An Army Veteran Turned Pastor On COVID & Vaccine Exemption

I remember many times, as an Army paratrooper, standing in line on some big military aircraft. My parachute would be on my back with my reserve chute firmly tucked near my abdomen. As I would stand in line, waiting to jump, I would breathe in the moment…The adrenaline surging through my body was so electrifying as I meditated on the loud swooshing air rushing through the open side door of the aircraft. As soon as the light turned green and the Jumpmaster said, “Go!”, we would all jump (or fall out gracefully) from the aircraft. What a rush! I miss these types of Army days, but I get close to such an adrenaline rush as I enter the jungle of covid protocols and whether or not one should get the vaccine or not. So, right, wrong, or indifferent, here is my take on COVID and Vaccine Exemption…

First off, I understand that covid is real and possesses a real threat to people, especially the elderly and those with pre-existing negative conditions. My heart aches for those who have (and are now) suffering from this dreadful virus. I also have a huge heart for those who have lost friends and family members from covid. What a relief to know that one day disease, destruction, and death will be no more as King Jesus assumes the throne of His eternal Kingdom. How I long for that day…

Secondly, please understand that I am not an anti-vaxxer. Indeed, I’m an Army Veteran who has been poked and prodded more times than I can remember. In fact, during a recent doctor’s visit, the nurse who was taking my initial vitals exclaimed, “Wow! You must have been in the military because your chart shows that you have had a lot of different vaccines that most people never get.” Indeed, she was (and is) correct. I am not an anti-vaxxer by any stretch of the imagination, either ideologically or experientially.

But thirdly, and hear me when I say this, I am firmly against anyone, and I mean anyone (pastors, doctors, or so-called professionals in other fields) needlessly binding the consciences of people. It especially breaks my heart to hear some of my fellow pastors say things, like, “By invoking the name of Jesus to claim exemption, you are using the Lord’s name in vain and therefore sinning.” Others are saying things that ooze of emotional blackmail, like, “If you don’t get the covid vaccine you are selfish and unloving.” Such talk is the emotional equivalent and reasoning of a teenager who shouts to his parents, “If you don’t get me this item, you don’t love me!” Such statements are certifiably false.

Pastors especially should be very careful to bind the consciences of their people. Indeed, the Scriptures are clear on doubtful things (such as the covid vaccine). Paul in Romans 14:20-23 states clearly, “Do not, for the sake of food [or the covid vaccine], destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean [such as the covid vaccine], but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats [or puts in his body in terms of a vaccine]. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. The faith that you have [in either getting the vaccine or not], keep between yourself and God [i.e., don’t blast your vaccine status to the four winds – keep it private]. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves [like the covid vaccine]. But whoever has doubts [about the covid vaccine] is condemned if he eats [or gets the vaccine], because the eating [or vaccine] is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”

Wow. There you have it. The Scriptures are clear. End of discussion. The Bible says, concerning the grey area of getting the covid vaccine or not, that it’s up to you and your conscience, specifically your faith-based conscience. What does that mean? Simply put, the Scriptures state that if you get the vaccine, then praise the Lord, just be sure it is done with faith (or trust or confidence) in God. That is, for those of you who opt to get the vaccine, just make sure that your ultimate trust is in the Lord and not in the vaccine. But if you can’t get the vaccine with full faith (or trust or confidence) in God, then praise the Lord, don’t get the vaccine. Again, “Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves [or disapproves]” (Romans 14:22b). Make sense?

In other words, the starting line, and the bottom line, and finishing line of the Christian life is faith. So, as you contemplate covid and whether or not you should get the vaccine, consider your faith. Does your faith allow you to get it? If so, get it with faith in God. If not, don’t get it with faith in God. It really is that simple.

One final thought, I feel so impassioned by this issue, namely, that no one should bind the conscience of individuals with poor Scriptural interpretation or emotional blackmail, that I am open to helping you (the dear reader of this blog) with writing a religious, faith-based exemption letter or statement for your place of employment. Perhaps you just have a difficult time articulating why you’re opposed to the vaccine. I can help. Indeed, I’ve already helped a couple folks and both individuals had their exemption approved with absolutely no problems. To be clear, I do not argue science or statistics, I argue for exemption purely based upon religious beliefs and faith. Reach out to me at pastordave@prairieflowerbaptistchurch.org for further guidance and help.

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