Do The Right Thing

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are beneficial. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12)

As we continue to navigate our way through a global pandemic, a new mantra is becoming the rallying battle cry of many.

“It’s a mandate, not a law!”

The reality is, no one can really argue with that. Mandates being issued my governors and other government officials are not law.

I guess my question is, do we really need a law in order to do the right thing? Whether it is wearing a mask, jaywalking, turning the lights off when you leave a room, using a coaster when setting your coffee on a table, there are some actions that should not require laws to motivate appropriate actions. It’s like my mom used to say, “Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.” Just because you don’t have to wear a mask, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

Now, I realize that wearing masks has become a highly politicized subject. Some view mask mandates as a threat to our freedoms.

Many of the folks I’m connected with on social media who are of the “mandate, not law” persuasion have also been strong advocates for protecting religious freedom. For me, that’s where the hypocrisy becomes most evident.

Some who loudly advocated for protecting the religious freedoms of individuals and businesses are now crying “foul” when businesses are requiring customers to wear masks. So, we would advocate for the freedom of a business owner to refuse to bake a cake for a same-sex couple. But, when that same business asks me to wear a mask, well, that’s a violation of MY freedom. And, let’s be honest, that’s really what it’s about…my freedom, my rights.

While we have the freedom to not wear masks, we must also accept the repercussions. There will be places I cannot enter when I am not wearing a mask. I have the freedom to go somewhere else.

Think about it this way, we have the freedom to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol (if we are of age, of course). However, we cannot smoke or drink wherever we desire. There are health risks associated with smoking and drinking.

We have the freedom to wear a mask or not. However, there will be places of business and worship we cannot enter if we refuse to “mask up”.

Then, there are the labels that we toss around. Some call those who are being more cautious “fearful, scared, afraid.” Could it be that they are just being cautious?

Some call those who are being less cautions “reckless” and “ignorant”.

We have even started using masks as a way to gauge the faith of others. Those wearing masks have chosen “fear over faith.” Those not wearing masks have chosen “faith over fear.” If only it were that simple.

Some of used masks as a way to gauge the political affiliation of the wearer or non-wearer. No mask…must be a Trump supporter. Mask…must be in Biden’s camp (or still holding out for a Bernie miracle).

Many of us have been praying that God would deliver us and bring healing to our land. What if God has answered that prayer? What if the answer is: wash your hands, don’t touch your face, wear a mask, and keep your distance”?

My friends at Deathwish Coffee have a new t-shirt that sums up how I feel about physical distancing. It’s the mandate I’ve been waiting for my whole life…”When this is over, please continue to stay six feet away from me!”

We shouldn’t need a law or a mandate to motivate us to do the right thing. Of course, that’s part of the argument too. People on every side of this issue can find research that supports their particular point of view.

While there happens to be a seatbelt law, I’d still wear one even if it wasn’t required. Why? Well, 99.9% of the time, I don’t really need the seatbelt. But, for that .1% of the time that I do need it, well, I’m thankful it’s there! It’s the right thing to do, law or not.

What if when all of this is over we find out we didn’t really need the masks? All we’re out is the inconvenience of having to wear a masks.

What if we find out the masks are essential and what have kept many of us healthy? Well, I’m guessing we’ll be pretty thankful we wore masks.

Christianity in America seems to have become highly individualized and politicized. We are more focused on self and blind patriotism than we are on the teachings of Jesus. Some of the loudest voices regarding “MY freedoms” are coming from people of faith.

The teachings of Jesus call us to focus on love, service and embodying an “others first” mentality.

In Matthew 25:40, Jesus reminds those who have been feeding the hungry, providing water and clothing for those without that, “whenever you do it for one of the least of these, you have done it unto me.”

What if the most loving thing we could do today is wear a mask? While it might infringe upon our freedoms, consider it an act of service for the compromised and most vulnerable among us.

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