I haven’t written much lately, but there is something that really worries me.
I don’t want good brothers and sisters in the gospel to fight with one another and then leave the church because of a simple little mask.
The world is going through a lot. People are going through a lot. There is confusion and chaos. There are complicated decisions and lots of unknowns.
But you can know one thing during these wacky times. The church is a family. We may not agree on everything. There may be little things that annoy you about this leader or that teacher or this doctrine or that policy. But at the end of the day, the church is one of the most tight-knit families on the earth today.
With all of the contention taking place in the world right now, we have to be peacemakers.
There is no reason that wearing a mask should become the great sifting in the church. There is no way that it should create this kind of polarization.
I’ve always had a philosophy that I have applied to any situation in which I didn’t agree with what a church leader was asking me to do. In the past, if I was asked to do something that didn’t make sense to me, I would ask myself:
- Is it a righteous desire?
- Will it hurt me if I do what I’m being asked?
- Will it hurt others if I do what I’m being asked?
- Am I 100% certain that what I’m being asked is wrong?
I have gone through that exercise many times in the church. I can’t remember a time that I regretted surrendering my pride and doing the thing that was being asked of me regardless of how little sense it made to me at the time.
There was a thing in the early days of the church called “Zions camp.” Much of what took place on that camp made absolutely no sense to a great deal of the members of that camp. But they kept moving forward.
We think life is challenging with COVID, a bad economy, and a constant stream of contention in the world. Our thumbs are tired of scrolling and only getting bad news. But during the times of Zion’s camp, there was no economy. They had nothing but their testimonies and their trust in their leaders. People died of all manner of diseases with no hope or hospital. There was no safety for them… anywhere and their thumbs we tired from much more intense work than typing hateful responses on their digital keyboards.
I just wonder what they would think if they saw their posterity sitting in their air conditioned houses fighting so severely about wearing a mask. I wonder if they’d wish they had one of those masks during a diphtheria outbreak…
All I’m saying is that this is not a time to divide. I know everyone has a CDC stat or a WHO stat or a brothers uncle who is a reputable physician somewhere in the country with “conclusive evidence” about everything that will support their point of view on either side of the argument. But at the end of the day, no one REALLY knows. Except for God.
So, if my area Presidency asks me to wear a mask…
- Is it a righteous desire?
- Will it hurt me to wear a mask around people in public?
- Will it hurt others if I wear a mask?
- Am I 100% sure that two people wearing masks near one another will not assist in reducing the chances of one of us getting sick?
If I can answer those questions: 1. Yes 2. No 3. No and 4. No… then it’s an easy answer for me.
Furthermore, being asked to wear a mask is never something that I would want to point back to as the tipping point of my testimony or my membership in the church. I would also never believe it to be worth creating a lifelong rift between friends, family, and church members.
We may not be in Zion’s camp right now, but we’re definitely living through some critical times in our spiritual lives. Those questions have always helped me move past the things that might not have made sense to me at the time. They may or may not work for you.
But in this case I hope to be able to implement the words of Elder Uchtdorf,
“Mask your face… but don’t mask your heart.”