The Trump Card Argument
One of the primary callings for Christians is to possess a deep love for others. We are commanded to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10:27). These are fundamental truths Christians are agreed upon. However, here lately, it seems as though many believers have forgotten about the teaching of these two verses and instead turned them into clubs demanding Christians submit to the dictates of unjust authorities in regard to vaccination.
The essential examination of the moment is to understand exactly what it means to love your neighbor and who gets to define that particular point. If Joe Biden gets to say what love is and is not, then Christians must roll up their sleeves and take the jab. However, they must also support the LGBTQ movement, promote the so-called “right” of women to murder their babies, and lobby for many other policies which are directly opposed to biblical doctrine. Point being, if you are going to allow the definition given by many in our society around love of neighbor to drive you, then why not support the LGBTQ march next year? Bottom line, we as Christians should know better than to allow fallen man to define love for one another. It is God who gets to define love of neighbor. He has given us His Word where we clearly see how we are both to love Him and others. This doctrine is not based on my personal feelings, the ideas of the culture, commands of governmental elites, or even what the pastor says on Sunday morning. Clearly, it is defined in the Holy Word of God!
Love of Neighbor and Personal Health
Before we proceed to specifically discuss love of neighbor and vaccination, we must first consider love of neighbor and personal health, then move to talk about love of neighbor and the health of others. When discussing this doctrine, the foundational starting point is to understand our bodies belong to God, who created us. The Apostle Paul lists the fact we are members of Christ as His followers for the reason we should not commit sexual immorality. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, he states:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
The fact that we are purchased by God through Christ means we must honor Him with our bodies. Psalm 139:13-14 describes human beings as being “fearfully and wonderfully made.” This passage clearly shows the magnificence of humans made in God’s image and the intrinsic worth of every person. Consequently, we have outlined a few specific aspects at this particular point. First of all, because our bodies belong to God, we should seek to honor Him with them. This fact means, among other things, we should never use our physical bodies (or anything else for that matter) to commit sin. As a necessary implication, it would also dictate we must seek the positive glory of God with our body. It is not only that we flee sin, but also that our goal must be to bring praise and honor to God Himself with the body. That fact would outplay itself in multiple ways, some of which include that we do not get drunk (Galatians 5:21), do not practice gluttony (Proverbs 28:7), and that we would actually seek the glory of God in everything including how we eat and drink (1 Corinthians 10:31). Therefore, as it pertains to our personal health, it is our duty as Christians to pursue health unto the glory of God with a goal towards using our bodies for the honor of His name and stewarding them well.
Love of Neighbor and The Health of Others
At this point, I am primarily trying to seek to outline the basics of a biblical theology for how we should view impacting the health of others. In other words, a biblical theology of health not only includes how I take care of my own body, but also considers the influence I have over the health of others. One clear example of this fact is that if I am contagiously sick, I should take extra precautions to prevent infecting other individuals. When discussing the leprous individual, Leviticus 13:46 states:
He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp. – Leviticus 13:46
What we see in this text is that the one infected with the leprous disease was to go outside of the camp. Leviticus 14 records the process for bringing him back into the camp if he had healed from his disease. So, this separation was not unequivocal permanent banishment, if there was healing, then they would be welcomed back. Applying this general principle, if I have strep throat, it would be unloving of me to go to my neighbor’s house, give him a bear hug, and breath directly in his face. Not that I make a practice of exhaling directly in someone’s face anyway, but I think you get my drift on this point!
There is nothing in the Bible about the healthy being quarantined, look all day, you won’t find it in the text of Scripture. Biblically speaking, when considering the health of others, my goal should be not to infect them with a disease I have in my body. That is why if I get the flu or some other contagious disease, I will do my utmost to stay home and heal, thereby preventing travel until I get healthy. This application is simply biblical common sense being applied. We should also seek the health of others and those in need. Ezekiel 34 says “woe” to those who do not consider this fact. In other words, if I have the ability to help someone when they are sick, then I should take that opportunity and seek their good!
Love of Neighbor and Vaccines
Now, I suspect many Christians, if not most, will agree with all of the basic principles I have laid out up to this particular point. However, many individuals are taking all of these basic ideas, and asserting love of neighbor would dictate you should take the COVID vaccination. Dr. Andrew Wong made this claim:
“And while I feel powerless to do or say anything to overcome the political divides that contribute to vaccine hesitation, I feel equally sure that Christians who weigh the vaccination decision from a strictly Christ-centered point of view ultimately will be moved to acceptance.”1
An examination of this author’s piece will clearly demonstrate his argument heavily focuses upon the concept of loving one’s neighbor. His belief that love of neighbor dictates COVID vaccination really is a main component of his overall understanding. For example:
“The reasons for Christian vaccine hesitancy are varied, but the most convincing reason to overcome that reluctance is what Jesus described as the second great commandment after loving the Lord your God – love your neighbor as yourself.”2
Now, I want to give a genuine response to this particular position around a few different points. Does love of neighbor mean Christians should take the COVID vaccination? First of all, it must be said there is no explicit passage to this particular effect, nor is there any passage implying Christians are obligated to take vaccines (they weren’t around). More than that, there is no explicit command believers in Christ are called to follow a certain medicinal regiment. As an illustration, there is no specific command saying we should exercise for 35-minutes a day, eat 6 small meals, take a vitamin in the morning, go to the doctor once every 3-months, or anything of the sort. Consequently, for a Christian to say that there one method for treating a disease is the method all believers should use frankly lacks any textual substantiation whatsoever. It is a piece of argumentation with no biblical backing.
Reading through Dr. Wong’s work, it seems as though he wants to take good biblical principles such as caring for your own health and for the health of others to mean you should take the COVID vaccine. That would be akin to me saying the biblical principle of seeking to know more of God and spend time daily in His Word should cause every Christian to block off 5 hours a day in Bible study and to read John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress every year of their life. It is improper analysis to take a general biblical principle and turn it into specific commands without any basis in the text whatsoever.
A third point is the lack of long-term data around the COVID vaccines and the concerns regarding their safety and efficacy. Does Dr. Wong have information based upon actual testing data as to how this vaccine will impact someone 10 or 20 years down the road? What about all of the individuals who have died after taking this vaccine or had serious health effects? How about the fact it is only claimed to be about 50% effective now, should that factor into our decision-making at all?3 Dr. Wong is asking individuals to insert a chemical into their body that we have no idea how it will impact them long-term, and it is only claimed to be 50% effective. It seems to me that love of neighbor would dictate we should give individuals multiple options for both treatment and prevention, then move on to allow them to make the best decision given their physical conditions and background. To assert we should blanketly just take the vaccine fails to not only understand a biblical theology of love of neighbor, but also the truth and data around the COVID vaccines.
Love Others As God Has Commanded
Bringing this post to a close, love of neighbor does not dictate Christians must take the COVID vaccine. The Christian worldview would set forth the idea we should warn people about the fact they are injecting something into their body for which they have no idea about the long-term side effects. Many will object to my making that claim, however, I imagine the young people having heart issues who took the Moderna vaccine in France wish more would have loved them enough to warn them of this fact. Especially considering France, Germany, and other European countries have just stopped recommending the Moderna vaccine because of heart issues in those under 30 who took it.4 Many wish Christians would just sit down and be quiet in the face of this push for mass inoculation. Duty to God and love of neighbor requires we warn individuals about issues such as these so they can make a fully informed decision based upon all the facts. The lack of long-term data surrounding these vaccines is a tremendous issue for the Christian worldview, something about which we must not be silent. Christianity does not dictate blind submission to the state or opinions of culture because of man’s ideas as to what love is and is not. Instead, thoughtful analysis grounded in biblical teaching and God’s definition of love should spur us to reach a decision made unto the glory of God!
I hope that what is seen in this blog post is that simply because someone says “love your neighbor” does not necessarily mean they are always telling you accurately how to do so. We must test all things by the Word of God and hold fast to that standard. For my fellow Christian theologians and pastors, let me urge you to train the church to think biblically about these matters. May we seek to equip the saints to think about all things, including health decisions, in a biblical way for the glory of Christ. Let us not be taken captive by unbiblical lines of argumentation, but instead, hold fast to the truth. Therefore, may we go forward loving God, loving our neighbors, and seeking to bring praise to Christ in all of life by applying His Word in every sphere!