This page is still in progress. More footnote references coming, Lord-willing.
Seven Reasons for Not Wearing a Face Mask
1: Masks hide the light of our countenance
The first reason not to wear a mask is that it covers up our spiritual "light bulb" in this dark world. A mask may be necessary in rare and exceptional cases (such as when performing surgery or handling lung-damaging cement dust). In general, though, I don't believe God intends us to wear them. In the Bible, for someone to "hide his face" is a bad thing, whether that be God (Deuteronomy 31:17) or man (Job 13:24).
The Bible refers to the light of the countenance in reference to God (Psalm 89:15; 4:6; 44:3; 90:8; 31:16; 67:1) and man (Job 29:24; Proverbs 16:15). God's favorable countenance, or "smile," makes us "exceeding glad" (Psalm 21:6; Acts 2:28; Numbers 6:26). Because we are made in God's image (Genesis 1:26), our countenances are also capable of being shining lights. Today more than ever, this dark world needs to see the bright love of Jesus Christ on our faces!
Ecclesiastes 8:1 ... a man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
See also: Psalm 42:11: "[God] is the health of my countenance"
2: Masks dehumanizes us
The second reason not to wear a mask is that they dehumanize our interaction. Amazingly, God gave us 43 muscles for facial expression! As creatures in God's image, our faces define much of who we are as human beings. Masks lead us to a faceless society with little genuinely human interaction.
First, our faces communicate. In the Bible, Cain's countenance "fell," revealing that he was upset (Genesis 4:5-6); Laban showed distrust and jealousy toward Jacob (Genesis 31:2, 5); sodomites show their sin (Isaiah 3:9); Belshazzar showed fear (Daniel 5:6, 9); antichrist will show fierceness (Daniel 8:23); an angry countenance can rebuke gossip (Proverbs 25:23); Nehemiah showed sadness for Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:2-3); Hannah showed joy and peace (I Samuel 1:18); Stephen had the face of an angel (Acts 6:15). Our faces communicate so much of who we are as humans.
Second, our faces encourage. Proverbs 27:17 says, "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." Just as iron must contact iron for this sharpening to occur, so also we must have face-to-face interaction for the encouragement in this verse to take place. Friends have a way of making each other smile! Satan wants to take that away with constant mask-wearing.
Third, our faces share our hearts. Just two verses later, the Bible says, "As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man" (Proverbs 27:19). Maybe this is talking about the way you look into water and see a reflection of your face. Or maybe it's talking about how you would communicate when swimming underwater--with strong facial expressions. Either way, it seems to link the communication of the face with that of the heart. Masks hide these expressions, and they even muffle vocal inflection.
Fourth, our faces comfort. Ecclesiastes 7:3 says, "Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better." I think it's tragic when everyone wears masks at a funeral. The grieving family should have the opportunity to see the sadness in the faces of the other guests, which could help them to heal better. Satan wants to take away this comradery and make us feel all alone.
3: Masks promote irrational fear
The third reason not to wear a mask is that it fuels society's irrational fear. It gives the impression that we are fighting something extremely deadly and plague-like. The revival preacher Charles Finney wrote about the 1832 cholera plague in New York City: "I recollect counting, from the door of our house, five hearses drawn up at the same time, at different doors within sight." Every year, sadly, people die from flus, colds, pneumonia, and many other causes; but this is part of living in a sin-cursed world. But this is quite different than a plague; and thankfully, covid is not a plague. Putting aside media hype, this is really just a flu or bad cold. The survival rate is well over 99%.
I think ungodly societies are prone to irrational fears. It seems that God has sent "faintness into [our] hearts", and that "the sound of a shaken leaf" is chasing us (Leviticus 26:36). Sadly, we deserve it; we have pushed abortion (even using aborted cell lines for covid vaccines), and promoted the sin of sodomy. "The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion" (Proverbs 28:1). Sometimes I wonder what our society's reaction will be like when true pestilence strikes (Matthew 24:7, cf. Luke 23:31).
As Christians, we should combat these irrational fears. I believe John MacArthur said, speaking of persecution, that the worst thing that could happen to us is that we die; but then we go to heaven, which is the best thing that could happen to us! I understand being anxious of disease, and if this were Ebola, I would be struggling with that too. Thankfully, it isn't Ebola. But even if it were, the anxiousness of the Christian should really be a lot different than the terror of the unsaved (Luke 10:41 vs. Hebrews 10:27). We live with the knowledge that our greatest possessions are reserved for us in heaven, and that life down here is temporary and fleeting. However scared we may feel in certain situations, deep down we have this unshakable hope and joy from the Holy Ghost. Let's rely on the peace of God's Spirit more and combat the irrational spirit of fear in society.
II Timothy 1:7 - For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Isaiah 43:1 - But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.
2 - When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
4: Masks are ineffective
The fourth reason not to wear a mask is that it is ineffective. They do not protect us from getting covid. First, covid particles easily pass through masks (surgical and cloth, N95 excepted). They are 0.1 microns in diameter (which is super-small, like 1/1000 the width of a human hair!). The "pores" in surgical masks are 30-40 microns (300-400 times larger), and in cloth masks, 80-500 microns (800-5000 times larger). Virus particles pass through that as easily as sand thrown against a chain-link fence! My sister, who works at a fast-food restaurant, said that she could smell the tea sweetener (used to make sweet tea) strongly through the mask. They just can't stop particles that small.
Second, repeated mild exposure is actually a good thing. I would rather be exposed to very small doses in public, rather than in one mega-dose (such as when a family member gets it). Even supposing that masks could keep out 100% of the virus, I think that would be harmful in this situation. Maybe you've heard in the news of people getting very sick who remained isolated for weeks. It's not good for the immune system.
Third, even if masks reduced virus exposure somewhat, this may not help you avoid getting covid. Let's suppose, for sake of argument, that if everyone wears masks, you will be exposed to 10% less covid particles. I don't think that will correlate to a 10% reduction in your chance of getting sick. Many people have have become sick after isolated for weeks. Obviously, they reduced their viral load from shopping to 0%, since they were no longer shopping. Yet many have still become quite sick. Maybe we can use the illustration of muddy boots. Let's suppose that you have clean, light-colored, brand new carpet, and you are about to come inside, but your boots are caked in thick, wet mud. If you clean off 10% of the dirt from your boots, does that mean the carpet is 10% less likely to get dirty? No; even if you remove 50% of the dirt, your carpet will get dirty. You'd have to remove well over 99% of the dirt to be effective. Some people say, "Well, maybe a mask makes it just a little harder for the germs to pass through"; but even if that's true, I doubt it really helps the bottom line of not getting covid. And that's ignoring the other health problems masks cause.
Fourth, masks (theoretically) prevent the weaker virus strains from dominating. For normal flus and colds, people who feel awful, and often have a bad virus strain, stay home. Those who feel slightly "off," and often have a lighter virus strain, get out and spread it. Thus, the weaker virus strain tends to eventually prevail, and the worse ones die out. I read a historical article which said that the second wave of the Spanish flu was worse precisely because this didn't happen due to wartime conditions. Soldiers who felt awful were sent to hospitals, where their worse strains spread quickly. Those who felt a little "off" continued fighting to fight and die, meaning the stronger strains prevailed. Tyrannical isolation mandates are recreating these "war-like" conditions in the sense of how viruses spread. Even if masks were to prevent those with mild symptoms from spreading covid, that is the opposite of what we want.
Objection: "What about aerosols?"
Do masks at least trap aerosol particles? (These are tiny droplets that can carry the virus on them.) I looked up a seemingly mainstream study,1 and according to it, to remain in the air for a long time, aerosols must be about 5 microns or less in size. That means that they can easily pass through surgical or cloth masks. The article claims that covid "is transmitted by both small and large particle aerosols", and that the size of breath particles (when studying the flu) is four microns or less, although coughs contain larger particles. Thus, masks would really only help for coughs and sneezes (when many remove them anyway), and only if the cough was in your direction, since larger particles drop to the floor more quickly.
Once while shopping, I personally saw one of the store workers at the table, ready to assist customers. He suddenly felt a powerful sneeze coming on. He turned back, removed his mask, and proceeded with his explosive sneeze, and then put the mask back on and a little sheepishly turned forward again. I don't blame him! I wouldn't want to sneeze into my mask either. But why mandate masks if people remove them during the precise times when, in theory, they matter most?
Objection: "What about baffling?"
Do masks "baffle" airflow enough to help? (Baffling is the effect the mask has on the air stream; instead of the air going straight forward, some of the airflow is pushed out the sides, or gently spread more evenly.) I'm not a scientist, and I haven't been able to find scientific articles about masks and baffling yet. But since I read someone who used "baffling" as one of the reasons to wear masks, I'd like to try to address it from a layman's perspective.
First, baffling does not reduce the virus in the air. It is about redirecting airflow. When you are out shopping, virus particles from other shoppers are in the air regardless of the direction of exhaled airflow. If a patient in a hospital room with a virus wears a mask, baffling doesn't matter; the room has long been saturated with their breath. As an analogy, if you enter a room where someone has been smoking for a few minutes, you can easily smell it, even if that person never blew smoke directly into your face.
Second, the baffling effect diminishes quite a bit after a few feet. Have you ever tried to blow out birthday candles from more than a couple of feet away? It's difficult! The air all around us has a natural baffling effect as it is. I once saw a guy who had an "air cannon" that could "shoot" a burst of air at a balloon from several feet away, like maybe ten feet or so. It was quite impressive. But our conversational breath is nothing like that or blowing out birthday candles. Put your hand directly in front of your mouth while talking at a normal volume, and then move it back until you can't feel your own airstream anymore. It doesn't carry far. God made our noses to direct the stronger airflow downward, such as when we sigh or exhale. God "nose" what He's doing! And our conversational breath is much weaker than that. The airflow from our conversations is "chopped up" constantly; we pause while speaking, turn our heads slightly, and alternate who is speaking, further reducing the "stream-like" nature of our breath. For these reasons, I do not believe that baffling makes a difference.
5: Masks can be harmful to health
The fifth reason not to wear a mask is that they can be harmful to your health. First, your rebreathed CO2 increases dramatically, and your oxygen goes down. This places stress on your body and reduces your immunity. I have often heard that people get headaches when wearing masks for hours in a single day. Our bodies are trying to tell us this is harmful.
Second, masks promote fear, which in turn reduces immunity.
Third, masks are the perfect breeding ground for disease. A piece of cloth saturated by saliva and kept warm for long periods of time is sure to be a great place for bacteria and viruses to thrive. It seems like this could easily "amplify" rare bacteria or viruses we might come into contact with, giving them the perfect environment to multiply and become a real threat.
Fourth, people generally engage in unsanitary behavior with their masks. They wrap their saliva-saturated masks around their wrists or hold them in their hands when not using them. They set the dampened masks on the dinner table beside their food. Such practices are quite unsettling and surely outweigh any supposed benefit.
6: Masks are usually hypocritical
The sixth reason not to wear a mask is all the hypocrisy surrounding them. Of course, not everyone is hypocritical here, but it seems like most people are. For example, I've seen leaders wear their mask faithfully when walking up to the podium in front of the cameras, but when off camera, they will take their masks off, or get close to other people for a picture. Or they choose to wear a mask but break bigger "covid rules," like giving handshakes or hugs. I've seen people wearing masks while having prolonged conversations standing very close together. The point is, if they really believed that covid was as bad a virus as they say, they would be more consistent in trying to following the rules. For many, masks are a "virtue signaling" symbol, not a sincere health effort.
God wants us to get rid of any hypocrisy in our lives. Paul rebuked Peter because he ate with the Gentiles, but when the Jews came, he distanced himself from them (Galatians 2:12-24). It seems like people who promote masks go back and forth a lot. One minute, they say that the virus is really deadly and that we must do whatever we can to stop it; the next minute, they're breaking big covid rules, or agreeing that the media is really over-hyping the fear. God wants us to have consistency and singleness of heart (Acts 2:46).
Romans 12:9a - Let love be without dissimulation [hypocrisy].
7: God commands unmasked, close fellowship among Christians
The seventh reason not to wear a mask, at least in church, is that it would violate God's commands for fellowship among Christians. Four times in the Bible, Paul commanded the warm social greeting of his day, "an holy kiss": Romans 16:16, I Corinthians 16:20, II Corinthians 13:12, and I Thessalonians 5:26. In our day, perhaps this is analogous to handshakes and hugs, but in any case, the kind of greeting Paul commanded is incompatible with face masks and social distancing. God wanted close, face-to-face fellowship among Christians.
There's also the verse about greeting friends by name (III John 1:14). That's harder than you might think when everyone's wearing face masks! It takes longer to recognize who they are. John also desired to talk to Christians "face to face" in that same verse and in II John 1:12. God designed us for face-to-face fellowship, not mask-to-mask fellowship.
And in general, masks destroy the sweet fellowship God wants for us as Christians. It's hard to hear someone talking through a mask. If they want to share a very personal prayer request, how can they do it while wearing masks and staying six feet apart? They won't want to yell every prayer request for all to hear. From my experience, those who voluntarily wear masks tend not to start as many conversations (if any); they more often keep to themselves and then leave. It's just really hard to communicate. On the other hand, in the very same church services I've seen maskless people having hearty, wholesome conversations, uplifted by the Christian fellowship. To me, it seems that God is asking us to keep church fellowship unmasked, both through His Word and through the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
A: "What about obeying authority (Romans 13)?"
When men go against God, we must obey God first, our supreme Authority. Since God has commanded unmasked fellowship among Christians, then we must obey Him, even when it goes against government.
B: "Isn't this virus real?"
The question isn't whether the virus exists. We could ask, "Isn't the flu real?" The real question is whether our society's response has been appropriate. Suicides, domestic violence, and all sorts of evil have increased with the hyped fear and tyrannical mask and isolation mandates.
C: "If all the lockdowns and masks save even one life, then isn't it all worth it?"
This argument does not hold up in other areas of life. Should we outlaw cars, sports, skydiving, and amusement parks if it saves one life? That would be a tragic way to live, and very ungodly (II Timothy 1:7). God rebuked the Israelites for refusing to trust Him and inherit the promised land. The Israelites made the very same argument--that their children would be killed if they obeyed God (Numbers 14:3). I think their fear was rational from a godless perspective; the giants of the promised land would have been scary. But covid is not the fearsome giants faced by the Israelites, and I think this makes our society's lack of faith more embarassing.
This argument also ignores the lives lost by the lockdowns. God has given our nation incredible healthcare, but it must be driven by a thriving economy. Lockdowns have increased suicide and violence. We must also consider quality of life. How many elderly people truly want to live in isolation for much of their remaining days? I know a lot of them would rather take their chances with covid, as they do with flus and colds every year, to see their family and friends. We need to get back to asking God what He wants, not trusting in man's faithless wisdom.
D: "Shouldn't we love our neighbor?"
Yes, and we are loving them by offering meaningful social interaction as God intended, and by combatting our society's crippling fear, which is the real pandemic in this situation. II Timothy 1:7 says, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
In closing, II Corinthians 3:16-18 talks about a mask (a veil) on the heart. In the current conversation of face masks, it seems to have an incredible application meant for us today:
2 Corinthians 3:16 - Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
17 - Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Paul saw the light on the road to De-Mask-Us!
Let your light shine!
- PDF: Four Reasons Not to Wear a Mask
Prints three per sheet, requires cutting. This is a small handout that can be printed three to a page (standard 8.5"x11" printer paper), printed double-sided with no extra printer margins if possible. Cutting just right is difficult, but it gets easier with a little practice. :) The web version is here.