Should the unvaccinated be banned from church services? Gladys (aka NSW premier) thinks so. Not content with forcing hard working Aussies out of work and into penury, she and her team of unelected health officials are taking the game to the next level. She’s planning to keep the unvaccinated from attending church, according to Caldron Pool. (Really I don’t get it, why not just herd them into leper colonies like they did in Jesus’ day?)
Sorry, this is no time for levity, excuse my lapse. Mandatory vaccinations to attend church services raises the tenuous relationship between church and state, which has vexed the church for centuries.
Before we look at this, let’s be clear. I acknowledge that the last thing your local pastor or rector wants to do is ban you from attending church. But you need to understand that the State government may issue an edict, which makes it a crime for the unvaxed to attend church, and carries with it a jail sentence for those ministers who fail to police the edict. Hmm sounds like the USSR.
The historical legacy of the institutionalised church
Until the nineteenth century slavery was accepted as normal within Christendom, no moral outrage here. There were however a few dissenting voices, but nonetheless the church did nothing to oppose it. Afterall slavery is sanctioned in the bible, even by St Paul.
So, when few hotheads (radicals like Wilberforce) got together to abolish slavery, more than a few clergy in the Church of England choked on their tea-leaves. Why would they do that? Because a lot of them owned the slaves and the plantations on which they worked.
Then we have the Lutheran Church throwing its support behind Hitler’s Third Reich. Again a few dissenters, Bonhoeffer for example. Yet notwithstanding they supported the Nazi government, and so 6 million Jews were exterminated with tacit blessing of the church.
The Biblical justification for obsequious obedience
Well, nothing new here, the same recitation of the same Bible passages, today as then. You know! The passage in Romans 13 and some others in 1 Peter. Take a look at Romans 13
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.…………….2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted.
Seems explicit enough, wouldn’t you say? The passage certainly appeals to those who by nature are compliant and don’t want any trouble.
However, if you apply the ad hominem argument to this passage (ie assume the premise is correct and then look at the consequences), then you could end up murdering your mother, just as Nero did.
Am I being absurd? No, not at all. Follow the syllogism with me. Obey the government (whether good or evil) without questioning: the government decrees that all first born sons are to murder their mothers before the 31st of October 2021. Well, if we take the passage at face value then God has sanctioned matricide.
Every injunction has a context
The injunction to obey the emperor is given within a context. Obviously, Paul too bases his advice on an underlying premise. Namely, obey the government up until the point where you can no longer obey them, because once you reach that point, you’ll be violating the Laws of your creator.
Consequently, you can’t murder mum, because God says ‘honour your father and your mother”. Yes, you must continue to pay your taxes, and continue to respect the appointed authorities. But when they demand that you take an action which breaks the law of God, then ‘you must obey God rather than men’.
Moreover, scholars date the authorship of Romans to about AD57. Nero came to power in AD54 and then went insane around the time he had his mother killed AD59.
Where am I going with this, you may ask? Well, here’s the thing: from AD54 to AD59 Nero was not actively involved in the administration of the empire. He was busy pursuing his artistic career, leaving the affairs of state to mum and Seneca.
It’s during this period of let’s say good government, Paul and Peter wrote their letters, pointing out to the Christian community that governments hold in check our proclivity to lawlessness and anarchy. We need government to maintain law and order. Theft, murder, looting, kidnapping etc are not good, so the government’s God ordained role is to prevent these crimes.
Be that as it may, from AD59 – AD68 (after Paul’s and Peter’s letters), Nero went insane. Often cross dressing, using Christians as human candles, in vats of boiling oil for his dinner parties, and who for an evening in AD64 lined the streets with brothels, forcing the wives of his senators to abandon their bodies for the sexual gratification of gladiators and alike, for a night of orgies feasting on the flesh of the nobility.
I’m sure had Paul and Peter been alive to witness Nero’s debauchery, they would’ve put a caveat on their instructions to obey their rulers. Something like obey rulers as far as God’s law allows.
Should the unvaccinated be excluded?
We return to the question of compulsory vaccinations for believers. The denominational hierarchy will need to decide. Will they hide behind Romans 13 and fall into line with the government, thereby leaving their conscience behind in the vestry of the church?
Or follow Daniel’s example …………. Who, when he heard the King’s decree to worship only him, went to his upper room, as was his custom, opened his window (for all to see), got down on his knees and he prayed to his God.
Daniel chapter 6 verse 6ff.
Vic Matthews, has three degrees B.Optom, B.Arts & B. Christian Studies. Is available as a Guest Speaker for your next Church conference or camp. He is a fledgling author, and copywriter.
For more information visit http://www.graphw.co/
Vic Matthews' previous articles may be viewed http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/vic-matthews.html