Originally published at: A Patch of Cloth for Caesar | Corey J. MahlerCorey J. Mahler
For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God[.]
We are told, ad nauseam, that those in and from the East are more willing to wear masks; further, we are told that this is due to a sort of social responsibility — a focus on the community instead of a focus on the individual (supposedly contra and contrasted with the West). It is true that Easterners are more willing to wear face masks, but this is the only true claim in the lot. Easterners do not wear face masks due to a focus on the community or society; the West is not so individualistic as some would claim; and face masks are most certainly neither a matter of social responsibility nor a matter of loving one's neighbor or pursuing the greater good.
The oft-repeated lie that Easterners put community or society ahead of the individual is readily disproved. A man lying on the street in China will be left to die; a man lying on the street in a Western nation will generally receive aid. It is not that the community or society are more valued in Eastern countries, but that the individual is seen as worthless. Mask mandates, and similar, are more readily accepted in the East, not because those who comply care for others, but because of a general fear of shame and punishment. There is nothing of the altruist and much of the mercenary in Eastern nations.
Unlike Eastern nations, Western nations do care for the individual — but not at the expense of the community or society1. The refusal of some to wear masks is, in fact, a protection of both the community and the individual (more infra). In the West, the individual is recognized both as moral agent and as moral end (cf. the Eastern conception of the individual as mere means). Long ago, for reasons that will be explored, infra, the West recognized that there must be a balancing of interests between and among individuals and the community, society, or nation. Neither the individual nor the collective may be categorically or exclusively preferenced. After all, what is the point of the community? The protection, advancement, and development of the individual2. Naturally, then, the destruction of the community via an inordinate focus on the individual would actually eventuate in harming the individual. The West is not individualistic and the East is not collectivist; rather, the West is a combination of communitarian and individualist and the East is simply mercenary3.
We come, then to the issue of face masks. Many, today, contend that they are a matter of social responsibility, a matter of placing the common good above and before the desires of the individual, and a concrete display of love for one's neighbor. But face masks are none of these things. Leaving aside, as beyond the scope of this article, whether or not face masks are effective4, let us examine several matters of far greater import.
The purpose of face masks is dehumanization. In truth, this is actually quite obvious. One need look no further than the videos of various high-profile events. Who is wearing a face mask? The servants. Who is not wearing a face mask? The overlords. Those who are viewed as being of lesser worth are required to mask while those who view themselves as masters feel no need to comply with such measures. You must wear a face mask if you wish (or need) to fly. Do you think they5 are wearing face masks on private planes?
Man is made in the image of God; man is the image of God; to cover a man's face is an attempt to suppress or distort the image of God. Face masks are of a kind with many transhumanist measures, transsexuality, and various body-modification procedures. Modern society — and particularly the modern economy — treats men as interchangeable — and expendable — widgets, as resources to be used — and used up. Only the most truly and pervasively depraved, debased, and demonized can look upon another human being and see only a means, not an end in itself; the goal of face masks is to make it easier to see a widget instead of a man, to see a means instead of an end, to see materiel instead of imāginēm6. The corruption of conscience, the deadening of the in-built moral sense of man is always aided by rationalizations and concrete blinders. 'My time is more valuable than his — I don't need to be polite or considerate.' 'He is less learned — I can be needlessly and senselessly rude.' Et cetera, et cetera, ad nausea et desperationem.
Have we truly fallen so far that we no longer recognize the reflection and the echo of the divine in man? A rhetorical question. Our civilization has spent more than a century systematically removing God from our lives, our culture, our institutions — from everywhere and everything. Some have even gone so far as to remove Him from their confessions and their churches. We no longer recognize the fingerprints of God that are everywhere in Creation; we deny Him His proper place in our lives, our institutions, and our culture; we erect a wall of duplicity and cowardice between the Church and the State — two kingdoms, both His; and we deny the imago Dei in every child we abort, in every image of God we murder — and silence is complicity. The only wonder is that God has not already made an end of us — surely, there still exist some saints somewhere who still pray for us.
To our damnable and pervasive evil, we now add the obfuscation and distortion of the imago Dei in the name of 'safety' — a false and pernicious safety that assuredly produces more harm than good7. Is the corruption from the Fall not enough? Must we now add to our ancestral sins the active sin of the willful pursuit of evil? Yet surely my comments are hyperbolic; surely I exceed my warrant. Do I? How do we characterize our use of face masks? We claim that we are loving our neighbors; we claim that we are being socially responsible; we claim that we are putting the greater good or the common interests before our personal desires. We add hypocrisy, sanctimoniousness, and self-righteousness as a crown to our evil. 'Woe to those who would call good evil and evil good.' Face masks are a public declaration of faithlessness — and yet some go so far as to wear them in church. Face masks are self-righteousness masquerading as love of neighbor. Avoiding our neighbor and treating him as if he were some sort of plagued, unclean thing is not love but indifference — it is not caring for our neighbor's suffering, but exacerbating it. And what harm have we done to all the children around us? These youngest and most vulnerable neighbors have suffered disparate and extreme harm due to the cowardice, foolishness, selfishness, and evil of those whose duty it is to protect them. Face masks are sanctimony — evil masquerading as a good work, evil undertaken in lieu of good works.
Every time you put on a face mask, you are tacitly supporting all of the assumptions and assertions behind them; you are exchanging the imago Dei for an assertion of the material over and against the spiritual, and of the known and open falsehood over and against the truth. Complicity in evil is evil itself. 'But masks are required by my government!' 'But the local magistrate commanded me to offer a punch of incense to Caesar!'
Which good is greater? This is often a challenging question — but not so here. Faced with submission to a faithless Caesar or obedience to God, we do not even have a choice — we are not actually presented with options, but with a duty. 'Friendship with the world is enmity with God.' Which do you value more: Loyalty to God or slavish submission to a wicked Caesar? Choose wisely. You will give account not only for your actions, but for their impact on those entrusted to your care, on those to whom you owed duties.
It is no small matter to speak falsely in God's Name, and ignorance — particularly willful ignorance — will not avail you. There are no small lies — any denial of any truth is a denial of all truth. Which of Christ's miracles would you be willing to deny to keep your job? Which part of His earthly ministry would you be willing to deny for the sake of harmony or the avoidance of conflict? 'For the Heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.' Creation itself is a miracle and it is full of His truth.
To muzzle oneself with the face mask is to deny the imago Dei, to elevate the lie and deny the truth, and to proclaim one's allegiance to Caesar and his ministers over God and His truth. There are no 'minor' truths; there are no 'little' lies. There is but one God and there is but one Truth. And so choose you this day whom you will serve: The false god of Science to whom your fellows offer sacrifices and the false god of Caesar before whom they prostrate themselves or the one true God.
Ich aber und mein Haus wollen dem Herrn dienen. (Joshua 24:15b).
- There is, of course, a caveat that must be given, here, with regard to certain subsets of the American population (e.g., Libertarians). ↩︎
- Actually, the family, but that is a topic for another article. ↩︎
- The immorality — or, perhaps, amorality — of the East is a complex topic, but only a cursory treatment is warranted, here. ↩︎
- They are not. ↩︎
- Again, n.b., the distinction between servants and overlords is relevant. ↩︎
- Second-person, singular, accusative of imāgō. ↩︎
- Admittedly, a low bar when only harm is produced. ↩︎