August 26, 2021
On August 23, Governor Jay Inslee’s revised “mask mandate” took effect throughout the State of Washington. The mandate requires face coverings for indoor gatherings, regardless of a person’s vaccination status, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
After enjoying unmasked fellowship for the past few months, how should EBC, as a church, respond?
The answer, of course, is that we need to look to God’s Word.
As Christians, we are called to submit to governmental authorities, as long as they are not asking us to violate God's Word.
Romans 13:1-2: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”
1 Peter 2:13-20: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.”
We also are called to demonstrate love and concern for others above our own preferences.
Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
The Elders hope each of you will take this biblical guidance into consideration as you determine your response to the governor’s proclamation.
The mask mandate includes exemptions for those under the age of 5, and for those “with a medical condition, mental health condition, development or cognitive condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering.”
Since the broad nature of the exemptions leaves room for interpretation, each individual must decide whether or not they qualify. While the congregation is encouraged to wear face coverings for the biblical reasons stated above, those who do not won’t be challenged or denied the opportunity to worship.
Ultimately, the decision whether or not to wear a face covering is one that each person must make, knowing they are called to do what is right not in the eyes of men, but before God. At the same time, we ask everyone to follow the principle set forth in Romans 14 and demonstrate grace to their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Romans 14:1-3, 6: “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. … He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.”
Let us all resolve to pray diligently that the scourge of COVID-19 will soon pass, and that we can resume worshipping without restrictions. Pray for those whose families have been directly impacted by the virus, and pray, too, that we will remain steadfast in our faith and that during this difficult time our thoughts, words and actions will bring glory to our Lord.
The Elders of EBC