Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Elephant Not in the Room

In addition to our own family gathering this year, I was invited to enjoy an early Thanksgiving celebration with three Christian friends whose extended families refuse to share a meal with them until they get vaccinated. We had a wonderful dinner and an enjoyable evening together, but it was hard to overlook the elephant in the room — or in this case, the herd of elephants not in the room.

Thanksgiving is usually about turkeys, not elephants.

Keeping Mum for Mom

Heading to our family get-together three days later, I resolved not to discuss COVID‑19 or vaccination unless others brought it up, less for the sake of ignoring elephants than for the sake of promoting peace. I needn’t have worried. We didn’t really get into it until the last half hour of the evening, and while there were family members present holding every possible position on the subject, the conversation was cordial and affectionate. I count us fortunate and thank the Lord. I already know of two unvaccinated fellow believers who have been warned they will not be welcomed home for Christmas this year, and we are only in October.

So how did we get here? Good question.

Regular readers will be aware I do not regard COVID vaccination as a moral issue — at least not yet. There simply isn’t enough hard evidence available to categorically declare that God is on this or that side of it. With that in mind, I haven’t spent a lot of time blogging about it other than to point out that scripture teaches we should welcome the one whose faith is weak, but not to quarrel over opinions. So let’s not do that.

“A Few Good Reasons”

Nevertheless, I really feel for my fellow believers threatened with perpetual exclusion by allegedly-Christian family members. Frankly, that’s pretty drastic, and it prompted me to look into the arguments being made in favor of vaccination within the Christian community. To my surprise, much was written about the subject earlier in the year, but very little recently, as reality increasingly fails to conform to the media narrative. Most of the articles from January through June are of the “don’t worry, be happy, take the shot, it’ll all be fine” variety. One or two speculate about the reasons for high levels of vaccine hesitation among evangelicals. Few get into specific pro-vaccination arguments, but I did find this Sharper Iron article from March entitled “A Few Good Reasons for Christians to Back COVID Vaccination”.

Let’s see how well their logic has held up over the ensuing six months.

1. It’s not the mark of the Beast.

Totally agreed. But that’s not a reason to be pro-vaccine at all. Lots of things are not the mark of the beast. That doesn’t automatically make them good things, or even neutral things. Bogus argument. Next!

2. It’s the shortest path to the end of lockdowns, limited gatherings, and mask requirements.

Recent events in Australia have blown that theory to smithereens. Lockdowns, limited gatherings and mask requirements continue for vaccinated and unvaccinated Australians alike, despite extremely low levels of infection and almost no deaths. But apart from all that, if there is a yet-to-be-discovered downside to the vaccines — like, say, if they are destroying the immune systems of a non-trivial percentage of the population — we may shortly be wishing for the days of comparatively small inconveniences.

3. The new vaccines are less spooky than they may sound.

This is a long section full of links I can’t be bothered to read, but let’s just say this: not enough time has passed to categorically declare the vaccines “non spooky”. To my mind, there is insufficient unbiased third-party evidence out there to declare the vaccines either safe or unsafe. Two opposing narratives exist about that, and there is “science” on both sides. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. Vaccine-hesitant people can change their minds any time and simply take the shot, while the vaccinated no longer have the option of turning back the clock if the pro-vaccine narrative turns out to be substantially untrue.

4. Trusting God is not the opposite of trusting the means He provides.

This is a complicated way of saying that we don’t have to choose between trusting God and being vaccinated, discreetly smuggling in the assumption that it’s God who has “provided” us with the vaccine. Let’s just say there is zero evidence of that. Big Pharma is not your friend, and they invited us to stop trusting them the moment they insisted on not being held legally responsible for products that are bringing them billions in windfall revenue.

5. Serious side effects have been few.

Again, there are two competing narratives out there, and many Christians are reluctant to look at the evidence, probably because it would push them in a direction they are not currently prepared to go. Measuring the side effects of COVID vaccination is no easy task. Correlating vaccination with serious side effects and mortality does not usually happen unless they occur right on the spot in the vaccination line in front of witnesses. That doesn’t mean major problems are not occurring or that they are rare. The CDC released data into VAERS (the U.S.’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) the Friday before Canadian Thanksgiving which included cases through October 1. These show a total of 18,412 dead and well over 3/4 of a million injured from the vaccines, 2.5x more than the total deaths from all vaccines given in the U.S. over the last 30 years combined. That’s a lot of dead bodies, but it gets much, much worse. Because VAERS is what is called a passive reporting system, deaths and injuries are vastly underreported. Dr. Jessica Rose, who has a BSc in Applied Mathematics, an MSc in Immunology, and a PhD in Computational Biology, took on the task of trying to establish exactly how underreported these events might be. Her calculation: at least 150,000 U.S. citizens have died after receiving the anti-COVID shots. As for adverse effects, vaccine-related anaphylaxis alone is underreported by 41x according to Dr. Rose. You can find her data here.

So then, there are two stories and lots of data on both sides. Christians have to choose what they believe. I have no objection to my fellow believers who opt to go with the alleged “scientific consensus”, even though I believe it is massively coerced, but I would greatly appreciate if others would extend me the same courtesy of withholding their judgment about my sanity if I choose not to buy into CNN’s version of reality.

6. The abortion connection is distant.

Pardon me? This is tantamount to an admission that the abortion connection exists, which in fact it does. Even pro-vaccine writer Aaron Blumer concedes that some of the original cells from which these vaccines were created came from aborted fetal tissue obtained illegally, and there are even more horrific stories circulating. If my fellow believers opposed to abortion don’t want THAT in their veins, I will not criticize them, and you shouldn’t either.

7. God created an orderly world.

This is another obscurely-worded argument that amounts to nothing more profound than “Christians should love science”. Christians DO love science, and medicine, and technology. Most of us even have some guarded affection for (actual) vaccines. That is different from loving the politicized pronouncements of scientists when we know the due diligence has not been done and when there is all sorts of evidence of a giant cover-up of some sort occurring. At very least, believers have a right to be sceptical about a narrative that is primarily being promoted by way of rhetoric rather than confronting its critics honestly to debate the conflicting data claims. Believers have the right to become very sceptical when they are compelled to archive every scholarly article or news piece that dissents from the conventional wisdom because they are being censored within 24 hours of posting.

8. Compassion is a Christian priority.

This is the old “it’s loving to get vaccinated” argument, and it’s been proven a giant load of hogwash now that it has been conceded that the current vaccines (1) don’t target any new variants, (2) don’t prevent infection, and (3) don’t prevent transmission. The recent surge of COVID-19 cases and fatalities in heavily-vaccinated Israel proves we are every bit as likely to catch the virus from our vaccinated friends and family as from the unvaccinated, and it has been argued at length that people who catch COVID and fight it off with their natural immunities are promoting the extinction of the virus more effectively and more comprehensively than anyone who is vaccinated. In short, at the moment it is neither provably loving nor unloving to get vaccinated, and everyone should be entitled to make that choice freely and without coercion.

In Conclusion

Hindsight is always 20/20, but I am frankly astonished at how insubstantial these arguments for vaccination look a mere six months down the road. I cannot imagine what they will look like a year or two years from now.

Whatever the eventual outcome, Christians who are currently treating their fellow believers like lepers are behaving outrageously. We may not all agree, and we may not all be approaching the issue with the same degree of maturity and seriousness, but at bare minimum our fellow believers deserve the benefit of the doubt about how they have reached their current convictions, and the same love, respect and hospitality we extend to those with whom we are in full agreement.

Fear is a legitimate motive, but it’s not a Christian one.


  1. Here's a very balanced view on the topic that you might enjoy or care to comment on further.

    I have a very unbiased opinion on the vaccine but I'd be curious to hear your opinion to the "expert" claims that those vaccinated develop less serious side effects, should they catch the dreaded Covid virus. Is this legit?

    1. Thanks for sharing, Dave. Yes, that is a solid, balanced video. My main thrust on the vaccine issue to date has been to try to balance what I believe is way too much overconfidence among Christians in the "facts" as they are currently being presented and especially in the multiply-discredited weavers of the ever-changing vaccine narrative. I do not claim to know what the facts are, but I cannot see how anyone else can reasonably claim to know either.

      I do have a few observations to make in response to your question, and hope to do that in an upcoming "Inbox" post.