A church member recently asked my opinion regarding the COVID vaccine. Some in his circle apparently claimed that taking the vaccine was a sign that he did not trust the Lord. He was not coming to me as a skeptic or as a person trying to trap me. He came as a follower of Jesus who wanted to please Christ regarding his decision. I could not help but wonder how many others might find my answer helpful.
Before I explain my position, I ought to provide two pieces of information first: (1) my experience with COVID; and (2) a disclaimer.
I tested positive for the presence of the coronavirus COV-SARS-2 in December 2020 after feeling ill and running a high fever. By the grace of God my symptoms were mostly gone in 48 hours. My uncle did not fare so well. He contracted the coronavirus and died of viral pneumonia a few weeks later. He survived multiple tours in Vietnam, but not the virus. I cringe when I think about my uncle dying as his lungs filled with fluid. I grieve that so many people died alone, and their families struggled to find closure since they were unable to have a normal funeral where people could gather to remember, weep, and encourage one another. I hate this virus.
I believe in individual soul liberty. I believe that people have a Romans 14 right to choose to accept or reject the vaccine. Each person should ask questions like, “Can I accept/reject to the glory and praise of God?,” “Can I accept/reject without being judgmental against those who make a different choice?” Once these questions are answered, a believer is free to act as they deem appropriate.
What follows are four reasons in favor of the vaccine followed by three rejections of reasons against the vaccine.
Reason #1: Vaccines have worked
I received all the vaccines given to children born in the early 1970s. I have never had polio, measles, mumps, or smallpox. I think I get the tetanus every 10 years or so, but I have never had that disease either. In other words, vaccines have been around for a long time and they work.
Reason #2: COVID is dangerous
I am not always sure that the death statistics are accurate. I have heard the stories where a person who tests positive for COVID is counted as a COVID death even if they died of natural causes. I am happy to grant that some of the information we receive is exaggerated at best and is a downright lie at worst. I have a healthy skepticism for the news. But my information is not coming solely from news sources. I know doctors, nurses, infectious disease specialists, and people who lost loved ones. The stories are heartbreaking.
While many have an immune system that naturally fights COVID, others do not. If I am going to err, then I want to err on the side of being safe to others.
Reason #3: Opportunities for ministry
I have done a lot of things through the years to open a door for ministry. I attended seminary. I wrote a doctoral dissertation. I have refrained from all sorts of activities. I do not view myself as a martyr. It is merely controlling pleasure for the purpose of service. It is the heart of the apostle Paul who refrained from various rights to serve others.
I do not know what rules will exist or even what opportunities might arise, but I know that the vaccine puts me in the position to take advantage of an opportunity where the lack of a vaccine might eliminate it. Seeking to open doors for ministry is part and parcel with how I have functioned for decades.
Reason #4: Opportunity for care
I realize this is a highly unlikely scenario. But we enjoy a highly unlikely scenario from time to time – especially during March Madness. What would happen if a family member became seriously ill with COVID? They need hospital care, or they will drown in their own mucus, but the hospital requires a vaccine card to go see them, to hold their hand, or to pray with them.
If a dear family member became sick and I chose not to get the vaccine, I would regret that for all my days. Maybe that risk is small, but small risks happen.
Rejection #1: Conspiracy theories
I reject conspiracy theories. I am not persuaded that the vaccine contains nanotechnology designed to turn all of us into slaves. I am not persuaded by the one world order that is suddenly going to coalesce through the vaccine. Our own national government cannot figure out how to work together to compromise about virtually anything yet with an amazing stroke of brilliance the entire world will come together under one leadership. I simply do not believe it.
Rejection #2: Use of aborted tissue
This is a much more challenging issue. Others have written extensively on this subject. It is somewhat difficult to know the truth. We know our nation worships sex more than life. Our nation uses broad terms like “reproductive health” to serve as an umbrella shield against abortion. Our men love to hide behind “a woman’s right to abortion” because they are too cowardly to take responsibility. Abortion is a great evil, and we pray for the day when the heart of our people no longer desire murder. As best as I could tell, babies were not the mechanism to deliver the vaccine.
While sad and irritating, it is hard to know all the ways the baby-murdering industry finds ways to make a profit — even in our retirement portfolios. On this issue, I am relying on the words of others and trusting that my choice is to the praise of Jesus.
Rejection #3: This vaccine came to market too quickly
My father earned his undergraduate degree when I was 10. I can remember his stacks of punch cards that contained his computer programs. I can also remember my dad telling stories of what people said (paraphrased of course!) in the computer lab when they accidently dropped them. Eight years later I attended the same university and entered the same lab. Thankfully, the punch cards were unnecessary. I remember one of our first desktop computers. It had 64K of RAM. 64K! My phone is much more powerful than our first computer (late 1970s-early 1980s). My point is that we expect that the science for vaccines has improved.
I also decided to speak to a friend who reviews grants for the NIH. He is an expert in Pharmacology. He said that the technology used for the COVID vaccine has been around for a decade. Companies like Moderna and Pfizer merely focused their efforts on COVID. His opinion is that it was not surprising. We had to decide to do it. Sounded like the way Americans talked about going to the moon.
I realize that you have your own reasons for accepting or rejecting the vaccine. I hope that you will make your choice because you believe it honors Jesus and that you will not look with condescension on those who made a different choice.
As I conclude, I also encourage you to recognize that you accept the consequences for your decision. We make our choice and then we rest in the sweet sovereign hand of our savior.