“History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.” - Ecclesiastes 1:9
In America during the year 2021, it is easy to become swept away with hyperbole. We often encounter dilemmas as if we are the first to suffer such tremendous moral questioning. We are plagued by the wormhole of information, seeking to fill our minds with rivers of content that provide little absolutism. With knowledge at our fingertips, information has lacked candor, while wisdom lacks appeal. The question of the role of personal conscious & conviction versus the role of government is as old as the manuscripts of Scripture. As we see the juxtaposition of the mandate of Romans 13:1 (Submit to all Governing authorities…), and the countless stories of the apostles' civil disobedience by continuing to illegally share the story of the Gospel (Acts: 4:19-20 “Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.), we reach a crossroads which requires something beyond knowledge and information: It requires humility, holy submission, and a deep-dive into critical thought.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in the United States there was nationwide panic and confusion as we sorted through the ‘best solution to slow the curve to give our hospitals time to cope with the pending surge of infections and occupied ICU beds. This disease was full of the unknown, and both parties tried in haste to sort through data to mitigate any pending disaster. Regardless of each person’s beliefs regarding the fall out of COVID, It is so no secret that the incredible polarization and politicization which arose from its handling was both tragic and disgraceful: Some of our scientific establishments began fighting a disease with emotion and agenda rather than with facts and data. The corporations whom the ‘majority’ previously readily trusted were called in to question as layers and layers of propaganda and deceit filled our most popular news outlets while censorship of divergent thought was on the rise.
Thus, we are here, several months later with the creation of a vaccine that continues to divide the thoughts of even the most devout evangelicals in our Nation. With further Government ‘mandates’ which potentially violate a person's deeply held moral beliefs and opinions, we are faced again with the question: What does the Lord ask of us in this season? How can we continue to be Salt & Light? Do we Obey, or do we defy? Where is the line between ‘honoring’ our Government (Romans 13), and Obeying it?
I would pose that the answer must be left to the individual… I would argue that Proverbs 3:5-6 is the methodology of Spiritual thought which should begin to guide our analytics and actions. With national Liberty & personal freedom at risk, we must still, as believers remain shackled to the Word of God as the only infallible answer.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and HE will direct your paths.”
It is a tragedy that in today’s age, in the world of information, even in the Church, there is seldom room for the individual to be allowed to think freely without fear of isolation and rejection. As I have seen so often in evangelical circles, the personal conscious regarding vaccinations (and specifically, the COVID-19 vaccine) has been all but thrown to the wayside. Two extreme camps hold their pitchforks as they scream at the other ‘You are in sin if you divert from my way of thought.”
Whether you take the vaccine or don’t, whether you believe to ‘love your neighbor’ is to get vaccinated or to ‘love your neighbor’ is to abstain from a vaccine which you feel morally compromises you is a decision that only YOU can be accountable for. May we not make this decision based on polarizing and emotional narratives, but may we make this decision with clear and sober judgment….taking every thought captive. Trusting in the Lord, leaning on HIS understanding. Living not in fear, but in faith. Morally resolute in our actions, leaving no room for compromise when it comes to our convictions. For whatever does not proceed from faith, is indeed, sin.
"The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin." - Romans 14: 22-23
In regards to whether or not a person should be afforded the right to choose between receiving the vaccination or being forcibly mandated to do so, it is my resolute and Scripturally-based opinion that on a non-Salvation issue regarding Spiritual Preference (‘gray areas’) and NOT Spiritual Principle (Tenants of God’s Law and Scriptural Absolutes) that it would be morally egregious to deny a person their resolute & faith-filled moral convictions.
We cannot elevate our ‘opinion’ regarding the choice we believe a person ‘should’ make (To vaccinate or not to vaccinate), above the individual's Spiritual Convictions. As a Nation, we must continue to uphold the right to maintain a lifestyle that honors the right to HAVE Spiritual Convictions without fear of Governmental retaliation or alienation. Freedom to practice personal religious beliefs are part of what has made America who She is; even if we disagree with a person’s religious ‘choice’ or ‘conviction, our Constitution must maintain such protections against religious persecution or tyranny. This is non-negotiable.
We have reached an impasse. Each person will be asked to decide whether or not they receive the vaccine. For several people, the choice to abstain will result in loss of a job and even loss of Freedom. This is a tragedy that every person of Faith should prayerfully and assuredly fight against. As people of faith, should we never dishonor the Freedom we have been given in Christ Jesus by attempting to take that freedom away from others, regardless of whether or not we agree with the choice they have made? Lastly, let us not forget to be sober-minded in the realization that the issue at play has very little to do with whether or not a person feels they should receive or abstain from a vaccination. Rather, it has everything to do with protecting the individual’s conviction to choose for themselves to act in the way which they see is practically & morally fit.
The political climate is almost palpable, choking out even the most committed, passionate, and resolved of us. People are battle-weary and exhausted. The last 18 months have been a constant fray. Whether it be the pandemic, racial upheaval, government overreach, the shutdown of Churches and businesses, education reform, or ludicrous legislation — it seems that the array of fronts for faith-filled parents, pastors, and community members is never-ending.