Covid-19 Vaccines and the Law
The science behind the concept of vaccines has been tested and found repeatedly valid since at least the Middle Ages. In the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, certain physicians scraped off the dried pus from the sores of smallpox victims who had survived the disease. Healthy people would then literally snort this “pus dust” into the nose and it was discovered that most of the healthy people who tried this technique did not contract smallpox or, if they did, they ended up with a mild case in most instances (U.S. National Library of Medicine). Later experience shows that vaccines literally eradicated smallpox and brought common diseases such as polio and measles under control. After several centuries of experience and research, it is apparent that vaccines are generally effective in the prevention of a number of deadly or debilitating diseases (Children's hospital of Philadelphia).
Based on this research and experience, I find little scientific data to doubt the effectiveness of vaccines as a whole concept.
As a spiritual leader (the Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel FourteenSix) I am not “anti-vax.” I do not find a Biblical reason to reject modern medicine, including vaccinations. In fact, I read in 1st Timothy 5:23 that Paul encouraged his protégé Timothy to “…not go on drinking only water but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.” In James 5:14 it reads: “Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” Evidence from the first century indicates wine and olive oil, often infused with herbs, was commonly used for medicinal purposes. It is therefore a valid interpretation of these Scriptures to conclude that Paul and James were leading Christians to use medication AND pray for the sick at the same time. In terms of medicine and faith, the Bible is “both - and,” not “either - or.”
So - the scientific concept of vaccination is apparently sound and does not, as a concept in general, contradict Biblical teaching. But just because the concept is scientifically sound does not necessarily mean that every vaccine is equally effective or safe. Even “effective” vaccines have a failure percentage and a percentage of inoculated individuals who severely react to the vaccine. This is the reason, in America at least, laws have been passed requiring warning labels on most medications about possible side effects. In addition, in recent times there has been growing concern about what preservatives and other ingredients may be added to various vaccines. There is also growing concern, also among medical professionals, about how multiple vaccinations of newborns may have deleterious effects and further research is needed in this area. Finally, there have been some ethical, moral, and spiritual questions raised because it is possible some vaccines and other medications may use aborted fetal cells as production catalysts. These medical and ethical concerns may or may not relate to every vaccine. Of course, it as at least rationally possible these concerns may be overblown and based on faulty information in some cases also.
Or they may not be faulty conclusions!
And that's the point!
What is important in the issue of vaccines, and for the sake of this essay specifically the Covid-19 vaccine and the growing movement to MANDATE taking it - is that individuals should retain the freedom to decide for themselves. This freedom to choose should also extend to the freedom of being left alone if one decides not to take it.
To me, this is the central issue since I am not anti-vaccination from a scientific or spiritual (Biblical) point of view. I believe that the rational, free-will of individuals is sacred. It is the highest principle of human existence. The spiritual concern for Christians today concerning vaccines as a whole concept, in my view, is the erosion of free-will that some proposed laws could bring. What is at issue is pressure from government, schools, employers and others that threatens free-will.
For example, there is some thought today that the government should legally require the Covid-19 vaccine. There are some universities and employers already threatening to disenroll students or fire employees who refuse to receive a Covid-19 vaccination. Coupled with these concerning trends, there is growing social pressure on various media platforms to take the vaccine and some evidence of censorship of vaccine "dissenters." Of course, social pressure or censorship is often only an indirect threat to liberty – that is, social media can be a simple marketplace of ideas and opinions – but when social pressure devolves into businesses and governments actually refusing service to the unvaccinated, a line is being crossed. This is because the same government that defined health laws to preserve privacy are now proposing to demand by law or extreme coercion that people reveal their private health decisions.
And...You cannot have it both ways! Either we have personal free-will and a right to privacy in America or we do not.
If we do not any longer have personal free-will or a right to privacy in America, based on the fear of a virus that has a 98+% survival rate, then America IS falling into fascism.
Seriously...Imagine having to reveal your personal health to keep a job – say, for example, being required to explain to your employer that because you have HIV and a compromised immune system you do not feel comfortable with the risk of getting the Covid-19 vaccination. Now your employer knows you are HIV positive - with all the social stigma that may imply. Or imagine being required to “show your vax papers” just to buy a cup of coffee.
That is tyranny. That is fascism in the name of public health.
But one thing the powers behind these proposed directives are missing is that the Covid-19 vaccines currently available are not yet fully FDA approved and, as such, are still considered experimental. By forcing anyone to take these vaccines, a government or employer or school district is requiring people to take an experimental drug - potentially against their will. This is a direct violation of the free-will of the individual (from a Scriptural point of view) and a violation of the Nuremberg Code of Ethics (from an international law point of view).
In other words, forcing people through government or employer power to take an experimental medication – regardless of anyone’s good intentions – is a crime against humanity!
Read that again…a crime against humanity...a war crime!
How can anyone suggest that?
Well, the first tenet of the Nuremberg Code, composed in the wake of the Nazi war crimes trials at Nuremberg in 1946, demands that subjects of human experimentation be volunteers, goes into some detail about exactly what is voluntary consent and what is not, outlines requirements for legal capacity, free choice, the absence of coercion and requiring complete disclosure by researchers about potential risks in a fully comprehensive, effective and meaningful way to the subject.
From a theological standpoint, the Nuremberg Code requirement is supported by the Image of God doctrine because this doctrine teaches us that human free-will and human life is sacred. As image bearers of the Living God, individual human beings are neither ordinary nor less than eternally valuable. Jesus pointed out in Matthew 5:22 that the Image of God in the individual human life is so valuable in God’s eyes that to even insult a person by calling him or her a fool could put the insulter in danger of hell.
Philosophically, human dignity is a basic human right because all humans have the capacity of a rational nature – even if that nature is not fully realized either because of stage of life, education or impairment. The Nuremberg Code of Ethics, under the section concerning “Permissible Medical Experiments” reads,
The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, overreaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion (United States Holocaust Museum, ushmm.org)
Of course, someone may argue that eventually the Covid-19 vaccine will be FDA approved, or they may argue it is “approved” under an emergency order. But the concept that “voluntary consent…is absolutely essential” found in Nuremberg has also been found by U.S. courts to apply to “approved” and “non-experimental” health issues also. This was outlined in “the Belmont Report” of 1976 - a supplement to Nuremberg.
The Belmont report was authorized under the Nixon administration after the revelation by journalists that the U.S. government conducted the “Public Health Service’s Tuskegee Study.” The Tuskegee study was done to African-American men suffering from syphilis. They were lied to by the government and offered free “treatment,” but no real treatment (such as penicillin, the cure for syphilis) was given because the true aim of the study was to see what happens when syphilis is not treated. Some researchers involved in the Tuskegee syphilis experiments claimed they had voluntary consent of test subjects when, in fact, the test subjects may not have had the full capacity to understand their consent because of illiteracy or because the researchers did not give a truly comprehensive view of their experiment. In addition, the Tuskegee experiments began in the 1930’s, before Nuremberg, and continued for many years after the Code was adopted by the United States – but just because the study began prior to Nuremberg did not justify continuing Tuskegee. (United States Department of Health and Human Services, hhs.gov)
The Belmont Report was drafted to provide further protections to people regarding medical consent – whether from experiments or from abuse by doctors of simple prescriptions one might get at a physician’s office. In short, people have a foundational right, simply because they are human beings, to make medical decisions for themselves!
Theologically, the Belmont Report upholds the Image of God doctrine because true, informed consent demands recognition of the full dignity of every human being regardless of their education or economic station in life. Intentional ambiguity in obtaining consent would be lying to exploit a person and Colossians 3: 8 – 10 tells us that lies are an evil practice we are to avoid.
Philosophically and Biblically, regardless of age, gender, race, economic status or level of education, all humans have the capacity for free-will and free-will needs to be protected. Proposed laws to force compliance on issues that affect the medical health of individuals is morally wrong.
Now…it is true that as Christians we are called by God to be good citizens and in submission to governmental authority (Romans 13:1). But this Scriptural requirement has a caveat. Jesus taught that there is a ranking of Biblical principles between higher & lower (Matthew 22:36, 23:23). Thus, when there is a conflict between rules, one should choose the higher principle. This is a philosophical construct called Graded Absolutism.
Concerning the question of mandating Covid-19 vaccination to receive services or keep a job, the higher principle of God is that individual free-will prevails. Free-will is a principle found throughout the Bible and it exists not because governments or employers give or even recognize it, but because human beings are created in the image of God. God has free-will - so human beings have it also. From a Scriptural point of view, human beings should not be forced to participate in any medical experiment or required to take any drug that violates their free-will, that is, their conscience.
Again…I am not anti-vaccination or anti-science. I do, however, believe that human free-will, which is God’s higher law, trumps any government or employer coercion to take the Covid-19 vaccination. People should be allowed to follow their conscience. It is for this reason that my personal “vaccination status” is nobody’s business but my own.
In the end - if you want to get the vaccine you should be free to get it. If you do not want it, you should be free not to get it. Either way, your personal medical decisions should be confidential between you and your doctor (Your body = your choice…right?) No one should be required to provide private, medical information to keep a job or go to school or receive public assistance. Seriously - Do you want someone to demand to know whether or not you have had an abortion in order to get hired? Do you want someone to know if you have Herpes or a Herpes vaccination in order to come into a restaurant?
1. If the Covid-19 vaccine is effective – then people who want to get it should get it. The result should then be that the vaccinated person should have nothing to fear! It should not be forced on anyone…
2. If the Covid-19 vaccine is not effective – then it should not be forced on anyone.
3. If Covid-19 vaccine effectiveness is largely unknown – then it should not be forced on anyone.
4. If the Covid-19 vaccine if very effective – but there are people with medical conditions or ethical concerns about its manufacture – then it should not be forced on anyone.
Conclusion...The Covid-19 vaccination should not be legally or socially forced on anyone.