Recently, there has been considerable discussion concerning the need for vaccination against the Covid virus. Of particular interest to many is the reluctance of some sports stars who have refused to be vaccinated. This past Sunday each of the members of the Fox Pregame Show criticized Aaron Rodgers for his lack of being vaccinated, all stating that while he has a right to personal beliefs, he is part of a team, and therefore he needs to sacrifice his personal beliefs for the good of the team. In similar fashion, many have opined that the same ethic should be true for all people. In that we are all part of the team of humanity, there is a necessity for everyone to be vaccinated. In particular, those Christians who are reluctant to be vaccinated need to comply, being motivated by the attribute of brotherly love.
Without question, Christians should act towards others out of a love for them. That command is clearly stated by Jesus, Paul, Peter and John in the New Testament. However, love is not the only motivating factor in how one decides to act towards another. Every person is created with a conscience and the conscience is critical in deciding action. The conscience is the innate, immaterial faculty in all people which sits in judgment of all moral issues and acts. In this sense, it urges man to right conduct & discourages man from wrong conduct (or that which the mind has come to understand as right and wrong) and condemns man after wrong conduct or commends man after right conduct. A biblical example is found in John 8 where the Pharisees brought the woman taken in adultery to Jesus. After Jesus spoke about those without sin casting the first stone, John records, “And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.” (John 8:9)
Unfortunately, the conscience is not perfect in anyone, in that all have been corrupted by sin. Scripture lists four conditions of the conscience. The first is a pure conscience, spoken of by Paul in 2 Timothy 1:3. It is a conscience that consistently acts according to the will of God. The second is a weak conscience. 1 Corinthians 8:7 speaks of one possessing this conscience not having the insight into the will of God to be able to discern what actions are permissible and which are not. A defiled conscience is a conscience that has been shaped by unbiblical thought. Paul speaks of this conscience in Titus 1:15. Such a conscience permits just about any action. This may be the same as the fourth conscience listed by Paul in 1 Timothy 4:2, which is the “cauterized” conscience- a conscience that has been abused so greatly that it no longer works.
The operation of the conscience is very similar to the old adage of the computer- garbage in, garbage out. When the conscience is fed biblical precepts, it responds with urging toward action within the will of God. When the conscience is fed unbiblical thoughts and ideas, it will allow actions that will be contrary to the will of God, either in the participation of sinful works or the non-participation in good works. The key then to an efficiently functioning conscience is a sufficient knowledge of the Word of God that can define the will of God in any situation.
For some Christians receiving the Covid vaccination violates their conscience. Whether that conscience is pure, weak or defiled can be debated, but regardless of the conscience’s condition, it is to be obeyed by the child of God. The Apostle Paul stated that he exercised himself “to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” (Acts 24:16) For the believer in Jesus Christ, whatever is done that does not proceed from their faith is sin. (Romans 14:23) Yes, Christians should be motivated to do good deeds towards others, but those deeds must be consistent with the urging of their conscience.