Jesus Says “Vaccinate Or Leave!”

“It is past time that Christians who are supporting vaccine passports, mandatory vaccinations, and any other coercive measures to essentially pressure and force people to take the vaccine against their will or better judgement understand that nothing about this is Christian.”

Read my latest piece for The Good Sauce, where I break down the arguments being used by Christians to get other Christians to have the vaccine, and explain why this needs to stop.

Catholic/Christian Conundrums #1 – The Christian Response To COVID-19

Introduction:

Before we begin this piece, I’d like to provide you all with an introduction to what it is. This piece is the first in a series that will be published on a monthly basis. This is a collaborative series, that is, a series containing written parts from more than one author. It is the first collaboration you will see on this platform (hopefully the first of many). Your writers for this series are myself and Dia Beltran, whose show I have been a guest on. In this series, entitled Catholic/Christian Conundrums, we will take a look at some of the issues we face in the world as people of faith, from two perspectives. For the purpose of context, I am a Christian of the Catholic tradition, and Dia is a Christian of the Protestant tradition. We both share very similar values, although we may disagree in some areas of the faith. So throughout this series, we may at times agree on the issue at hand, or we may indeed find ourselves disagreeing, both of which are healthy and productive in this space. This first piece covers how Catholics/Christians can respond to COVID-19, particularly as the restrictions become more arbitrary and seek to further segregate society. As a means of distinguishing who is saying what, we have both written a half of the piece, our names above our contributions.

We hope you find this series informative, educational, interesting, and intriguing.

Joel:

There is no easy way of saying it – humanity has devolved. It is difficult to determine whether this has occurred through any fault of our own. It is more complex than it first appears. I do not think this is simply the fault of the general individual. It seems to be more attributable to a collective evil which has spread like a toxin throughout society, corrupting all it touches; in this case the minds of the general population. And it has left many of us weak and vulnerable, allowing ourselves to be preyed upon.

It began in the most morally compromised – politicians and bureaucrats. Some of the most easily corruptible human beings, they gave in to a greed for money and power, more so the latter, and, as a byproduct, control. All three of these have provided them with a means of twisted delight. They have not suffered like the general public have; they have not lost income, livelihoods, businesses. In fact, they have gained income, they have profited off the losses of wider society. And they show no sign of stopping.

In stoking fear, the media have aided them in their quest for domination over the people of their nations. Their gain? Views, clicks, blind trust. The disease then spread to others in the general population who put blind faith in government and media. This includes people from all walks of life, and all manner of political ideologies, theological beliefs, and general values. No one is immune, unless they are truly able to think critically for themselves.

So now, in a world that seems lost, overrun by power-tripping politicians, bureaucrats, media, and the sheep that follow them all, how can we as Christians restore order and freedom? How can we deal with people who have become hostile to anyone who does not follow the unlawful restrictions set down by those in power, who dob in their neighbours, friends, family, or whoever else just to get a high, or indeed because they have become spiteful, allowing the good in their hearts to become consumed by the darkness, by the evil that lurks within?

Dia will take you through a slightly more detailed history of Christianity’s battle against oppressive forces and how Christians should deal with the issues arising from COVID-19 in the latter half of this piece, with Biblical references to demonstrate. But, while I will discuss the Catholic response, I also want to focus on the faith as a whole during this time.

Catholics will no doubt know that we should obey the laws of Earth, but we should do so while also obeying the laws of God. We should strive to abide by the Ten Commandments set forth in Exodus. One of those Commandments is “You shall not give false witness against your neighbour” (Exodus 20:16), which means we should not lie. As Catholics, we are obligated to tell the truth, to abide by God, the author of all truth.

So begs the question in the current times, and likely in the times to come: what should we do in dire circumstances? Considering in the time of COVID-19 we are subject to arbitrary measures which limit our worship, our faith, and confine us in many ways, how can we navigate this while staying true to the Commandments? For example, what do we do if vaccine passports become a reality (which is beginning to appear more likely), and we who are rightly skeptical of the largely experimental substance and decide not to take it are subject to targeted restrictions? Is it ok to mislead someone on our vaccination status then?

It is an intriguing question. In the interests of defending our faith, or being able to worship, we should. I think God would understand us doing this in order to maintain our ability to go to church, to worship and connect with Him in His Holy House.

Additionally, Catholics should resist compliance with unlawful directions. In the undertaking of His ministry on this Earth, Jesus Christ often said and did things that were considered unlawful by the religious authorities of the time, the Pharisees. He healed a man on the Sabbath (in Mark 3:1-6). He performed many miracles which they attempted to deem the work of evil spirits. So we should take after our great Saviour and Redeemer and do the same. We should refuse to comply with the unlawful arbitrary restrictions set down by our leaders who would rather we worship them than worship God. And we should take heed of the warnings Jesus gave us of bad shepherds, those who lead us astray, those who we could easily follow off a cliff.

Finally I will say this: Church leaders need to stand against the COVID tyranny we now face. Do not allow the Government to take the place of God. Do not allow Christian persecution to occur unchecked in what is supposed to be a free and democratic society. Worship is essential. Our spiritual and mental health is just as important as our physical health. We should do all we can to protect the faith, to stand by it, and to stay true to it, even in the most trying of times.

Dia:

There was a time when a certain group of people had to hide their faith; it was not permitted to pray to the one true God (the God of the Bible). This occurred in the story of Daniel in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament in the Gospel of John under a Judaic governance.

Sadly, this is a pattern that is repeated time and time again throughout history which leads to the understanding that as Christians we will suffer, and we will be persecuted.

Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh are the perfect examples of real Christian persecution. In the months of 2009 & 2010 they were imprisoned for 8 months for a thought crime. What was their thought crime? Faith in Jesus Christ.

In Iran, they often give long sentences to Christians for their faith. Evin Prison is renowned for this. However, this type of persecution is not exclusive to Iran; persecution of Christians occurs in North Korea, China, Pakistan and most of the Middle East. What makes this particular age unique is the fact that one would not expect these things to occur in the western world, yet that is exactly where we have arrived.

I am not suggesting that our suffering matches those in Iran, however, with the introduction we have had to persecution in Australia, Canada and the United States among others.

I have no doubt that we have embarked on the slippery slope of Christianity being crucified in the western world. Jon MacArthur, Pastor Henry Hildebrandt, Pastor Tim Stephens and Paul Furlong; do you know these names? If not, you should look them up as they are the modern faces of western Christian persecution.

What are we to do in these ever-changing times? Do we obey that of our leaders in government, as well as those in our churches who comply by wearing a mask, doing a check in and temperature check outside the doors of worship, or do we take a stand against those in governance for the sake of being able to still attend church and fellowship with other like-minded adherents?

And he said unto them, render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s. Luke 20:25

This Bible verse gives a very clear explanation as to what is expected of us if we claim to be Christian and the laws of man become too convoluted – the only alternative is to follow the laws of God. What if one of God’s commandments came into full opposition with another; for example ‘honor thy mother and thy father’.

Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Exodus 20:12

What if the child obeying his parents was the child of Satanists? Well, it stands to reason that the law of God takes precedence over the parents in this scenario. As with this hypothetical, we are the children in this example and the government does not serve our best interests, and as such the law of God is the only law we bow to. No amount of Christian persecution will distract me from my mission which is a Christ centric one.

What is my overall message? It is pretty simple: Do Not Comply. Christians these days are letting us down all the time; we have no real genuine role models of Christian or Catholic leaders. It seems they are too obedient to the government’s directives and rather than take a stand for the Lord, they are going about it from a perspective that is understandable but foolishly misguided.

Christians of today desire to practice their faith. This is done by abiding by the rule of the land, which, whilst well-intentioned, is actually a foolish endeavour as it directly opposes God’s law, and so Christians who partake in this obedience blaspheme unknowingly to God’s direct order.

Now the learned Christian will quote Romans 13: 1-3

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

Weighing this up with other examples in scripture is crucial. Do the laws of the land today correlate at all with God’s laws? Here is where we require an example of the apostles in the book of Acts; they set out to obey only the law of God, and the men in power were seeking a way to punish Peter and John for the path they took.

19 But Peter and John replied, “Whether it is right before God to obeyyou rather than God, you decide, for it is impossiblefor us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” After threatening them further, they released them, for they could not find how to punish them on account of the people, because they were all praising. God for what had happened. Act 4:19-21

Above, both Peter and John are in a situation where the authorities want them killed but it does not take place. Today, we are in similar parallels. The examples of anti-government behavior exceed just this one story. Earlier in this piece I mentioned Daniel and the lions, but I can also add the midwives in Exodus who would not partake in infanticide.

What we are in need of now is more of this opposition. Tragically, it seems too few people are willing to make this stand.

Do not comply. Listen only to the law of God and maybe we can manage to fight back for our freedoms.

Spirit & Truth #2 – Redemption

As human beings, we all fall sometimes. I think in some sense we are all destined to at some point in our lives. If we do not, we cannot truly learn how to be better people. It is in the mistakes we make that we learn valuable lessons. We begin to recognize right from wrong, we get a better sense of the people we choose to surround ourselves with, we understand how we can live a good and godly life.

Throughout our lives, we will inevitably find ourselves in circumstances where we have taken a wrong step on our path, or strayed down the wrong one. We might do or say something that we deeply regret. We might make a choice that does more harm than good. In fact, the harm it does may not even be to others, but to ourselves. It may affect the way others see us, and that can in turn be detrimental to our own sense of happiness, our mental health.

As a Christian, I believe everyone has a shot at redemption. Everyone is able to be redeemed. Through Christ, redemption is possible for each and every one of us. That is the beauty of the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us all when He gave His own life for our own, when He willingly went to His death upon the Cross. In Christ’s case, He had done no wrong. He was not deserving of the condemnation He received. We are truly not worthy of all that He has done for us. Yet we all get that chance. Redemption is available for all of us, no matter how we have fallen, no matter what has caused us to fall.

God rights our wrongs. He has done this since the beginning. The first time humanity fell was in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, fell to temptation, and consumed the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. This is why we are all inherently susceptible to wrongdoing, to corruption. It goes back to our very first ancestors. We could have all been doomed to die without any hope of salvation, any hope of redemption. But God loves us so much that He made the ultimate sacrifice to save us so that we may live in eternal paradise with Him in the Kingdom of Heaven. John 3:16 encapsulates this great sacrifice, indeed the entire Gospel, best:

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

There is so much power in that sacrifice. There is so much love. Each and every one of us is loved by God. We are each carefully created in His own image. We are not perfect, but we are still loved by Him. And although we stumble, although we fall, we are still given the chance to be redeemed through His Son, Jesus Christ. Although we struggle, although we fail to live as God would want us to, we are granted redemption through the sacrifice He made for us. This is further reiterated in Romans:

God puts us right through our faith in Jesus Christ, and this is applied to all who believe. For there is no distinction of persons, because all have sinned and all have fallen short of the glory of God; and all are put right with God freely by His grace through the redemption effected in Jesus Christ. – Romans 3:22-24

No one should be denied a shot at redemption. No one should be so harshly judged by their peers on Earth that they are deemed incapable of change if they have merely made a mistake, if they have naively made the wrong choices. We all have pasts, we all probably live with some regret, some more than others. But no one should be cast out and thrown aside because of that.

I believe that we should not judge others because of their past mistakes. Yes, they made errors. Yes, they made the wrong decisions. But that should not dictate their entire life henceforth. They should be given a chance at redemption. They may have come a long way since then, no doubt battling inner demons like regret. They do not, however, deserve to be an outcast. No one is incapable of redemption. They deserve, at the very least, to be given the opportunity to explain their errors of judgement, to clear the air. Because it is highly likely that they have learnt a valuable lesson, and it would be beneficial for society to hear what the individual has grasped.

I think, particularly in modern society, human beings can be truly petty. They can hold something against someone and use it as an excuse to alienate them for the foreseeable future. In a world where we are quick to judge people on the errors and regrets of their past, we have somehow managed to keep stooping to new lows. Certain groups of people target individuals and attempt to “cancel” them based on a tweet from ten years ago. They refuse to let people work with them, maybe even refusing them a voice on their platform, because of mistakes they made years ago. Some might even demonize or warn others off of a person because of this. If we as human beings keep acting in such ways, we are only going to hurt others, and likely alienate ourselves from them in the process.

For Christians especially, we cannot claim to be truly Christian when we do such things as those mentioned above. We should act in good faith and allow others the opportunity to show us that they have redeemed themselves. We must act like Jesus did when He lived among us on this very Earth. We must act like God our Creator did when He made the ultimate sacrifice in giving His Only Son so that we could merely have the chance to be redeemed. God never had to do that for us. Yet He did. And that in itself should be a thought that lingers on each of our minds, especially when we consider someone who has taken a misstep or been led astray but has learnt from that and found a way back through the redemption that God our Father offers to each one of us.

There is a famous statue that sits atop the Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, the capital city of Brazil. It is the heart of the nation. Each year, it is visited by around two million people. It is a symbol of Christianity across the globe, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. But I think it gains that title from far more than just being a mere symbol of the Christian faith. It is representative of our redemption, of how humanity, despite our inherent failings, is and can continue to be redeemed through the selfless actions of God our Father, and Christ our Redeemer.

Spirit & Truth is a series focusing on our humanity and our connection with God. Each edition will draw into focus one aspect of human life and explore it in some depth. Spirit and truth are the keys to living a good and godly life.

God is spirit and those who worship God must worship in spirit and truth. – John 4:24

Spirit & Truth #1 – Praise

Some of the most difficult times in life arise from the unknown. I think, as human beings, we can be so consumed by what is not known to us, what is known only to God. It drives us to a point of fear, of impatience and of sorrow. We struggle to contend with the seemingly infinite number of possibilities that swarm our minds. We worry about certain possibilities becoming our reality. It is this uncertainty and the fear it creates that can begin to inhibit our ability to function to the best of our ability and put us in a position where we begin to question our faith, and question God.

There have been times, particularly over the last few years, where I have been faced with unknowns that have spurned worry and doubt in my mind. Even over the last few months there have been things that have not gone the way I expected, the way I hoped they would. It brings you to a point where you question what God is doing, why things are happening the way they are.

I have talked before about God’s timing, about how His timing is perfect, even when it may not align with our own. Sometimes I think we can become impatient with Him. We struggle to understand why something that we have prayed for repeatedly for weeks or even months or years has still not come to fruition. It may be that God has what we are hoping for in store for us, but it is just not the right time by His plans yet. He may be telling us “not yet”, to wait, to be patient. He will manifest what we are hoping for, or some version of it, in due course, but it will be on His time, not on ours.

I think we can sometimes fall into the abyss of despair as hope slowly slips from our grip. We struggle to hold onto it when things are not going our way, when the unknown becomes all too consuming. And that realm of the unknown can be scary, it can be foreboding. It is not easy to contend with something that is only known truly to someone else, and to God. We may have concerns about an aspect of our life that is not in our control yet is of great importance to us. I know that I have struggled with this kind of thing personally, I have found myself getting anxious about what is not known to me, of what is hidden from my mind. It is as if a storm cloud is hanging over your head and your heart. It creates a shadow of darkness that is difficult escape. You cannot really do anything about it. All you can do is hope, pray, and give it to God.

I was discussing this topic with a friend recently. We were both experiencing this kind of despair at different unknowns in our lives. Our situations were different, but the line of thinking was similar. One thing we discussed was how, despite our wishes for God to intervene, to help us out, He seemed to be taking too long. We both took some comfort in prayer, although it can be challenging to rely solely upon faith. But sometimes faith is all we have, and it does provide us with a sense of hope, no matter how miniscule that hope may be.

Upon further discussion, another way of praying was brought to my attention: Praise. Even though I had just been teaching my Scripture class about prayers of Praise, I never really considered using such prayer in the face of challenging situations. Praise would usually be associated with connotations of happiness, of joy. One would not usually consider the negative or difficult aspects of their life when saying a prayer of Praise to God. But it is something that we can do, and in fact should do more.

When we are facing uncertainties, when we are facing unknowns, when we are staring down hardships and challenges, even when we have just had a bad day, we should turn to God and Praise Him for it. You might wonder why. Why should we praise God for the negative things in our lives, for the things that cause us to become anxious, to despair? It is a fair question. The answer is this: Because God teaches us the most valuable lessons through these times of fear, sorrow, and despair. He uses these times to highlight the good in our lives, the important parts of life that we should value the most. And often He uses these times to bring us closer to Him.

Sometimes when we are struggling with something, we can find it difficult to rely upon faith alone. We can find it difficult to trust in God. It is when we are traversing these times that we should praise God. Take the example of a bad day. Even on our worst days we have the opportunity to learn things. It may not be easy to think about the good that has come out of the bad, but it is likely there somewhere and it is up to us to find it, to focus on it, to thank God for it. It may take some time and patience to do this, but even then we are truly learning something; We are learning patience. And again, we can praise God for teaching us this incredibly valuable skill. He may help us to learn how to let go, and we can praise Him for it.

There are times when we will get frustrated at ourselves, when we will struggle to let things go, when we will find it hard to step away from things that are holding our hearts and minds hostage. In order to find some peace, we need to take some time to check ourselves, to get back to what matters, and to bring it back to God. Because God is good, and we should praise Him for all He does for us.

Spirit & Truth is a series focusing on our humanity and our connection with God. Each edition will draw into focus one aspect of human life and explore it in some depth. Spirit and truth are the keys to living a good and godly life.

God is spirit and those who worship God must worship in spirit and truth. – John 4:24