Kimberly asks: “What is your opinion about the possibility of losing certain freedoms (traveling, dining out, keeping your job) if you choose not to get vaccinated?”
Several years ago, I was invited to travel to India and speak to a group of pastors. As I planned my trip, I realized that I would need to get a series of vaccinations, because our nation’s health officials were worried that I might contract a disease in India and bring it back to the States. Anyone who has traveled internationally will have a similar story about the mandatory vaccinations prior to traveling.
I had a choice to make: I could get the shots and take the trip, or I could refuse the shots and not be allowed to travel.
Through this entire process, I never once considered that my government was intruding on my personal rights. In my view, they were doing everything they could to keep my fellow American safe. I gladly received all seven vaccinations (and I really don’t like needles!) and traveled to India.
This wasn’t the only time I was faced with a decision like this. Some of the schools that my children attended required that they be current with certain vaccinations. If we didn’t want to do that, we could choose to keep homeschooling or try to find another school. We never questioned the school’s right to enforce this policy, nor considered it a violation of our rights as citizens. Schools were simply trying to keep all their students safe—from mumps, measles, tuberculosis, etc. We honored their policies.
Just so you understand my perspective, I have been vaccinated against COVID-19. I was not coerced into it. I did it willingly out of my love for my family, my church, and my community. That said, I appreciate your right to decide for yourself.
But keep in mind, Kimberly, part of your decision-making with issues like these will bring consequences. Just as I would have been banned from traveling, or my kids from school, you might be banned from certain activities or employment for refusing to be vaccinated and/or wear a mask. Weighing the cost of our decisions needs to be part of the process we go through when making them.
You may remember on the news several years ago the story of a baker in Colorado, who took a case to the Supreme Court because he was being forced to bake a cake for a gay wedding. He was willing to face the consequences of his refusal to provide the wedding cake and ended up facing financial and legal consequences.
At that time, I recall Christians rising in support of his right to refuse a gay customer. Frankly, to be consistent, Christians need to extend that same right to all businesses.
Any Christian who supported the right of that baker to not bake that cake needs to be consistent in their recognition that any business has the right to make their own decisions about who they service, based on their own policies.
For years, restaurants have refused service to people not wearing shoes. That is now being applied to wearing masks. Does a restaurant owner have the right to require shoes? A shirt? A mask? Does an airline or a cruise company have that same right? I believe they do.
With all the decisions you make in life, especially when that decision goes against what a civil or business authority is demanding, you need to be willing to accept whatever consequences come from following your own personal convictions. And make sure that your convictions are based on clear scriptural principles instead of personal preferences.
I hope this answer will help you as you continue navigating this COVID-19 roller-coaster.