The COVID19 pandemic is not over. We might have had some victories thanks to the development of vaccines and diligent social distancing, but we must not treat such successes as meaning the virus is no longer a threat. Yes, we got some relief, we got a little respite, but now we must look at what is happening and accept the fact that COVID19 is once again surging around the around the world. Forty six states in the United States experiencing such surges. Thanks to the various variants, like the Delta variant, children and young adults are being infected at higher rates than before. Health care workers who have been vaccinated are also getting infected, due to the amount of contact they have with those who are infected with COVID19 variants. Nonetheless, those vaccinated are much better protected than those who are not, even if the vaccination is not as effective against the variants, as can be seen in the way the rate of infection is vastly greater with the unvaccinated.
Treating the pandemic as being over will prove to be a costly mistake. Not enough people have received the vaccine. Not enough of the unvaccinated respect the directives established in order to prevent its spread. The unvaccinated continue to prove to be its primary hosts, but even the vaccinated can and are being infected. To those who understand vaccines, this is not surprising: vaccines are not one hundred percent effective; they work better, and provide better protection, when whole groups are vaccinated. When this does not happen, those who are not vaccinated not only can and will get infected, they can and will spread it even to the vaccinated, sometimes with a more dangerous strain.
Christian churches which did not like having to deal with the pandemic, and often did everything they could to avoid compliance with directives set in place to protect the population from its spread, are among the first to try to suggest the pandemic is over. It is wishful thinking. Instead of writing books reinforcing the idea that the pandemic is over, churches need to be at the forefront of the pandemic response, making sure their people take the pandemic seriously, get vaccinated, and do what is necessary to finally put an end to the threat of COVID19. To truly get beyond the pandemic requires everyone working together; if churches do not like the restrictions the pandemic places on society, the response should not be to reject the restrictions, but to make sure they will not be needed again. On the other hand, if churches ignore the threat, or worse, suggest it is over, they will once again risk becoming super-spreaders of the virus. This is especially true if the churches act like everyone is vaccinated, when they are not, and do not tell their parishioners that they must get vaccinated (unless they have a legitimate health reason not to) in order to participate at their services. If they ignore the threat, treat it as something which is over, they will only have themselves to blame if COVID19 variants spread and make for more lockdowns in the future.
This is why those who rally against vaccination are dangerous. They are making the situation much worse than it has to be. They are making sure the pandemic continues. They were the ones who complained about lockdowns, and they will be the same ones who will complain the most if new lockdowns are necessary. It is clear, they do not care about society. They are acting as nihilists, without concern about the well-being of others. Some Christians seems to be taking the stand, “Infect them all, and let God sort them out.” They ignore Christians are to be responsible for the welfare of their neighbor, that they are culpable for their negligence. They are like drunk drivers saying no one has a right to tell them not to drink and drive and yet complain when, driving recklessly, they are pulled over and arrested.
Thankfully, not all Christians are like this. Many have come to realize the seriousness of the pandemic. Russian Orthodox leaders said that those who refuse to be vaccinated are sinners, culpable for what happens as a result of their inaction. Pope Francis, likewise, have said Christians have a “moral obligation” to receive the vaccine. This is what we need to hear from all church leaders, even as we need to hear it from authorities in secular society. While secular society will not discuss the issue as sin, it can and should deal with the ethical implications of those who do not vaccinate (without a good reason) and deal with them as it deals with others who put people needlessly in danger. Reckless behavior can be and is regulated by society. It is, indeed, one of the main functions of government.
No one likes the situation we have been put into. No one likes having to deal with the pandemic. But sane people understand we need to act with wisdom, and not just do whatever we want to do. We want the pandemic to be over, so that then we will be safe to go back to the way things were before the pandemic. But we must also understand that necessity trumps desires. If we don’t do what is necessary now, we will have to do so later, when it will also be much more difficult to deal with the problem as it will be much worse than it is now. And Christian churches should recognize this; the Christian faith has long told us to act, not in accordance to inordinate passions, but to the dictates of reason, to promote the common good. Why are Christians turning against their own tradition, their own teaching? Why are they among the worst in COVID19 compliance? Their focus, it seems, is selfish; they have ignored the message of Christ, the message of love which tells us to die to the self; instead, they think Christianity is about taking all we can for ourselves and ignoring the needs of everyone else. No wonder Christianity seems to have lost its saltiness and as such, find more and more people turning away from the faith.
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