Vaccines and Christianity

Introduction

    Increasingly, I've felt the need to say this in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic.  I see and hear Christians claiming a religious exemption to getting vaccinated.

    I would like to directly say it here: there is nothing anti-vaccination in the Scriptures.  And those who say otherwise are either misled and/or are misleading you.

Absence of Proof

    First, you would assume if we were not supposed to get vaccines, the Bible would say something about it.  God knows the future, and could have put a warning in there to warn us.

    But when you read and search through the Bible, there's nothing in the Bible that says you should, or should not, have vaccinations.  Therefore, I am strongly tempted to say that anyone who claims a religious exemption for a vaccination is a liar.

Claims of 666

    There are those who also claim that the COVID-19 vaccination is the mark of the beast.  I will address aspects of the Mark of the Beast from Scripture.

Revelation 13:16-17 (HCSB) And [The Beast] requires everyoneósmall and great, rich and poor, free and slaveóto be given a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark: the beastís name or the number of his name.

    So first of all, we see that The Beast will come first, if you read verse 11 to the above passage.  Second, it is The Beast that initiates the Mark of the beast.  Third, The Beast is the one who says no one can buy or sell without this Mark of the Beast, and the mark is his name or the number of his name.

    None of these apply to vaccinations, not even the COVID-19 vaccination.  The Beast has not come into existence yet.  The very vast majority of people are being given the vaccination in the arm, not the hand, and not the forehead.  The vaccine does not leave a mark, but the Mark of the Beast does.  And no one is being told they cannot buy or sell without having the COVID-19 vaccination.  In fact, if anything, certain sectors of the services industry are doing more buying and selling during COVID-19, like Uber Eats, Grub Hound, and Hello Fresh.  So absolutely none of the descriptions of the mark of the beast apply to the COVID-19 vaccination, or really any vaccination that I am aware of.

Matthew 24:24 (HCSB) False messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

    Some people have quoted this passage as suggesting that the elect, i.e. Christians, will be deceived by The Beast of Revelation.  There are a couple of problems with this.  First,  Jesus was talking about all false messiahs and false prophets, not specifically The Beast (which would not include The False Prophet that follows The Beast of Revelation).  Second, it says "if possible" these will deceive Christians.  The implication here is that it will not be possible.  I think Jesus is pointing out that these false messiahs and false prophets will be very convincing and persuasive, not that Christians need to run around being paranoid about all that is happening around them.

"Your Body Is A Temple"

    This verse is often cited by those who are opposed to the COVID-19 vaccination.  It comes from these scriptures:

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (HCSB) Run from sexual immorality! ďEvery sin a person can commit is outside the body.Ē On the contrary, the person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body.  Donít you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 3:16-18 (HCSB) Donít you yourselves know that you are Godís sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you?  If anyone destroys Godís sanctuary, God will destroy him; for Godís sanctuary is holy, and that is what you are.

    But there are a few problems with applying it to the COVID-19 vaccine.  The first problem is that the COVID-19 vaccine is very safe.  You can read information on the Centers for Disease Control's website.  It's safer than driving.  It's safer than obesity.  It's safer than smoking.

    (These scriptures are also used as an excuse not to wear masks.  But those who cite them haven't provided any proof that wearing a mask is harmful or unhealthy.)

    Which I think is the most hypocritical and frustrating aspect of the refusal to get vaccinations.  Yes, there are some people who are hyper-sensitive, medically, to vaccines.  Such people should get their doctor's approval to be exempt.  The Bible would not teach us to force such people with valid medical conditions to get a vaccine that could kill them.

    But statistically, such people with legitimate vaccine sensitivities are unicorns.  They are extremely rare.  Like 0.0022% rare.  That's 22 out of 10,000.  The odds of dying from a heart attack are 12 (12 out of 100 people who have had a heart attack will die).

    What strikes me as odd is those who claim to be sensitive to vaccinations now but have no reports or valid medical notes about having even anaphylaxic shock from a vaccination are now claiming to be sensitive to vaccines.  Also, what's ironic is that more people in the USA are dying from preventable problems like smoking and obesity.  The average person who has complained to me, in person, of being a Christian and refusing to get the vaccine, is obese.

    This might be offensive, but if you really believe that you should take care of your body, as a Christian, you'd not smoke, not drink more than one drink a night, do cardiovascular exercise 5 days a week, refrain from eating sweets, etc.  The people that are typically complaining about this to me don't even do any of these things.  It's ironic because they refuse to do something about things that are way more likely to kill you, like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cholesterol, but they're complaining about a vaccine with a statistically insignificant incidence of adverse effects.  Remember when Jesus said the Pharisees "strain out a gnat and swallow a camel" (Matthew 23:24)?

    So this excuse of taking care of your body as a reason not to get the COVID-19 vaccine, when the majority of US citizens are obese and unhealthy, rings hollow.  It comes across as hypocrisy.

Do Unto Others

    So what positive proof do we have of taking the vaccine?  Several.  One of the first that comes to mind is The Golden Rule:

Matthew 7:12 (HCSB) Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for themóthis is the Law and the Prophets.

    But first a quick caveat.  This passage doesn't say treat others how they treat you.  It says treat others how you want to be treated.  This means that if someone is rude to you, you should be nice back.

    Now to apply this verse to vaccinations, especially COVID-19, ask yourself: do you want to be infected with a virus that has a chance of killing you?  Do you want people to walk around carrying this potentially deadly virus, knowing that it would increase your odds of death (especially if you are not vaccinated)?

    It's similar to someone who might be carrying a knife in their back pocket, with the blade pointing straight up.  (By the way, don't do that.)  Their odds of accidentally stabbing you are increased.  You might think to yourself that it's just an elevated chance, but still, if you had the choice of people not carrying around a knife in their back pocket and them not carrying a knife like that, wouldn't you want them to refrain from carrying a knife like that?  Of course you would.  It makes sense: doing that is too risky.  It's also risky to walk around unvaccinated.

    Given that we can take a common sense action to prevent harm (i.e. getting vaccinated), you'd think Christians would be all about reducing or eliminating the odds of them accidentally infecting someone with COVID-19.  Would you want to have someone's death on your conscience, for example?  Yet so many Christians are refusing to get the vaccine, and without a legitimate medical reason.

    Jesus' words are easy to understand.  Treat others how you want to be treated.  This means if you want to not be at increased risk for a potentially deadly virus, you should treat others this way and get your vaccination.  Would you want people to blame the church for their grandparent's death from COVID-19, for example?  Imagine how you would feel if your grandparent died of COVID-19 because someone in your family, or at work, or at school, refused to be vaccinated for no legitimate reason other than their selfishness?

Go The Extra Mile

    Another potential passage of Scripture that I believe teaches us to get the vaccine, since the vaccine has no legitimate Scriptural problems, is the words of Jesus to go the extra mile:

Matthew 5:41 (HCSB) And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two.

    This passage, I am told, refers to how supposedly Roman soldiers could force people to carry their items or armor a mile.  This seems to be what Jesus might be referring to when He said "forces you" to go a mile.

    The concept of going the extra mile for the benefit of someone else is an aspect of Christianity intended to make people want to be a part of it, among other reasons.  When someone goes the extra mile for you, like at work, you remember.  And imagine a Christian carrying a Roman soldier's armor an extra mile.  What do you think they talked about on that second mile?  Probably about Jesus, because the Roman soldier would probably ask why the person is going that extra mile.

    Christians should be going the extra mile to make sure they don't harm others, like getting vaccinated and/or wearing a mask.  Refusing to do so doesn't come across as religious beliefs, because there's no evidence in Scripture.  It comes across as trying to wrongfully use one's religion as a justification for stubbornness.

Be Kind To Others

    Finally, I think a Scripture that would support us getting vaccinated and wearing masks would be one my mother made me memorize:

Ephesians 4:32 (HCSB) And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.

    Is kindness refusing to get vaccinated?  Is kindness spreading a potentially deadly virus?  Or is kindness doing one's best to prevent people from dying from infection?

Summary

    As a Christian myself, I'm going to be brutally honest.  If you are refusing to get a vaccination based on your religious beliefs, and you have no documented medical proof of sensitivity to vaccines, you are abusing Christianity.  You are essentially a liar.  You are making Christianity repulsive to the world.

    Remember sola scriptura?  Aren't we supposed to be believing only the things that are in Scripture?  There's no scriptural basis for refusing to get vaccinated and/or to wear a mask.

    And what's troubling is that those who are cornered on this issue will start to say "but religious liberty!"  True, but remember your childhood?  What's a good way to lose a privilege?  Abusing that privilege.  If you want your religious rights to be honored, only invoke them when it's legitimate.  Abusing your so-called religious rights might get them taken away.

    I am all for people maintaining their religious rights.  But this article has blown huge holes through religious rights arguments about COVID-19 and wearing masks.  If you're a Christian who is refusing to get vaccinated and/or wear a mask without a legitimate reason to refuse, you are one part of what is wrong with Christianity in the USA today.  Christianity in the USA today is weak and selfish.  May God have mercy on us and send revival before it's too late and He has to judge us.  Judgment will begin at the house of God.