Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.Phillipians 2:3-4
In the year 165 A.D., the Roman Empire was hit by a pandemic that lasted for 15 years. This plague was so lethal that it killed as much as a full third of the entire population. The people were so frightened that family members would throw each other out on the street if one of them got infected, leaving them to die in literal piles of bodies on the side of the road. And then another pandemic just like it hit less than a hundred years later.
How did the earliest Christians respond to this terrifying plague that nobody knew how to cure?
They took seriously Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as yourself. These earliest Christians became known for bringing plague victims into their homes, and caring for them until they either recovered or passed away. They didn’t have modern day treatments, but the simple act of providing food, water, shelter, and an environment of care and mercy ended up saving thousands upon thousands of lives. The Christians did this at great peril to their own health, and indeed many of them paid for this kindness with their lives after becoming infected themselves, but most of them survived after being cared for by other brave fellow Christians. As Rodney Stark writes in his book The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World’s Largest Religion:
The fact that most stricken Christians survived did not go unnoticed, lending immense credibility to Christian “miracle working.”
Christians became so well-known for caring for others that this is credited as a major reason that the number of believers exploded in the ancient world, eventually displacing paganism in the Roman Empire.
It turns out that when you care for your neighbor as yourself, people’s hearts are turned toward the God who loves them! Almost as if Jesus knew what he was talking about when he said “Everyone will know you’re my disciples if you love one another.”
So you’re a Christian today (hi there!). How should this story affect your response to our modern-day plague? You might have heard a lot of conflicting news, opinions, and rumors about the COVID-19 vaccine, perhaps even from some trusted church leaders. So what should you do? Should you get it?
I’ll start off by saying that most of us already are. In the last poll I saw, of people who were unsure about getting it or have already decided not to, the second-largest group of people in that category was white evangelical Christians–about 25%.
That number is way higher than it should be, but let’s flip it around and acknowledge that 75% of us are getting vaccinated. That means for every Christian you hear who is against the vaccine, there are 3 others who have already gotten it (or plan to). And that’s only the white evangelical community. Virtually all the other types of ways Christian communities are categorized in polls report an even higher rate of vaccination acceptance. So the group of Christian vaccine-resistant people is a very small minority. Let’s keep that in mind.
But if you are in that minority, or if you just honestly aren’t sure yet whether or not it is wise for you to get vaccinated against COVID, this article is for you!
(And a caveat: if you are not in good health, or if you might have a weakened immune system response for various reasons, then you should of course consult with your doctor first before making a decision.)
But for those who are in normal health, here are the reasons why YES, you as a Christian should get vaccinated:
1. Because you’re pro-life.
If you are pro-life, then you absolutely should be getting vaccinated, because COVID-19 is truly brutal toward pregnant women. Pregnant women die at double the rate of non-pregnant women, and they are hospitalized at quadruple the rate. If there is a pregnant woman anywhere in your life then you need to get yourself vaccinated. Period.
2. Because you obey Jesus.
The second [most important commandment] is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.Mark 12:31
A vaccination, any vaccination, is not only about you and your protection. It’s also about protecting those around you, especially the more vulnerable. Getting the COVID vaccine is a literal act of loving your neighbor as yourself. It protects you (loving yourself) and protects your neighbor.
Loving our neighbor isn’t exactly an optional thing for those of us who follow Jesus. He called it the second-most important commandment in the entire universe. This is such an easy way to do it. Hey, if those early Roman Christians could risk their lives for their neighbors, surely we can do something for our neighbors that is safe, is actually good for us too, and costs nothing but an hour of your time and maybe a day of being sore.
3. Because your body was designed by God.
Who designed your immune system?
God designed your body with many incredible abilities! One of the most amazing to me is that our body can learn what a brand-new disease looks like, one that it’s never seen before, and train itself to fight back. Just take a moment to reflect on how marvelous that is. Humanity has advanced so far technologically that we can send spacecraft to gather dust from comets then navigate back to Earth, yet we have never designed a machine that can learn how to heal itself on the fly!
A vaccine, any vaccine, works by partnering with your God-designed immune system to protect and bring health to both you and your fellow children of God around you.
To be vaccinated is to work with God in bringing healing to His people. To refuse it is to work against God’s design and His mercies.
4. Because you are called to be like God.
When you get vaccinated against COVID-19 you become a shield of protection for every person in your life. You become a mighty defender of their well-being. I’m pretty sure there are a few verses in the Bible describing God as being a mighty defender, a shield, a fortress of refuge.
Not all choices in life are binary. In fact, I think we can all agree that most of the choices we face are not black and white. But when it comes to this specific issue, now that a vaccine is available that works almost perfectly, there really are only two options for you: you will either be 1) a shield of protection for those around you (like God), or 2) a source of danger to them (like someone else in the Bible…)
Now look, I’m not calling you satanic just because you refuse to get a COVID vaccine. I’m not saying you want people around you to get sick or die. It is of course possible for you to be a Spirit-filled Christian and still disagree on this issue. Please don’t send me nasty comments. But I argue there is a clear distinction between the type of character that God has and the kind of work He does, and the kind of character that Satan has and the work he pursues. One always seeks to protect and save, the other always seeks to endanger and destroy. Actions have consequences regardless of intent; refusing a safe and effective vaccine against the most deadly pandemic in a century increases the level of danger and suffering in the world, no matter what the reasoning is. And while I would never go so far as to say you are willingly on Satan’s side if you refuse to get vaccinated, I will argue that it’s not God’s team you’re putting points on the board for…
Do you love Jesus? Follow his commands. Do you want to be more like God? Be a protector of those around you. Love your neighbor. Get vaccinated.
Truth poorly defended loses not its truthfulness;
Falsehood aptly defended loses not it’s falsity.
A. God will protect me from getting COVID.
Yes, He will. It’s called a vaccine!
Can God supernaturally protect you from anything? Sure of course he can, but that’s not His usual mode of operation. Oftentimes Christians seem to pick and choose which physical dangers they have faith for God to protect them from. Do you think God would protect you from gravity if you jumped off a building? Would God supernaturally protect you if you stuck your hand in a lawnmower? Walked naked around Chernobyl? Do you go to the dentist when you have a cavity or do you expect God to miraculously fill it for you? He might (and He could) do all of those things, but I wouldn’t test Him on that. That’s the route Satan took in tempting Jesus (“If you’re really God’s Son, then prove it. Jump off the temple and see Him send angels to save you!”).
COVID-19 is not some “special” disease that God will specially protect us from supernaturally. His protection has already been provided through the natural world!
Maybe you’ve heard this old joke:
A shipwrecked man was drowning in the ocean and he prayed “Lord save me!”
“I will save you”, the Lord told the man.
A minute later a boat came by saying “We saw you drowning, get in!” To which the man replied “No thank you, God answered my prayer and said He would save me!”
Then a helicopter flew over and dropped a rescue basket down to him saying “We saw you drowning, get in!”, to which the man again replied “No thank you, I’m trusting in the Lord to save me!”
Then an empty life raft floated on by and he did not get on, because he knew that God would save him.
Then…the man drowned and died.
Upon waking up in heaven the man went straight to the Lord and said “What gives? I clearly heard you say you were going to save me, but you didn’t!”
To which God replied, “My child, I sent you a boat, a helicopter and a life raft, what more did you need?”
If you want to rely on constant miraculous protection from the physical world, then you should join the Christian Science church or a snake handling sect. But for the biblically-believing Christian, miraculous protection is the exception to the rule, not the norm. Most of the time God saves us through providence within the natural world or through other people. He could do it all Himself but he appointed us as the Body of Christ for a reason.
Hey, I’ve experienced a miraculous physical healing in my own life, so I have firsthand knowledge that God still does provide it sometimes. And I absolutely believe there are things God has supernaturally protected me from that I don’t even know about. But I don’t consciously take unnecessary risks that *require* God to suspend the laws of nature in order to protect me, and I still go to the doctor when I need to. And I still get vaccinated from deadly diseases!
B. Aren’t there aborted fetal cells in the vaccine?
No. There are not. This is a rumor which, like most good rumors, is wrapped around a kernel of truth. A discussion on this topic would be a whole separate post altogether, so I won’t attempt it here. If this is a concern for you, however, my recommendation is to get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine if you have a choice (for reasons why, see the links below).
The truth is that the vaccines have been endorsed by multiple pro-life groups and Christian councils and organizations (both of these links contain multiple other links for further research):
- The pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute calls the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines ethically uncontroversial.
- The Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission says the COVID vaccines are morally permissible.
- Franklin Graham, himself a strong pro-life advocate, urges Evangelicals to get the vaccine, going so far as to say “I would have to say – yes, I think Jesus Christ would advocate for people using vaccines and medicines to treat suffering and save lives.”
C. I don’t want any foreign chemicals going into my body.
Alright, well let’s leave aside that you’re allowing “foreign chemicals” into your body with virtually every action you take every day, but hey I get it, it’s a brand new vaccine that was developed quickly. I understand the concern.
Here’s the rub. The ingredients list for these vaccines are all public knowledge. You can look them up yourself! For example, here’s the page detailing all the ingredients in the Moderna vaccine, which is the one I personally received.
Wait a minute, some of those sound scary! There are numbers and acronyms and hyphens! Well slow down a sec. Have you ever heard of dihydrogen monoxide? It was also used in the production of all these vaccines and it’s even worse! Dihydrogen monoxide is an extremely dangerous chemical that is used in many toxic industrial processes, is a key chemical involved in the production of radioactive nuclear energy, and greatly accelerates corrosion. Oh yeah, it’s also lethal to humans when inhaled in relatively small amounts. Yet to this date no government has banned the use of it.
What is dihydrogen monoxide?
Well, you might know it better as H2O, or water.
“Chemophobia” is a term to describe an aversion to or prejudice against chemical-sounding names, and it runs rampant through the “natural health” industry. Also, the anti-vax crowd.
Armed with that knowledge, take a closer look at the Moderna ingredients list–I bet there are some words you recognize. Convert those words into the language we use everyday and here is the list of inactive ingredients in the Moderna vaccine:
- sugar (sucrose)
- salt (sodium)
- oils (lipids)
- vinegar acid & stabilizer (acetic acid & tromethamine)
That’s the list of chemicals you’re putting into your body with a COVID vaccine. Not as scary now, eh?
D. I don’t trust the government/They’re using us as an experiment/The gov’t is taking away our freedoms/etc.
I’m not going to go down the rabbit hole on you with this one, as this blog explicitly avoids those types of political discussions. And let’s leave aside the crazy stuff like the vaccine is mind control or forced sterilization or anything wacko like that. But for argument’s sake, I’ll give you that the government is invasive/overbearing/untrustworthy.
You should still get the COVID vaccine.
Why do I say that? Well, I believe that one of the most disastrous problems to have overtaken the American evangelical church today is this:
We have begun looking at our faith through the lens of our politics, rather than looking at our politics through the lens of our faith.
If you’re a Christian, then your first allegiance is to Jesus. Not America. Not the Republican party (or the Democratic party). It’s to Jesus. In every area of your life, in every decision you make, you must first view it through Jesus’ eyes. Only after you’ve done that can you move on to your political leanings. If the two conflict, then you always choose Jesus’ way of acting. Always. I think it is inarguable what the heart of Jesus is in a general sense–that we should always be looking out for the good of those around us, even when it comes at a cost.
Even when it comes at a cost to us. This means that, even if you are 100% correct in your governmental/political arguments about the vaccine you should still get it. Why? Because it works extremely well and is extremely safe. It reduces the amount of suffering in the world. If it’s hard for you to swallow the idea of getting a vaccine that the government is urging you to, then look at it this way: you can get the vaccine *in spite of* the government, not because of it. Even though the government may be wrong in pushing it on you, you should still do it in deference to Jesus’ will, not theirs.
And if someone wants to call you a sheep for getting vaccinated, proudly look ’em square in the eye and say “Yes I am, and I have a Good Shepherd looking out for me.”
Love your neighbor people! Get vaccinated!