Is There a Legitimate Religious Vaccine Objection/Exemption?

We are all tired of Covid -19. Not only has Covid killed millions and permanently impaired others, it has dragged us through a massively divisive period of debating mandated vaccinations, closures and masking. It has forced us to work together as one, and decisively proven that we can’t do that–not at any level. Will it ever end?

In the course of human history, only two viruses have been driven to extinction. Small pox, in humans and one in cattle. That may even be a bold claim. The goal of herd immunity might drive the virus to some small, isolated pocket of the planet, while an effective treatment is developed. That is our greatest hope. Perhaps the virus will moderate itself with a more virulent yet mild version shutting out all less virulent and more deadly varieties. That is the one possible upside to the omicron variant. In the meantime, vaccines seem to be our best protection, but many have reservations about them. Most reservations are in respect to possible medical risk, but some cite religious objections. Are there legitimate Christian, religious objections?

The objection that carries the most weight is the connection between vaccine development and abortion. None of the vaccines actually contain any portion of a fetal cell. It is a routine practice for many drug companies to test new products on human cells derived from a cloned line of fetal cells originally derived from an abortion. This abortion happened decades ago. This practice does not advance or encourage abortion in any way. Testing on the cells helps assure that a product is safe to test on first-line volunteers. In the case of vaccines and other drugs, it allows the development of a product that saves lives. In the case of the mRNA vaccines, it has potentially saved millions of lives. If such, manipulation of human DNA offends the Creator, then we have no verifiable word from God that this is so.

Another objection that has been advanced is in regard of freedom of conscience. The Bible encourages tolerance of certain practices, like fasting or abstinence of alcohol, because of a person’s previous religious practice. The Bible makes clear that these practices are not required by God. Not taking a vaccine has not ever been a religious practice unless you were among those who rejected all medical care. While to do this is not what it means to have faith, if taking medical care troubles your conscience then you have an excuse; but it is an excuse you should re-examine.

Some have argued that taking the vaccine is giving in to fear and not having faith. God encourages us to trust Him for many things. To argue that good health is solely the product of trusting God does not have good biblical support. Good health is also the product of good stewardship of our bodies. Are the Covid vaccines good stewardship or bad stewardship? With all medicine there exists a risk that it will not work well within our particular biology. Statistically, however, the risk of serious damage or death from Covid is far ahead of the minor risks presented by the vaccine. Some deaths may have been coincidental to taking the vaccine or even caused by it. They remain rare.

I save the worst theology for last. I have heard of some people equating the “mark of the beast” from Revelation 14:9 with taking the vaccine. The only thing that could connect these two things is a government mandate. It takes a lot more than a government mandate to be the mark of the beast. We have all kinds of government mandates: traffic lights, taxes, military drafts, education and more. Unless such mandates clearly contradict God’s commands, and vaccines do not, then we have the Biblical mandate is to obey them (Romans 13:1). A strictly paranoid connection is the ludicrous myth that the vaccines are injecting a microchip so that we can be tracked. If such were the aim of the government, you are carrying around the means to do it in your pocket or purse (a cell phone)

I cannot imagine any legitimate, Christian objection to the vaccine. Medical objections perhaps exist. For people who truly cannot take the vaccine for medical reasons, the rest of us are taking it in part to protect you. If you are just a needle-phob, the vaccine needle is so small you likely won’t feel it. If you are hospitalized with Covid, you will get a much bigger needle stuck in you.

The biggest problem with opting out of the use of the vaccine is that is does put your life at a certain degree of risk and it does make you a vector for disease that could kill or hurt somebody else. It also allows a space for the virus to go and potentially to mutate leaving herd immunity out of reach. So your personal decision has implications for everyone. That does not strike me as the loving decision, therefore it seems to be the sinful decision, unless you have a legitimate medical reason.

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