A Hopeful Introduction
Let us hope that we are on the brink of the dam breaking on all these nonsense mandates from governments abusing their powers. Let us hope. Let us hope that Biden and the democrats and the RINOs have sensed there is no more appetite for tyranny and they are in the process of trying to get in front of this trucker parade as though it was their idea in the first place and only loony right-wingers would think masking 3 year olds is good science.
But at every point during this charade in which I’ve thought surely now everyone will come to their senses and throw off the masks and laugh in the face of vaccine passports, the masses don’t seem to have gotten the memo. Even the CDC has now admitted that cloth masks do virtually nothing to help with viruses like COVID, and yet still, I was the only one I noticed in three large metropolitan airports a week back, bare-faced acting like a normal human being. Or after the vaccines have proven relatively ineffectual in actually eliminating infection and spread, Fauci still has a job. Well, here we are. So here are a few more thoughts on why it is unlawful for civil magistrates and pastors and elders to mandate masks and vaccines.
Ruling While Intoxicated
At this point, given all the data we have about the actual mortality rates (99.7% recovery), the danger the virus poses primarily to the elderly and immune compromised, the worthlessness of masks (especially cloth ones), and the experimental use of vaccines with relative inefficacy, plus the potential fraud involved in the FDA approving one vaccine label while continuing to offer the Emergency Use vaccine, it is completely unconscionable that civil governments would be mandating anything related to COVID for the general public, private businesses, period. Most of our civil magistrates have been driving drunk for this entire pandemic: drunk on power. And it is love and respect that requires them to stop the vehicle of our cities, states, and nations and step out of the vehicle with their hands where we can see them.
While civil magistrates have been leading the way, many church leaders have been thoroughly complicit in this abuse of power. When churches require attenders to wear masks or show proof of vaccine status one of two possible abuses of authority is taking place. Either, the church government is abdicating its authority to disciple the nation, to teach the civil leaders what their rightful authority is, and is thereby helping civil leaders to abuse their authority in disobedience to the Lord Christ. Or else, if the church government really believes in the masking and vaccine mandates, they are directly abusing their own authority, since Jesus did not give church elders the authority to require particular medical or healthcare decisions.
A Short Primer on Family Government
The authority for the care of health and medical decisions and welfare was given directly to the government of the family. Husbands are required to love their wives as their own bodies. No man ever hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it just as Christ does the church (Eph. 5:28-29). The words for nourish and cherish literally mean feed and keep warm, and the care that a man has for his own body is not merely spiritual, but also material and physical. A husband is required to provide food and clothing and shelter and medicine and healthcare for his wife, just as he would his own body. Likewise, in the next chapter, fathers are required to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). The verb there for “bring up” is the same from the previous chapter and means to “nourish” or feed. A faithful father must nourish his children in the culture and counsel of Jesus. This culture and counsel includes the physical and material well-being of children as much as it requires discipleship in the gospel, which incidentally includes biblical authority and jurisdictions.
In 1 Timothy 5, Paul instructs Timothy that the care for widows is the first responsibility of the family. If a widow has family, they are to care for her and provide for her, and anyone who does not provide for their own family is worse than an unbeliever (1 Tim. 5:7). This provision for a widow would obviously include making sure she could attend worship services and participate in the covenant community, but it also clearly includes medical and health decisions. The church government is not to be burdened with the care of widows ordinarily, and therefore, the elders must not take those concerns upon themselves except under very specific circumstances. But that is on a case by case basis of particular, qualified widows.
While some elders and pastors are concerned that this stance is a slippery slope or gateway to libertarian anti-authoritarianism, I believe it is actually the only path toward recovering true biblical, covenantal authority for all governments. I’m no libertarian. I’m a covenanter. And what I am arguing for here is not every man doing what it is right in his own eyes. I’m arguing for covenantal authority. I’m arguing that civil government must be submitted to in the jurisdiction assigned to it by Jesus Christ, and church government must be submitted to in the jurisdiction assigned to it by Jesus Christ, and family government must be submitted to in the jurisdiction assigned to it by Jesus Christ. This is because Jesus is Lord of all. When He rose from the dead, He said, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him (Mt. 28). He lived the perfect life. He took all our sins on Himself. He crushed sin and death, and He rose from the dead. There is no authority except from Jesus Christ. This is why Paul can say that a man who does not provide for his own household is worse than an unbeliever. The assignment given by Jesus Christ to men to provide for their families flows directly out of the gospel.
What some pastors and elders do not seem to understand is that their heavy-handed approach to masking and vaccine mandates is undermining the very reformation they seek in the family and the church. How can you call men to stand tall as men and take responsibility for their families in the assignments they have been given by Christ, when you require them to leave that assignment at the door of your church? How can you call men to accept responsibility for the well-being of their families when you take that responsibility from them? When elders and pastors take to themselves authority that was not expressly given to them by the Lord Jesus, they are modeling to the civil government and family governments that is perfectly fine to do the same. Why can’t a father decide one Sunday to withhold communion from his 10 year old son? Maybe the kid was back-chatting in the car on the way to church. But Jesus didn’t give dads the keys of the kingdom. Jesus gave those keys to the elders of the church. But why can’t a good father “borrow” those keys every once in a while? The correct answer is because Jesus did not authorize it. And so here we are with masks and vax mandates: Jesus has not authorized civil magistrates or pastors or elders to make health care or medical decisions.
This world is patriarchal, and all fatherhood derives from God the Father Almighty (Eph. 3:14-15). This means that the governments ordinarily relate to one another in relatively masculine ways. And this means the governments must relate to one another with respect and honor for the assignments given to them by Christ. A church government that does not respect or honor the jurisdiction of the family, no matter how central they claim biblical family and marriage is to their ministry, is undermining the very thing they say they stand for.
Conclusion: A Pox On Libertarianism
At the same time, let me be clear: there are plenty of rogue libertarian men who do not know what spirit they are of. They will not submit to any authority, and they really do whatever is right in their own eyes. And they must be rebuked by their pastors and elders. There are also circumstances where good pastors and elders see all of these dynamics and they really are trying to do the best they can in very difficult circumstances. Wise fathers and husbands will look for creative ways to respect their pastors and elders in these difficult circumstances while protecting their families. But pastor and elders must likewise see the difficult bind they are putting fathers in and look for ways to respect the jurisdiction of families.
I read an article sometime back about how the civil leaders of Washington D.C. asked the churches to close down during the Spanish Flu for some period of time. And many of them did. But that was a very different time, and it was a time in which civil government asked another legitimate government for help, but it did not demand it. It did not mandate compliance. And so it should be between all three of the governments. The civil government may ask church and family governments for help, but it may not demand or command over an area that the Lord Jesus has not authorized. To do so is to strike directly at the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Is Jesus Lord? Then the governments must obey Him. The family, the church, and the state must obey Jesus, and none of those of governments are free to take to themselves authority that Jesus has not given them to exercise.
And for the record, if a twelve year old boy came to me because his father was requiring him to wear a mask in school or at church, I would admonish that boy to submit to his father in the Lord, because while I disagree with that decision, the one authority given the responsibility for making health care and medical decisions is the family government. The father actually has that legitimate authority to make that health and medical decision (unlike any magistrate or pastor). And that authority belongs to him until or unless it can be clearly proven that he is so abusing that authority that sins and crimes are being committed that the church and the state must intervene in their respective jurisdictions.