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Last night my brother in law, Jerry, had a stroke. Jerry is more than my brother in law. He is my friend. He has been a constant and faithful friend for more than thirty years. In spite of all of my changes, and all of the times that I have been aloof, arrogant, or even cruel, Jerry has remained a friend.
Jerry is a humble man. In direct contrast to the subject of the classic Carly Simon song, Jerry would probably shrink from believing that this post is about him. Very early in my acquaintance with Jerry, I was impressed with his willingness to confess his sins. He would readily acknowledge his failings, and seek the support of brethren — especially in their prayers — in his battle to be more like Jesus. That humility has never left him. It has matured and deepened, but it has not faded.
Jerry is a kind man. Even on those occasions when he is offering constructive criticism or rebuke, his words are thoughtfully chosen, and his tone is gentle and unassuming. But he is not usually correcting or rebuking. On the contrary, he is more often encouraging, uplifting, and refreshing. You can expect to feel better after spending time with Jerry.
That is not to say that he will make you feel comfortable with sin, or that he will compromise his principles. Rather, he will find the best in you, as naturally as a hummingbird finds nectar. He will draw out the goodness and help it to grow and blossom, even as he himself is nourished and edified by it.
Jerry is a disciplined man. Many times I have seen him get up and go to work after a debilitating bout with food poisoning, a stomach flu, or the like, when most people would rightfully take the day off. More generally, he denies himself things he would like, and that he has a right to enjoy, for the sake of his family or for his brothers and sisters in Christ. In his humility, he reproaches himself for lacking self-discipline, and does not seem to be aware how much of it he actually demonstrates.
Jerry is a good man. He earnestly strives to do what is right, and to rid his life of every sinful behavior and habit. He loves his wife, he loves his children, he loves his brothers and sisters in the faith, and above all, he loves the Lord.
He also loves the truth. He searches Scripture, meditates on it, and diligently applies it. He has a hunger and a thirst for God, for a deeper relationship with Him. He is immersed in the written Word of God, and has a fervent desire to understand it correctly.
Jerry’s stroke has left him unable to speak. His wife has expressed to her sister (who happens to be my wife) how frustrating this is to him. I can only imagine how it makes him feel. It saddens me that Jerry is going through this agony. It also saddens me that the world is deprived of the words of this humble, kind, self-controlled, and good man.
Please join me in prayer that Jerry’s speech will be restored, and that he will fully recover from this stroke. The world needs more like him, not less.
It is well known that COVID-19 is not dangerous to children. They seldom get a serious case, and they are not efficient carriers. In spite of that, Anthony Fauci thinks that they all need to be injected with experimental vaccines to “protect” them from it. He is using his position of considerable influence to pump innocent children with chemical agents of unknown efficacy and undetermined long-term effects, while his friends in the pharmaceutical industry grow wealthier and wealthier. We need to pray this man comes to his senses and repents.
There has been a lot of talk about vaccine passports in the last year, and especially the last few months. The idea is that you need to carry proof of having taken a COVID-19 vaccine in order to travel or enter certain businesses. Here are a few reasons why this is an immoral idea.
COVID-19 isn’t that dangerous
If someone you loved died with COVID-19, please understand that this is not intended to minimize your loss. Whenever we lose a loved one, whatever the cause, it is painful. Reading statistics about how many other people died from the same cause doesn’t generally help to ease that pain. Feel free to skip this section if you don’t want to deal with it. The sections that follow are still relevant, even if you don’t read this one.
It is common knowledge that the vast majority of people who test positive for the virus are either asymptomatic or experience only mild symptoms. A small percentage experience severe illness. The large number of people who have died with the virus represent a very small percentage of those who have tested positive, but since death is the most severe of all possible outcomes, let us focus on those who have died.
Across the US, about 80% of all people who have died with COVID-19 were 65 or older. According to the CDC, 94% of COVID-19 deaths occurred in people who had underlying health conditions (on average, 2.6 underlying conditions per person). In other words, the vast majority of people who died with COVID-19 were both old and sick. We don’t have any data on how many of these people actually died because of the virus, versus how many died of one or more of their other conditions.
To understand the actual impact of the virus, it is important to remember that most people who died in the past year did not have COVID-19. While some experts are anticipating that the 2020 all-cause death rate may have been slightly higher than projected, it is entirely likely that more people died as a result of our response to the virus than from the virus itself.
Finally, you will recall that throughout 2020, doctors in the US were largely either unwilling or unable to treat COVID-19 with hydroxychloroquine (HCQ). There is abundant evidence that many lives would have been saved if HCQ had been a standard treatment. Therefore, the number of COVID deaths would likely be much lower if it weren’t for this failure to treat patients appropriately.
The available vaccines are experimental
The vaccines being used against COVID-19 are regarded as “investigational” (i.e. experimental), which is why the FDA has not actually approved them, but rather allowed them to be administered under Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA). Two of them use a new technique (mRNA) that has never been used on humans, and never successfully passed animal trials. The Nuremberg Code established the principle that you can’t give an experimental treatment without the recipient’s informed consent. This means that our society long ago agreed that it is wrong to force people to take things like experimental vaccines.
The safety and efficacy of the vaccines are unknown
We have all been inundated with the message that these vaccines are “safe and effective,” but that is a statement of blind faith, not fact. As far as safety is concerned, we do not have data to show what the long-term effects will be. With regard to efficacy, the FDA’s own announcement of its EUA states: “At this time, data are not available to make a determination about how long the vaccine will provide protection, nor is there evidence that the vaccine prevents transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from person to person.”
On the other hand, we do know that many people have experienced adverse events after being injected. As of March 5, 1,524 people had died, 3,477 had been hospitalized, and 5,806 had gone to urgent care, after receiving one of the COVID-19 vaccines. We don’t know how many of these were actually caused by the vaccines, but we do know that the people who are in the best position to find the answer to that question are also highly motivated to prove that the vaccines were not to blame.
Therapeutics are available
We might be able to justify a vaccine mandate to protect society against a highly deadly, untreatable disease. However, COVID-19 is not untreatable. There are a number of safe, inexpensive, and effective therapeutics available, including hydroxychloroquine. How can we force people to be injected with an experimental vaccine on the remote chance that they might infect someone with a virus that is not very deadly and is easily treated?
Prevention is possible without vaccines
As mentioned above, the vast majority of people who have died from COVID-19 had pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer. etc. Not surprisingly, there is also a connection between COVID-19 and deficiencies of nutrients such as vitamin D (see here and here). Most people can be protected from diseases such as COVID-19 with a healthy diet and a few supplements. Such an approach is well within the means of many Americans. For those who can’t afford it, we could find a way to help, if we had the will to do so. One short term solution could be to redirect a few billion dollars from things like vaccines in order to provide healthy food and necessary supplements to low-income people.
The point is, there are healthy, natural, non-toxic ways of keeping people from being seriously impacted by viral infections such as COVID-19. And, unlike vaccines, which are specific to the illnesses for which they are designed, a healthy diet and lifestyle is sufficient to protect most people from a broad range of illnesses.
The human immune system has proven itself to be effective for millennia, and I would far rather trust it than a vaccine that was rushed to market without a single animal trial. The very idea that humans can concoct a cocktail of chemicals that is more effective than the immune system designed by God, is sheer hubris. However, I understand the fear that drives people who have no hope of eternity, so I would be willing to accept the injection of a properly and thoroughly tested vaccine, in order to make them feel better. However, I’m not willing to force anyone else to accept such an injection. Nor am I ready to roll up my own sleeve for an experimental vaccine that contains known carcinogens and/or gene-altering mechanisms.
Any effort to coerce people to take these vaccines, whether by mandate or manipulation, would be morally indefensible.
Succinct, powerfully written, and thoroughly documented.
Throughout 2020, I complied with all mask mandates, out of respect for those who believed they were important. However, I sympathized with those who refused to wear a mask, because, like them, I was opposed to the mandates. Here are some of the reasons.
Masks aren’t effective
Based on my reading of pre-COVID-19 studies, it appears that there was general agreement among experts that wearing masks in public did little or nothing to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, as Dr. Fauci himself stated publicly. Then, shortly after the lockdowns began in the U.S., Dr. Fauci and some other experts reversed their opinion on this topic. This begs the question: What changed? I never saw or heard a substantive answer to that question. When I searched, I found a couple of studies that attempted to shore up this new doctrine, but they were weak at best. Utterly unpersuasive.
Since that time, there have been more studies and papers suggesting that masks are ineffective, including the Danmask study.
What I find most persuasive, however, is looking at the mask mandates on a timeline, plotted against the trajectory of COVID-19. It is true that correlation does not prove causation. On the other hand, where causation exists, correlation must also exist. And there is no correlation between mask mandates and the spread of COVID-19. There have been multiple instances of COVID-19 cases and deaths increasing dramatically after mask mandates were put in place. Moreover, there are multiple examples of places that have no mask mandate, yet have lower case and fatality rates than places with strict mask mandates. You can see some charts here, here, and here.
If public mask-wearing were effective, there would have to be a consistent pattern of case and fatality rates being lower when mask mandates were in place. That is simply not the case. Therefore, the only logical conclusion is that public mask-wearing is not effective.
If masks were effective, mask mandates would be an even worse idea
The human immune system has done a wonderful job of enabling the race to survive innumerable attacks, including many respiratory viruses. It continually adapts to new threats as it encounters them. That means if it’s not exposed to a new virus, it can’t adapt to it. Therefore, if wearing a mask were effective at preventing exposure to COVID-19, that means it would also prevent our immune system from adapting to it.
Likewise, if masks prevent us from being exposed to other pathogens, then they also prevent our immune systems from developing resistance to those pathogens.
If masks were as effective as some would have us believe, then mask mandates would endanger our race by weakening our collective immune system.
Prolonged mask usage does harm, especially to children
With all of the nonstop talk about COVID-19, it’s easy to forget that there are countless other things that can make us sick and/or kill us, and we ought to take appropriate precautions against all of them, without becoming afraid to fully live our lives. Of course, the best thing we can do to protect ourselves from all kinds of illnesses and diseases is to live healthy lifestyles: eat wholesome food, sleep well, exercise regularly, perhaps take supplements as appropriate, and get plenty of sunshine and fresh air. Yes, we all know that fresh air is essential to good health. This is not news to anyone.
Not surprisingly, there is an abundance of evidence that prolonged mask wearing is detrimental to health, including one study that suggests it could exacerbate lung cancer.
Aside from the detrimental effects on physical health, there is also reason to believe that long-term mask wearing is bad for mental health, especially in children. There is ample evidence to suggest that the psychological damage to children may be permanent, as well documented in this article.
Mask are a symbol of our wrong-headed response
As Dr. Fauci himself said, masks are a symbol. Specifically, they symbolize endorsement of our overall reaction to this disease. However, many of us are convinced that the overall reaction has been misguided, harmful, and wrong. And it is immoral to force people to publicly endorse something that they believe is wrong.
In the context of describing its policy regarding the COVID vaccines, a large company recently issued this statement:
The Company believes in the efficacy of the vaccines and believes that having as many associates vaccinated as possible is the best path to maximize safety for our associates, customers, vendors, visitors, our families, and the community
I appreciate the phrasing, because it is clearly a statement of faith, not objective fact. The vaccines are still experimental (a.k.a. “investigational”), which means by definition their efficacy has not been proven. Even the vaccine manufacturers admit that the vaccines will not prevent the vaccinated from catching COVID; their claim is that their testing only indicated that vaccinated people are likely to have less severe cases when they do catch it. Moreover, they acknowledge that vaccinated people who catch COVID may be able to pass it along to others. So, there is no evidence that injecting people with these vaccines will be more effective at limiting the spread of COVID than allowing the human immune system to do its job.
But it gets even more interesting. The company followed up its statement of faith in the vaccines with this remarkable pledge:
As we develop our policies, we’ll continue to be driven by data and the medical science that supports the safety and efficacy of the vaccines
Please notice the implication of this statement. Data and science that support the safety and efficacy of the vaccines will drive the company’s policies. This suggests that data and studies that call the safety and efficacy of the vaccines into question will not have a role in the company’s policies. Like many religious people, this company is only interested in evidence that supports what it already believes. So, not only does this company have faith in the vaccines, it has the most irrational kind of faith: the kind that refuses to consider evidence that could challenge the faith.
When public figures use the expression “follow the science” they are often referring to this kind of blind, irrational faith. They are not talking about an objective evaluation of all available evidence. Rather, they are talking about following the pronouncements of select experts and the suppression of all evidence that challenges those pronouncements.
In the interest of full disclosure, let me start out by saying that I do not subscribe to any of the conspiracy theories currently floating around regarding COVID-19, 5G, politics, etc. However, I think it is important to remember that there is nothing inherently irrational about believing a conspiracy exists. After all, people do conspire from time to time. The most infamous conspiracy in history, of course, was the conspiracy to kill Jesus. A conspiracy in this sense is generally something that is kept secret by the conspirators, so the only way for an outsider to detect that it exists would be to reason from known facts. If a person becomes aware of a set of facts that reasonably lead to the conclusion that a group of people are conspiring to do something, and puts together a theory based on those facts, that person is not being irrational.
Having said that, I also recognize that some conspiracy theories are not entirely rational. But I suggest that every conspiracy theory, no matter how wacky, has some measure of factual basis. This fits the old adage that every lie has a measure of truth. If your conspiracy theory has no objective facts at all, then it will be difficult to get people to believe it. However, if you have a few objectively verifiable facts, the theory becomes much more persuasive.
Now suppose someone were to come up with a conspiracy theory based on some easily verified facts, and then some very powerful people set out to suppress those facts. When this happens, those who already believed the conspiracy theory will become more convinced that it must be true – otherwise, why would the people in power be trying to hide the facts? It may also become easier to persuade others that the theory is true, when you show them the facts that the people in power have suppressed. Meanwhile, the general population will come to think that the people holding the conspiracy theory are misinformed nuts.
This leads to one of the dangers of the current policy of our media (including both mainstream news media and social media), where they have chosen to label certain objectively verifiable facts as misinformation, while they consistently portray certain highly doubtful and widely challenged positions as if they were established fact. Honest, well-adjusted people naturally trust the news media and their fact-checkers, and therefore view the conspiracy theorists with some combination of pity, disdain, and revulsion. Meanwhile, the conspiracy theorists are even more convinced of the truth of their theories, and view those who believe the media as unthinking sheep. Thus we have even more division and strife. We are on a bad path.
I pray for those who have been actively promoting lies and deception, that they will come to their senses and repent. I pray for conspiracy theorists and “sheep” alike, that the truth of these matters will be made known for all to see. I pray for all of us, that there may be a return of reason, and even more critically, a return to Jesus.
I am convinced that there is only one way to achieve harmony among people of different “races” or ethnic groups, and it was spelled out for us about two thousand years ago. To understand this, it helps to remember that the early church was made up of people who were natural enemies. Most famously, the Jews and Gentiles disdained, and even hated, each other. Against that backdrop, the apostle Paul described our status in Christ in this way:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28 NKJV)
His point is unmistakable: we all share the same spiritual “genes.” We are all on the same level. No one is better than anyone else. Therefore, in the context of describing how Christians ought to treat each other, it’s not surprising to find this statement:
…there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. (Colossians 3:11 NKJV)
To the ancient Greeks, who had achieved the pinnacle of learning, culture, and civilization, anyone who was not Greek was a barbarian. So, who were the Scythians? According to ISBE, they were a nomadic people whose chief occupation was war. They drank the blood of the first person killed in battle, used scalps as napkins and skulls as drinking bowls, and never washed in water. Clearly, such behavior would be repugnant to Greeks and Jews alike. Yet when a Scythian came to Christ, he became a child of God, and was to be treated the same as all the other brothers and sisters.
The clear lesson here is that the way to have harmony in a diverse group of people is to recognize that each individual is of equal value in the sight of God, and for all members of the group to treat one another accordingly. Regardless of ethnicity, culture, economic status, or sex, we are all fundamentally the same. Therefore, when building a community, the focus must be on what we have in common, not on what makes us different. Certainly, our differences can add value and richness to our relationships and our collaboration, but if we focus on them, we will not hold together.
No one could deny the fact that Christians have often failed miserably at applying this teaching. History provides plenty of examples. However, whenever it has been applied faithfully, it has proven to be effective: it builds unity and harmony, and it promotes selfless love and willing sacrifice for the good of others.
The lesson is not limited to churches; it can be applied to other diverse groups of people. If we accept the innate value of each individual, and focus on what we have in common as human beings created in the image of God, then we can work together harmoniously and effectively. By contrast, any approach that categorizes people based on ethnicity, economic status, sex, etc., and assigns a different set of rules to each category, is doomed to failure, because it will inevitably produce envy, resentment, bigotry, and hopeless division.
I was skeptical about our national response to COVID-19 from the outset, because it didn’t seem likely that a respiratory virus would justify closing down our entire society. After all, respiratory infections are a natural part of life here on Planet Earth. Some are worse than others, but with modern sanitation standards, none of them has been devastating. (Of course, any illness is devastating to individuals and families if a loved one dies – I’m talking here about society as a whole.) But, even if the virus were horrendous, it seemed to me that the damage we would do by shutting everything down would be worse.
Over time, as I have learned more about the the virus, the consequences of our response, and the people and organizations that have benefited from our response, I have become more and more opposed to lockdowns, mask mandates, mandatory social distancing, and vaccinations. Many have spoken about the loss of civil liberties, and that is a real concern, but to me, it is not the main concern. The primary concern is that we have lost some of our humanity, and we have placed a higher priority on our physical safety than on our responsibility to God.
Here are some examples of the damage we have done.
We have forsaken the sick, the elderly, and the afflicted.
Visiting the sick and afflicted is a beautiful act of kindness, as well as a basic responsibility for those who would follow Jesus (Matthew 9:9-13, 25:31-46; Luke 10:25-37; James 1:27). Phone calls and cards are good, but they do not take the place of an in-person visit. Zoom meetings may be adequate for business purposes, but they are no substitute for physical presence and touch when someone is suffering. Yet, we have decided that all of this is unimportant when compared with protecting people from a virus. We have effectively said, “God, we’ll take Your advice, as long as we can do it without significant risk.” And we’ve congratulated ourselves on how virtuous we are in doing so.
We have driven people to despair.
It is a known fact of economics that suicide rates rise with unemployment rates, yet, as far as I can see, this fact was not even considered when the lockdowns started. As a result of the lockdowns and other restrictions (for example, schools going fully remote), we have seen suicide rates go up, but not only among those who lost their jobs. We’ve also seen suicide rates go up among children. Moreover, we’ve seen more drug overdoses. We’ve seen elderly people in nursing homes requesting (and being granted) euthanasia. And we seem to be quite comfortable ignoring or minimizing these deaths of despair, because the virtuous thing to do is to protect ourselves from a virus.
We have separated ourselves from family members and other loved ones
Nothing can take the place of in-person interactions. Before COVID-19, I believe, the importance of such interactions, especially among family and friends, was universally recognized. However, now we believe that the virtuous thing to do is to distance ourselves from our loved ones. Prolonging our physical existence has become the ultimate virtue, even if it comes at the cost of those connections that give our physical lives their meaning.
We have created additional division and strife
Imagine how foolish it would be to think that you could strip people of their livelihoods, forbid them entering nursing homes to visit their parents, separate them from loved ones who are dying, and expect that none of them would resist you. Even if you really believe that all of these restrictions are reasonable, surely, you must realize that human beings tend to act on emotion more than on reason. So, we set up restrictions that we know will cause some people to rebel, and then we proceed to accuse them of all kinds of horrible things (even racism) when they do what we knew they would do. Is this a way to bring peace and harmony? Or would it necessarily add do the strife and division that already pervaded our society?
We have handed additional wealth and power to people and institutions that already had too much of both
As a direct result of the restrictions we imposed, institutions such as big tech, big-box stores, and big Pharma, have all become wealthier and more powerful, to the point that it is difficult to see how they can ever be brought under control again – apart from an act of God. Our government is certainly too weak to do it, largely because many of our elected officials are in their pockets.
We have taken money and opportunity away from those who already had too little
The poorest people, not only in our country, but throughout the world, have become poorer as a result of our restrictions. The amount of illness, malnutrition, and death that will result from this may never be calculated. But again, we feel comfortable with our position that the virtuous thing to do is to protect ourselves and each other from a virus, regardless of how much suffering we cause along the way.
We have promoted the idea that it is wise and virtuous to trust in human effort rather than in God
Instead of living our lives in the way God designed us to, we have affirmed that the right thing to do is to restructure our lives according to the dictates of mortal public health experts in order to control the virus, as the above points illustrate. Now, in addition to all of that, we have the vaccines. You may remember that the term “herd immunity” was coined by scientists who studied the phenomenon of humanity adapting to new illnesses without intervention. We have known for generations that humans were designed with immune systems that have the power to adapt to things like new respiratory viruses, yet we now say it is unscientific to think that we could ever get back to normal unless the vast majority of the population gets vaccinated. We need “science” to save us. But we think we’re too enlightened to be idolaters.
We have extolled our own self-righteousness
One of the things that struck me at the outset of the lockdowns was how we all considered ourselves to be so virtuous for complying with them. This self-righteousness has only grown more pronounced in the months since, and it has become enhanced with an increasing tendency to despise, ridicule, and demonize anyone who questions the rules and restrictions.
We have forsaken the assembling of ourselves together to worship God
Physical togetherness is essential to the health of any community, and so it is no surprise that it has been an integral part of the life of Christians from the very beginning (Acts 2:42-47). Lest anyone think that this was just incidental, allow me to remind you that we are explicitly told not to forsake our assembling together (Hebrews 10:24-25). Nonetheless, we have decided that it is more virtuous to keep separate from one another to protect ourselves from a virus. We are somehow convinced that the loving thing to do is to replace God’s design of physical togetherness with human-designed video conferencing technology.
It is terribly ironic that we have inflicted all of this physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual havoc in order to protect ourselves from a virus that has a survival rate of about 99.95%. Even among the elderly, who are most vulnerable, the survival rate is over 94%. In other words, even if you gave Grandma the virus, she’d have better than a 94% chance of surviving it (even higher if she didn’t have any pre-existing, potentially fatal conditions). Moreover, it is by no means certain that we saved any lives with all of our rules and restrictions. On the contrary, there are many scientists who have performed the analysis and concluded that we have not.
And even if we have saved some lives with our extreme measures, we have merely delayed the inevitable for those whom we saved. Remember, we are all going to die. We may die from a virus, or from a car accident, or cancer, or heart disease, or something else, but we will all die. This life is not forever. No individual has control over when that day comes, but it is certain that the day will come. We cannot control the quantity of years that we are allotted.
On the other hand, we do have quite a bit of influence over the quality of the time we have in this life. To me, it seems wiser to focus on maximizing the quality of my life, rather than extending its duration. For example, if you told me that I could have one hour to live surrounded by my loved ones, or 30 years without ever seeing them in person, I would choose the hour. This goes for other things, too, such as visiting the sick, helping the poor, and assembling with Christians to eat the Lord’s Supper. If I can’t do any of those things, what am I living for?