This is an amended email I sent out to my congregation following a talk on vaccines that many of us attended at a local doctor’s office. At our church we have both anti-vaccine folks and pro-vaccine folks and that is how it should be. I have personal opinions about vaccines, anti-vacciners, pro-vacciners, scientific studies, fear mongering, the CDC, government mandates, big pharma, and alternative medicine. But the focus here is not on pro or anti vaccines, but rather how we should approach the issue as Christians.
First, vaccines are way down the list of things that matter for Christians. Do not let it become too important. Take some time. Research it. Calmly make a decision and move on. Do not make this a “cause” you are promoting. If your church ever became known as the “anti-vaccine” church it would be a grievous blight on Christ’s name. Both pro and anti vaccine people should feel at home in your church body. If vaccines, pro or con, become a “gospel” issue for you then that is a blight on Christ’s name. Vaccines can be discussed, but they must not divide.
Second, don’t make it a spiritual issue. You are not more holy if you do or if you don’t (I Cor. 8:7-8). We must not judge someone’s holiness or sanctification based on this issue. If you find yourself thinking someone is not as righteous as you because they vaccinate or don’t vaccinate then there is a big problem.
Third, do not make decisions out of fear and anxiety. Both the pro and anti vaccine talking heads feed our fears. “Don’t vaccinate because your kid might die.” “Do vaccinate or your kid might die.” But we do not trust in men. We trust in God. So whatever decision you make, make it from a heart that trusts in God, not because someone is feeding your heart-fires of anxiety (Philippians 4:6-7).
Fourth, you will never know enough to make the perfect decision. There are thousands and thousands of pages written on this. You can read about it for months (which I would not recommend by the way!). As a culture we trust in “data.” If we just had another study or more proof. Or “Look at this study. It says…” But it will never be enough. You are not and never will be God. There is always a lot you don’t know and will never know than you know. Do a little research. Make a decision, trust God, and move on.
Fifth, you are not in control. God is. Both the pro and anti vaccine crowd have a God-complex at times. They believe if we just do enough we can control the future. If I just do this then that horrible thing will never happen to me. If I don’t vaccinate my children, they eat right, and exercise they will not get cancer. If we vaccinate our kids they will not get disease x. If I just get regular mammograms then they will catch the cancer in time. If I eat natural then I will live a long and happy life. As Christians, we must reject this type of thinking. We try to make good decisions. But we know that God runs show. Your time is in His hands. You do not control the future. He does. Don’t ever forget that great truth. It will calm a lot of your fears.
Finally, remember the soul matters a lot more than the body (Matthew 10:28). Raising our children to love Jesus, love His Word, and love His people is way more important than whether or not we vaccinate. For every article you read on vaccines, read five (ten?) on the Christian life. Keep things in perspective. Don’t let your heart and mind be consumed by this or any other of the hundreds of minor issues in the Christian life. Keep the main things the main things.
We all have to make decisions about things like this throughout our life. With vaccines, I would encourage you to be calm, do some research, make the choice you think is best for your family, trust God, and then move on. And make sure your decision does not become the one that everyone else must make.