“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
A friend called yesterday concerned about a potential job loss because of a refusal to comply with upcoming mandates. This friend has valid moral concerns on more levels than I can discuss here, but one of the concerns has to do with the connection to the use of fetal cell lines in vax development…and that should be enough to give any of us pause. Sadly it isn’t…not even in the churches.
In fact, of late I have seen written statements from denominational leaders, official policies at the Vatican, and viral messages from online ministers that all seem to convey the message that any Christian refusing to comply is sinning. Ultimately the attitude communicated seems to be: “Jesus has no place in your misguided political stance so if you can’t obey the great Arnold Schwarzenegger and ‘screw your freedom,’ then at least be a good secularist and separate your political position from your faith because you are an embarrassment to the rest of us.”
This is a serious oversimplification of the issues involved and an abuse of the command to love my neighbor…it is a participation in a new medical technological legalism. After all, every one of these vaccines was developed using cell lines derived from aborted babies either in the actual creation or the testing of the vaccine. Furthermore these vaccines are being pushed by a CDC that appears more and more corrupt, and developed by companies that are making tons of money on this with very little risk–they legally cannot be sued for damages done by vaccines. Also, those companies have been found to be seriously untrustworthy in other ways (look into J & J’s attempt to shelter themselves from culpability in their baby powder causing cancer or Pfizer’s effort to cover up that they used fetal cells in their vaccine development.)
As a Christian, if I have concerns about the rightness and/or truthfulness of such matters, it is and should be deeply connected to my faith in Christ. It is not a sin to say I have genuinely sound and moral reasons for not participating in medical technology developed based on the death of an innocent child. It is not sinning to say I have genuinely prayed about these issues and researched and have reasons rooted in the love of truth and my neighbor for doubting the trustworthiness of those involved in managing this pandemic and developing the vaccines. We cannot simply go along to get along on this issue and claim that such compliance is the only way to love our neighbors. To insist that others do so is unloving, unjust, and unmerciful.
That is why I think this friend called me for prayer and encouragement, because there is nothing coming from the leadership of most church institutions to inspire confidence that the church will support this decision of personal sacrifice for a moral stand. (Thankfully, the Bishops of the Anglican Church North America–of which I am a part–have come out in support of conscience on these matters, but that is by no means typical of many denominational institutions.) To make a sacrifice for truth and justice is a hard thing. To do so without the support of the faith community that should take your stance most seriously is nearly unbearable. For church leadership to treat the medically non-compliant like pariahs and ignore their very valid concerns is quite possibly one of the worst failures on the part of the church in relation to the imperial bug since our society crowned it lord and god in early 2020 (probably second only to our failure to demand access for minsters, chaplains, and family members to seriously ill and dying patients early on in the pandemic). May God have mercy on us for it.
We seem in our evangelistic zeal (perhaps) to have come to the false conclusion that the goal is to be liked. We strive to look credible to the gods of “science.” But that cannot be. “Friendship with the world is enmity with God,” a verse that remains true today because as Leslie Newbigin says, “The Church has to unmask ideologies” (Truth to Tell, 74), and when we do that we make enemies. But we are too scared to unmask anything.