SAVED, BUT. . .

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I am saved, but is self buried?

Is my one, my only aim,

Just to honor Christ my savior, Just to glorify His name?

I am saved, but is my home life

What the Lord would have it be?

Is it seen in every action,

Jesus has control of me?

I am saved, but am I doing,

Everything that I can do,

That the dying souls around me,

May be brought to Jesus, too?

I am saved, but could I gladly,

Lord, leave and follow thee;

If thou calmest can I answer,

Here and I, send me, send me?

Author unknown

COVID VACCINES AND THE MORAL AND ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS

What a day and age that we live in. A year that began with the the infamous novel virus we know intimately as Covid 19, is now set to come to its closing with the prospect of several vaccines being made available that will inoculate us from the dreaded disease! This is very good news for humanity. The fact that we as a people came together to combat this frightening foe, is an amazing testimony within itself, much more the “warp speed” in which it was all accomplished!

There are many and varied forms of vaccinations that seem to have promise and are being spoken of in numerous science journals, as well as being touted on the daily news shows we watch. The Washington Post printed an article with the headline, “First 6.4 million doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine could go out in mid-December.” See article here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/11/24/vaccine-plan-first-doses/

This is just astounding and certainly a cause for celebration when we think about the potential within these vaccines to save lives; lives of our loved ones, friends, and neighbors. Many people will take this vaccine as quickly as they can, others, a bit more skeptical, will wait a bit and see how it goes. As a Christian however, I think that there is more to consider than just the potential protection the vaccine may afford us. As Christians we have to consider the moral and ethical implications, if any, involved in our decision to use or not use the various vaccines that will be made available to us soon.

Before moving on I want to explain my reason for writing about this topic. It is not to persuade you the reader in any one direction; all of us have to exercise faith and wisdom in our decision making process. It is not to shame or belittle anyone for coming to a conclusion that may be different from my own. It is however, for the purpose of bringing into your decision making process, information that you may not have thought about or even heard of in the current discussion regarding Covid 19 vaccines.

One of the first things I usually wonder about in regards to any medication that I am being told to take, is what are the potential side affects of the drug? I am often astounded when I hear all the potential side affects of a new drug being advertised on a television commercial. You know what I am talking about. After telling us for a few minutes how great their drug will be at giving us our physical lives back, the last few seconds ramble off, rather quickly if you noticed, the serious side affects that we could experience; some far worse than what we are already dealing with.

So, the first question we need to consider is this: Are there side affects to the vaccines and how serious are they? According to an article written in CNBC’s online Health and science section found here:  https://cnb.cx/39dL6RZ  The writer seems to think so: “Doctors say CDC should warn people the side effects from Covid vaccine shots won’t be a walk in the park.” Dr. Sandra Fryhofer of the American Medical Association said “both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines require two doses at varying intervals. As a practicing physician, she said she worries whether her patients will come back for a second dose because of the potentially unpleasant side effects they may experience after the first shot.”

Participants in Moderna and Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine trials told CNBC in September that they were experiencing high fever, body aches, bad headaches, daylong exhaustion and other symptoms after receiving the shots. While the symptoms were uncomfortable, and at times intense, the participants said they often went away after a day, sometimes sooner, and that it was better than getting Covid-19.

Both companies acknowledged that their vaccines could induce side effects that are similar to symptoms associated with mild Covid-19, such as muscle pain, chills and headache. So, side affects are certainly something to mull over, especially if you are a person that has other health related conditions to consider.

But what about the moral and ethical considerations? I am not thinking along the lines of the “morality” of taking vaccines in general, but rather, the morality and ethics involved in the process and  production of the various vaccines. Much has been written that verifies the use of aborted stem cells in the making of some, not all, of the vaccines being brought forward. For example:

“At least five of the candidate COVID-19 vaccines use one of two human fetal cell lines: HEK-293, a kidney cell line widely used in research and industry that comes from a fetus aborted in about 1972; and PER.C6, a proprietary cell line owned by Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, developed from retinal cells from an 18-week-old fetus aborted in 1985. Both cell lines were developed in the lab of molecular biologist Alex van der Eb at Leiden University. Two of the five vaccines have entered human trials” (see table, below). This is an excerpt from an article by Merideth Wadman, found in Science Mag.org. See full article here:https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/06/abortion-opponents-protest-covid-19-vaccines-use-fetal-cells


Developer
Vaccine typeFetal cells usedHuman trialsPotential U.S. fundingWarp Speed pick
CanSino Biologics, Inc./Beijing Institute of BiotechnologyReplication-deficient adenovirusHEK-293Yes (phase II)NoNo
University of Oxford/AstraZenecaReplication-deficient adenovirusHEK-293Yes (phase II/III)$1.2 billionYes (short list*)
Janssen Research & Development USAReplication-deficient adenovirusPER.C6No$456 millionYes (short list*)

Multiple companies, for many years, have been using stem cells from elective abortions to produce vaccines for varied diseases. This, believe it or not, is true of Rubella, Hepatitis A, and Chicken pox. That is something I just learned about in doing the research for this post. Granted, all of these vaccines have been beneficial in saving lives, but what about the lives “electively” aborted? Isn’t it important for us as a society to have access to vaccines that are morally and ethically produced? I don’t know whether or not Prentice and Sherry are christians, but take notice to what they wrote in a position paper published recently: “The use of cells from electively aborted fetuses for vaccine production makes these five COVID-19 vaccine programs unethical, because they exploit the innocent human beings who were aborted.”  

But let’s be fair in our treatment of this topic. There is another view and that is represented here by Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at the New York University School of Medicine: “There are better ways to win the abortion wars than telling people not to use a vaccine. These are long-over abortions. These cells are decades old,and even major religious leaders like the pope have acknowledged that for the greater good it’s not worth the symbolism to put the community at risk.” 

So, should a person who believes that life is given by God and needs to be protected from fertilization on through to death, have to violate their conscience and their faith to utilize current vaccines that can potentially save their own lives?

If we believe that all human life is a sacred gift from God, and Him alone the only one who has the authority to end it; if we believe that at the moment of fertilization a life has begun; If we believe that we are, by God’s word, accountable to preserve and defend life at any state (new life or our elderly), how are we to navigate the ever changing world of medicine, bio-ethics and the like while holding to a biblical worldview (Genesis 1:26-27; Exodus 20:13; Psalm 139:13-16; Isaiah 44:1-2)?

Is this a “mute” point that we are discussing because as Arthur Caplin stated these are “long-over-abortions?” This next reference comes from the website of a Christian organization that holds to traditional biblical teaching. You can read the full article here: https://au.thegospelcoalition.org/article/does-acceptance-of-a-covid-19-vaccine-represent-endorsement-of-abortion/

The title of the article is, “Does acceptance of a Covid 19 vaccine represent endorsement of abortion?” Here is the situation as seen from Megan Best, the writer of the article:

“While some may see no ethical problem here, for others a straight line can be drawn from the ending of a human life in an abortion to a vaccine created using cells derived from the harvesting of the fetal tissue. Despite the cells having been propagated for years in the laboratory far removed from the abortion, for some that connection line remains. My own view is that the key consideration in whether using a vaccine which is manufactured using tissue from an aborted fetus is licit or immoral is whether there is material cooperation with the evil act of abortion. If the abortion were conducted in order to harvest tissues that were to be used for the vaccine, then it would clearly be immoral. But in the case of the COVID-19 vaccines created from the HEK-293 cell line, the abortion was carried out for other reasons, and the tissue was acquired after the child’s death for the purpose medical research. The use of the vaccine now will not promote further abortions for this particular purpose. It can therefore be argued that we are not morally complicit with the original abortion.”

A few questions to consider arise from Megan’s view. First, does the time elapse of years lessen or relinquish our moral obligation? Second, is the reasoning behind the abortion, whether intentionally to harvest tissues or for “other reasons,” a valid criteria for determining the morality of the use of these tissues? Third, Megan writes, “The use of the vaccine now will not promote further abortions for this particular purpose.” But what about other abortions? Other purposes?

As you can see, morality and ethics can be complicated in an ever changing world. But there is good news! Various articles have stated that Pfizer’s vaccine was developed without using fetal cells! The Charlotte Lozier Institute, a pro-life organization, has listed this vaccine as “ethically uncontroversial.” See full update here: https://lozierinstitute.org/update-covid-19-vaccine-candidates-and-abortion-derived-cell-lines/ And Moderna’s vaccine is also stated as not using fetal cells in the design or production of their vaccine!

There is one other thing to consider in making a decision for or against taking a vaccine for Covid 19. “It could be argued that to refuse vaccination (in the event that only an unethical COVID 19 vaccine were available) would also be wrong as it increases the risk of prolonging the pandemic and is not a loving way to treat our neighbor. When comparing the competing ethical obligations of avoiding the vaccine in view of the wrong done in the past or refusing to protect the vulnerable in society today, it could be argued that the latter is the more immediate responsibility” (Megan Best ).

However you land at the end of this, one thing is sure, Christians should be holding our government accountable in regards to the moral and ethical regulations that need to be put in place to regulate current and future use of stem cells and any other material that is harvested from human beings. Christians should also be advocating, within the structures of our government, for the creation and access to vaccines and other medicines that are produced morally and ethically. People of faith should not be put in a position of having to choose between violating their conscience or possibly dying without the use of a vaccine.

OUR CURRENT DILEMMA

As I begin writing this cozy fall morning, I am inundated with all the information being passed to us through the media in regards to our upcoming election. True or “fake” news, either way, it is a bit overwhelming at times isn’t it? Especially when something so important to our way of life, our rule of law and our children’s futures, such as an election for the next president of the United States of America, the greatest country ever, is at the forefront. It can be a challenge, perhaps an impossible one, to figure out what is true and what isn’t among the cacophony of voices that seek to move us, the voter, in one direction or another. After all, you and I are not omniscient, only the Lord is.

Each and every election cycle, at least the last twenty years in my memory, we have been told that: “this is the most important election in history,” “If, so and so wins it will be the end of our nation as we know it,” and other things I think you can add as well. Confusion and fear along with misinformation, seem to be the hard road we as Americans have to plod in order to make a wise choice in our effort to exercise our constitutional rights and make our voice heard. If, we intend to make our voice heard.

I say that because many people, but I want to address Christians directly here, hold various views on whether they should vote or not. Nothing in the Bible specifically addresses this topic and so we need to think through the different views and issues involved so we can make a wise decision based on fact’s not fear, truth not lies (Romans 12:9; Philippians 1:9-10).

Some Christians feel that they should completely stay away from all aspects of politics. They feel, in general, that they are only sojourner’s, this place is not their home, heaven is, and so the use of their time is better utilized in missionary efforts, evangelistic opportunities and building up the body (church) of Christ. Others believe, and in a way, its just an addition to what is said above, that any effort on the political spectrum is pointless or at least non productive, considering the Bible teaches that things are going to get worse before the Lord returns (2 Timothy 3:1-7; Matthew 24). Then there are others that believe that they are accountable, not only to God, but civil society as well, in being engaged in a system that can promote justice or deny justice to the poor and unprotected. They rightly understand that our creator is a God of justice and morality, in fact, justice is one of His divine attributes (Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 89:14).

And then there are the issues that we as a people are facing. Does life matter? Should babies be killed in the womb, our elderly euthanized? Is marriage to be between one man and one woman or between anybody that loves each other? Can we determine our biological sex or is that predetermined for us by our creator? Is America, “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” to have a strong immigration system, with national borders to protect our American citizens or open borders and a watered down immigration system that fails to protect its citizens?

Does healthcare matter and should it be a designated right mandated by a vast government or should it be a free market system that understands and protects a persons freedom to determine the level of health insurance they want; treatments and medicines they deem suitable, including all life decisions?

Religious freedom, education, social security, our economy, and many others, are decisions that are going to be made by one party or another, by one president or another.

Sometimes it hard to figure out how we as a church and as Christians should move forward amid such chaotic and confusing times. This book will challenge your thinking, and challenge you to hit the “restart” button on your view of the church and politics.

As Christians we act as a restraining influence in our world. We are the “salt of the earth,” and the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-16). The church, corporate and individually stands for and makes known God’s requirements for mankind, reveals truth, pursues justice, proclaims true and lasting change in the person of Jesus Christ. We are to be in willing subjection to the governing authority since God establishes it (Romans 13:1). Rulers that wield such authority are to be “a minister of God to you for good” (Romans 13:4), and our subjection to it, in part, is for our own “conscience” sake (Romans 13:5). These truth’s help me to not only regulate my behavior under such authority, they also remind me of my role as a Christian in a society, even though I am only passing through, on my way to My kings kingdom!

“For conscience sake.” Is that important in our current discussion? I think so. Not only do those verses teach us that we are to live under these laws, led and governed as our society dictates, generally being led by non-believers, but we are to do so as an act of obedience to our great God and Savior. We are to do so even though, as one writer puts it: “The Christian always lives in a tension between the two competing claims of obedience to the state and obedience to God.” Most of us feel that tension, especially at election time.

Since the authority over us has a right, God given, to demand our respect and conformity, we need to exercise those roles out of a good conscience before our ultimate authority, the Lord Jesus Christ. And in so doing, shouldn’t we exercise our conscience at the ballot box, not for any particular man or party, but with our eyes affixed on the platform they seek to uphold. We want to see biblical morality upheld, life protected, equal justice for all and religious liberty prevail.

So, as a Christian, do we have a valid reason biblically to step aside and not seek to be faithful ambassadors of our Lord in this area? As we spend our limited time in this place, we represent the “official position” of our God before a lost and dying world. Empowered by the Holy Spirit we must not only take the gospel to the ends of the earth, we also must, for conscience sake and in obedience to our Lord’s commands, seek to make His position known in all the areas of governing influence around us. To vote or not to vote, a very important question.

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