Are Christians Biblically Obligated to Vaccinate?
Depending on who you ask, the answer is "Absolutely!" or "No way!" - both said with equal conviction. Still, some are genuinely seeking answers and others are scratching their heads in confusion and sadness over the way Christians are treating one another over this topic.
I intentionally refrained from reading the "Christians Are Obligated To Vaccinate" articles in the wake of the measles debate these past few months. However, when someone called our faith into question because of our measles vaccination decision, it became personal. So I did what any good Christian would do...I prayed for them. Ha! I actually got pretty defensive and was incredibly disappointed about how the Christian community was handling the debate. Though, we felt it was our duty to take another look at scripture to ensure we were within the will of God.
As I stated in my article about measles, I recognize that most of us seeking this information are well-intended parents who want the best for our families. Take a deep breath and try to remember that as you keep reading.
Before moving on I want to make a few things clear:
- We have never publicly discussed our family's stance on vaccinations as a whole, though it was made perfectly clear where we stood on the measles and about how the eradication of Polio is widely misunderstood.
- We firmly believe individuals should come to their own conclusions about these topics but everyone should continue to educate themselves with the new information, data, statistics, science, etc; not just what the media would have you believe. It is when you close the door to conversation about this continually evolving topic, or believe that no other opinion has value that you become truly ignorant.
- I write this specifically to my Christian brothers and sisters feeling conflicted or bullied. I write this to those looking for information on their biblical obligation.
The Greater Good
For the record, my family is not "anti" or "pro" vaccine. We are "anti" ignorance and "pro" informed decision making. We are also "pro" Jesus, so in this light, we took a look at several articles, and more importantly, the Bible to see if it is a Christian duty to submit to authorities and vaccinate families as a sacrificial duty to protect others.
The backbone of nearly every article was: Christians are morally obligated to vaccinate their families for cause of the Greater/Common Good.
The Greater/Common Good is described as: A specific goal that is shared and beneficial for all or most members of a given community.
As Christians, we are trying to be like Christ who was the ultimate sacrifice. He gave his life. While he was rightfully the ruler of all creation in all glory and splendor, he humbled himself to be with people who hated him, and died to save those people. Talk about the greater good!
He saved countless people for something truly great: eternal life. If the Greater Good concept is essentially the setting aside of yourself for the good of society, Jesus is the greatest example in human history.
This is the context in which I measure the Greater Good. How many people are you saving and what are you saving them from?
Are you willing to take side effects if it saves a group of people? Is your community getting immunized and you are taking advantage of their immunization? Conversely, are you convinced that the immunizations are not truly working or that they may be making the situation worse?
When legitimate and widespread concerns arise about a vaccine's side effects (including death) and the response is "it's for the greater good," I think, is it? The fact that the Nazi party used the same argument to pressure the Christian churches into their platform is not lost on me (Article 24).
No, I am not comparing vaccination to the holocaust, just stop. The comparison I'm drawing between the two is a policy crafted to persuade groups of people to a cause that may conflict with their faith, personal beliefs and even life. If the churches/Christians weren't truly persuaded, they participated out of pressure and fear. This is what I witness when I listen to the doctors, media and passionate individuals debate vaccines and the "ignorant" who question them. The usage of the phrase "for the common or greater good" doesn't in any way guarantee accuracy of their position.
But regardless if it is propaganda or not let's see if the claims are actually scriptural. Is the "Greater Good" a biblical goal and does vaccinating achieve this?
Love Your Neighbor As Yourself
The closest Bible verses that apply to the greater good would be the instruction to love our neighbor. Who is our neighbor? The articles I read usually quote from Matthew or Mark but if I look in Luke 10, it describes who your neighbor is.
A scholar asks Jesus what must he do to inherit eternal life, so Jesus asks him what is written in the law. He replies with "Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself."
He asks for further clarification: Who is his neighbor? So Jesus goes on to tell the Parable of the Good Samaritan and explains that the Samaritan was a neighbor to the man in need, and if you study further, you discover that Samaritans were a hated group of people.
I take this to mean that my neighbor is anyone, including those who hate me. I also understand it to mean that my neighbor is also my family, since the first command is to love God, the second one must include everyone besides God and myself.
To take it one step further, 1 Timothy 5:8 gives the instruction to provide (or care) for your relatives, especially those in your household or else you deny the faith. This should implore us to take great consideration upon these vaccines and their effect on children and the community.
Submit to Authority
The bible talks about authority a lot. From the Patriarchs, Judges, Kings, the exile through the teachings of Christ, authority is unquestionably a theme of Scripture. And submission to authority has little to do with agreement with the authority and much to do with obedience.
Our leaders are in authority over us. The scriptures tell us that the Lord choses and deposes our leaders (Daniel 2:21). Scripture also says that the heart of the King is like a stream of water in the hand of God, it goes wherever he wishes (Proverbs 21:1). As Christians, we have no need to fear our authorities because we fear a God who is sovereign over them.
But our authorities don't include service providers like doctors. They do not make the law, and regarding vaccines, they are counselors to be listened to, but not authorities to be obeyed. If you have done any type of vaccine research, chances are you know more about them than they do.
Doctors admit that they do not receive much training in the vaccine arena and there is no requirement they research on their own, even when new studies and vaccines are available.
If the majority of doctors aren't trained or doing the research, we should be able to trust science, right? The science is conducted and published by people apparently "smarter" than the average citizen, but has proven to have been misrepresented and even tampered with in the past. (Merck falsified MMR efficacy rates by spiking the blood tests with animal antibodies and a scientist at the CDC states they omitted statistically significant information)
Can we trust the scientists? Who is paying them? Are they incentivized? Who is funding the studies? Who wrote the article you are referencing? Who do they work/write for? Who owns their company? Follow the money, it'll always tell you the real story. I, fortunately (unfortunately?), don't receive any money for writing this, no one owns my blog, I will not allow ads on my site and I'm not writing under anyone's guidelines. I'm not the one with a financial agenda. I'm simply the average educated parent who know how to dig and interpret information.
You Don't Need To Be A Doctor
In vaccine discussion or research I hear this too often: 'You are not a doctor or scientist, you cannot make an educated decision about vaccines, you must trust the doctors.' However, the doctors who question vaccines themselves are quickly attacked.
My integrative doctors who have actually proven to help my health improve (as opposed to the conventional doctors who made me worse) are the ones who take time to explain my blood work and all the treatment options so that I fully understand it and can actually interpret many blood results myself.
I was looking at a friend's results the other day, and I made the statement that I didn't understand how her doctor determined a particular diagnosis that we share because the report didn't have any clear markers on it. Her response? "They are doctors for a reason, you shouldn't be able to understand it."
This is so far from the truth. While I don't know how to treat a large number of diseases, infection and emergency cases, I know how to care for myself and my family, what the signs are of serious illness, when to seek medical intervention and how to clearly understand our doctors supplement/medication recommendations (and why) - you should too!
I also know how to research the heck out of ANY-THING until I get to the bottom on it. I'm so tired of people being told they are too stupid to make big decisions like this for themselves, so tired In fact, I started a blog!
Sadly, Focus on the Family dove into the vaccine controversy by telling their readers to vaccinate since they are 'safe and effective.' I also noticed the doctor/author they hired to give this instruction is receiving thousands of dollars for promoting the pharmaceutical companies drugs and vaccines.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where the FDA, Pharmaceutical Industry and the Government are communing together in conflict of interest and the public at large has taken notice. This topic itself could be an entire book, so for sake of length, I'll just reference a few, like the fact that the former CDC Director is now the President of the leading vaccine manufacturer, (the CDC recommends their vaccines) and the Former NIH Director now oversees a drug research lab where the scientists themselves have/had financial interest in therapies and experiments conducted at their lab, including one that killed a patient.
And who spends the most money lobbying in Washington? The pharmaceutical industry, by far.
Even a viral Facebook post by a mom urging parents to vaccinate their children against the measles to protect her baby was linked back to a Pharmaceutical Executive (her dad). Seriously, did you see this? The video shows how easy it is to get sucked into a sad story, but all you have to do is click a few times to find out who she really is along with the motive behind the story that made national headlines, even though it was a complete lie and marketing scheme.
So yes, I am sharing many points that should, at the very least call for serious consideration about each disease/vaccine and the motives behind the doctors, scientists, and the pharmaceutical companies. And while they may heavily influence our state leaders, they do not make the law.
If you've decided against vaccinating in whole or part and can stand before God convinced you are not dishonoring your neighbor - you now need to see what your state requires.
Honoring The Emporer
- What is the law in your state? (Click here to look at State Specific Requirements and Exemptions)
- Since most Personal exemptions have been removed, look closely at ways one might qualify for a medical exemption
- I compiled a post with information on how to begin research on vaccines, how to pursue a medical exemption and how to heal from vaccines here
- Does your state allow homeschool without vaccinating? (Review the Homeschool Immunization Requirements)
- If you do not meet any allowable exemption requirements, and your state enforces a law for vaccination, biblically you are called to submit to the law regardless of how strongly you oppose it
How does the Bible instruct us to respond when we disagree with the law? Let's look at two great Old Testament examples:
- Esther was placed in position as Queen to King Xerxes who had issued a decree to kill the Jews. Esther appealed to the King.
- Daniel lived in Babylon where the King declared death to anyone who didn't bow to him. Daniel prayed to the LORD.
So what do we do? Appeal and pray. The Bible doesn't instruct you to stand blithely by - you can act within accordance to the law. You have a direct line to the Lord and because we live in a democratic country, your voice has a microphone in the world.
- You have the ability, right and duty to call, write, tweet your elected officials, state leaders, legislators
- Join a group such as NVIC Advocacy who will keep you up to date on call to actions in your state
- Find a doctor (an MD) who is educated in this debate and who respects your beliefs
Christian friends, doctors, leaders: Be careful how you use scripture. It can be taken so far out of context to support your agenda but it is not only misleading, but the Bible says you face rebuke and will be found a liar if you add to (or twist, I believe) His words. (Proverbs 31:6)
The vaccine debate is far from over and that is because only one thing is certain. This is not a black and white issue. Let's have some grace for each other trying to figure out all these grey areas.
Number of West Wing References used: 1 (I accidentally took a break for a while).
Note: THINK before you comment: Is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, Kind? Yep, I'm pulling the mama card here. I encourage questions and intelligent conversation. Don't expect your comment to be published or addressed if you are going to be mean-spirited or if it is clear you didn't read the post.