Sporting or not carrying a face masks?
(Photo: Unsplash / Denis Jung)
It is extremely difficult to predict the future. Imagine you were in a group of people a year ago and suggested that the big problem in politics and society was whether we should wear a mask or not. People would have thought you were as crazy as saying that going to school, church and vacation was forbidden!
The mask question is fascinating. On one level, it seems so simple and obvious to some people that wearing a mask is our Christian duty. It saves lives and if we love our neighbor we shouldn't be selfish and just mask ourselves. On the other hand, there are those who argue that it is your Christian right not to wear a mask because the mask is a sign of a tyrannical government, and besides, isn't it useless anyway?
I thought I was going to write about it a few weeks ago, but discovered that there was so much material on it. While I'm still writing, I'm sitting with over 20 articles and articles on this one topic. I would read an article and think I have to wear a mask. Then another and think that under no circumstances would I wear a mask.
As face masks are becoming mandatory for business in the UK and everywhere in Melbourne and many U.S. states this week, I thought I would save you the pain of reading these endless articles of opinion and summarizing instead what I discovered.
The science is not clear
The big problem here is that there have been few studies and we are late in the pandemic cycle, which means that there are no clear scientific answers. Most decision makers want to say that they follow science and therefore find it easier to equate their policies, opinions and practices with science. If your preferred epidemiologist disagrees with you, you can always find another one – or even the same one in different circumstances. In April, Dr. Anthony Fauci that wearing masks is not necessary for the general public and may even be harmful. In May, he advocated wearing some kind of blanket.
On April 6, the World Health Organization said, "There is currently no evidence that wearing a mask (whether medical or otherwise) by healthy individuals in the wider community, including the universal community mask, can prevent respiratory virus infection. including Covid-19. & # 39;
It also warned that wearing masks in public could create a false sense of security. As someone else said, it's like trying to stop a bullet with a chain mail vest. The problem is that even the best Covid-19 medical masks can only stop in about 45 percent of cases. With fabric masks it is only 5 percent. And despite the reports, science has not changed: there is no new, clear scientific evidence that masks actually serve as protection for the wearer.
While not protecting the wearer, they can be an important help in preventing someone suffering from the disease from passing it on through droplets and coughing. The problem, again, is that even that is of limited value, with social distancing and hand washing being seen as much more effective. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health, after reviewing the evidence on masks, suggested that 200,000 people would have to wear face masks to prevent a new infection every week. Given the estimated mortality rate of Covid-19 between 0.1 and 0.5% of those infected, 200 million people would have to wear masks to save a life!
Even if that were true, would it be worth it? Face masks can't do any harm? But that's the problem: everything has a risk / balance that we have to take into account. For example, if I told you that a simple measure could save tens of thousands of lives a year, would that mean we should take it? If we let all the cars drive at a maximum speed of 8 km / h, we would save these lives. But what would the costs be?
There are also risk factors when it comes to wearing masks. A paper published in MMJ Open in 2015 even suggested that wearing masks to prevent respiratory infections could cause damage. The WHO feared that wearing masks could also give a false feeling of trust. Ironically, this seems to be the reason why some governments want their citizens to wear them; It will give them a feeling of trust that things are fine and that they and the government are in control. It's almost as if the message is, "Don't worry, we've got this covered!"
And there is the psychological aspect. How long do we have to wear them for? Will wearing in stores calm us down or keep us from going public? If the latter is the case, what damage will this do to the economy and thus to human health? It is a complex subject with no clear and simple answers.
Politicians want to be clear
That doesn't fit our political leaders. They have to be seen to be clear. If science is confused, it doesn't help. That is why masks have become such a political issue. The BBC Newsnight reported that the WHO committee, which was examining evidence of mask use in public, did not support it – but changed its mind after political lobbying.
The fact that wearing a mask has become a politicized issue is an indication of the chaos in which our society is now. If wearing a mask is seen as a sign of political loyalty or not, we are in great trouble.
The situation is confused
It's not confusing in China or in other dictatorial regimes like North Korea, where anyone who doesn't wear a mask is subjected to three months of hard work.
But in the UK and other more open countries, the situation is almost ridiculous. Face masks are mandatory in shops and takeaways, but not in cafes and restaurants or gyms and cinemas. And although they are mandatory in stores, Tesco, JD Sports and Lidl, among others, have announced that they will not enforce them. The police don't either. The NHS advised bearded workers to shave them. The British government has even given pythonesque advice on how to make your own mask, which for some reason reminds me of the old government advice on making your own atomic bomb protection!
A clear position?
It seems to me that the Church can offer some basic Christian principles that can help us. Because we care about other people and their wellbeing, we will wear masks when we are in situations where a) this is the custom (i.e. South Korea), b) where we cannot do social distancing (i.e. on the plane ) c) where there is evidence of significant community transmission and d) where it is the law. If the law from a Christian perspective requires us to wear masks, we will obey the law – but it would be much better if the governments didn't treat us like children and try to regulate everything. In democracies we need the social contract to work and the government to treat their people like adults.
Another kind of masking
While we are rightly concerned about our physical well-being, we must also consider another type of masking: the mental blindness that affects this world – "The god of this time blinded the minds of the unbelievers so that they could light the gospel cannot see that shows the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. "(2 Corinthians 4: 4 NIV)
We long for the light to shine in the dark, which is why we as Christians "refuse to wear masks and play games. We don't maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don't twist God's Word to adapt keep everything we do and say open and show the whole truth so that those who want can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God. "(2 Corinthians 4: 2 The Message)
We wear masks in this world; We cover things up. We cannot face reality. In a way, we live as "hypocrites" – those who put on faces. We couldn't stand living in the light of the purest light. But there will come a day when we’ll have ‘open faces’ will see; when we will know it as we know it. "And all of us who are thinking about the glory of the Lord with open faces are being transformed into his image with ever greater glory that comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:18)
These teachings are not a biblical comment on whether we should wear masks to deal with Covid, but they do remind us of a deeper and more important reality that we all have to face. May the Lord grant that we will all be able to increasingly live with bare faces and see His glory and transform into it.
David Robertson is director of Third Space in Sydney and blogs at www.theweeflea.com
Views and opinions published in Christian Today are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.