Z: Zorro and the Danger of Hiding Behind a Mask

Zorro

In 1919, pulp fiction writer Johnston McCulley introduced the world to Zorro, one of the many masked marvels who has graced the pages of our most beloved comic strips. The name “Zorro,” which is the Spanish word for “fox,” captures the crafty skill and sly cunning of Don Diego de la Vega, a wealthy nobleman who secretly fights to defend the cause of the common people.

I love Zorro and other masked heroes as much as the next guy. They lead exciting lives, and the mask allows them to shroud themselves in mystery. But we have to ask the question: when did our heroes begin wearing masks? My idea of a hero is someone who boldly stands for what they believe in, shining for all to see as a beacon of courage and resolve. But instead, our modern heroes tend to hide their faces out of fear – fear for their own safety, or for that of their loved ones (which is something of a joke, by the way… the masks rarely end up protecting their family and friends from being kidnapped by giant lizards or hurled from the top of 50-story buildings!).

This unfortunate phenomenon has had far-reaching effects. Along with influencing the world of comic books, it has also taught our younger generations to idolize “hidden courage.” I’d like to argue, however, that hidden courage isn’t courage at all.

Masked Marvels: A Quick History

It all began in 1903, with a play entitled The Scarlet Pimpernel. Set during the French Revolution, this adventure tale by Emma Orczy described a hero named Sir Percy who was a master of disguise, and worked to rescue those who had been sentenced to death by guillotine.

After this, the idea of a hero with a secret identity caught like wildfire. Secret superheroes began popping up everywhere, with Zorro (1919), the Phantom (1936), and Batman (1939) rising to stand among the most popular of them all.

The Problem With Secret Identities

So what’s the big deal? The problem with romanticizing masked heroes is that it teaches young people that it’s not only okay to keep their convictions a secret, but that this can actually be honorable.

But it’s not. This past Sunday I taught a lesson on Christian liberty in my Young Adult Class (it seemed to fit nicely with the patriotic weekend). But my jaw hit the floor when I had a young man tell me that while he believes in Christ, he refuses to call himself a Christian. He said that he knows too many people who “wear Christianity like a badge” and hold it over other people’s heads, and that he would rather just let his life speak for itself and keep that fact that he’s a Christian a deep, dark secret.

Needless to say, we had a lively debate! See what our society has done to us? It has taught us to keep our heads down, and that keeping our faith to ourselves is an honorable cause. During the 4th of July we stood boldly, waving our flags and setting off fireworks and letting the whole world know that we are proud to be Americans! But when it comes to letting others know that we are Christians, our young people are being trained to not be so proud.

What a disappointing turn of events. As far as I’m concerned, this is a dangerous way of thinking. Refusing to let others know about your faith is prideful (it causes people to admire you for the blessings in your life instead of drawing their attention to Christ), and it’s a cop-out. In the end, we hide our faith for the same reasons those “mighty” super heroes hide their face: good, old fashioned, yellow-bellied fear.

The Danger of Hiding Behind a Mask

Not only is hiding our faith a sure way to disappoint our Savior, but it also puts us at danger of eternal judgement. Consider this verse:

“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

-Matthew 10:32-33

Our young people may not be verbally denying Christ, but by choosing to remain silent about their faith or by keeping their Christian identity a secret they are denying Him. And that is simply not okay.

You know, I enjoy a good Batman movie as much as the next guy, but when it comes to living out our faith, I wish we would take off the mask and live out loud, for everyone to see. Christ has done amazing things for us, and this is something we should be proud of! We should be shouting this news from the rooftops, not cowering in fear!

How do you advertise your faith? Are you living with a Secret Identity?

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This post concludes my contributions to the 2015 A to Z Challenge!  Congratulations to all my fellow challenge survivors, and thanks for traveling with me from A to Z! 

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Photo Credit: The Mark of Zorro Movie Poster (1920); Public Domain

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18 thoughts on “Z: Zorro and the Danger of Hiding Behind a Mask

  1. I totally get that we are not to hide our Christianity. I was never really into the super hero’s of comic books, so I never really thought about their reasons for wearing masks.

    Superman didn’t wear a mask, but he did change in a telephone booth, and looked a lot different than Clark Kent, because Lois Lane does not recognize him. As a kid I thought Clark Kent was just modest like people who do their good deeds in secret, but know that their Heavenly Father sees them. However I think you made a good point about all of those masked heroes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Of course, like I said, I love watching super hero movies… I just don’t think we should live our own lives this way, doing our good deeds in secret…

      Have a good one!

      Like

      1. I hope it is okay for me to ask a question. How do you interpret the verses in the sixth chapter of Matthew that speak on this subject?

        I do understand that the world is watching Christians, and that they should make every effort to live a life that is pleasing to the Father and that would also be a witness. But all scripture is profitable, including what is found in Matthew 6.

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        1. You’ve brought up a great point. If our motivation in serving the Lord is only to be seen and to receive the applause of men, then that is not pleasing to God. Matthew 6 is encouraging us to serve and worship God because He deserves it, whether or not we receive any type of praise or recognition here on earth. And even though we feel that our service goes unnoticed, the Father will one day reward us openly for all of this.

          There are many passages that encourage Christians to preach the Gospel with boldness (2 Timothy 4:2; Acts 28:31; Ephesians 6:19), and in the chapter immediately before the one you mentioned Christ warned His disciples not to hide their light under a bushel (Matthew 5:15). Given the bigger context of the passage, it seems that we are called to live out a bold witness, but to take care not to be motivated or consumed by pride.

          So glad you brought this up… thanks for your thoughts!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thank you for answering my question.

            I don’t think I ever expressed doubts about the commandment to preach the message of the gospel with boldness or the Christians privilege and duty to share with others that they are His followers. I hope I didn’t give you or your readers that impression.

            If I felt that way I wouldn’t be the author of two devotional blogs. At the bottom of every post I write you will find a link to a post that explains the salvation plan, so that they might be moved to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

            Looking Unto Jesus,
            Theresa

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, I think the masked heroes are for fun and entertainment. They aren’t real. When it comes to heroes of the faith, they all stood boldly. Sometimes, on the Holy Spirit’s urging they hid or left. But there was never any doubt who they were or what they stood for. I think it is important to watch fiction with your kids and discuss the differences with them.
    ~ We made it!!! ~
    Visit me at: Life & Faith in Caneyhead
    I am Ensign B of Tremps’ Troops
    with the A to Z Challenge

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I absolutely agree… discussing fictional stories with our kids can provide all sorts of opportunities for learning valuable life lessons! Even Jesus taught with parables, after all…

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  3. Well done for reaching Z. It’s been a good challenge and I’m so pleased I picked up on it from your blog back in March. Been run to find a new alpha poem for each day and there’s been some marvellous feedback. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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