In this post, I would like to share Franklin Graham's counsel on the vaccine, followed by my own. This has become a real hot-button issue in the Body of Christ. I hope that by the time you finish considering our two viewpoints, you will have liberty in your heart to follow the LORD on the matter according to your faith.
Here's what Franklin Graham says:
The internet is full of articles, theories, data, and opinions concerning the COVID-19 vaccines—both positive and negative. There’s a lot out there for you to read. I have been asked my opinion about the vaccine by the media and others. I have even been asked if Jesus were physically walking on earth now, would He be an advocate for vaccines. My answer was that based on the parable of the Good Samaritan in the Bible, I would have to say—yes, I think Jesus Christ would advocate for people using vaccines and medicines to treat suffering and save lives. In this Scripture passage, Jesus told about a man beaten and wounded, lying on the roadside as religious leaders passed by and didn’t help. But a Samaritan, considered a social outcast of the day, becomes the hero of the story when he stops and cares for the injured man—pouring oil and wine, which were the top medicines of the day, on the man’s wounds. We also know that Jesus went from town to town healing “every disease and sickness.” He came to save life—to offer us eternal life. Did Jesus need a vaccine Himself? Of course not. He is God.
So, my own personal opinion is that from what we know, a vaccine can help save lives and prevent suffering. Samaritan’s Purse has operated COVID-19 emergency field hospitals, and we have seen the suffering firsthand. I also have staff and their family members who contracted the virus and spent weeks on a ventilator and months hospitalized as a result—I don’t want anyone to have to go through that. Vaccines have worked for polio, smallpox, measles, the flu and so many other deadly illnesses—why not for this virus? Since there are different vaccines available, my recommendation is that people do their research, talk to their doctor, and pray about it to determine which vaccine, if any, is right for them. My wife and I have both had the vaccine; and at 68 years old, I want to get as many more miles out of these old bones as possible!
After Franklin posted this on Gab.com, there was a firestorm of responses. Most were not charitable toward him and his viewpoint. In fact, a lot of them were downright nasty. After reading Franklin's take and those of many others, here was my response:
It might be helpful if we could dial it down & contemplate scripture on this matter: "Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters" (Romans 14:1). Maturity in our faith means that we recognize that some matters are disputable. Such is the case when it comes to the vaccine.
It's NOT disputable to those who advocate FOR the vaccine. It's also NOT disputable to those who are AGAINST the vaccine. Each side is fully convinced that they are right. But we must be gracious in acknowledging that there are people on the other side of the issue who are just as certain that they are correct. We must learn to state our case without getting personal and attacking others. Be gracious toward one another.
Even though I don't plan on taking the vaccine, I would never attack Franklin personally the way some have in this post. He has a different viewpoint and expressed it as well as he was able & I really appreciate him for that and respect him.
The idea in Romans is to avoid making harsh judgments over disputable issues. The issue of the vaccine may not be in question to you, but it may be to others. As Christians, we must learn to be gracious and to make allowances for our differences without becoming hostile and judgmental. Learn to argue without being argumentative.
Romans further states: "Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food" (Romans 14:19-20). In this instance, we could just as well insert "vaccine" for "food," as follows: "Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of [a vaccine]."
We need to maintain our unity and brotherly love in Christ, even when we have disagreements over disputable matters. Of course, some things are beyond dispute. If you want to preach another Gospel than that of salvation through Christ alone, see-you-later! Scripture is clear on this. It's not quite so clear on things like vaccines.
Scripture teaches that whatever is not of faith is sin (Rom. 14:23). Our endeavor should be to seek the LORD's direction in the matter and be led by our faith. Some may become convinced that the course of faith is to take the vaccine. Others may become convinced that the course of faith is to abstain from the vaccine. Franklin is of the former. I am of the latter. But I still love and appreciate Franklin.