Your E-mails: December 2021

I’m concerned about having the Covid vaccine. What does the Bible say?

THE BIBLE DOESN’T of course give direct instructions about vaccinations, so we need to look at the principles which will guide the decision we make.

One principle is that your body is a gift from God and the Christian must take care of it (1 Corinthians 6:19). So the first question is, are the vaccines beneficial? There are suggestions that they have not been properly tested. There are also conspiracy theories which allege that they are harmful, and even that they are part of some sinister plot against the population. Before we take these theories seriously we should look into their sources and weigh them against the evidence. The consensus is that Covid is a real and devastating disease, and the vaccines offer protection against it. They do have known side effects, as do all vaccines, but the risks from these side effects are far outweighed by the benefit of the protection which they provide.

Another important principle of Christian life is that the disciple must always consider the effect of their actions on others (Matthew 7:12). There is strong evidence that you are less likely to pass on Covid to others if you have been vaccinated.

A further principle is that the disciple should obey the will of the authorities— unless of course their will conflicts with the will of God (1 Peter 2:13–14). Medical and civil authorities the world over are urging us to ‘have the jab’. Although it is generally not compulsory, we should only refuse if we have a good reason.

There is an argument that vaccination against Covid or any other disease shows a lack of faith in God, Who oversees our lives. The thinking is that if we catch Covid it must be God’s will, and we should not resist it. However, if we carried this argument to its logical extreme we would not wash our hands to protect against germs, or lock our doors to protect against burglars—we’d leave it to God to look after us. The Bible does tell us to trust in God, and it also tells us to look after ourselves. For example ‘The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it’ (Proverbs 22:3). I don’t believe that being vaccinated shows a lack of faith in God.

Whether or not to have the vaccine is a matter of individual conscience. The Apostle Paul’s instructions about conscience are very useful: ‘One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgement on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him’ (Romans 14:2–3). In matters such as this, we should make our decision based on our conscience and respect other people’s decisions, whether or not they are the same as ours.