(Image courtesy of www.npr.org.)

Perhaps what is the most dangerous threat in regards to the many mandates today due to Covid is fear. To say it succinctly: Fear, not disease, is the greatest threat we face in 2020. The fear of God, of course, is a good thing, but we are fearing (placing a greater emphasis on) the wrong things: disease, death, and others.

Our consciences are fragile things. The apostle Paul says that our consciences are constantly approving of the good that what we do or accusing us of the wrong that we do. Each person's conscience is influenced throughout one's life. Regardless, God has given all human beings a conscience to distinguish between right and wrong. It is the first restraint given by God after the fall against sin: humans have an innate knowledge of moral right and wrong.

But I want to return to the idea that each person's conscience is influenced by various ideas throughout one's life, and it can change. I'll get right to the point: I have found my conscience accusing me of things that it previously did not because of the various mandates surrounding Covid, specifically in regards to the various and sometimes conflicting scientific findings on the effectiveness of masks and the spreading of the disease.
To illustrate my point, a few months ago (it's hard to imagine we've been going through this Covid season for so long), I found myself becoming very skeptical of others. If someone had a mask on, I didn't make eye contact with them; I avoided them because everything inside me - which was influenced by what I read and heard - was telling me to "stay away, they might be sick."

I didn't like having this particular fear of others inside of me all of the sudden. So I began to  battle back by forcing myself to confront my fears. I looked people in the eye with an attitude of love, not of hatred. I began to confront my fearful soul with biblical truths of God's sovereignty. I began to rehearse to myself that if someone I knew was sick, I would certainly do what I could to help them even if it meant I myself could get sick.

In addition, there is another fear that has crept into our psyches during this time. It is the fear that any sniffle, fever, cough, or sneeze means the person has Covid. It is silly to think that every sickness is Covid. It has caused some parents to be unnecessarily afraid that their kids might have Covid because they have a cough or a fever.

Truth be told, even though some statistics show that many people have contracted the disease, the death rate from these same sources is extremely low. Currently in the United States, there is a 3.2% chance that you will die from Covid. Actually, the results are probably far lower, since not everyone in the USA has been tested. (The current confirmed count in the USA is just over 5 million. The deaths recorded is just under 170,000.) Minds informed by propaganda and faulty readings of scientific research can and do create incredible fear.

Let me share a few examples that show the propaganda that has been created at this time, which influences each of us to be fearful during this season:

This Yahoo! opinion was written a month ago now, but the picture and the words influence us to be afraid of those who are not doing what everyone else is doing.

This propaganda was a picture I took at my doctor's office, showing that a mask is what keeps this angry virus from spreading.

Is a mask really necessary to protect the general population from a disease that has such an incredibly low chance of killing you? Notice the language used, by the way: by wearing a mask we are protecting others. This is moral language, but it may not be truthful. It may be binding our consciences in ways that simply create more fear.

Furthermore, we lose a sense of human dignity and worth when we cover up someone's face. We communicate a lot by our facial expressions. Small children, more than perhaps any other group, are negatively affected by the covering up of faces. For one, a child looks to his parents for security, and when the child cannot see his parent's facial responses to a situation it creates anxiety in the child unnecessarily.

Some people claim the science is in favor of wearing masks and that we need to keep others safe from this deadly disease. Let's be clear on one thing: science is merely the recording of data from observations. Science doesn't create truth: it creates theories. If you don't believe me, just look at history. Notice how many scientific theories have been challenged and later changed because new observations call into question a previously, widely accepted theory. My point is this: we cannot look to science to give us our moral moorings, and we must be careful how much we allow our consciences to be influenced by others. To say it bluntly: as the mandatory mask debate continues to rage, I am not persuaded that the supposed benefits outweigh the propagating of fear.

So, what am I arguing for here? I am arguing that the greater threat is the fear that we are perpetuating - fear of one another. These are still people we are talking about, after all. People need some basic things other than good health. They also need relationships. I think that we are creating a society of closed off, skeptical, fearful individuals at the cost of not wanting to get sick.

What perpetuates this fear even more is that many "experts" have declared that even those who aren't showing any symptoms can be spreaders of Covid. Who can we trust, then? Who can we be safe with? All in all, I think the greatest threat to each of us is the threat of living in fear and skepticism toward our neighbor, even our own family members.

The psychological and spiritual impact felt during this season has been taking its toll on many. I think we should be careful in how we view the current situation and ground ourselves in the fear of the Lord, not in fear of disease, others, or death.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6).