The covid pandemic has provided Christians, and all people really, a tremendous opportunity to love others who have a different perspective than themselves. My perspective on the pandemic, unimportant as it may be, is that it is wildly overblown, that vaccines are helpful but should not be mandated, and that many have cowered in fear over something that cannot be controlled by man, and that we should have gone back to normal life ages ago. But exerting my opinion about a virus during the pandemic is not what Christ has called me to do with my life. Christ has called me to love my neighbor as myself. How can I do that best during this crazy time?
I audibly heard from God after much prayer, that I did not need the vaccine. I believe that. I don’t believe the vaccine is necessary for me and I’d prefer not to get it. But back in May of this year, a friend with a much different opinion challenged me to get it for his sake. He was very concerned about the pandemic and has been spending most of his time at home. Fear has gripped him greatly. I thought a lot about what he asked of me. I disagreed so wholeheartedly with his view on the pandemic, and yet I couldn’t stop thinking about whether this was a chance to prove that I loved him more than I loved myself. But what if I had a negative reaction to the vaccine? What if we discovered a year down the road that it was harmful to us in a way previously unknown? Should I go against my preferences for someone else’s sake when I think their views are wrong? In the end I felt this presented a unique opportunity to lay my life down for someone else, much like Jesus did for us. We did not deserve Jesus’ death and suffering for our sake. We are sinners and rebels against God, and yet he died for us. Couldn’t I receive a vaccine to love my brother whom it meant so much to? I decided to get it for his sake, and that’s what I did. No regrets. It was difficult, but I wouldn’t do it differently. That’s my story.
Other People’s Story
I’m also aware of so many other people’s stories. There are so many different unique situations for so many different people – this virus has impacted all of us differently.
There are many who have felt called to stand up for what they believe in and not get the vaccine. I support those people. Some of the reasons why they have not been vaccinated are as follows:
- The use of fetal cell lines for the research, testing, or production of the vaccines seems morally reprehensible to them.
- It’s requirement feels like a violation of the freedom and liberty that our constitution aims to protect.
- Its not medically necessary for them in their view, and they have the right to decline it.
- They have a medical condition that makes taking the vaccine potentially dangerous for their health.
- The vaccines may not actually be safe and may have long term consequences we aren’t aware of yet.
These are not all of the reasons but generally they fall into some form of these types of thoughts and objections. I don’t necessarily agree with them entirely, but I support each person’s right to object based on their conscience and the reasons provided.
Those who are vaccinated have many different stories and reasons for doing so. These are not all the stories or reasons that folks have become vaccinated, but they are the ones I know of and have heard from them:
- This is a global pandemic and people are dying. We must do anything in our power to help those at risk of losing their lives.
- I am concerned or afraid about getting sick and want to stay healthy. The vaccines are a safe way to help ensure this.
- I didn’t really want to but I got pressured into it.
- I needed to do it in order to maintain my standard of living (travel enthusiasts, those that want to go out to restaurants or sports games, etc).
I understand these reasons, and while I don’t agree with all of the details behind them, I truly support the people who have received the vaccine for these reasons and applaud many of them for their heart for others. It is a beautiful thing to care about the well being of others and to ensure you are healthy and don’t get others sick. Some of the stories in here are humanity at its finest.
Regarding Vaccine Mandates
Mandates, whether they be federally here in the US, or in any other form globally, are a means to push as many people as possible to become vaccinated. The push in the US has been with employer requirements, travel based requirements, or specific activities that are commonplace to every day life (dining at restaurants, going to sports games, movie theaters, etc). The thinking is that eventually if you restrict enough things, even those most opposed to vaccination will break down and do it because living without it just becomes too difficult. Perhaps the heart behind this is noble – if those in authority truly believe this is what is in the best interest of everyone and the right thing to do for the country then they are right to try and require it.
Submission to authority as Christians
As a Christian, it is my responsibility to submit to the governing authorities and the law of the land. When I choose to follow Jesus, I am choosing to submit to him as King and to follow his command. His word commands us to submit to authority unless it is against his law. Executive orders, emergency powers and other tactics outside of normal legislation are being used to force vaccination compliance upon the US. Is this legitimate leadership and authority? The Bible doesn’t call us to submit to authority if we agree with it, or if it seems like the authority is exercising their power appropriately. It just says we are to submit to them unless it is against God’s law. Is vaccination against God’s law? Perhaps each individual must determine this in their own heart and listen to the Spirit’s leading. Personally, I am against it as an American, but I believe I must submit to it as a Christian. Perhaps that’s what makes this so difficult for some Christian Americans. The “give me liberty or give me death” that is part of our American fabric bemoans and rebels against vaccine mandates. But our submission to Christ also calls us to submit to authority of the land that the Bible teaches us He establishes. For me, I must remove my American allegiance in this case and put on Christ fully – and that means accepting a mandate.
Loving the unvaccinated
But I am aware that not all Christians see it this way. Several Christian friends are in the process of losing their jobs and having to move and change their way of life because they have refused the requirement to become vaccinated. It is a tragedy to me that these people are losing their jobs and livelihoods. Some are emergency responders, teachers, and medical professionals. What are we to make of this? Is this religious persecution? Are these folks suffering for being a Christian? Should I stand with them and show solidarity toward them somehow? Am I betraying them if I present my vaccine card upon demand, when they don’t have a card to show? This is perhaps my biggest struggle to understand – How do I love those who are unvaccinated and suffering for it? One thing I can do is speak up for them. Christ tells us to speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves. Another thing I can do is suffer beside them, even if in small ways – I can refuse service at restaurants where the unvaccinated are not allowed to dine, or refuse to attend concerts, sporting events, go to movie theaters or other places where the unvaccinated are not allowed to go. This is a small gesture and is not a statement against those establishments, but rather an act of love toward those who are unable to enjoy such pleasantries. Should I also quit a job that doesn’t allow unvaccinated workers? This is a real dilemma as well. If the specific employer is showing extreme prejudice against the unvaccinated and harming them, it seems best to find another employer. However, if my feeling is just more of an unease at how the unvaccinated are being treated generally, it does not make sense to quit my specific employer. I have a responsibility as the head of my household to provide for my family and it would be negligent to put aside this duty. But again, if I become aware of specific stories and people that the employer has or is actively harming, I would find a different employer. However, since it is a federal law that most employers require vaccination proof, it may be difficult to find such employment. So then my issue is less with the employer, and more with the authority that is requiring employers to enforce this and thereby imposing hardship upon the unvaccinated. Should I submit to this authority, or is this authority breaking God’s law by imposing hardship on the unvaccinated? Do I stand up for the unvaccinated, or do I submit to the authority of the land?
Loving the vaccinated
Christians, let us consider carefully our calling. Christ did not call us to live as Americans, but as followers of Jesus. For those who are unvaccinated, understand the stumbling block you are creating for your brother and consider carefully whether it is worth it. I know some of your stories well and many of you have heard a word from the Lord to not be vaccinated, I support you. But let us love those who are angry and fearful with our very lives. Let us lay down our rights and privileges for Jesus sake, so we may walk in his footsteps. Pray about this carefully, and be sure of your decision. Be sure it is not your pride, your rights, or your fear that compels your decision and be sure it is your God. Unless God tells you to stay unvaccinated, in which case you have a legitimate religious exemption, please consider being vaccinated – not because you agree with the authority in the land, not because the people are handling this with integrity and wisdom, but because this is an opportunity to love others which Christ has called us to do.
My response to how the vaccinated are treating the unvaccinated
Many of the vaccinated that I know are angry at the unvaccinated. It is their belief that one or all of the following is true:
- The unvaccinated are extending the duration of the pandemic
- The unvaccinated are the reason people are still dying from covid
- The unvaccinated are uneducated and making a foolish choice that put themselves and others in danger.
- The unvaccinated are anti-vaccine and anti-science
These are some bold claims and statements. Because many of the vaccinated believe that they have made the ethical choice, they believe conversely that those who have made the opposite choice have made an unethical one.
The results of this kind of thinking are that the many of the vaccinated believe the following things are acceptable responses regarding the unvaccinated:
- The unvaccinated should be denied hospital care if they become ill with covid.
- The unvaccinated should become vaccinated or be imprisoned, or fined.
- It is ok to treat the unvaccinated with contempt, anger and even hatred.
- The unvaccinated should lose custody of their children.
- It’s best to stop being friends with the unvaccinated
It’s outrageous that unvaccinated people are villainized and treated like scum by many who promote themselves as the voice of tolerance and inclusion. That’s not tolerance or inclusion. It’s hatred, evil and vile. This is the exact kind of thinking that caused the nation of Germany and others to justify their genocide of the Jews. Most Germans wanted a better economic climate and were willing to turn a blind eye to the extermination of 6 million Jews in order to achieve that. In the name of “the greater good” they became one of the greatest evils. So to you vaccinated, I ask you – are you treating the unvaccinated better than this? The unvaccinated are your fellow citizens, your brothers and sisters. You should have compassion on them, not contempt. You will be on the wrong side of history if you continue to condemn and mistreat the unvaccinated. Tread carefully.
Each person should be convinced in their own mind about their response to covid and covid mandates. But let us not lose sight of the fact that Christ calls us to love others. Our battle is not against each other, no matter how wrong we think the other person is. And let us also not forget that Christ was willing to give up his life to save sinners – let us not cling so tightly to our freedoms and way of life that we fail to follow our King.
I will love people through covid in the following ways:
- Be vaccinated to support those who deem vaccination as the ethical good.
- Submit to the authority of the land because I submit to Christ as King.
- Speak up for those who are being oppressed, namely the unvaccinated.
- Show solidarity with the unvaccinated by laying aside some of my own privileges as one who is vaccinated.
- Maintain my core responsibilities which include providing for my family and using my position in my community to bless others.