The Waterloo Region Rural Post just offered a theological argument to get the COVID vaccine. In an editorial of July 8, 2021, Peter Dunn ruminates, “In making your decision to get vaccinated or not, you might ask yourself, ‘What would Jesus do?’” To answer his pressing Christological quandary, he turns to Matthew 22:18-19 and forthwith does as he pleases with the text. Here’s his hot take:
In Matthew 22:18-19 we see where the enemies of Jesus tried to verbally trick him. The enemies of Jesus asked a trick question “It is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”
If Jesus said “no”, He would be charged with treason against Rome.
If Jesus said “yes”, He would be accused of disloyalty by his Jewish audience.
Jesus then said to the tricksters, “Show Me the coin for the tax”. They showed him a coin, a denarius. It was made of silver, and was used to pay tax. He looked at the coin, and asked whose image was on the coin? The obvious answer was, “Caesar’s”. Therefore Jesus replied with His famous line – “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s”.
He showed a sharp distinction between the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of this world – even though both exist.
From that text he then delineates a version of two kingdom theology, namely that there is the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world. And, from that, he somehow infers the answer to the earlier question – namely, “What would Jesus do?” – by saying, “Therefore please reflect upon these observations of Jesus, and do your part to be protective of yourself, your family and your community by getting vaccinated without further delay.” To paraphrase, he essentially jumped from “Jesus told us to render our taxes to Caesar” to “Jesus wants us to get vaccinated.” Basically, if Caesar gets our taxes he can also have our bodies.
There are several problems in his little piece. I’d like to discuss them all, but I’m going to focus specifically on his use of the Scriptures in arriving at his exhortation to get the vaccine.
If his text of choice, namely Matthew 22:18-19, teaches us anything about the state’s pressure upon us to get the vaccine, it’s that the state has no business coercing us to stick things into our bodies. Let me explain.
Jesus answered the question about paying taxes by pointing to the image of Caesar on the coin. “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” Caesar’s image is on the coin, so Caesar can have the coin. But a second command is in that same sentence: “Render…to God the things that are God’s.” We know that Caesar collects tax because it bears his image, but what does God get and what bears God’s image? Caesar gets the coin with his image on it, and God gets the things with His image on them. What then has God stamped His image on? His image is on us and our bodies: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’” (Genesis 1:26). In other words, our bodies don’t belong to Caesar, but to God.
A Caesar who claims ownership over our bodies is a Caesar who acts like he’s our god and us his slaves. The government doesn’t own our bodies. God does.
Are Christians obligated to get the vaccine because Caesar says so? Absolutely not!
Getting vaccinated is an issue of Christian liberty. Some will choose to get it. Some will choose not to. To be vaccinated or not is the prerogative of the individual. But either way, folks will be wise to evaluate their decisions by carefully weighing the choice.
Caesar and his buddies in the media all seem to tell us the same thing: “Get the vaccine!” But other voices are out there, and they are experts too. Dr. Byram Bridle – an expert in vaccines from the University of Guelph – has an alternative view. He’s just one of many expressing sobering concerns. You can watch his CPAC press conference here. Here’s his 36 page report, “A Parental Guide to COVID-19 Vaccination.” Also, here Pastor Michael Thiessen interviews Dr. Peter McCullough, an MD from Texas who’s also raised some concerns. I could point you to some pro-vaccine sources, but they’re not typically censored by social media and mainstream media so you won’t have trouble finding them yourself.
God is Lord of the conscience, and as such people can weigh the risk and reward to make their own decisions.
As to the question, “What would Jesus do with vaccinations?” He sure wouldn’t put up with twisting His words to fashion an answer, and He’d likely chide the ones who do.