A week ago Monday, I received the first administration of the COVID-19 vaccine. I’ll get the second shot in early February. Before I received the vaccine, I spent a good deal of time getting acquainted with vaccines for COVID (and vaccines in general) by reading articles, listening to various podcasts, and reading sacred Scripture. As a pastor ministering in hospitals and a chaplain serving with the Aledo Volunteer Fire Department, I knew I would be offered the vaccine early on. I was ready when the time came.
I wanted you to learn this information about me from me. At the same time, I want you to know it was a decision I arrived at carefully and prayerfully. There were three criteria I established to help me arrive at a decision. They were these:
- Does the Bible say anything about vaccines?
- Was the vaccine I’d be offered developed using fetal tissues?
- Was the vaccine at least reasonably safe for me to receive?
To begin with, I don’t believe the Bible teaches Christians should avoid vaccines. Believers in Jesus Christ have the liberty to receive a vaccine or to reject it. A good argument can be made based upon biblical principles that Christians should consider getting the vaccine. My study of Scripture reveals we shouldn’t practice non-interventionism, especially as a gauge of the strength of one’s faith in Jesus Christ. Genesis Chapter 1, verse 28 is part of the “Dominion Mandate” that God gave our first parents, Adam and Eve:
“And God blessed them (Adam and Eve). And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”
Part of “subduing” the earth is pressing back against disease, illness, suffering, sickness and death, all of which militate against life. If we get sick, we go to the doctor for medicinal relief; if we break a bone, we seek medical attention to heal it; if one of our major organs is diseased or beyond healing, we undergo surgery to overcome it. To do otherwise is to bring unnecessary suffering upon yourself. Many hospitals were established by Christians (Rush Presbyterian, the OSF St. Francis network of hospitals, and Unitypoint Hospital Methodist are just three examples of this). The significant majority of our forebears viewed dominion of the earth this way.
For sure, there’s much more we could discuss on this point, but there was a second question I asked. Was the vaccine I’d receive developed using tissues from aborted infants? I received the vaccine developed by Moderna. Neither it, nor the Pfizer vaccine were created using aborted fetal stem cell tissues. According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna are “ethically uncontroversial.” You can learn more about this by visiting their website, specifically this article: What You Need to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccines.
These vaccines were created upon the new “messenger RNA” (mRNA) approach. These are unique in vaccine development. Until now, vaccines have worked by introducing a weakened or inactivated version of the virus to trigger an immune response, which then creates an immunity to the illness in our bodies.
These COVID vaccines use mRNA to teach our cells how to make proteins that, in turn, trigger an immune response and subsequently create immunity. This approach, while new to vaccines, has been used for years in other treatments, including those for cancer.
That leads to the answer to my third question – is the vaccine actually safe to receive? I quickly learned that we can rest assured that at least these initial vaccines are effective and safe. Approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not merely require the vaccines prove that they’re not dangerous, they actually have to prove that they are helpful. Tens of thousands of people were subjects in testing of these vaccines. In addition, these first two vaccines, as you’re likely aware, are at least 95% effective in combating the COVID-19
coronavirus. Nothing in life is 100% for sure, at least in a fallen world this side of glory. But, I was assured I didn’t have much to fear in receiving the vaccine when my time to get it arrived.
Whether you decide to get the vaccine or not is your decision. Once my desire to know that receiving the vaccine was biblically defensible, that the vaccine was not developed using tissue from aborted infants, and that the vaccine was at least reasonably safe, the decision was easy for me. It was the easiest, most pain free vaccine I ever remember receiving.
You’ll find these Christian resources helpful for providing more information:
- Albert Mohler – The Briefing (podcast) This resource is very informative.
- BreakPoint.org – Host John Stonestreet interview with bioethicist Dr. Ben Mitchell. Breakpoint has many other resources on this topic.
- The World and Everything in It – interview with Dr. Charles Horton
I hope this article helps you make a better informed decision.
Because of Jesus,