When it comes to COVID vaccines and a host of other issues facing the world today, are you seeking first the wisdom of the One who matters most? And are you judging your brother for his making his own call?
Since the COVID-19 vaccines were approved, Church members have lined up on both sides of the issue. Some claimed you lacked faith if you took the jab. Others claimed it was your moral or civic duty to do so. Both views miss the mark.
Those who submitted to vaccination did so for a variety of reasons. Travel is not as free in many places around the world as it is here in the United States. A few ministers could not carry out essential duties—could not do the Work of God—without a vaccine passport. We also have members who could not visit a dying parent without proof of vaccination. One minister was abroad when a sudden change of regulations left him unable to return home unless he took the jab. None of these men or women sought vaccination; they were forced into a difficult corner by circumstances. They weighed the risks against the benefits and submitted in faith to take the jab. There are other reasons people submitted to vaccination, and they need not explain those reasons to anyone—it is a matter between them and God.
Just as those against vaccination should not judge those who choose it, neither should those who choose vaccination judge those who do not. Some have condemned anyone who refuses vaccination as not fulfilling their civic duty. However, this reasoning could be applied to many things that we in the Church avoid for good reasons, including voting, serving on a jury, or serving in the military.
The Church’s stand on the subject has been consistent: Vaccination is a personal matter. That is not being neutral; it is taking a specific stand. Some on both sides of the issue disagree and desire that the Church come down on their side. Instead, we encourage members to use wisdom and base their decisions on facts as best they can. The problem is that coming to a conclusion based on facts is not an easy matter in today’s polarized world. As Dr. Jeffrey Fall, a former dentist with years of medical training, said during our Council of Elders meetings (I’ll paraphrase), “There are highly credentialed and sincere authorities who do not agree on the facts.” So, where does that leave us?
Mixtures of Truth and Error
It all depends on where you go for your opinions. Many people distrust mainstream medicine—and there are sometimes good reasons for skepticism. Like so much that mankind has achieved, modern medicine represents a mixture of right and wrong that goes back to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Yet, while some people criticize mainstream doctors as “only in it for the money,” many alternative and “natural” practitioners are selling their services and products at rather hefty prices. And “natural medicine” can sometimes be just as problematic as its mainstream counterpart. A wise friend once told me that all disciplines of medicine probably have a piece of the big picture. There is likely a place for surgeons, general practitioners, and chiropractors. The problem comes when any one of them thinks he or she has the whole picture. Most doctors are neither all good nor all bad.
There are some facts that are self-evident. For one, we know that the authorities have not always been honest with us. Here in the United States, we were first told by Dr. Anthony Fauci that masks were of no value, but after the supply chain ramped up he confessed to being less than honest and explained that he had wanted to save the limited supply of masks for healthcare professionals—and that was not the last contradiction coming from him and others.
Some things are easily proven false. The impression from the beginning was that if everyone is vaccinated, we can take off our masks and get back to normal. That was why we all “needed” the jab. We were told it was “a pandemic of the unvaccinated”—but then there were those pesky “breakthrough cases” that kept coming up. No matter where you stand on the issue, it should be obvious by now that vaccination does not stop you from contracting COVID-19, nor from spreading it. The Mayo Clinic states, “People with vaccine breakthrough infections may spread COVID-19 to others” (“Fully vaccinated? Get the facts,” MayoClinic.org, May 19, 2022).
Many individuals talk about how they were fully vaccinated and boosted yet still got sick, and it wasn’t always mild. President Biden’s former fully-vaccinated-and-boosted press secretary has admitted to coming down with it twice. And then there is the man himself: “Anthony Fauci MD, has been on the rebound, but not in a good way. During a remote interview with the Foreign Policy Global Health Forum on Tuesday, Fauci indicated that he’s been having a ‘Paxlovid rebound.’ That’s a relapse of Covid-19 positivity and symptoms soon after completing a course of Paxlovid for Covid-19 and testing negative. And apparently the rebound has been worse than the first time around” (“Dr. Fauci Takes 2nd Course Of Paxlovid After Suffering Covid-19 Rebound,” Forbes.com, June 30, 2022).
Canadian Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos was quoted as saying, “It is also important for individuals to remain up to date with the recommended vaccinations to ensure they are adequately protected against infection, transmission, and severe complications…. As we have said all along, Canada’s border measures will remain flexible and adaptable, guided by science and prudence” (“Canada extends COVID-19 border measures for incoming travellers,” MSN.com, June 29, 2022, emphasis mine).
Duclos’ statement suggests that with COVID vaccination you are “protected against infection” and “transmission,” but this is not completely true, as abundant evidence from medical sources, such as the Mayo Clinic, shows anyone with open eyes! However, that vaccination may minimize symptoms in many cases is backed even by some doctors who are against universal vaccination—so I, for one, am willing to consider this a possibility. This is why some individuals with co-morbidities (underlying health issues like diabetes, breathing conditions, etc.) have taken the jab—they see risks both ways and accept what they see as the lower risk for their personal circumstances.
Between You and God
When it comes to vaccinating children, parents need to ask themselves a few questions. What is the real risk of COVID-19 for children? Does your child have underlying conditions that make you think the risk of the vaccine is less than the risk of the virus? And what are the long-term risks from the vaccine? The answer to the last question is not yet known, nor can it be known at this time.
Interestingly, only recently has it come to the public’s attention that there is an association between one of the most popular painkillers and conditions that have been on the rise in recent decades. “In a 2018 study, researchers did a meta-analysis of seven studies involving 132,738 pairs of mothers and children…. The analysis revealed a 20% higher risk of autism and a 30% higher risk of ADHD for children who had prolonged exposure to acetaminophen in the womb” (“Pregnancy: Does Acetaminophen Heighten Risk for Autism or ADHD?,” Health.ClevelandClinic.org, February 17, 2022).
Tylenol—the most popular acetaminophen medication in the U.S.—was first introduced in 1955. Is this pain reliever responsible for a dramatic rise in autism and ADHD? Apparently it is part of the problem, but it took six decades before that was discovered. How many casualties are walking around today because of what was unknown by doctors and pharmacists for years? It would seem wise for any parent to question what the risks of this new class of vaccines might be, compared against the risks to your child of the virus—both short-term and long-term.
There are risks in life, and it serves us well to use the minds God has given us. Prayerfully think through your options—then, with God’s help, come to a decision. And once you do, don’t judge one another. “Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves” (Romans 14:22).