Hey, Calvary Fremont –
Yesterday, my friend Pastor Lance Ralston of CC Oxnard listed a number of bills pending in the California legislature regarding abortion availability and public funding. These immoral bills should concern the Church. Now this could draw any number of comments, chief of which is, “The Church should stay out of politics,” or, “There is a separation between Church and State,” or, “The Church should leave reproductive choices to the decision of the woman and her Doctor.” In other words, “Shut up and stay in your own lane.”
There is a lot of confusion today about what is and what is not the business of the Church. Let’s separate out the strands of these protests.
There is the political argument – the Church should stay out of politics.
There is the medical argument – this is a decision between a woman and her Doctor.
Where is the moral argument? Silence.
Is the intentional killing of a baby in the womb right or wrong? The morality of that question is conveniently avoided by appealing to the political and medical dimensions of abortion. It was a genius move on the part of the pro-abortion lobby to remove abortion from being a moral decision to strictly a political and medical one. Abortionists have made great headway with the American public by appealing to political liberty and the very individual nature of medical decisions into which no one has the right to intrude. But primarily and most importantly, abortion is a moral decision. This places abortion within the wheelhouse of the Church.
To water down the inherent moral aversion to abortion, those favoring abortion seek to dehumanize the baby in the womb. It is not a baby – it is a POC (product of conception). It is not a baby – it is fetus – an impersonal blob of tissue. If the baby is dehumanized, laws of morality don’t apply. But the Church has much to say about the morality of abortion because the Bible has much to say about the value of human life – yes, even life in womb.
Now this brings me to COVID. Does COVID have a moral dimension and imperative to it and, if so, what is it and how is the Church to address it? (I think I’m going to make just about everyone mad at me with where I’m going.) Let me convey to you what I told the church I serve.
“What is our official policy in regards to COVID? We’re against it! We are not for it! If you belong to a church that is pro-COVID – flee! What is our policy toward masking? We don’t have one. What is our policy about vaccinations? We don’t have one. Here’s our approach: You’re an adult. It is not my responsibility to make medical decisions for you. If you believe that you need to be vaccinated and feel safe in being vaccinated – go for it. If you don’t believe you need it, or don’t feel safe in receiving it, or are in opposition to government mandates – that’s your choice. You are an adult – make your own decision. But don’t impose your convictions on others – you have no Biblical/theological authority for doing so.”
“Wait, wait, wait a minute!” you say. “You said that you won’t make medical decisions for the people in the church you serve, and then you turn around and say that a woman shouldn’t get an abortion. This doesn’t make sense.”
It makes perfect sense. Abortion is a moral issue before it is a political or a medical one. COVID doesn’t have the same moral dimensions as abortion. I know that many disagree with me on that measure, but here’s my reasoning. Abortion is an absolute evil. In an abortion, someone always dies. This is certainly not the case with COVID vaccinations. From where I sit, the moral discussions circulating around vaccinations have to do with their composition, government overreach, and overblown promises. I will always counsel a woman not to have an abortion. I will always counsel a person to know all the facts before they are vaccinated or forego vaccination.
There is a Biblical position on abortion. There is not a Biblical position on COVID. We have a “This saith the Lord” when it comes to abortion, but no such “The saith the Lord” when it comes to COVID. There are moral dimensions to the vaccination program, yet they are nuanced and not absolute. When it comes to abortion, obedience is necessary. When it comes to vaccinations, wisdom is necessary. There is a lot of confusion today about what is and what is not the business of the Church. This is one pastor’s attempt at sorting all this.
My appeal to the Church is: Don’t make absolute statements about relative issues. Do not say or imply “Thus saith the Lord.” Vaccinations do not have the same moral imperative as abortion. Abortion is an absolute evil. Vaccination or non-vaccination are not absolute evils, nor are they even relative evils. If you are not vaccinated, you are not a walking murderer. If you are vaccinated, you are not completely protected from being infected or from being infectious. The Church has gone theologically overboard in their support or opposition to vaccinations. Some churches and pastors have over-invested by taking sides and wounding and alienating those who didn’t jump on the bandwagon. Some churches are passionately pro-vaccination, while other churches are passionately anti-vaccination. They have made it almost part of their doctrinal statement without providing the necessary theological rationale. My counsel – dial it back and honor the decision of the people. It is not my responsibility to make medical decisions for the ones I serve. It is my responsibility to guide those I serve through the moral dimensions of the decisions facing them.
Be blessed and stay healthy and follow Jesus – Pastor Tim