Church and mask-wearing

Letters to the Editor

Church and mask-wearing

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

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Dear Editor,

It was great jubilation when Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced new measures for church services, allowing for more saints to assemble to have fellowship. After being 'imprisoned' like Paul and Silas (Acts 16: 16-40), where they prayed and sang psalms in a confined area for a prolonged period of time, Christians were now relieved to know that they could go back to the house of the Lord for corporate worship. For many, it was as if their wells had gone dry, especially those who were not able to join in e-worship during the confinement.

However, there are mixed feelings regarding the mandatory wearing of masks. On the one hand, there are some believers who think that it is for their safety as well as that of their fellow brothers and sisters, while on the other hand some believe that it is highly inappropriate and disrespectful to go before Jehovah Rophe (the Lord who heals) in a mask.

Once again, we see the divergent views across denominations, with some Christians quoting scriptures like Romans 13: 1-2 New International Version (NIV): “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. 2) Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves.”

However, others question the notion of faith and the power of the Holy Spirit, citing, for example, Matthew 10: 1 (NIV): “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.”

It bemuses me how some clergymen, including prophets/prophetesses, are making a mountain out of a simple precautionary measure. Understandably, a mask can be very uncomfortable to wear for an extended period of time, but should the focus be on our garment or on our hearts? Doesn't Joel 2:13 (NIV) say, “Rend you heart and not your garments”?

How vocal are some to criticise the wearing of a physical mask, yet there are several areas of our lives that we mask from God and each other. How much of a difference is it when a church sister or female minister plasters her face with make-up and covers her head with Brazilian hair simply because she is suffering from low self-esteem? What about husbands and wives in the church who are suffering domestic abuse but mask their feelings when they come to worship? What about young people who have sexuality issues but keep silent because of fear of being judged? What about the secret sins that we engage in? Isn't God the healer and restorer in these cases?

One of the problems with the 21st century Church is that it has become a centre for entertainment and competition. Everyone wants to highlight their level of 'spirituality' and show that they are “hearing from God”. There are so many self-acclaimed prophets and apostles that one is left to wonder if there is a school that is issuing these certificates for free in these ministries.

Top world leaders and scientific experts have hinted that there may not be a vaccine until the next 12 months. Consequently, the coronavirus is likely to be a part of our daily lives for a period of time. The impact of this virus in countries like China, the US, Italy and other European countries is clear evidence that it should be treated with a great level of seriousness.

The Church, the moral authority of the world, should therefore lead by example and observe the necessary precautionary measures implemented by the Government.

 

Oneil Madden

PhD candidate

Université Clermont Auvergne, France

Oneil.madden@uca.fr


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