Many people are considering whether to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. The decision to receive the vaccination is a personal one. Our government, workplaces, or schools should not be mandating the receiving of the vaccine. Each person should research, consult with their physician, pray over, and decide for themselves (and parents should be the ones to decide for their children) whether to receive the vaccination based upon their personal beliefs and specific situations.
As someone who has had a chronic illness for more than 13 years, I thought about receiving the vaccine. But due to my compromised immune system, the risk of an allergic reaction from the vaccine is too great for me. However, the concern of an allergic reaction is not the reason why I have chosen not to receive this vaccine. When I read that the vaccines were developed using abortive fetal tissue and cell lines derived from an African American woman without her consent, the decision became a non-issue for me. However, for some Christians the decision to receive the vaccine, with its moral implications, is not an easy one.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently addressed this issue of whether Christians can morally receive the vaccine with legitimacy(1). He writes: In most of the major COVID-19 vaccines, there was a use of fetal cell lines, which are known as HEK-293. The original cells for that line were taken from tissues derived from an abortion in the Netherlands in the 1960s. The cell line developed around 1972. There is also the HeLa line that goes back to 1951. These cells were taken from an African American woman, Henrietta Lacks, who suffered from terminal cancer. Cells were taken from her body without her consent or knowledge. This makes the use of cells from that line a complicated issue within medical ethics.
Additionally, he writes… Specifically, with the issue of the COVID-19 vaccine, Christians need to understand that no step in producing these vaccines had any direct involvement in an abortion of a single child. There is also the issue of proximity. The further you go in history, the harder it is to keep a clear line of culpability in morally significant events. That said, the good news about the COVID-19 vaccines is that even as these cells (most importantly from HEK-293) were used to create the basic shape of the vaccine, no fetal tissue was used.
At the same time, however, the vaccine’s structure relied upon the cell line of HEK-293, which originated with an aborted fetus. This is a tragedy of history. A horrifying wrong was done—but that does not mean that good cannot come from that harm, even as it is a good tainted by the realities of a sinful world.
It is with that last statement I would like to address the following two points in this blog.
First, it is my understanding from Dr. Mohler’s article that the major vaccines (Dr. Mohler does not say which ones) do not include any direct involvement of the use of abortive fetal tissue but were developed from a cell line of an aborted baby back in the 1970’s. As a result of this indirect use of abortive fetal tissue, he states that Christians can morally and legitimately receive the vaccine. Does this distinction really make a difference? A baby still died. How can a Christian in good conscience take a vaccine knowing full well that a baby was murdered—even if it happened years ago? The fact that a baby violently died does not change with the passing of time, nor does the principle change. The wrongful death of even one baby does not make it right for others to benefit from his or her death. When life is taken from someone, we dishonor and disrespect that person’s God-given value and worth.
Secondly, I would like to address the statement that alludes to the “good that can come from harm”. Dr. Mohler states… Nothing in a fallen world is ever easy. We must, under the circumstances, do that which appears to be the most right, the safest, and the most good.
He also states… The common good argument is extremely powerful in the Christian tradition. Indeed, it is the second greatest commandment listed by Jesus Christ: to love our neighbors as ourselves. The general principle of the common good comes down to benevolence, love, care for others, laying down personal priorities for the service of others. Christians thinking about the issue of the vaccine must weigh this key biblical principle as part of their thinking.
This is certainly a compelling argument for a Christian to take the vaccine, but I want to weigh the common good argument on the scale of future ramifications.
John 15:13 NIV says this: Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. This verse certainly dovetails with Dr. Mohler’s common good argument and Jesus is our highest example of making that choice. He willingly chose to come to earth as a baby to live and die a sacrificial death on the cross for our sake for the forgiveness sins. He knew full-well what He was doing when He made that choice. The giving up of His life was the greatest demonstration of love that only God could do to save a sinful humanity.
When we are born, we do not get to choose our mother, father, brothers, and sisters, yet we learn to live with them and love them. Yes, we are called to “love our neighbors as ourselves” (Romans 13:9b). As Christians, we are to “love one another” (John 13:34) and “love our enemies, do good to them” (Luke 6:35a). As living, breathing human beings, we should lay down our personal priorities for the service of others. These are choices we get to make.
And that is exactly my point. The aborted baby did not get to live and make choices. How then is it for the most right, the safest, and the most good if we take a vaccine that knowingly includes fetal tissue taken indirectly from even one aborted baby—whether it happened years ago or just yesterday? Eventually, it becomes the murder of many babies for the most good. And indeed, it has. The sale of aborted fetal body parts used for medical research is a million-dollar industry with Planned Parenthood being the largest supplier.
The goal of a vaccine is to protect people from getting the disease and to save lives, not snuff out a life for the benefit of others. If we allow abortions to remain, not only will we continue to disregard the life, value and worth of babies, but the lives of the elderly, the sick, and the disabled will be discarded as well. Accepting the common good argument leads us to believe that it is okay to benefit from someone else’s demise. And therein lies the tragic truth about our nation—we are not really interested in benevolence, love, [and] care for others. If we were, we would stop acquiescing to the law of the land that allows for babies to be killed, but do our part to change it.