Let me start by saying this is not an argument for or against a specific vaccine, or vaccines in general. As one who has always been “up to date” on all the usual shots over the years, and even some uncommon ones due to my military service, the cocktail I’ve received has either kept me alive and well, or will be the death of me someday, I think. Either way, what I am going to discuss relates more to religion than disease.
I got my decadal tetanus shot the other day … or so I think. As I was being jabbed for the thousandth time, it struck me: I have more faith in this man with the needle than I do in God. I have faith he grabbed the correct vial. I also have faith that vial was labeled properly. I have faith the pharmaceutical company put the right vaccine – or even a vaccine at all – in that vial.
What was really in that syringe? I have no way to verify if I was injected with sugar water or Tdap. I have placed implicit trust and faith in the entire vaccine process from development to production to packaging to distribution to storage to the moment the plunger is depressed and something foreign enters my body. It’s kind of disturbing when you really think about it, but I don’t and just go with it; and, I guess that’s what is expected of us.
We’ve been inoculated against inoculations since we were babies. Shots are just part of life. We can’t verify if everything we’re told is true, but we believe and conform to the liturgy of vaccinations every six months, then every three years and so on. Like what happens on Christmas and Easter, the doors of the clinic or drug store open with “Get your flu shot” banners and signs drawing us in for our yearly sacrament.
How is this any different than religion? Many are told from their childhood there is a deity, and that is just a fact of life. We are told to attend religious gatherings and embrace the liturgies and rituals. We are called to believe in some things we cannot see or verify empirically. We even endure pain sometimes, but we’re assured it is good and necessary and all part of the process.
This is not a call to reject vaccines or religion. Rather, it’s a call to Christians to consider how the faith we truly put in the God of the universe who created and loves us is often less than the faith we put in a flu shot. To people who don’t believe in the God of the Bible, it’s a challenge to acknowledge that we all have faith. Faith in vaccines. Faith in the evolutionary theory. Faith in political systems and leaders. The call for all of us is to redirect our faith on the only thing, rather, the only One, who is truly worthy of our implicit faith – Jesus Christ.