CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Would Jesus Wear a Face Mask?

Jul 17, 2020

Some folks are convinced that Jesus would wear a mask. Are they right?

I was asked recently on the social media what I thought about requirements for people singing in church to wear face masks. I responded by saying: “Given how divided the ‘experts’ are concerning the efficacy of masks, it seems an unhelpful requirement, especially since many churches are still not even allowed to open.”

And others have asked similar sorts of questions, eg., whether Jesus would wear a mask to deal with infectious diseases. There are several ways to deal with such questions. One is by means of a biblical and theological discussion. Another is to look at the actual science and medicine, and see if we can determine the best path forward. And we can also discuss social and political angles to this.

As to the first, we must remind ourselves that Jesus was not into self-preservation at all costs – either for himself or his followers. He knew that what he had to do would result in his death, and he forewarned his disciples that to faithfully follow him would lead to persecution and even death. Some things are more important than merely staying alive.

That is not to say he would be unnecessarily reckless – nor should we be. But so many folks today, including far too many Christians, live in fear and paranoia and they demand and even expect complete safety. There is no such thing – at least in this life. But we do have ultimate spiritual safety when we abide in Christ.

And Jesus did not seek to avoid the harsh realities of life – including disease and sickness. He often took them head on, healing many people along the way. And he dealt with somewhat infectious diseases. While most people avoided lepers like the plague (no pun intended) he mingled with these people. He did not avoid them. He did not practice social distancing. He went to them and healed many.

Of course Jesus was not just man but also God. So again, I am not saying that believers today should be careless or irresponsible. We can do certain things such as social distancing and the like. Corona alarmists however will insist that loving our neighbour means we all must wear masks all the time. But this in good measure is where science comes into the discussion.

As to the matter of how effective masks are, we of course have been getting mixed messages all along. The “experts” not only disagree with each other, but they even disagree with themselves over time! Many examples can be mentioned here. The US physician and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci has had differing takes on this.

In March he said this in a 60 Minutes interview: “Right now in the United States people should not be walking around with masks. There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask. When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection people think it is.” www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRa6t_e7dgI

Now of course he is saying we should be wearing masks. If the experts differ with each other and in fact change their tune on this issue, that does leave us mere peons in a rather confused place. Sure, the alarmists who want us all to stay at home and always wear masks can offer links to sites where some “experts” are telling us we must wear them.

But I can offer plenty of links to sites where others are telling us masks are not all that helpful – and may even be harmful. Indeed, there are numerous sites I could direct you to on this. One quite recent piece offers a nice summary of the data. The piece is well-documented with 42 footnotes. It asks the question, “Are masks effective at preventing transmission of respiratory pathogens?” Here is a small part of it:

In this meta-analysis, face masks were found to have no detectable effect against transmission of viral infections. It found: “Compared to no masks, there was no reduction of influenza-like illness cases or influenza for masks in the general population, nor in healthcare workers.”

This 2020 meta-analysis found that evidence from randomized controlled trials of face masks did not support a substantial effect on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility.

Another recent review found that masks had no effect specifically against Covid-19, although facemask use seemed linked to, in 3 of 31 studies, “very slightly reduced” odds of developing influenza-like illness.

This 2019 study of 2862 participants showed that both N95 respirators and surgical masks “resulted in no significant difference in the incidence of laboratory confirmed influenza.”

This 2016 meta-analysis found that both randomized controlled trials and observational studies of N95 respirators and surgical masks used by healthcare workers did not show benefit against transmission of acute respiratory infections. It was also found that acute respiratory infection transmission “may have occurred via contamination of provided respiratory protective equipment during storage and reuse of masks and respirators throughout the workday.”

A 2011 meta-analysis of 17 studies regarding masks and effect on transmission of influenza found that “none of the studies established a conclusive relationship between mask/respirator use and protection against influenza infection.” (6) However, authors speculated that effectiveness of masks may be linked to early, consistent and correct usage.
Face mask use was likewise found to be not protective against the common cold, compared to controls without face masks among healthcare workers. www.technocracy.news/masks-are-neither-effective-nor-safe-a-summary-of-the-science/

Please have a read of that entire article. And one can throw some social and political commentary into the mix as well. I tend to agree with what Brendan O’Neill has recently written on this:

Boris Johnson has announced that it will be mandatory to wear masks in shops in England from 24 July. If you don’t wear one you could be fined £100 by the cops. We should talk about this, right? We should weigh it up. Discuss the efficacy of masks and the desirability of empowering the police to take a hundred quid off someone who dares to show his face in public, like a politer public-health version of the morality guards in Afghanistan who would whip women with a stick if they ever committed the crime of unmasking their face in public. Apparently not….

We have to talk about this. We cannot let mask-wearing become the ‘new normal’. Masks are horrible. They’re stuffy and claustrophobic. They make it hard to read people’s faces. They alienate us from each other even more, hiding smiles and discouraging chit-chat. And they actually worsen the culture of fear by spreading the idea that our fellow citizens are walking diseases who must be muzzled and kept at a safe distance. Only people comfortable with the contemporary social atomisation that has been intensified by the lockdown would embrace mandatory mask-wearing with no questions whatsoever. Some of us dislike atomisation. We want connection, community, engagement. And so we believe that mask-wearing should be voluntary. Are we allowed to say that? www.spiked-online.com/2020/07/14/muzzling-the-public/

Real questions arise here with such things as the mandatory wearing of masks. Are we indeed becoming a police state? Are we encouraging everyone to turn on each other if they are deemed to be a health risk? This is not just theoretical. Consider just one example of where all this is heading:

A county in Ohio is encouraging the public to snitch on anyone who is not wearing a face mask by calling a hotline. Cuyahoga County, which includes the city of Cleveland, launched a hotline and a website for Ohioans to report their fellow citizens for not wearing face masks on Friday.

“There’s not enough people in law enforcement throughout the county to track down people, chase them around and figure out who we can go after for not wearing a mask,” Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish said on Friday. Many are fearful that the hotline will be weaponized by Karens to report anyone seen not wearing a face covering. www.theblaze.com/news/face-mask-hotline-ohio-county

As I have said in over 60 articles now on corona, we must carefully weigh up the right balance between public health and safety, and civil liberties and freedoms. Both are vitally important, and both must be considered when thinking about the right response to coronavirus.

In sum, it seems that the science alone cannot help us to fully answer the questions I opened this piece with. So let me try some tentative answers based on what we do know. Would Jesus have worn a mask? Probably not. Should Christians? I would say if you prefer to, then you have that right to make that choice. I would also say that if you prefer not to, yet can maintain some social distancing while in public, you also have that right to make such a choice.

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24 Responses to Would Jesus Wear a Face Mask?

  • Yes I agree that masks are unhelpful in preventing disease. I’ve seen testimony of reputable doctors saying just that and using the studies you have quoted to corroborate it. But not only are they unhelpful, they are also unhealthy. Studies also show that wearing a mask causes one to continually breathe back in our own carbon dioxide and stale air. It reduces oxygen uptake significantly if worn for long periods of time. Yesterday I was out walking and I saw a woman and her child each riding bicycles. They were both wearing masks! How they could catch Covid 19 riding a bicycle at speed in the open air is anyone’s guess. What I find stressful is the tension the differences of opinion cause in the family. People choose not to research valid information given by very qualified experts in the fields of virology, epidemiology etc. I find myself zipping my lip just to maintain the peace.

  • Yes Sue it is hard to keep the peace when so many important issues need to be discussed factually and accurately.

  • A well balanced article Bill. My understanding about Jesus is that He experienced hunger, thirst and pain as we do but there is no biblical evidence that He ever got sick. What do you think?

  • Thanks Graham and Patricia. It is a good question indeed, and you are right to say that we have no direct biblical evidence on the matter, so we can only speculate. And I did just that a few years ago. Have a read of this article from 2016:

    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2016/12/01/jesus-ever-sick-theological-exercise/

  • Jesus walked among plague to cure the sick, but really, is asking WWJD valid here? The most applicable situation to that question is a doctor, but does a doctor weigh liberty, conformity, and his faith when curing the sick with a mask? No. They wear a mask and cure the sick because as a doctor you wear PPE to reduce all possibilities of virus transmission. The rest is a waste of time including for the general public.
    Face mask efficiency even though it varies based on multiple factors still has some efficiency in it and especially with droplet spreading. This is probably why the results are so mixed. The best solution therefore, may be, if you are sick wear a mask, if you are not then don’t, and if you aren’t Jesus and are going to be around the sick then do.

    – Leung, N.H.L., Chu, D.K.W., Shiu, E.Y.C. et al. (2020). Respiratory virus shedding in exhaled breath and efficacy of face masks. Nat Med

  • Hi Bill, another great article. I live in an apt. complex of 90 apts. Next door to my apt. complex is an even larger one of around 150 apts. One block away there is an apt. complex of around 300 apts. All these apt. complexes are for seniors. Guess what? All these seniors & elderly living side by side — not one case of the China-virus in any of these 3 complexes.

    There’s something rotten in Denmark & it’s not the cheeeeeeeese.

    : )

  • A virus is just as likely to enter through your ears or even eyes as it is via the nose or mouth, so unless your wearing goggles and ear muffs as well, masks are at best only partially protective!

  • I think that is the wrong question to ask. A more nuanced answer can be given to the question: Does Jesus advocate obedience to, and submission to, those in authority?

    The clear and unequivocal answer to that question is yes. There are many reasons why that is the case, including:

    Jesus is God so He established the order in creation beginning in Genesis 1.
    Jesus appointed Apostles who speak the mind and will of God. There is no doubt that both Paul and Peter assert the need to submit and obey.
    If somebody asked Jesus is it necessary to pay tax, I am very certain His answer would be Why of course sir.

  • Thanks Dave. Actually, biblically speaking, the clear and unequivocal answer to that question is yes and no. At the same time you sent in your comment I posted my second article of the day, looking at that very question. As I state there, the state is NOT absolute and was never intended by God to be. At times Christians MUST disobey human authority when it goes against God’s commands. See the piece here:

    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2020/07/17/would-jesus-violate-the-law/

  • Hi Bill,
    Yes, I know the command to submit and obey is not unilateral – that is reserved for God alone.
    However, the wearing of face-masks, staying home, and whatever, are not in explicit or implicit defiance of God’s moral law, nor to any of those laws expressed in the Bible.
    It’s not like we are being required to breach the dietary laws as was Daniel, nor are we being told to murder infants as in the case of the midwives.
    Indeed the NT in particular paints a picture where believers ought to be model citizens seeking ways to go above and beyond and so shining our light that the watching world has an opportunity to glorify God.
    My post was not about unequivocal obedience; it was about the principle underneath. Jesus categorically taught that we are to submit and obey. What is Caesar’s render, what is God’s redner.

  • Thanks Dave. But Jesus did NOT categorically teach that we are to submit and obey. I already established that biblical reality in various articles. As to wearing masks, they do not impinge on any direct biblical commands. That is why we then move to the scientific evidence. And as I made clear in this article, the science is NOT settled on the efficacy of masks. Indeed, many medical and scientific experts argue that they are not of much use, and may in fact even be harmful. So neither Jesus nor science demand that we must wear them.

  • Thank you for the interesting article Bill. As you say we should obey authority but only if it does not go against God’s law.

    The other day I noticed a woman about forty years of age wearing a mask and gloves easily take about ten minutes to wipe down a trolley. She did not just wipe the handle which is reasonable enough but the whole trolley inside and out. I thought this was out of all proportion and wondered if she has acquired an unreasonable fear of dying from the virus.

    It could be argued that the MSM has contributed significantly to raising unreasonable fear levels in society which is not surprising because if ever anything is controlled by Satan the MSM is.

    A fact that should be obvious to everyone but isn’t because many people don’t give their Creator a passing thought never mind give Him thanks for their lives that death is always impending and God could call us anytime. He has given us a beautiful gift of life which lasts a certain number of years a fact which is known to HIM alone. Therefore we have to put death from the Corona virus in its proper perspective.Most of us are going to die from other causes.

    As for our dear Lord Jesus He would have behaved wisely like we should. He would take reasonable precautions but He wouldn’t want us to be unreasonably fearful of this virus.

  • Well done sir we at our congregation do social distance by family groups & mask up. I hate it but it is what it is ! Thanks for the Efforts

  • Hi Bill, what is not being mentioned is mask wearing will eventually cause respiratory problems, fungi in the lungs & other illnesses. Being a senior after a few minutes of mask wearing I feel nauseous, dizzy & feel faint & I am very active & in very good health. There will be multi million dollar lawsuits behind this for companies that force employees to wear masks hours a day. The #’s are being exaggerated greatly by as much as 80% as to how many are getting the virus. The elderly in nursing homes are being told they are being tested when in fact they are being injected with something that will kill them & are dead in a few days. Yes, I believe some of the cases are real — maybe 20%. What this shows me is if you buy into this lie you are willing to get in line for Bill Gates vaccine, mark of the beast & guillotine without a 2nd thought. Seniors & little ones are the most susceptible to wearing a dirty mask.

    Down with the Dirty Diaper !

  • Masks are not curative but preventive. So I will wear a mask in crowded areas as a preventive measure. Let us not confuse health measures with faith.

  • Given that Jesus’ spit would actually heal people (Mark 8:23) then clearly there would be no need for Jesus to wear a mask. Jesus of course, was known for complying with human requirements, even though He didn’t need to, but given the fuss Jesus made with the Pharisees regarding the ritual washing of hands (Mat 15:2) when the disciples were not used to such niceties, I suspect He would not.

    Whether I should wear a mask, given my spit is not as effective as Jesus’, is a different matter.

  • On the medical side of things, I ask:
    If it takes a highly invasive and most uncomfortable swab via a nostril to access a sample for testing, how does the virus reach the ambient atmosphere?

    The next question is, is a mask all that useful in restraining airborne droplets if the virus is so inaccessible?

    Finally, if we breathe out droplets containing the virus, why are swabs so difficult? Why can’t they be as simple as if we were undergoing a police roadside breath test for drugs and alcohol?

  • I’m currently reading through Leviticus, where chapters 13 and 14 discuss leprosy. It has some interesting parallels to our current situation.

    Anyone suspected of having leprosy was initially isolated for up to 14 days (13:4-5) to determine whether or not they had it. If they did, they were permanently isolated: “As long as they have the disease … they must live alone; they must live outside the camp.” (13:46) And there were certain things they had to do: “Anyone with such a defiling disease must … cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’” (13:45) Cover the lower part of their face? Hmm, sounds familiar!

    Admittedly, this was a case of isolating the sick and not the healthy. But with this virus, you don’t know who has it and who doesn’t. Symptoms may not appear for many days, and some people are asymptomatic with no symptoms at all.

    Although masks are not effective, they serve as a visual reminder. In Israel, if you saw someone with the lower part of their face covered, you knew they were a leper and you’d stay away from them. Likewise, when I see someone wearing a mask, my first thought is, “That person may be infected – I’d better keep my distance”.

    I’ve just read this article by a pastor from Israel:

    https://messiahsmandate.org/does-the-bible-speak-to-mask-wearing-yes/

    Israel recently loosened restrictions for economic reasons when they were down to only 7 new cases per day. Now, they’re up to 2,000 per day, with the possibility of a second lockdown.

    Proverbs 22:3 says, “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” As it’s prudent to take refuge from this virus, I don’t think Jesus would have opposed wearing masks.

  • It seems to never fail people who have nothing to do with Jesus or God will invoke Him to get Christians to submit. And like good little sheeple we do.

    So we have submitting to “experts” since the fifties because they are experts even when we know better or plain common sense tells us they are wrong. We have 3 generations now trained to submit to Nanny government because it knows best. We don’t think for ourselves any more we simply obey. The country is now BEGGING for socialism and the world is close to BEGGING for the antichrist.

  • If governments are insisting on masks then shouldn’t they be insisting on niqabs? The flimsy little surgical masks only catch some of the droplets a person expels whilst coughing or sneezing. It does not prevent droplets hanging in the air or expelled onto people from infecting their systems.

    From what I understand cloth masks are recommended. Furthermore, since people have a tendency to use unwashed hands to rub eyes, scratch noses, touch their faces etc, a full covering, such as a niqab, makes far more sense – if the paranoia is accurate. Why isn’t the government mandating their use if the situation is as dire as some elements are claiming?

    On the other hand in some jurisdictions it may be both illegal to wear a mask e.g. when entering a bank, and also legally required. No matter what you do you will be breaking the law. Even jurisdictions which mandate the wearing of a mask may however include some exceptions – on the basis of health or colour.

    Perhaps the issue of masks is simply a red herring, a way for government etc to reassure folk by telling them that so long as they do X they’ll be safe?

  • Denis V and Andrew S M, I repeat my questions. If it is so difficult to take a swab, what good will a mask actually be?

    Leviticus doesn’t say anything about people without symptoms.

  • Cal. Gov. Gavin Newson has even banned Christians meeting in their homes. His next step will be burning our Bibles in the street. We have been so conditioned to accept this diaper mask most Christians probably won’t even object or do anything to stop the Bible burning. When the Nazi’s put the Jewish people on trains to Auschwitz they were told, “This is for your own good.”
    How many times have I heard that phrase since this China virus started?
    More than I care to mention.

  • I will not wear a mask under any circumstances. This whole Covid thing is satanic and I will resist. The “church” response throughout has been pathetic. What will happen when things get really bad?

  • Please dont over react. Use common sense.

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