Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Vaccines and Trusting God

This is an amended email I sent out to my congregation following a talk on vaccines that many of us attended at a local doctor's office. At our church we have both anti-vaccine folks and pro-vaccine folks and that is how it should be.  I have personal opinions about vaccines, anti-vacciners, pro-vacciners, scientific studies, fear mongering, the CDC, government mandates, big pharma, and alternative medicine. But the focus here is not on pro or anti vaccines, but rather how we should approach the issue as Christians. 


First, vaccines are way down the list of things that matter for Christians. Do not let it become too important. Take some time. Research it. Calmly make a decision and move on. Do not make this a "cause" you are promoting. If your church ever became known as the "anti-vaccine" church it would be a grievous blight on Christ's name. Both pro and anti vaccine people should feel at home in your church body. If vaccines, pro or con, become a "gospel" issue for you then that is a blight on Christ's name. Vaccines can be discussed, but they must not divide. 

Second, don't make it a spiritual issue. You are not more holy if you do or if you don't (I Cor. 8:7-8). We must not judge someone's holiness or sanctification based on this issue. If you find yourself thinking someone is not as righteous as you because they vaccinate or don't vaccinate then there is a big problem. 

Third, do not make decisions out of fear and anxiety. Both the pro and anti vaccine talking heads feed our fears. "Don't vaccinate because your kid might die." "Do vaccinate or your kid might die." But we do not trust in men. We trust in God. So whatever decision you make, make it from a heart that trusts in God, not because someone is feeding your heart-fires of anxiety (Philippians 4:6-7).

Fourth, you will never know enough to make the perfect decision. There are thousands and thousands of pages written on this. You can read about it for months (which I would not recommend by the way!). As a culture we trust in "data." If we just had another study or more proof. Or "Look at this study. It says..." But it will never be enough. You are not and never will be God. There is always a lot you don't know and will never know than you know. Do a little research. Make a decision, trust God, and move on. 

Fifth, you are not in control. God is. Both the pro and anti vaccine crowd have a God-complex at times. They believe if we just do enough we can control the future. If I just do this then that horrible thing will never happen to me. If I don't vaccinate my children, they eat right, and exercise they will not get cancer. If we vaccinate our kids they will not get disease x. If I just get regular mammograms then they will catch the cancer in time. If I eat natural then I will live a long and happy life. As Christians, we must reject this type of thinking. We try to make good decisions. But we know that God runs show. Your time is in His hands. You do not control the future. He does. Don't ever forget that great truth. It will calm a lot of your fears. 

Finally, remember the soul matters a lot more than the body (Matthew 10:28).  Raising our children to love Jesus, love His Word, and love His people is way more important than whether or not we vaccinate. For every article you read on vaccines, read five (ten?) on the Christian life. Keep things in perspective. Don't let your heart and mind be consumed by this or any other of the hundreds of minor issues in the Christian life. Keep the main things the main things.

We all have to make decisions about things like this throughout our life. With vaccines, I would encourage you to be calm, do some research, make the choice you think is best for your family, trust God, and then move on. And make sure your decision does not become the one that everyone else must make. 

6 comments:

Raymond Powell said...

Your community should have a balanced dialogue and it is always up to the mothers and at the community level to make the best decisions to protect and prolong the health and liveliness of children. However, as articles from the writer with the best SEO and advertisement methods dominate the internet, perhaps reading two conference review papers written by a doctor studying either counterargument could be useful. And of course start and finish by reading scripture to direct intent.

Raymond Powell said...
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stephanie fehler said...

If your church claims to be Prolife, it is worth examining which vaccines locally have ethical alternatives and passing that information on. It's so easy in our culture to be inadvertent participants in the culture of death and to get blood on our hands.

I must decrease said...

Pastor Jones, I don't know you personally, but I appreciate you writing this. I think it is so important that Christians remember to have grace towards each other in our differences in this issue and that fear is not of God and that we shouldn't let fear guide our decisions. I do respectfully disagree with you on your comment, "Don't make this a spiritual issue." For Christians who are aware that vaccine manufactures use aborted babies to make vaccines, it just is a spiritual issue. In the book of Romans, we are told, "whatever is not of faith is sin." So the Christian who has a heavy conscience in participating in vaccination because of that is facing a spiritual issue, whether they want it to be or not.

Peter Jones said...

Thanks for the comment. I agree it is spiritual in some sense, as all things are. The reference in Romans is to matters that Christians differ on. If a Christian thinks they are sinning by vaccinating then they should not do. Even if it isn't sin, but they think it is then they should abstain. My point was to not to make your decision the "spiritual" one.

I am very pro-life. There is disagreement among Christians as to the aborted baby factor in vaccines. If that pricks your conscience then you should not vaccinate. However, I am not convinced that vaccines is the same as supporting the abortion industry, Planned Parenthood, or the selling of baby parts.

I must decrease said...

Pastor Jones, thanks for clarifying on your comment about not making it "the" spiritually right decision. I completely agree with you on that.
I am a nurse and a mom, so I have to deal with the issue of vaccination way more than I'd like to. Not all vaccines are made using aborted babies. My issue is that Christians who do have a conviction against using them aren't given the option of alternatives, even though other countries have offered alternatives (the same vaccines made with animals cells), yet other CHRISTIANS will be the first to say, "You shouldn't have the right to choose to opt out," and praise the removing of religious exemptions for school attendance and health care jobs just because they don't personally have convictions about it (granted most don't even know). I recently read that a hospital in Illinois will no longer treat unvaccinated children. It is sad to think that another one of my Christian brothers and sisters would read that and think, "good" when the parent who may have gotten every other vaccine for their child but the aborted baby ones, who has no alternative options, is just trying to obey God according to their own conscience. So while I do not wish to make every Christian have to battle their conscience on this regarding abortion, I do wish that we would not be stumbling blocks to each other based on personal convictions and obedience to God in our own relationship with Him.

Let the saints be joyful in glory, let them sing aloud on their beds, let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples; to bind the kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron. Psalm 149:5-8