On Meat, Idols, and Masks
I recently saw an argument made that in 1 Corinthians 8, when the Apostle Paul states that we should not eat meat sacrificed to idols if it would offend a weaker brother, that in this modern context, we should wear a mask for the same reason. It also stated that our failure to comply with this government mandate was a failure to submit to authority, based on the same passage. I do not agree with this argument.
I think the passage on meat sacrificed to idols is talking about meat sacrificed to idols. The question here is “Does an object used in ritual sacrifice to a pagan deity, or more broadly, an object associated with pagan practices, become evil because it was used for evil things?” The Gentile believers had been until very recently pagans themselves. They had participated in pagan practices. Then they repented, believed on Christ, and became new creatures. Paul had to construct a new way of life based on Christian principles.
Jews believed that things could become tainted by evil, or by ritual impurity. Jesus Himself taught that you can’t “catch” evil from things, but that evil proceeds from the heart. The Pharisees were obsessed with ritual and ceremonial purity, but completely neglected the purity of their own hearts. They could crucify the King of Glory, but believe themselves pure and innocent because they hadn’t touched anything or eaten anything unclean.
So you had Gentiles buying meat in the open air markets which had been butchered in sacrifice to pagan deities that morning. It was cheaper than other meat, which is why they were inclined to buy it. The Judaized believers were trying to make a moral issue out of a physical practice through association. In other words “It is sin to consume meat sacrificed to idols, because of its association with idolatry.”
1 Corinthians 8 explains that as believers, we are free from Jewish fears about ritual purity, or unclean meats. I can enjoy my bacon freely. I can eat that pepperoni pizza. I can relish that ham.
Based on the same passage, I would never serve pork or allow anything touched by pork in the presence of a Jew or a Muslim, because, as 1 Corinthians 8 states, it would wound their conscience. I voluntarily limit my freedom in this instance, because to them it is a moral issue. It is similar today to how you have to avoid certain music or entertainment in the presence of some fundamentalist believers because it would wound their weaker conscience.
Masks are not associated with pagan practice. They have no association with evil. They are not moral. It is not immoral to abstain from wearing a mask, nor moral to wear one. Meat sacrificed to idols is not morally equivalent to wearing a mask, or not wearing one. I am not sure how wearing a mask could be a matter of conscience which I as a believer am bound to respect as a matter of decency. If it was a religious garment, like a Muslim prayer covering or a Jewish prayer covering, it would be one thing. But it is not. It is a government mandated mask, done to perpetuate fear, and extend government control.
I think this issue, if we’re strictly talking Bible, more closely resembles the teaching on head coverings a bit further on in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. Some believers had made a moral issue out of whether a woman could pray in the church with her head uncovered, or whether a garment, a head covering, should be mandated. Paul’s conclusion was “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” Implying that it was an extra-Biblical custom, not mandated by Scripture, and out of place in the church of God. I could argue that mandating masks is the same kind of thing.
It is a Constitutional issue. As American believers, our duty is to defend freedom. This may have been a public health concern two months ago, but it has become very apparent that the real motive here is government control. Make people afraid so Democrats can demand cheat-by-mail, cancel in person voting, and keep Biden from debating Trump so the whole country can see how senile Biden has become. It is about forcing the common man to crawl at the dictates of government hegemony. As a patriot, I will not comply.
I am sorry if the “offense” of other believers is an issue for some, but “offense” gets used as a cudgel to bludgeon free Americans into compliance with very un-American and ungodly things too often. While the Bible teaches compassion and kindness, nowhere does it teach “tolerance.” Shall I be tolerant of abortion because it might offend baby killers if I do not? Shall I be tolerant of homosexual behavior because to call it perversion might offend heathens? Shall I be tolerant of Progressive “Christians” perverting Scripture to espouse critical race theory? I think not.
I could argue using the same concept of “offense” that the pro-Mask believer should defer to my offense since they are offending me by demanding I give up my liberty. But somehow, that deference never leans in the direction of more freedom – always less freedom.
Nobody in the Roman government was mandating that the Gentile believers eat or not eat meat sacrificed to idols, so I don’t think you can argue a failure to submit to government authority by drawing a comparison to this passage vis a vis wearing masks. In a government based on laws and the consent of the governed, such as we possess in America, our consent to government dictate is of tantamount importance. If there was a legitimate threat of death without the masks, it would be different. That is not the case. The virus is not that dangerous, and the masks don’t work that way. They are at best a placebo.
Quarantining the sick is Biblical – the healthy, not. If there are people worried about sickness, and their health is that fragile, then they should wear a mask, or stay home in quarantine. The rest of us, however, don’t need masks. Allowing Leftists to strong-arm us now will only embolden the neo-Marxists to do it again in the future. Our religious liberty in this country is under attack on multiple fronts. This is one of them.
It is because of this that I refuse to wear masks.