As all of us determine how best to navigate the new era of covid-19 each of us are being faced with pressures and decisions we have never experienced before. One such pressure has been to cover our faces with masks while out in public or even at home among family and friends. For some this is an easy decision and a non-issue. “Just wear the face mask and protect yourself and others,” we hear from the general public. However, for some of us there is an inward sense that this is more complicated and a bigger decision than most people believe.
This article is not about the scientific efficacy of face masks, which is highly debatable. The article is not about specific government regulations, mask mandates, or our personal rights to wear a mask or choose not to, which are also highly debatable issues. The focus of this article is the spiritual component to face masks. Mainly, what does the Bible say about covering our faces? Also, what does it represent spiritually to be masked? Should we be eagerly following the world under the expression of “Love” as we comply with this decision, should we be pressuring others to follow suit, or is it worthwhile to prayerfully consider the issue first?
My personal opinion is that it is always important to seek guidance from the Holy Spirit, check the scriptures, and be in prayer before making a life-change. This article is going to equip you with some knowledge from the other side of this rapidly emerging, hotly-debated topic that you likely haven’t heard before. My hope in writing this article is simple: that the information within helps you navigate this big decision wisely on your own. We are instructed to “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) and my goal when I studied this topic was to honestly test the action of covering our faces by the Word of God. You’ll read everything I discovered below. I am not writing this to fuel arguments or so that scripture can be used to pressure or judge others out of your opinion regarding face masks, so please do not fall into this trap. Remember Romans 14:10 that states: “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Nevertheless, the topic is crucial enough that it deserves serious attention. Evidently, scripture has a lot to say on face coverings, and the verses I point out should not be ignored.
Most scriptures in the article come from the New King James Version. I tend to underline and bold verses for emphasis where I choose to.
Where are face coverings in scripture?
Surprisingly, face coverings appear in quite a few places in the Bible. One of the English words used to describe a face covering is a “veil,” such as the veil a bride wears as she walks up to the marriage altar. Other ways the Bible describes it in English is simply a “covered face.”
Face coverings in a positive sense
There are actually a couple of scriptures where individuals cover their faces specifically to protect others. Be mindful that when they covered their faces in these cases it wasn’t to protect others from sickness, but was to shield others from the glory of God shining from their faces.
“Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses’ hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him. So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned to him; and Moses talked with them. Afterward all the children of Israel came near, and he gave them as commandments all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. But whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with Him, he would take the veil off until he came out; and he would come out and speak to the children of Israel whatever he had been commanded. And whenever the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone, then Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with Him.”Exodus 34:29-35
Another example of faces being veiled occurs in heaven with cherubim shielding their faces with two of their wings. Likely for the same reason as Moses did, but not known for sure. I think we can easily presume they did not cover their faces to protect Isaiah from getting sick though.
“…I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.”Isaiah 6:1-2
Even though these two scriptures point out important and positive reasons for face coverings, I do not believe that they apply to what we are experiencing today with covid-19. The reason is simple. People are not asked to cover their faces because the glory of the Lord is too brightly shining in their countenance, but because of fear of sickness spreading from their breath. Likewise, there are numerous verses where the Lord deliberately hides His face from people, but it is clear that He does this because His glory is too great for people to witness. For this reason I do not believe these scriptures can be appropriately applied to the topic of face coverings we are dealing with today.
Scripture that directly opposes face coverings/veils
People are usually surprised to find out that there is scripture directly opposed to covering/veiling the face. The argument could be made that the face coverings and veils in these verses are figurative, not literal, but we must remember that when Moses covered his face in Exodus 34 it was a literal covering, not a figurative one. Below, you will read the most relevant scriptures on this subject, which are half of 2 Corinthians chapter 3 and the beginning of chapter 4. I am going to include my own commentary as I believe it pertains to Christians wearing face masks in italics as I go through these verses. The verses below are 2 Corinthians 3:7 – 4:6.
- 3:7: But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away,
- 3:8: how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?
- Our faces are more glorious than the shining of Moses’s face when he presented the law in Exodus 34.
- 3:9: For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.
- 3:10: For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels.
- 3:11: For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.
- Again, our faces exceed the glory that Moses’s countenance displayed.
- 3:12: Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech—
- We are meant to be bold in our speech, because the glory of the Spirit from our faces shines so brightly. I find this interesting because we all know that face coverings/masks tend to inhibit our speech.
- 3:13: unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away.
- We are not supposed to copy the behavior of Moses for others. We are not supposed to put a veil over our faces. Based on this scripture, using the argument that Moses covered his face to protect the people is not a good reason to wear a mask.
- 3:14: But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.
- The veil is removed when you are in Christ. This is a great reminder of the veil of separation being torn between God and man by Christ’s sacrifice!
- 3:15: But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.
- There is a veil that goes over the heart when we are trapped in the Old Covenant.
- 3:16: Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
- When we turn to the Lord Jesus Christ the veil is removed from our hearts.
- 3:17: Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
- Regarding this verse I find it particularly fascinating that one of the biggest points of contention in America are face mask mandates from government. This verse, embedded within scripture clearly describing literal face coverings and veils, declares that liberty comes with the Spirit, which is exactly what those who oppose face masks mandates are contending for – liberty.
- 3:18: But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
- This is probably the single strongest scripture in the Bible that opposes Christians wearing face masks.
- 4:1: Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.
- 4:2: But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
- It is amazing that these verses are describing covering the face and in this same section of scripture we are told to renounce hidden things of shame. Covering the face is hiding. As you’ll read in the section below, covering the face tends to be an expression of shame. Clearly we are being instructed to renounce this practice.
- 4:3: But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,
- A veil over the gospel is certainly a bad thing. Is there a subtle implication that those who wear veils are perishing? I’ll let you decide.
- 4:4: whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
- The god of this age has blinded us into hiding our faces. We should let the light of our faces, the image of God, shine on everyone.
- 4:5: For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.
- 4:6: For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
- The glory of God is in your face. You are made in God’s image. Do not hide His glory behind a covering or a mask. Shine the light of Christ in the darkness and be bold in speech, proudly declaring Him who sits on the throne!
Face covering tends to be linked to shame
Besides the scriptures listed above, there does seem to be another trend that is somewhat disturbing when researching face coverings in scripture, that covering the face seems to be linked to the expression of shame. Scripture does not explicitly state that face coverings/veils represent shame, however, as you search for verses regarding veils and face coverings it quickly becomes apparent that a lot of verses seem to have a contextual connection to shame. I found this trend in scripture to be so prevalent that I decided I could not exclude this section from the article.
- “We are ashamed because we have heard reproach. Shame has covered our faces, for strangers have come into the sanctuaries of the Lord’s house. ‘Therefore behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘That I will bring judgment on her carved images, and throughout all her land the wounded shall groan.'” (Jeremiah 51:51-52)
- “My dishonor is continually before me, and the shame of my face has covered me.” (Psalm 44:15)
- “Because for Your sake I have borne reproach; shame has covered my face.” (Psalm 69:7)
- “Then the king arose in his wrath from the banquet of wine and went into the palace garden; but Haman stood before Queen Esther, pleading for his life, for he saw that evil was determined against him by the king. When the king returned from the palace garden to the place of the banquet of wine, Haman had fallen across the couch where Esther was. Then the king said, ‘Will he also assault the queen while I am in the house?’ As the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. Now Harbonah, one of the eunuchs, said to the king, ‘Look! The gallows, fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai, who spoke good on the king’s behalf, is standing at the house of Haman.’ Then the king said, ‘Hang him on it!’ So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the king’s wrath subsided.” (Esther 7:7-10)
- It is notable that in Jewish culture Haman is known as an extremely vile individual. Every year on Purim, the story of Esther is read and anytime the name “Haman” is mentioned Jewish people will shout loudly to blot out the remembrance of Haman’s family name from under the heavens. Certainly a name associated with shame if you ask me! Also take note that in the very moment Haman was about to be judged, his face was covered.
- “And the people stole back into the city that day, as people who are ashamed steal away when they flee in battle. But the king covered his face, and the king cried out with a loud voice, ‘O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!’ Then Joab came into the house to the king, and said, ‘Today you have disgraced all your servants who today have saved your life, the lives of your sons and daughters, the lives of your wives and the lives of your concubines…'” (2 Samuel 19:3-5)
- Of course it is known that the king covered his face as in mourning for his dead son, but the point I am making with these verses is that, again, covering of the face seems to be associated with shame and disgrace in scripture.
- “And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ So he said, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.’ Then He said, ‘Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ And he said, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.’ (1 Kings 19:9-14)
- We see Elijah cover his face with his mantle
- One of the most clear Messianic passages in all of the Old Testament is Isaiah 53, rightly described as The Fulcrum of the Entire Universe by the late Chuck Missler. Amazingly, there is a reference to hiding the face in Isaiah 53:3.
- “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” (Isaiah 53:3)
- When we consider the shame that Christ experienced on the cross, suddenly the link to Isaiah 53:3 is clear.
- “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
- Now consider the moment that Jesus was put to shame and condemned to death. We see that immediately after Jesus was condemned by the Pharisees, His face was covered. He was then beaten and spat upon by those around Him. This would have been an incredibly shameful moment. This moment certainly parallels Esther 7:8 when Haman was condemned to death and perfectly aligns with the fact that “He who knew no sin [became] sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
- “Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?’And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death. Then some began to spit on Him, and to blindfold Him [or, ‘cover His face‘ in the Greek], and to beat Him, and to say to Him, ‘Prophesy!’ And the officers struck Him with the palms of their hands.
The last three passages in this list do not distinctly link face coverings with shame within the text, however, shameful behavior is noticeable while covering/hiding/disguising the face occurs.
- “The eye of the adulterer waits for the twilight, saying, ‘No eye will see me’; and he disguises his face.” (Job 24:15)
- “And it was told Tamar, saying, ‘Look, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.’ So she took off her widow’s garments, covered herself with a veil and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place which was on the way to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given to him as a wife. When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, because she had covered her face. Then he turned to her by the way, and said, ‘Please let me come in to you’; for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law.” (Genesis 38:13-16)
- “Then He said, ‘Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ And he said, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.’ (1 Kings 19:11-14)
- In these passages we see Elijah emerge from hiding in a cave! He is hiding because he is afraid of Jezebel, and he covers his face with his mantle as he comes out of the cave per the Lord’s prompting. Why did he cover his face? Very likely because he was ashamed of his fear, and the Lord calmly asks, “What are you doing here Elijah?” This passage reminds me of Adam and Eve covering their nakedness (i.e. shame) as they came out of hiding as well.
In light of face coverings and the aspect of shame we certainly must not forget Romans 10:11, which states: “For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”‘
Fear and love regarding wearing face coverings
Let’s briefly discuss fear as it relates to face masks. Most of us remember when covid-19 initially hit and how almost every church and Christian was reciting, praying, and faithfully standing on the scripture in Psalm 91. Most specifically Psalm 91:3-7, which talks about God delivering His people from deadly diseases and not being afraid of them.
“Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your buckler and shield. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you.”Psalm 91:3-7
The church as a whole was so vocal on claiming the protection Psalm 91 offers that surely we must be prepared to stand on this promise in faith. However, what I have personally witnessed seems to be a degree of disguised fear mixed in with faith, especially when discussing face masks. Perhaps we wear them because it is not worth the risk of getting sick, or perhaps we wear them because we are afraid for the possibility of others getting sick but not exactly for ourselves, or perhaps we wear them because everyone else in society is wearing them and people tend to get upset if we don’t, or perhaps it is due to a mask mandate in a certain store or an entire city (more on this later). Whatever way we decide to rationalize face coverings, it is important to admit that all of these reasons certainly include a degree of fear, whether it’s the fear of illness, the fear of being ridiculed by others, or the fear of breaking the rules. My intention with including this section on fear is not to convict you (only the Holy Spirit does that), but I must bring it up because it certainly applies as one of the biggest reasons Christians wear face masks.
The Bible has a lot to say about fear. Let’s explore some verses that definitely apply to our current mask situation regarding fear:
- “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
- “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)
- “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
- “But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.'” (Isaiah 43:1)
- “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident. One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.” (Psalm 27:1-4)
- “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is for me among those who help me; therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.” (Psalm 118:6-9)
- I find these verses very interesting given our times. Do we wear face coverings out of fear of man? If so, why? Are we placing our confidence in men regarding the necessity of face covering, or are we trusting in the Lord? Are we putting our confidence in princes (Dr. Fauci, the CDC, and other “health experts” or authorities), or is our confidence in the Lord? Please prayerfully consider these verses in the context of our time.
- “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), in God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4)
- “Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame…” (Isaiah 54:4a)
- How many of us are afraid to go without a face covering because we could be shamed or disgraced by others? Evidently God desires that we do not submit to fear in this area.
As you think about the fear component of wearing masks, let’s discuss the love component next. The most common argument to why Christians should wear face masks is that it is the loving thing to do for others. It’s a “love your neighbor as yourself” gesture that is too plain to refute. Many believers will declare that they are not afraid of the disease, but love compels them to mask up. But does this approach stand up to scripture? In my opinion, it does and it doesn’t. A biblical case can be made that sometimes masking up is a loving and important gesture (in specific situations), but surprisingly, scripture also indicates that wearing a mask is often not the most loving thing you can do for others.
Is it the loving thing to do to cover our faces due to the possibility of spreading illness to others? That is a highly debatable point, but in my opinion scripture is clear that, no, it is not the most loving thing you can do for others. Undeniably, if you feel sick you should stay at home and away from others until you are better (and there is scriptural basis for this: think of leprosy and other diseases where people were deemed unclean and separated from the people), but to perpetuate the fear of illness that is not evidently present in a person is another matter entirely. We were sold on the idea that covid-19 is highly infectious and spreads asymptomatically, but I must emphatically state that there is absolutely no scriptural basis to completely avoid others, keep distance from others, or even cover our faces from others due to the sheer possibility that you or them could spread illness while no one present is feeling sick. Not only is this not backed up by scripture, but even common sense tells us that it is a ridiculous notion entirely. If we are completely altering our lives due to a possibility of spreading a non-present illness then we are absolutely submitting to fear, plain and simple.
Here is the most direct scripture regarding love for others that clearly indicates that as Christians, we should not be wearing face coverings and submitting to the same fear society is currently filled with, but instead we should cast the fear out:
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.1 John 4:18
Thankfully, this scripture gives us very clear direction in the midst of troubled times and deep confusion. That direction is very simple: the most perfect expression of love that we can give to others is to cast out fear because fear involves torment. This is the best way we can show others love during this time. Show them that they do not need to be afraid and that you are not afraid. This is very loving thing to do.
When we show love to others the most perfect manner of doing so is in the expression of fearlessness. We are clearly instructed not to conform to the image of this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), therefore let us redirect our minds towards God’s will in this area and we will help the world become free from fear and the torment that fear is bringing to their lives! We choose not to align with the world in this area because it is an expression of faith in Him to resist this fear-filled change in our society. Therefore, another very important reason you should consider not wearing a face mask is because of your love for others.
Nevertheless I must make sure to mention that there are specific moments when wearing a face mask is the loving thing to do. My opinion is that these moments do not come as often as we believe they do, so in consideration of these times please do not make the mistake of making the exception the rule. Scripture does state that we are “to become all things for all men.” (1 Corinthians 9) To the weak, Paul became as weak, so that he could gain the weak, or to those who follow the law, Paul followed the law, to gain those who follow the law. Therefore, if you must wear a mask, then wear one with the intention of gaining others to the Kingdom of God. This is a loving and important thing to do. Just make sure not to step into fear while using love as your excuse for wearing a face mask. If you need guidance for specific situations then ask the Lord for help! The Holy Spirit will answer you in tough moments and show you the way to go. If you do decide to wear a mask, then hopefully you are planning on preaching the Gospel in that moment and the person listening would be less likely to receive the truth if you spoke to them unmasked. Therefore, if you are going to use a mask out of love, remember that this is a reason to do that.
Face masks and offenses
There is the argument that avoiding offenses is a good reason to wear a mask in public. The scripture used to facilitate this argument is in Matthew, where Jesus pays the temple tax before entering.
“When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, ‘Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, ‘What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?’ Peter said to Him, ‘From strangers.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Then the sons are free. Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.’“Matthew 17:24-27
I believe this scripture is used out-of-context when we claim we wear masks to avoid offenses like Jesus did with the temple tax. It is very possible that Jesus decided to avoid offense in this particular situation because Peter had already told the tax collector that his Teacher would pay the tax. We can’t be 100% sure, but that is certainly a possibility. We also shouldn’t ignore the fact that Jesus plainly taught Peter that, “Sons are free,” meaning, He was not obligated to pay the tax whatsoever, and He made sure to teach Peter that fact. Furthermore, if you search through scripture you’ll find that Jesus was definitely not afraid to offend people. He knew he was offending people constantly and that did not stop him from doing the will of God. Remember that believers are the “salt of the earth,” and that some of the properties of salt are that it provides flavor, preserves, irritates, and yet is essential for life. We are going to offend those that are of the world no matter what we do… but being “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” implies that we are designed to offend others at times. Here are some scriptures that you can look into if you want to see how Jesus regularly offended people: Matt 13:57, Matt 15:12, Matt 26:31, Mark 6:3, Mark 14:27, Luke 7:23, John 6:61.
It is my personal opinion that a face covering or mask should rarely be worn around other confessing Christians. If they do not express your level of faith, then it is right to be patient with them and not despise them over disputable things (Romans 14:5-13), but it is also important to let them experience your fearlessness in this area while not catering to their fears. Cast out their fear in a loving way instead! Be aware that some individuals are weak in the faith, but remember it is not our place to judge them, so be gentle with your speech as you exhort Christian brothers who wear masks. (Romans 14:1-4) In my opinion, if the person you are with confesses Christ then they should know better than to fear illness already, but it is not biblical to make this a point of contention in your relationship with them. We should not flaunt our liberty in Christ or use our freedom to cause our brother or sister to stumble. This is in opposition to the love we are supposed to express to our brethren (Romans 14:15-20). If your brother or sister in Christ is deeply offended because you are not wearing a face mask, then consider putting one on for their sake (Romans 15:1), but I would use the opportunity to talk to them about overcoming their fear and placing their faith in the Lord alone. Remember, a very critical act of love is to reveal your fearlessness plainly, encourage your brother not to fear gently, and eventually God will help that person change his/her mind on the issue.
Now that some of you may choose to avoid wearing face coverings the next question that begs being asked is this: how do we do that in public? We will certainly be barred from entry to certain businesses or ridiculed by others. What do we say? How do we handle it?
Here is my personal approach to this issue. First and foremost I pray before entering any store! Connecting with God and asking Him for guidance as I enter and shop is critical! Then, if I have to explain why my face is not covered, I simply tell people that it is against my religion to wear a mask. I believe it is important to express yourself boldly and courageously (2 Corinthians 3:12) and let people know that you will not cover your face because the Bible says we shouldn’t. Don’t be ashamed and do not back down if this is your conviction. Also, you shouldn’t feel the need to create a massive defense to protect yourself. The Holy Spirit will give you the words to speak in the moment you need them. It is my understanding that in America we cannot be discriminated against for our religious beliefs (Civil Rights Act), therefore the business is required to let you in on this specific premise (yes, this includes private businesses). If needed, I will tell someone that based on 2 Corinthians chapter 3 I will not wear a face mask. Veils are taken away in Christ. Period.
How far you wish to push the issue is up to you, but so far I still haven’t been denied service or turned away one time yet. More commonly no one will bother harassing you about it in the first place and they’ll just let you shop unbothered. If some people do choose to create a stir over the issue, then your first step should be to quietly pray for the Lord’s help and guidance in that moment. I believe that staying humble is the key to Christ-like victory, rather than puffing up in anger. Therefore, one thing you could do is politely ask them to have a private conservation so you can explain yourself. If that doesn’t work and they decide a scene is necessary, then perhaps you can offer to keep distance from that specific person while shopping, or tell them to go get a manager if they feel they need to.
It is clear in Scripture that Christians should strive for peace with everyone when they can (Matt. 5:9, Romans 12:18, Hebrews 12:14), therefore if someone is upset enough by your lack of a face mask that they cause a scene then you will probably have to choose whether you concede and put on a mask or just leave. Sometimes there is simply nothing you can do and we must turn the other cheek and let the Lord deal with the issue later. Don’t be afraid of others trying to shame you. Stand strong in your convictions and if you have to leave the business then do it praising the Lord, because “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12) Remember, staying humble and striving for peace is the key: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)
Personally, I do not believe it is wise to claim a medical exemption unless you actually have one, which some people use as the easy way out, but if you do choose to claim a medical exemption just remember you are protected from discrimination by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). Spiritually speaking, I would never recommend pretending to have an illness, because that just might result in you speaking illness into your life! Just remember to be fearless and bold. What can man do to us when we have the Lord?
What about government mandates for face coverings? Should we simply submit to government orders as Romans 13:1-7 or Titus 3:1-2 suggest? My answer to this is that we should always aim to submit to governing authorities, but scripture does not tell us to submit to authorities if their orders defy the authority of the Lord. Remember that most of the apostles were arrested and killed because they did not submit to governing authorities, so clearly there are going to be reasons not to comply with nonsense orders and stay righteous in the eyes of God. I’d also like to remind you that the supreme law of the land is our Constitution and Bill of Rights, which the military, police, and governing officials swore to uphold. If mask mandates conflict with other laws (which they most certainly do), then there is no scriptural basis for submitting to whatever “orders” an out-of-control government feels the need to issue during a perceived “crisis situation.” Again, be fearless and bold. What can man do to us when we have the Lord?
What about workplace requirements for face masks and PPE that is necessary for certain jobs? This particular objection is extremely complex and one that I cannot fully dissect in this article, nor do I believe I should because each individual situation needs to be brought to the Holy Spirit for guidance. I’ll say this as answer though: I did not write this article because we have a problem with PPE or face masks for specific, job-related tasks for which they were designed. I wrote this article because of the pervasive, rapid change in our society where everyone is now wearing face masks in virtually every single social activity out of pure fear of the asymptomatic spread of illness. Do restaurant servers really need to cover their faces just like surgeons need to in order to perform their job? I’ll let you decide. Rewind one year ago and recall that there were no problems with PPE or job-related face coverings in our society whatsoever, however, we are experiencing a major and distinctive change in our culture today that demands serious consideration from the church, especially because the changes are rooted in fear.
Lastly, I wanted to mention 1 Corinthians 11 as it pertains to “head coverings.” I am deliberately leaving this section out of this article because I do not believe it applies to face coverings. The head coverings refer to the top of the head, not the face, and therefore these scriptures should not be included in this specific conversation.
Face coverings indicate coming judgment
I want to give mention to one more thing I discovered about face coverings as I explored the topic in scripture. In Ezekiel chapter 12, before Judah is captured by Babylon and the people of Israel are wiped out, Ezekiel is instructed by God to give the people of Israel a sign of their coming captivity, and one of the signs is that Ezekiel covers his face. I felt the entire section of scripture was important so I made sure you can read it in full context below.
“Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying: ‘Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, which has eyes to see but does not see, and ears to hear but does not hear; for they are a rebellious house. Therefore, son of man, prepare your belongings for captivity, and go into captivity by day in their sight. You shall go from your place into captivity to another place in their sight. It may be that they will consider, though they are a rebellious house. By day you shall bring out your belongings in their sight, as though going into captivity; and at evening you shall go in their sight, like those who go into captivity. Dig through the wall in their sight, and carry your belongings out through it. In their sight you shall bear them on your shoulders and carry them out at twilight; you shall cover your face, so that you cannot see the ground, for I have made you a sign to the house of Israel.’ So I did as I was commanded. I brought out my belongings by day, as though going into captivity, and at evening I dug through the wall with my hand. I brought them out at twilight, and I bore them on my shoulder in their sight. And in the morning the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, has not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said to you, ‘What are you doing?’ Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “This burden concerns the prince in Jerusalem and all the house of Israel who are among them.”‘ Say, ‘I am a sign to you. As I have done, so shall it be done to them; they shall be carried away into captivity.’ And the prince who is among them shall bear his belongings on his shoulder at twilight and go out. They shall dig through the wall to carry them out through it. He shall cover his face, so that he cannot see the ground with his eyes. I will also spread My net over him, and he shall be caught in My snare. I will bring him to Babylon, to the land of the Chaldeans; yet he shall not see it, though he shall die there. I will scatter to every wind all who are around him to help him, and all his troops; and I will draw out the sword after them. Then they shall know that I am the Lord, when I scatter them among the nations and disperse them throughout the countries. But I will spare a few of their men from the sword, from famine, and from pestilence, that they may declare all their abominations among the Gentiles wherever they go. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.'” (Ezekiel 12:1-16)Ezekiel 12:1-16
Let’s also recall Esther 7:7-10 where Haman’s face was covered immediately prior to his judgment. Do not ignore this seemingly coincidental trend as we witness face coverings everywhere in our society today.
There is a third scripture in Jeremiah that should be mentioned: “We are ashamed because we have heard reproach. Shame has covered our faces, for strangers have come into the sanctuaries of the Lord’s house. ‘Therefore behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘That I will bring judgment on her carved images, and throughout all her land the wounded shall groan.'” (Jeremiah 51:51-52) Have we witnessed judgment taking place against some of the carved images (i.e. statutes being torn down) in America recently? Yes we have.
Finally, I want to highlight another scripture I pointed out earlier which is clearly a fourth instance where the face covering of shame is associated with impending judgment. It is when our Lord Jesus Christ was condemned to death on the cross by the Pharisees:
“Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?’ And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death. Then some began to spit on Him, and to blindfold Him [or, ‘cover His face‘ in the Greek], and to beat Him, and to say to Him, ‘Prophesy!’ And the officers struck Him with the palms of their hands.”Mark 14:63-65
I recognize that many Christians have been prophesying and warning about God’s coming judgment against America for many years. These days a lot of people, including myself, are of the belief that we are beginning to experience God’s judgment of America starting in 2020 as radical measures and reforms sweep through the nation. As I consider this possibility I am quite surprised that covering the face has been alluded to four times as a sign from God about impending destruction in the past. Is it purely coincidental that face coverings tend to represent shame and that they were already used as signs of coming judgment by God, or is it possible that God knew this day was coming all along and is giving us a clear warning? I’ll let you answer that question for yourself.
In conclusion, I am not saying that covering your face is sinful, but I am trying to point out that there is a lot more involved spiritually in this action than most of us realize. We should “test all things” (1 Thess. 5:21) and not immediately go in the same direction as the world in this area without some deep thought. Every single Christian should consider this information and bring it to the Holy Spirit for guidance and what they should do in their personal life. My intention with this article is not convict you, but to simply give you additional wisdom on an evidently very deep subject so you can make the right decision for yourself in every situation you encounter. There may be times you need to cover your face, or other times where you need to humbly refuse. But I pray that the Lord gives you abundant wisdom in every event and helps you as you make these important decisions regarding face coverings for you and your family.
May the reader be blessed and may their peace be secured in Christ alone.
The article was lightly updated several times since its original publishing. The most recent update occurred on 08/12/2020.
If you liked this article and wish to support the author, please consider purchasing a copy of his book titled: Are Christians Sinners? This revelatory book will completely alter your perspective on sin and explain how victory has already been given to us in Christ in a radical way that you likely never heard about in church. Click on the link here to take a look. Thank you!