why all christians should get the vaccine
DISCLAIMER : My mother thinks this is a bad idea and told me not to do it, and all the opinions expressed herein are of the author only and not of the parents who birthed and raised her. (But truth be told, they’re pretty damn close.)
I love the vaccine-averse people in my life. I love them so much that it actually hurts my own feelings. I would never give them up for anything. I don't want to boss them around, and I don't want to publicly shame them.
But I need to say something.
I was hoping I wouldn’t. But push has come to shove.
100% of my AF (Anti-vaxxer Friends) are Christian. A most troubling confluence, one that is deeply perplexing to me. But then, there are many things Christianity has become synonymous with that I don’t understand.
For example, the opposing abortion thing. (Well, that one I can sort of understand, intellectually. ) But then we moved on to opposing homosexuals and transgendered individuals. Then we said we were defenders of the nuclear family and traditional gender roles. (Because…why? Because John Wayne?) Then that extended to being pro-military (that one is DEFINITELY not in the bible, in fact Jesus preached the opposite, and don’t even get me started on the God of the Old Testament) and then, somehow, we were anti-social programs?
Y’all. What is GOING ON? What is HAPPENING? Have we ever even read the New Testament? We’re talking about a set of books that might as well be entitled “Spicy Adventures of a Dirty Socialist.”
But somehow, Christianity/evangelicalism is now synonymous with more and more disturbing clickbait titles. Pro-police violence, anti-women, anti-science, and even anti-social justice in some cases. It’s no secret that I’ve been on the struggle bus about the church’s attitude about these things. For decades. And just when I thought we’d hit rock bottom, we decided to sign up to be the face of – shudder – the anti-vaxxer movement. In the middle of a global pandemic.
This is the hill we’re going to die on. (Literally, this is the hill we’re going to die on. And many already have.)
I know I sound angry. But it’s only the frustration of someone who got on a bus only to discover the bus was going in the exact opposite direction they thought the bus was supposed to go. Entreaties toward the bus driver were met with eye-rolling and suspicion from most of the passengers. Sit down and shut up. You’re only making this whole trip worse for yourself by yelling, and you’re not changing the direction of the bus by shrieking like a distressed seagull. If I’ve heard that once, I’ve heard if a thousand times. You’re too inflexible. Too rigid. Too combative.
And I don’t mean to be that way. Really, I don’t.
Contrary to popular belief, I don’t actually enjoy fighting everyone. (This coming from a person who routinely says, “I’m sorry that you chose to make me mad.”) But to be perfectly honest, I’m just scared of what will happen if I don’t fight everyone. If not me, then who? Everyone else is too invested in avoiding awkward social situations.
So it’s started to feel like I’m responsible for this. Like it’s my job. A job that I never applied for, didn’t want, and am not very good at. (But ultimately, one that I am genetically incapable of quitting or backing down from. Don’t blame me, I just came out to have a good time.)
But more than being frustrated and aggressive, I am genuinely confused. How has being vaccinated somehow been conflagrated with the religious right?
We all get where the *controversy*, such as it is, comes from. There’s a longstanding tension between protecting individual liberties and safeguarding the public’s health. And it seems that the AF club is one in one camp, and the PV (Proudly Vaccinated) is in the other.
For me, it’s not that I don’t care about protecting individual liberties. It’s more that protecting individual liberties, to me, falls under safeguarding the public’s health. If you violate safeguarding the public’s health, by definition you are violating individual liberties – the liberty to be healthy and to protect your loved ones. These two things – individual liberties and the common good – are inextricably linked.
It goes both ways. You cannot care about one of those things without caring about the other.
That being said, I understand that not everyone feels the same way I do. There are some who believe that getting vaccinated would be putting them and their children at risk. I certainly don’t believe that, but I understand that you do. And I understand that feeling like you are putting yourselves and your children at risk – because the government says you must – is unacceptable.
What I don’t understand – and don’t get – is how this is being tangled up with Christianity.
Not getting the vaccine, as far as I understand it, is about self-protection. Every man for himself. I have to do what’s right for me and my family. Etc. However, that’s simply not what the bible teaches.
Christianity, as far as I understand it, is about herd immunity. It is about living self-sacrificially and resisting the urge to be self-serving. Let your body be a living sacrifice. Do nothing out of selfish ambition. In humility consider others more significant than yourselves. Love each other like I have loved you. Freely you have received, freely give. Bear one another’s burdens. Help the weak. I am always with you. Everything I have is yours.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t have boundaries. But as far as getting the vaccine goes, that argument doesn’t hold water. Because I didn’t get the vaccine for me. The vaccine isn’t for me. The vaccine isn’t for you, either. It’s for us. Getting the vaccine is a communal act.
And if we call ourselves Christian, by definition we’ve already said we would do this. We’ve said that we would commit to this. Living with each other and for each other.
So, to my Christian friends and family, I ask the following question : Why the fork are we lumping Jesus in with anti-vaccination rhetoric?
The other religious argument being passed around like whiskey at a Mardi Gras Parade is that God is supreme and knows what’s best, so if you get COVID, he meant for that to happen and he knows what’s best and we just have to trust Him. Getting the vaccine is seen as not having enough faith. God is the divine healer, not the scientists. I saw one sign that said, “The blood of Jesus is my vaccine” and my brain exploded out of my skull. I mean, we’ve all seen the CHRIST OVER VIRUSES AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES meme that Khloe Kardashian posted to her instastories at the beginning of all this mess. (But, to be fair, that was before she was infected with the disease herself.)
I would ask you to consider this counterproposal : that the blood of Jesus was actually not intended for physical maladies, and is in fact not a vaccine, and that faith in God doesn’t have anything to do with not getting the vaccine.
“Extending the life-giving effects of Jesus’s blood is like saying chemotherapy will cure your broken finger: it misappropriates one treatment for a serious problem to a totally different disorder.” (Kuhn, ABC Religion & Ethics.)
Additionally, this belief also contradicts another belief. If God is all things, and if God is in and above and below everything, and if God is using us to “bring the Kingdom,” (sorry, as of late I’ve developed an odd habit of putting classically Christianese phrases in quotations) then God is in Science. Science and Religion are two parts of the same song, written by the same composer. Christians need to stop clinging to Religion as an excuse for ignoring Science. When we ignore and deny Science, it is only our own God we are ignoring and our own God we are denying.
So everyone stop it. Can we? Can we please? Can we just please stop it? Can we please just go and get vaccinated? I know you don’t want to. And normally, I wouldn’t ask you to. But our healthcare workers are dying. They are spent. They have given their lives. They are stuffed to the brim with trauma. They have given us everything and now they have nothing more to give us. The hospitals are full. The schools and workplaces are getting outbreaks.
And this is because not enough people have gotten the vaccine.
There’s no room for people to simply abstain. I would love it if there were. I honestly would. But now we’re in a situation where that’s no longer an option. Herd immunity, at this point, is our only way out.
So please. Just help me. Please? Please help me. I want to go home to Calgary. I want to hang out with my friends. I want to lick everyone’s faces. I want to go to karaoke nights again. I want to have my (surrogate) children over to my house for movie nights and pillow fights. I want to go to church and see everyone’s faces and I want to sing. I want my brother’s wedding not to be cancelled. (Especially since I already waltzed up into a bridal shop and laid down a not insubstantial amount of cash for suitable accoutrement.)
And most importantly, I want people to not get this sick anymore. I want families to not be destroyed anymore. I want my healthcare workers to enjoy their jobs again, one day. I want my healthcare workers to not be suicidal and depressed. I want the absence of fear. I want restoration. I want it more than I want to breathe.
Please give up the Jesus + Antivaccination = True Love. Because it doesn’t. And please get vaccinated. I honestly believe, deeply, in my soul, that that's what Jesus is asking of us.