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The lie that evangelical Christians are “unloving”

Ericka Andersen | Loving one’s neighbor means living in truth

A sign promoting mask-wearing outside of a church in Memphis, Tenn., in Nov. 2022 Getty Images/Photo by Nina Westervelt/Bloomberg

The lie that evangelical Christians are “unloving”
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A frequent refrain over the past two years has been this: Evangelical Christians prioritize their “individual rights” over a love of neighbor. The sentiment primarily referred to those who did not support mask or vaccine mandates, many based on medical freedom and data confirming that masks did little to protect anyone from COVID-19.

Ironically, now that states nationwide are lifting mask regulations, eliminating vaccine mandates, and schools are returning to standard sickness protocols, most are happy to take their “individual rights” back. While updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention give mask and vaccine pushers a pass for their newly maskless lifestyle, the virus is still contagiously alive and well. With restrictions gone, however, progressives will be—as the satirical site The Babylon Bee put it—“sad they have no way to love their neighbors now.”

On the serious side, the feigned concern political influencers have for the immunocompromised dissipates as the election draws near. Not much has changed scientifically, but playing politics is apparently a remedy. We saw this at the State of the Union address when President Joe Biden assured the nation it was “time for Americans to get back to work” just months after attempting to implement the worker vaccine mandates overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The accusation that evangelicals don’t “love their neighbors” well isn’t confined to COVID narratives. Don’t support universal healthcare, abortion, higher taxes, or biological males sharing locker rooms with women? You’re charged with spreading “hate.”

Yet, as Christians, objective truth is foundational to what we believe about life, the human body, politics, policy, and faith. Basing one’s beliefs on evidence and logic isn’t unloving. Rather, it’s congruent with a God of truth—the one who mentions “truth” more than 200 times in the Bible.

Most conservative evangelicals would tell you that data, science, and this Biblical truth are their motivators for mandate opposition. So, were Christians who opposed mandates “unloving?” Or were they thoughtful and logical, based on available data and historical study of government overreach?

Long before we ever heard the word “coronavirus,” studies showed that paper and cloth masks did little to negate the spread of respiratory illness. The New England Journal of Medicine reported that wearing a mask outside of a healthcare facility “offers little, if any, protection.” Oxford Academic’s Clinical Infectious Diseases also reported “no evidence of protection … when used repeatedly without adequate sterilization.”

Basing one’s beliefs on evidence and logic isn’t unloving. Rather, it’s congruent with a God of truth—the one who mentions “truth” more than 200 times in the Bible.

Given the detrimental outcomes of masking for children, the deaf, autistic, and those with special needs, that data seems relevant. To accuse those who did not support mandates of being “unloving” makes little sense in this context. Wouldn't mask mandates be “unloving” to the vulnerable populations that the mandates harmed?

We see the twisted logic in other areas. When it comes to LGBTQ issues, evangelical Christians adhere to the Genesis truth that God created us “male and female” and for one another. Logically speaking, God also instilled us with undeniable biological references that denote our sex in the form of male and female chromosomes.

Of course, unbelievers have no reason to care what the Bible says, and they can try to ignore biology if they choose, but Christians cannot. The truth of who we are as male and female is encoded into our physical bodies, not a fungible mentality we cultivate at will. You needn’t affirm someone’s preferred gender identity to love them as an image-bearer of God.

Such magical thinking reminds me of another leftist vision of “love”: useful illusions of socialism. Conservative Christians are often denoted as “unloving” for not supporting wealth redistribution. In progressives’ socialist utopia, one may imagine a classless society teeming with equality. But, in a fallen world, this will never be. Socialism has failed everywhere it’s been tried, creating stagnation and victims worldwide. To support such policies would be to support a lie—a most unloving thing to do.

Conservatives base support for capitalism on solid data documenting that economic freedom is the best way to lift people out of poverty. No one argues that capitalism is perfect, but it is undeniable that the long-term benefits of economic freedom, deregulation, and innovation have infinitely more potential to help the vulnerable. It’s disingenuous to accuse those who believe the data of being “unloving.”

To be sure, some evangelical Christians have acted in unloving ways—defying mask mandates or supporting economic policies for selfish reasons. But for good faith Christians trying to live out their faith well, loving one’s neighbor means living in truth. It means serving others and supporting policies that allow others to flourish. For many, biological reality and economic freedom are both parts of that.

Many progressives have been dismissive of “individual rights” in the past two years, and it’s worth reminding them that these rights don’t come from the government, they come from God.

Ericka Andersen

Ericka Andersen is a freelance writer and mother of two living in Indianapolis. She is the author of Leaving Cloud 9 and is currently writing a book on women and faith to be released in 2022. Ericka hosts the Worth Your Time podcast. She has been published in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Christianity Today, USA Today, and more.


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