Let me start with a disclosure: I have been vaccinated, and I encourage others to be vaccinated. If you’re looking for an anti-vaccination statement, you won’t find it here. I know that you can find many of my fellow evangelicals and conservatives who disagree with me. But as I’ve said many times, my goal is not to be “evangelical” or “conservative.” My goal is to be Biblical and follow Jesus.
What does the Bible say about vaccinations?
It doesn’t say anything.
That shouldn’t be surprising. Vaccinations did not exist in Bible times. If you’re looking for a “do” or “do not” from the Bible, you won’t find one. But there are two very strong Biblical principles that apply, and I encourage you to think about these two honestly and prayerfully.
The principal of health. If you read Leviticus, you will notice that many of the teachings that God gave to Moses deal with health—both the health of the individual and the health of the community. Moses gave laws regarding healthy eating (see Leviticus 11), the quarantining of those with infectious disease (see Leviticus 13), and physical cleanliness (see Leviticus 14.) Taken together, you can see that God is deeply concerned with the health of the individual and especially concerned with the health of the community.
You will also note that there was an obvious accountability built into the system. Priests were called by God to conduct physical examinations to verify that both the physical manifestation of disease had cleared up and that any ceremonial laws were followed. In other words, the health of the community was more than just a personal decision based on personal freedom. The health of the individual and the health of the community were both important to God and requirements were set down from God in writing with the full expectation that all members of the community would follow them.
Therefore, I have no Biblical issue with today’s health departments giving guidelines (including masks, quarantining, or vaccinations) for the good of the entire population with the expectation that they will be followed. The overall idea that personal action can be required for the health of the community is Biblical.
I’m not advocating that we follow all the laws of the book of Leviticus in their original form. We are not the nation of Israel, so we must be careful how we interpret Levitical laws. I am teaching, however, that the principles of individual and community health are still valid. If I want to be Biblical, I need to consider my own health—and I need to consider the health of my community as well. It has to be part of my thinking.
In our country, we have incredible personal liberty, and we rightfully resist anyone taking those freedoms away. But giving up a right for the overall good of the community is Biblical.
Leviticus is, of course, part of the Old Testament. If you want a New Testament example related to health, you will remember that Paul told Timothy to “use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” (1 Timothy 5:23, NIV) In other words—using the best medical advice of his day—Paul told Timothy to take his medicine.
Here’s how I think through this principle. Since God is concerned about my health and especially about the health of my community, I need to take the best medical advice I can get today. And the overwhelming advice from the medical community is clear—the vaccines will help us and help those around us.
A strong word of caution is needed here: Don’t get your medical advice from me—my training is in the Bible and in following Jesus. Don’t get your medical advice from other pastors or from politicians—those on both sides of this issue have an axe to grind. Please don’t get your medical advice from social media, friends, or even the news media.
I’m not asking you to get the vaccine on my say-so.
I am asking you to ask your own personal doctor.
And then follow your doctor’s advice.
I’ve personally asked six currently practicing doctors. (My doctor. My father’s doctor. My mother’s doctor. Two doctors in clinics. And a friend.) I’ve also asked many nurses. (My wife. My daughter. My daughter-in-law. And several others.) The overwhelming advice I’ve personally been given (100%) is to get the vaccine.
I know doctors aren’t perfect, but your doctor is the one entrusted with your health and the health of the community. Ask your doctor if you should get the vaccine. And then follow your doctor’s advice.
And because this is a serious and growing problem, ask your doctor today. I’ve talked to many believers who are still “thinking and praying and researching.” That sounds spiritual, but the waiting period should be over by now, and you haven’t really done due diligence if you haven’t yet asked your doctor.
So health is one of the Biblical principles I’ve used in making my decision. But there is another principle from the Bible that also informed my response. It may be the most important principle in the Bible. It’s also a command. And it is the prime characteristic of our God.
My life’s goal is to love God and to love people and to follow Jesus. I can’t show love to others if I don’t take the necessary steps to make sure that those around me stay healthy. And taking the vaccine is the best way to assure that those around me stay healthy.
It would devastate me if I knew that I (even inadvertently) passed on the virus to my wife, my children, my grandchildren, my neighbors, or to the members of Avondale Baptist Church.
Or to you.
I know it’s not 100%. I know that it is possible for even a masked and vaccinated person to get and unknowingly pass on the virus. But I feel—in the spirit of love—that I should do everything within my power to help you. To love you. To give you the best chance for physical (and spiritual) health.
As an act of love, then, I chose to be vaccinated.
So I can’t give you a specific “yes” or “no” verse about vaccination based on one verse of scripture. That’s true for many of today’s issues. So, we need to learn to look at Biblical principles and apply them to the best of our ability. And that’s what I’ve honestly tried to do on this issue.
That led me to get the vaccine.
That leads me to encourage you to get the vaccine.
For your own good. For the good of those around you. And because you want to follow the principles of the Bible.
Get the vaccine.