 by March – NIH Director’s Blog
Masks are frustrating, but not onerous. No one suffers from masks, any more than from seatbelts. Those that can’t use seatbelts can get authorizations for exceptions–I have written for them.

Imagine being an epidemiologist who knows that mandating seat belts has saved 14,000 to 15,000 lives per year, and realizing that if one does not take action, hundreds of thousands of lives might be lost. I would feel awful.

In my area, Covid is increasing very quickly. I can’t talk about practice details, but I have lost quite a few patients and acquaintances to Covid.

I am sorry, but I can’t agree with those who blame the government and scientists for mandating masks (not that that’s being currently mandated in most places).

It seems like many are resisting the scientists just because they are mandated–just as some would drape the seatbelt over their chests to avoid getting a ticket, without actually clicking the belts into place. Such stubbornness stuns me. It seems to reflect a resistance to following rules, no matter the reason. Why people object to laws that save lives - BBC Future

Thanks.


Addendum: I am so sorry–I appreciate your clarification. I completely misunderstood your position–see my response below. I fully support and agree with where you are coming from–that we argue secularly, not from the Bible. Thanks.

4 Likes

Hi Randy, Not supporting a mask mandate is not the same thing as not supporting wearing masks, just as not supporting a vaccine mandate is not the same thing as not believing in vaccines. My own vaccine status is completely irrelevant to my basic challenge to the original author of this article and subsequent posts, which is to say Jesus’ commandment to “Love your neighbor” equates to advocating for authoritarian measures such as mandates, is a complete logical fallacy. It doesn’t hold water in the most basic sense. It may be good policy, it might be supportable, many Christians may agree it’s a great idea, but it is absolutely not Biblical.

1 Like

Thank you for your response. I am truly sorry if what I said wasn’t tactful.

There are some things we can agree on, I think. For example, I grew up in a Muslim majority area; it reinforced to me how important it is to argue mandates from a universal, not a sectarian, point of view. If someone mandates something, we should present it from logic, not from faith alone (I think, however, that we can do good things for others out of our devotion to God; and that studying the issue seriously and trying to protect the vulnerable is a good application of mandate here).

Also, I would want to avoid Moses’ sin. In Numbers 20, he became angry with the people and lost his humility, striking the rock to give them water and putting himself on level with God–'What must we do" to prove that God was faithful. God forbid that I should act that way. After all, he was kept out of the promised land.

To explain better–it seems to me that there was a good, secular reason for mandating seat belts (saving 15,000 lives/year). There has not been a consistent mandate in terms of vaccine and masks, but to save a million or so lives (if the death rate is a lower estimate of 0.5%, and nearly everyone gets Covid eventually–which seems likely with the Delta variant–then one estimate is that not just the 130,000 lives, but an additional, nearly 1,000,000 lives are at stake) seems well worth it.

I’m not arguing a consistent mandate for the vaccine in all people, but just discussing the potential benefit. Certainly, in my medical institution, I do support mandating vaccines and masks for all those who take care of the immunocompromised (which is pretty much everyone).

I am sorry if I came across wrong, but what I meant was that if we can agree on the facts, especially on whether to trust the scientists, then the argument makes more sense.

Does that help? I appreciate your discussion, and look forward to your response.

I have wonderful family members who are Covid skeptics. It does not mean that they are not terrific people. I am grateful for their influence on my kids’ lives, for example.

I am sure that you are also equally honorable.

Thank you.


Addendum: I am so sorry–I appreciate your clarification. I completely misunderstood your position–see my response below. I fully support and agree with where you are coming from–that we argue secularly, not from the Bible. Thanks.

2 Likes

I don’t see how that follows. Do you disapprove of reckless driving laws and speed limits in school zones or residential areas? They fit the definition of authoritarian mandates, I should think, and could be labeled ‘laws of love’, caring about the well-being of the populace.

Those traffic laws – and vaccine mandates – help us obey another ‘authoritarian measure’, “Thou shalt not kill”, as @Randy pointed out about the mortality statistics of the vaccinated vs the unvaccinated:

1 Like

Hi Randy, there are no apologies necessary, I appreciate you reaching out, and trying to find common ground, and that’s certainly the way I interpret from your very courteous and thoughtful responses Just for perspective, I’m not a science sceptic, a Covid sceptic, or a vaccine skeptic. I know many people who’ve been impacted by the disease and many families who’ve lost loved ones. I’ve gently and lovingly talked to many friends and loved ones about the risks and benefits of the vaccine, with the result that several have chosen after thought, research and reflection to get vaccinated.

When Jesus commands us to love even our enemies (Mathew 5:44), he urges us to do good for those who hate us, and pray for them. What he never says anywhere is for us to use the apparatus of civil government to force people to get vaccinated, or wear seat belts, or go the speed limit. If we could sit down wand talk with Jesus and we asked him (based solely on my own opinion) he’d probably agree driving safely, and putting on a seat belt sounds like good practices and good rules to have. But, I find nothing in scripture that allows us to argue that having these rules is biblically based. Common sense? Yup, good practice? Yes, I suppose only the most rigid Libertarian would argue against mandatory seatbelts, But Biblically imperative? No. There’s not a chance.

So why am I making such a big deal about this, so fixated on this issue? Because as followers of Jesus we must be very careful in interpreting the meaning of scripture and what God is asking of us, what we should advocate, recommend, do and ask others to do. First and foremost because it is is biblically required of us. Luke 11:28 says “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Peter and the book of Hebrews specifically warns us about twisting and perverting the words of God for our own goals. Secondly, we already live in a secular society that already thinks that Christians deploy the bible as a weapon to control those we do not agree with. That’s why I keep repeating, if someone wants to argue that a mask mandate is a good policy, or that vaccinations should be mandatory, great. Please make your argument, have that discussion. But please if you love Jesus do not argue that God commands those policies. It’s just most definitely not something that He talked about in the Bible, and is not something Jesus concerned himself with in his ministry on earth. He was quite clear in Mathew 22:21, that civil government was concerned with a very different realm than what he was concerned with.

The longer this pandemic has lasted, the more convinced I am that the real cost of Covid19 has not just been the millions worldwide who’ve died, although of course that is inconceivably tragic, it is the way this has accelerated the deep divisions polarization in our society. As a Christian I deplore the Bible being used to further divide us, especially based on such a beautiful part of scripture as Mathew 22. Peace to you!

1 Like

What, then, is this passage of Scripture about?

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

2 Likes

That is not what we are doing. What we are arguing is that Christians should not reject those policies based on some kind of pretense of religious liberty and false nobility, ‘standing up for their rights’. Public health mandates are fully under the legitimate auspices of civil government, including masking and vaccines.

It is also not outside of Christian duty to advocate for the institution of and submission to those mandates on strictly medical and scientific bases. We are not suggesting that Christians should be using biblical proof texts when debating in the public square.

2 Likes

Wonderful! I am so sorry I misunderstood. I agree. Arguing from a secular point of view in a democracy is the only way to go. We would consider it abhorrent for a Muslim party to argue for sharia oriented laws over us, based on their book. We can argue out truth from a secular point of view. Maybe this should go on another thread if it continues, or on PM.

I was going to retract all my previous notes, but that would be really confusing, so I addended them to refer to the conversation below.

Thanks

Addendum: @MDRay , I think that there is a role, however, in a closed system such as a Christian school, where someone is using their understanding of the Bible to argue for “freedom,” to counter that and talk–in a seminary sort of way–to demonstrate that the Bible’s moral standard argue at least equally in the other direction. That is Paul’s using the OT to argue for the NT; and being a Jew to a Jew, and a Greek to a Greek, for example.
In fact, we use evolutionary creationism, and the wonder of discovery, to illustrate our awe in the Psalms and explain to YEC that we also can use science to deepen our understanding of the Bible.
In an ideal situation, Dr Applegate will then be able to springboard on to science, and explain humbly that this , like all science, is about God’s truth.
I think that this is a good example of godly return; and she can explain why science is the reason we make decisions–not an interpretation of the Bible.
I also do agree that secular arguments are the reason why Dr Applegate has decided this–as it is with pretty much all of Biologos(ians), recognizing that all truth is God’s.
Thanks.

Back when they were first mandatory, quite a number of people were whining about this infringing on their liberty (sound familiar?).

3 Likes

Dale, please read the article, that (scriptural basis for advocating mandates) is exactly what the author argued and what several commenters have argued.

1 Like

So much can be argued by taking verses out of context, I am not sure it is appropriate to argue public health policy on the basis of whether or not it is biblical or not. However, the verse that came to mind when I read that statement was:

Matthew 5:41 NLT

If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.

It seems that this supports both the government’s right to make mandates, and our obligation as Christians to not only adhere to them, but to exceed expectations. Perhaps you are right that there is no Biblical justification to insist on mandates, even though our various churches are pretty much founded on various rules and requirements.

4 Likes

You are correct. The article demonstrates a public explanation of how scripture supports what is in the interest of the public good, and that mandates are exactly that. There is also, however, the attending solid scientific and medical explanation of how and why mandates are in the public interest, so it is not just a bare appeal to scripture.
 

I don’t see how you have adequately shown where there is a logical fallacy.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.