Religious Opposition to Vaccines

There are many who do not believe that anyone can have a religious objection to the COVID-19 vaccine. They call these claims BS. The major religions do not support this belief so how can it be true. They attack those who dare to say otherwise. The days of religious freedom in this country are being called into question. I believe that my relationship with God is personal. I try to work on that relationship every day. Sometimes the church helps me in that endeavor, but ultimately it is my personal relationship with God, my faith in Him and my submission to His will, that is of utmost importance in my life. And to do that, I must trust in Him, nothing else. (Some days I do better at this than others).

Perhaps close to a hundred thousand or more across the country are claiming religious objections to the vaccine. “My body is my temple.” “I am opposed to the use of aborted fetal cells.” “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than trust in man.” Has COVID created a Great Conversion of faith?! I hope so. But, like many, I suspect that some of those touting religious beliefs may not truly have this conviction.

Or maybe this is the spark they need to dive deeper into their faith. I believe that one should not use the Lord’s name in vain. One should not use God as an excuse. BUT I believe that everyday every one of us, whether close to God or not, whether full of faith or full of doubt, has the opportunity to draw closer to God. Perhaps you are afraid of the vaccine. Perhaps you are afraid in general. You are right to turn to the bible. You are right to turn to God. Our bodies are our temples to God. If you espouse these beliefs, even if initially without true belief, I encourage you to dive into them further. Because it truly is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. Although God has given us the intelligence and ability to do many things, no one among us, no scientist, no doctor, no president, is greater than God. If you have fear, if you have doubt, you can take refuge in the Lord… even if you have been absent from Him.

In Corinthians, Paul reminds us that we are called to be holy, to avoid immorality, to protect our bodies from evil because our bodies are temples created by God:

“Everything is lawful for me,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is lawful for me,” but I will not let myself be dominated by anything. “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food,” but God will do away with both the one and the other. The body, however, is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body; God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take Christ’s members and make them the members of a prostitute? Of course not! [Or] do you not know that anyone who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For “the two,” it says, “will become one flesh.” But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Avoid immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Our bodies are a host to the Holy Spirit. Our bodies are made in God’s image. We can do many things — we have free will — but not everything we can do is right. Our bodies are meant to glorify God. Our bodies are members of Christ. Would you allow Christ’s body, the temple of the Holy Spirit to be defiled with lustful, immoral activity? Would you allow Christ’s body to “benefit” from or take advantage of aborted fetal cells? Would you use your body to indulge in gluttony with food or drugs or alcohol for momentary pleasure? Unfortunately, we may have done all of these. But that doesn’t mean that we cannot do better. That we cannot reassess how we treat God’s temple. That we cannot begin to worship God with our bodies. That we cannot use our bodies to show love rather than lust. That we cannot take better care of God’s temple and prevent harmful substances from entering it. That we cannot reject immorality, greed, lust, gluttony and pride (believing that we know better than God).

I believe in science. But I believe in God more. If we have learned nothing these last two years, it is that we do not know everything. We have been largely powerless against COVID-19. Even the vaccine which the media seems to hail as the savior to the pandemic does not prevent the vaccinated from continuing to spread it. Even highly vaccinated areas are seeing huge spikes in the virus. We need God. We can be prideful and boastful. But we are foolish if we do not turn to God. We are foolish if we rely on man rather than trusting in God. For too many years we have been pushing God out of our lives. The bible is filled with plagues — do we think we are any better? Do we not see the parallels in today’s times. Whether or not you receive the vaccine, we need to turn our hearts, our minds, and our bodies back to God.

In danger I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free. The LORD is with me; I am not afraid; what can mortals do against me? The LORD is with me as my helper; I shall look in triumph on my foes. Better to take refuge in the LORD than to put one’s trust in mortals. Better to take refuge in the LORD than to put one’s trust in princes.

Psalm 118:5-9

I understand the fear surrounding COVID-19. I understand the fear surrounding the vaccine. Fear is found where faith is not. Have faith in God. Trust in the Lord. Nothing is more effective in driving out fear. I believe and pray that religious freedom in this country will continue to be honored. And I hope and pray that those who are claiming it continue to turn to God.

Lord, I pray that all of those who use you to rally against the vaccine, find you. I pray that we as a nation turn back to you. I pray that those who persecute religious objections have open minds to what they cannot see and experience your love.

Another in the Fire

One of my favorite songs at the moment is Hillsong United’s Another in the Fire. Lately, I feel that I am under attack for my beliefs. I feel that I am under fire. My beliefs are being challenged. Indeed, it feels as though Christianity is under attack in this country. The words in Hillsong’s song have been speaking to me:

There’s a grace when the heart is under fire
Another way when the walls are closing in
And when I look at the space between
Where I used to be and this reckoning
I know I will never be alone
There was another in the fire
Standing next to me
There was another in the waters
Holding back the seas
And should I ever need reminding
Of how I’ve been set free

There is a cross that bears the burden
Where another died for me.

Today, I learned the connection between this song and the book of Daniel. In chapter 3, we learn that King Nebuchadnezzar required everyone to bow down and worship a golden statute he had made. He decreed that “Whoever does not fall down and worship shall be instantly cast into a white-hot furnace.” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down and worship this false god. And when they were questioned, they responded:

“If our God, whom we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us! But even if he will not, you should know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue which you set up.”

Daniel 3:17-18

As a result, they were thrown into the fire. The faith and the strength that they showed when truly under fire in inspiring. While in the midst of the fire, these three responded by praising and worshipping God amidst the fire (and — spoiler alert — an angel of the Lord saved them from the flames so that not even the smell of smoke touched them). Their prayer is a powerful one and a good reminder in these days when we are under attack:

“Blessed are you, and praiseworthy, O Lord, the God of our ancestors, and glorious forever is your name. For you are just in all you have done; all your deeds are faultless, all your ways right, and all your judgments proper. You have executed proper judgments in all that you have brought upon us and upon Jerusalem, the holy city of our ancestors. By a proper judgment you have done all this because of our sins; For we have sinned and transgressed by departing from you, and we have done every kind of evil. Your commandments we have not heeded or observed, nor have we done as you ordered us for our good. Therefore all you have brought upon us, all you have done to us, you have done by a proper judgment. You have handed us over to our enemies, lawless and hateful rebels; to an unjust king, the worst in all the world. Now we cannot open our mouths; shame and reproach have come upon us, your servants, who revere you. For your name’s sake, do not deliver us up forever, or make void your covenant. Do not take away your mercy from us, for the sake of Abraham, your beloved, Isaac your servant, and Israel your holy one, To whom you promised to multiply their offspring like the stars of heaven, or the sand on the shore of the sea. For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation, brought low everywhere in the world this day because of our sins. We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader, no burnt offering, sacrifice, oblation, or incense, no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with you. But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received; As though it were burnt offerings of rams and bulls, or tens of thousands of fat lambs, So let our sacrifice be in your presence today and find favor before you; for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame. And now we follow you with our whole heart, we fear you and we seek your face. Do not put us to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy. Deliver us in accord with your wonders, and bring glory to your name, O Lord: Let all those be put to shame who inflict evils on your servants; Let them be shamed and powerless, and their strength broken; Let them know that you alone are the Lord God, glorious over the whole world.”

Daniel 3:26-45

As I read this this morning, I saw so many similarities with today. We have departed from God as a country. We have done every kind of evil. We have removed God from almost everything. We attack those who stand against abortion. We worship lust over love. We riot instead of talk. We blame instead of seek to understand. We fear because we have no faith. We attack those whose religious beliefs preclude them from receiving a vaccine. We are called to worship a president, a vaccine, sex, athletes, media personalities…. everything but God. We cannot open our mouths. Those who speak out are ostracized. Shame and reproach come upon us. We have no prince, prophet or leader. Even our church leaders are cowering to political pressure. Our church gatherings have been reduced to zoom. WE ARE UNDER FIRE. God is being closed out of our lives. The fire is as hot and as evil as the fire that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into. We do not have the power. What can we do? Bow down to the false gods around us? NO! “But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received.” For those who trust in the Lord cannot be put to shame. As Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did — we must follow God with our whole heart. God is with us. We have to resist the temptation to bow to all that is around us, all that asks us to turn away from God. As the words in the song say: “There is a grace when our heart is under fire. [There is] another way when the walls are closing in” — our way is to turn and follow God with our whole heart… regardless of what the kings around us say.

Lord, may I be as strong as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. May I not falter and not bow to the gold statutes around me. I know you are with me. I know you alone can set me free. My heart is humble and contrite. I seek your mercy for my failings. You alone are my God. Deliver us in accord with your wonders. Let all those be put to shame who inflict evils on your servants; Let them be shamed and powerless, and their strength broken; Let them know that you alone are the Lord God, glorious over the whole world.

Why I am Not Vaccinated: The Truth

There is a lot of distrust flowing through our country. The government has made it clear that it is fully focused on pushing the vaccine. In its rush and push, the media and government make statements and take actions designed to encourage vaccination that are not always supported by the data, particularly as the new variants occur. Is it safe? Is it effective? How long is it effective? Is it better than natural immunity? Are there long-term effects? I don’t know. And unfortunately because everything is so new and the virus is changing so rapidly, neither does anyone else. We are still learning.

COVID-19 is scary. We have watched the world react with fear. Shutting down businesses. Pushing isolation. And now blaming the unvaccinated for the virus even though studies are beginning to show that the current variant spreads among the vaccinated too. As we have seen in recent years, the media and now government silence and attack anyone who disagrees with their agenda, leading to further distrust, isolation, and dissension.

As the hysteria around the virus spread (quicker than the virus itself), I turned to the only place where I knew I would get the truth. I turned to God. And I turned to the bible. And I continue to turn there now. In Chronicles, God tells us:

If I close heaven so that there is no rain, if I command the locust to devour the land, if I send pestilence among my people, if then my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:13-14

I don’t know if the vaccine will save us. But I do know that God will, if we turn to Him! Imagine if we pushed this as much as we pushed the vaccine? Imagine if those who have turned away, who are paying homage to other idols, to money, to fame, to technology, to kings and presidents and political parties, imagine if the same media pressure, asked them to return to God. Imagine if we united in His name. The vaccine may work for some, but it also does cause negative effects in others. The vaccine may reduce some risk, but no one thinks its 100% effective, and early studies are skeptical about how effective it will be on new variants. God is 100% effective. There are no negative side effects. There is no variant or mutation that He cannot handle. His truth is overpowering.

I believe that God is calling us to Him. I believe that if we have faith, and we turn back to Him, He will save us. I believe that He calls us not to live in fear, for when we live in fear, we turn away from God. He tells us repeatedly do not be afraid. If we have faith, there is nothing to fear. Fear is a reminder that we need to turn back and restore our faith.

I am not against science. And I am not against the vaccine. But for me personally right now, it is a question of faith. God is calling me to have faith and to turn to Him and Him alone.

God,

You have made us in your image. You have made us with intelligence and creativity. But sometimes we forget about you. We think we are capable of solving problems and forget that we always need your help. Lord, I know that I am not capable of solving the challenges in front of me without you. I am weak, confused and uncertain when I turn from you. I turn to you now. I am humble and ashamed of the times I think that I can do anything, without you. I ask you to protect me, to protect my family and to heal these lands. Please help us to turn back to you. To turn away from politics and division, to turn away from anything that is not of you.

Heal us O Lord that we may be healed. Save us, that we may be saved. For you are our praise.

A Confession of Sins

We complain. A lot. Turn on the news (any channel) and it is filled with complaints. Everybody is doing something wrong. No one is satisfied. No one is getting along. Even the weather is not as perfect as we would like. Think of your own conversations. How many are filled with complaints. This person was rude and not fully focused on our issues. That person cut us off. This food didn’t taste as good as we had hoped. The store didn’t have exactly what we wanted, or was too crowded or took too much time. The city, the state, the country isn’t spending money and time on what we want. We fight over masks and vaccines. Drug use, depression, loneliness and inactivity are impacting all of us. Many are suffering alone, out of fear. We are not satisfied. We are not happy. We are angry. We are fearful.

Today, the Bible opened to Psalm 106. The Psalm recounts a number of times where God saved the Israelites, only for them to quickly forget his works and crave the things of the world, turning away from him. Hmmm. Sound familiar? We were one of the richest nations, but we were not satisfied. We were founded by individuals looking to avoid persecution for their religious beliefs. Our declaration of independence refers to the rights provided to us by God and our divine providence. But it didn’t take long for us to turn away. The Psalm ends in this fashion:

Many times he delivered them, but they were rebellious in their purposes, and were brought low through their inequity.

Nevertheless he regarded their distress, when he heard their cry. He remembered for their sake his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his mercy.

He caused them to be pitied by all those who held them captive.

Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say “Amen!” Praise the Lord!

Psalm 106: 43-48

We are wasting our time and breath (and health) with our complaints. Our worry and fear is powerless and harming us and those around us. God hears us when we cry to Him, when we turn to Him. His mercy and His love is never ending. We need to stop looking to the things of the world to satisfy us or to make us happy. We need to stop thinking (and being disappointed) when the people of the world are incapable of solving our issues. God is our only savior. God is the only answer!

The most common and frequent commandment in the bible is “do not be afraid” or “fear not” — why? Because God is with us… if we allow Him to be.

Save us, O Lord our God! We give thanks to you and praise you. You are good! Your mercy endures forever. Open my eyes, Lord. Open my heart. Open my ears to your word. I am tired and angry and afraid when I look at the world. Help me to turn my eyes to you instead. We are sinners, individually and as a nation. We have turned away like the Israelites so many times before us. Hear our prayer! Heal our land! Heal our hearts! Turn us back to you! I have seen the great works that you do. I have seen your healing and your power. Lord, you are great indeed! Forgive me for getting lazy, forgive me for forgetting to put your first, forgive me for forgetting you and letting the world take over. Create in me a clean heart and fresh start. I want to do better!