By Tope Akinnola
Ordinarily the question of whether getting vaccinated for Covid-19 is against the will of God or not is a no-brainer, but I felt that I should address it regardless. Recently, a popular evangelical pastor and author by the name Daniel Darling discussed how he got fired from his executive vice president position by the National Religious Broadcasters, a leading evangelical body in the United States. What was his offence? The evangelical organisation said that he violated their policy of neutrality on Covid-19 vaccination when he openly discussed how he got vaccinated and encouraged other people to talk with their doctors to find out if it would be safe and okay for them to get vaccinated.
He wrote an op-ed titled, ”Why, As A Christian and An American, I Got The COVID Vaccine,” featured in USA Today earlier on August 1 this year; as well as later appearing on another media forum on August 18 to further air his personal views on why he decided to take the vaccine. Christianity Today, a leading evangelical publication in their August 27 edition explored in detail the dynamics and circumstances surrounding how Pastor Darling’s remarks cost him his job with the ministry. It was even rumoured that that he got fired without a severance package as well. In it all, he took everything in his strides with dignity and without expressing hate or animosity towards the organisation.
Accepting or not accepting to take the Covid-19 vaccine has been not only an issue of much monstrous political contention, but also of much malicious division in the evangelical world ditto the body of Christ. The devil has used it to fan the embers of strife, animosity, anger, hate and suspicion among brethren. Families have broken apart as a result of whether some advocate for taking Covid-19 vaccination or some advocate against it. Lifetime friendships have been fractured because of this. Politicians have nearly punched one another in the face because of this — and that goes along with whether the additional safeguard of wearing masks should be observed or not under certain circumstances. Pastors and Christians have torn apart their relationships with one another because of their individual preferences with regard to this issue too.
So, you should now see why the question of whether Covid-19 vaccination is against the will of God or not is very crucial. In order to proffer a reasonable and biblically sound answer to this question, let me start by saying that God’s will for everyone of us is healing and health, as the Scriptures clearly show. The Bible says in Exodus 23:25: ”And ye shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee.” That’s why when Mariam, Moses’ elder sister, was afflicted with leprosy, Moses prayed for her healing and God healed her supernaturally.
Also, in Matthew 8:16-17, it is mentioned regarding the Lord Jesus: ”That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, ‘He took our infirmities and bore our diseases,'” (RSV). Countless healing miracles took place under the healing ministry of Jesus to demonstrate that it is God’s will for us to enjoy healing and health as his creatures here on earth.
But let’s also note that some herbs with certain chemical properties were also mentioned in the Bible as medicinal plants and a few good examples are the medical application or use of ‘balm of Gilead’ (commiphora sp.) meant to treat sores in Jeremiah chapter eight, or the use of fig as a cure for a boils (mentioned in Isaiah), and mandrake as a fertility remedy enabling Jacob and Leah to have a fifth son (mentioned in Genesis). In fact, mandrake has been found to have many dozens of different medicinal uses in the ancient world; some of which even continue up to contemporary times. In answer to King Hezekaiah’s petition for healing and for his life to be prolonged, God told the man of God, the Prophet Isaiah, ”Prepare a poultice of figs and apply it to the boil, and he will recover,” in Isaiah 38:21.
Then, in Genesis 30:16-17, the Bible says (in the Good News Translation), ”When Jacob came in from the fields in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, ‘You are going to sleep with me tonight, because I have paid for you with my son’s mandrakes.’ So he had intercourse with her that night. God answered Leah’s prayer, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son.” Pomegranate, also mentioned in the Bible is also known as having medicinal properties in Egypt and Mesopotamia.
Now, what you need to realise is that when God wants to heal or grant people health, he could do it supernaturally just as he could also do it through the medicinal application of chemical properties of herbal plants or a mixture of different chemical properties that are relevant and effective to deal with the human condition.
Listen, why did Paul tell Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:23, ”Drink water no longer exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent illnesses,” (AMP)? It’s because Timothy, the young pastor of the big church in Ephesus, had some frequent inconvenient ailments that he experienced in his stomach, and some chemical qualities in fermented wine (alcohol) could help to relieve him. Even though the exact stomach ailment that Timothy was dealing with wasn’t mentioned, but we know that since the ancient days of Hippocrates, it has been acknowledged that the water of the ancient world contained harmful bacteria that could very well produce ailments. And in the ancient, polluted city of Ephesus where Timothy was stationed, the harbour was clogged with silt and this condition created sewage problems that poisoned underground water supplies. This might be the cause of Timothy’s stomach ailment.
And in those days, the fermented wine of ancient, biblical times was often used as a remedy for such illnesses as the alcohol would prevent dysentery by destroying the bacteria and harmful pathogens of the water, as duly noted in the New International Biblical Commentary (p. 135).
However, also note (on a very strong note too) that Apostle Paul’s instruction to Timothy was, and could not, in any way be an endorsement for the wanton or drunken use of alcohol. It was advised purely for medicinal purposes because of its beneficial chemical properties for the human body. Up till today, alcohols, in various forms, because of some of their medicinal chemical properties, are used within medicine as an antiseptic, disinfectant, and antidote too. For instance, Orheptal, a blood-forming tonic contains some percentage of ethanol (alcohol) which makes it work. Cough syrups and some other over-the-counter drugs also have the chemical properties of alcohol in them that make them work.
My point is this: a vaccine is a chemical composition that helps the human body to fight disease. And Covid-19 vaccine is a chemical composition that helps the body to fight or repel or suppress the communicable coronavirus that causes the Covid-19 condition, which has infected over 218 million and killed over 4.5 million in its wake. Though thankfully, over 195 million people have recovered from it. But a sizable proportion of the over 4.5 million that died from the viral attack were those who didn’t know Christ and that would spend eternity in separation from God. So, if there is a vaccine that will give several or multiplied millions of people a fighting chance to stay alive to still have the opportunity to receive Jesus Christ into their lives as Lord and Saviour, why discourage them from taking the Covid-19 vaccine?
It is a delusion to say that Covid-19 is not real, or that it is not what is killing people rapidly in millions within the past one year and a few months, though we know that a pretty large proportion of those who died from it had the additional misfortune of having had pre-existing conditions. We also know that some people and hospitals might have exaggerated the figures of its incidence and the resultant mortality from it as well.
Nevertheless, I don’t believe that taking the Covid-19 vaccine is against the will of God. If you say that it is, you are a liar. You speak for yourself, not for God. But if you have personal reasons for not wanting to take it because you think it will turn you into an agent of Lucifer or you will receive a spiritually disorienting mark from it, it’s okay with me. It’s your choice to believe that. But don’t use God to rationalise your personal bias. And I believe too that if you don’t want to take it, you should not be forced into taking too.
What I detest nonetheless, is the petulant hypocrisy of some people or organisations such as the National Religious Broadcasters, which calls itself the largest association of Christian communicators, with over 1,100 members working in Christian radio, TV, and other media, and which claims that part of the organisation’s purpose is to advocate for the “free speech rights of our members,” to now censure and kick out one of their own because he exercised his ”free speech rights” to talk about why he decided to take the Covid-19 vaccine. Isn’t that diametrically opposed to what they claim to stand for?
Just as the believers in Christ should put their faith only in God and his Word and not in human physicians in hospitals or medical science, they should also not put their faith in any Covid-19 vaccine. But God has given wisdom to medical experts, pharmacologists, virologists, immunologists, molecular biologists, bioinformaticians and so on who are in the cutting edge of research to help reduce the burden of infections and illnesses. And there is no place in the Scriptures that says that believers should not take advantage of that wisdom.
Indeed, the Bible says that wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of our times.
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