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:

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:  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 See full article here:

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:

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: 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.


I know it is unnerving to most of us, but isn’t it kind of funny as well, that we as a society have taken on the roll of some form of a futuristic dystopian world amid Covid 19, and have now become a “masked” society. Everywhere we go and whatever we do, wearing masks is required for protecting each other from the novel virus. I can wager, if I was a gambling man, that mass retailers never imagined that the next big thing raising their profit margins would be masks. Hospital masks of all types and flavors. Plain ones, colorful ones, ones with pictures on them like: Santa Clause, a big pair of lips, or pictures of the stars. And then there are the ones with words written on them, such as: “add your text here,” or, “this mask is useless.” If I could write my own I think it would say, “sorry, I’m a lip reader.”

This is where it becomes aggravating for people like you and I. People who need to communicate with others on a daily basis. Whether it is serious conversations or just lighthearted babble between two friends or loved ones. We are not used to communicating with others without being able to read their facial expressions. Facial expressions are important and necessary in our being able to understand better what a person is seeking to communicate with us. Communication is hard enough as it is, most times we don’t hear correctly what someone is trying to tell us.

  I remember an example from a course I took in college on communication. The professor was showing how a simple conversation between two people can easily and rather quickly move far away from what the original point was. The visual showed a person talking and his words going through, what was called, “the noise box.” The other person then received these words, but with a totally different understanding. This second person interpreted what was said by what they perceived and responded. Their response, then going through the noise box back to the other person, was received with expressions of bewilderment!  

We often interpret things people say incorrectly because we do not listen well and the noise box often changes what a person actually said into what we “think” they said, and then we respond to that. This is already problematic, now add masks! We have this problem already without our faces being covered, how much more do masks hinder us from communicating well? I share this quote from one article I have read online:

“The expressions we see in the faces of others engage a number of different cognitive processes. Emotional expressions elicit rapid responses, which often imitate the emotion in the observed face. These effects can even occur for faces presented in such a way that the observer is not aware of them. We are also very good at explicitly recognizing and describing the emotion being expressed.” View article here:

Some cultures have mask wearing instilled in their way of life and have found ways to communicate effectively regardless, but to us here in America and other parts of the world, this is brand new and radically different than anything we have ever experienced. Does the Bible have anything to add to our conversation? It sure does, let’s take a look.

In regards to our facial expressions and how they transmit intentions and emotions to others, we find many verses in scripture. Psalm 119:136; 31:19, express eyes shedding tears in sorrow or great grief. Proverbs 10:10 speaks of the winking eye causing trouble. Proverbs 23:29 of the redness of the eyes that one experiences from drunkenness, and Proverbs 6:25 of the prostitute leading a man astray with her “eyelids.”  

Our lips often tell a story as well, for instance Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:13, “was speaking with her heart, only her lips were moving.” Habakkuk 3:16 tells of “quivering lips.” Wearing a mask places a physical barrier between us and the person we are speaking to. There is no question that being able to see a persons facial expressions greatly enhances our ability to communicate quickly and effectively.

Observing mouth movement is more important than we might think, according to Sarah Gallant, Spoken-English Communications expert: “Speaker mouth movement is absolutely critical for helping the listener focus on an absorb the information. If the speaker mumbles or doesn’t enunciate clearly, the listener may either struggle to understand the speaker, or worse, begin to think about dinner. Is this efficient or effective communication?” Check out her article here: 

Try being a school bus driver and communicate effectively with kindergarten age children or any child for that matter. Take it from me, it can become burdensome quickly. Children, especially, need to be able to read our facial expressions to understand what we are saying and sometimes the mood we are expressing, i.e. joy or anger. Take this example of a normal conversation on any given day of the week by any school bus driver: “Bus driver.” “Yes.” “Bus driver.” “What’s up buddy?” “Bus driver, Joey. . . ” and everything gets muffled. “Bus driver.” “Yes, I hear you, can you speak louder and slower please?” “Bus driver. . . .” “What was that?”

Irregardless of our present circumstances, let me encourage you to pursue, with greater diligence, communication with others that reflects the character and purpose of our God. The Psalmist said it well: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). Masks on or masks off, this should be our desire. So, let me share a few things that I have been reminded of from scripture, that I believe can help us orientate our thinking rightly so our speech is always gracious and edifying to those we are speaking to (Colossians 4:6).

Do not speak harshly. I admit that I struggle with this. After several attempts to get a person to clearly hear and understand what I am saying, I get agitated. I’m frustrated they “don’t get it.” I realize it’s not their fault, the problem is the mask. The uncomfortable, face concealing mask. Even so, we are “not to let any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).

Be patient and really listen. As I wrote earlier in regards to the noise box, we often filter what people are saying through the noise of preconceived ideas, expectations, or myriads of other things. Take the time to listen more intentionally and the conversation will go better. “He who answers before listening, that is his folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13).

Wisdom in silence. If we can get the idea of the above settled in our thinking and active in our practice, using words with more restraint might be a blessing! “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue” (Proverbs 17:27-28).

So, I leave you now to go back out into a world where masks have become the manner in which we recognize someone else. “Hey, that’s Tom.” “What was that?”