Most Ungodly Post Yet!

and that was just for taxing liquor!

I have a new post up at Her.meneutics, the Christianity Today women’s blog (apparently its most ungodly post yet!) called “Love Your Neighbor. Get Your Vaccines.”And that’s pretty much the point: getting vaccinated is not just about keeping yourself (& your kids) safe. It’s about keeping everybody safe.

The thing about writing a post praising vaccines is that most of us who like vaccines, or, at least, regard them as something we all gotta do, are pretty quiet about it, while those who think vaccines are from Satan loudly proclaim it.

The other thing about writing a post praising vaccines is that people are going to say things  like:

  • “You’ve obviously drank the Kool-Aid from the pharmaceutical industry shills.”
  • “Your [sic] either lying or haven’t researched this properly.”
  • “Vaccines have dead babies in them!!!”  (I’m paraphrasing.)

But then, there are other comments like this:

“This is a problem cause because the success of modern medicine. If millions of people were dying every year from the flu, then no one would be worrying about the fact that some might die from the vaccine. That is no to say we shouldn’t worry at all about it. It is just to say that many people are worried about one part of the problem and ignoring the larger effect of their personal choice–as is the problem with most issues like this.”

(Thank you, Adam.)

And this:

“What if the issue was seat belt use instead of vaccines? There are a tiny, tiny number of deaths that occur BECAUSE of wearing a seat belt. But seat belts have saved untold millions of lives in crashes.

Should we then protest against seat belt laws, and counsel young parents to not put their baby in a car seat? Should we share our stories of seat belt-related injuries in order to reveal how terrible they truly are?”

(Thanks, Leah!)

Plus? Last night I went to eat an ice-cream sandwich with Mrs. S. (who was an Army RN in WWII) and we talked about polio. She remembers people on Long Island getting polio. All I’m saying is that: it might be worth lengthening our memories, and considering whether the luxury of debating vaccine safety is just that: a luxury afforded us by vaccine’s efficacy.

I don’t know if PBS counts as “lamestream media” (which, according to one commenter, is where I must get all my information!) but these two documentaries–one on the influenza epidemic of 1918 and one on the search for a polio vaccine–are very worth your time. It might just be me, but I find that looking at history often clarifies present questions.

One final thing. A major element in my thinking behind the vaccine post was the question of loving one’s neighbor, which is pretty central to the Christian scriptures (Jesus kinda said so) and of broadening care and concern beyond the boundaries of the nuclear family. This is a place where we could learn from other cultures, from ones in parts of the world where diseases now eradicated in the US are still rampant. We could learn the truth that “there is no me without you.” We could learn that “I am because we are.”

(If you’re still interested in reading the article, you can find it here.)

25 thoughts on “Most Ungodly Post Yet!

  1. “… considering whether the luxury of debating vaccine safety is just that: a luxury afforded us by vaccine’s efficacy.” I thought so too, Rachel. My Mom contracted a mild case of polio in the 40s and recovered, but it disabled her mother and severely diminished her father’s ability to work as a physician.

    You did a good job handling the comments over there and this follow up here is a bonus for me to read.


  2. Thank you for this! My father has polio, and it was an exciting day for me when my daughter received that vaccine. I’m all for livin’ natural, but we can’t forget the “living” part of that!

  3. The problem people have is not that you support vaccines, write about it, and want others to do the same. It’s that you linked getting vaccines to whether or not you’re spiritual. That is a giant, dangerous leap.

    Re the flu: Millions of people have never died from the type of flu that the current vaccines cover. The current flu vaccine keeps 1.5 people out of 100 who would have gotten it, from getting it. In fact, “millions of people each year” have never died from any of the vaccine preventable vaccines (in the US).

    Re the seat belt argument: It’s funny because I have actually compared vaccines to the seat belt argument myself, in order to expose how they are nothing alike. Do you see educated and well-researched people arguing against seat belts like so many do against vaccines? No, because it’s not even close to comparable. The actual statistics are well in favor of seat belts, not so with vaccines.

    I regret that some people just wanted to bash you or what you said instead of engaging in real facts & debate, but I don’t appreciate you only quoting them, the minority, while failing to address the level headed and logical posters who had big problems with what you wrote.

    • No, I don’t think getting vaccines are a measure of spirituality. I think not getting them–despite the risks that places on vulnerable people–might indicate that we’re a culture of people who are intensely (maybe disproportionately and unreasonably) self-concerned.

      I’m sorry you don’t appreciate my quoting the (humorously awful) commenters only, but truthfully, I’ve read much of what they claim (“vaccines have never been tested” and the various autism studies) and find it woefully unpersuasive.

      As far as actual statistics: 9,000 people used to die in the US annually of rubella (German measles.) Now it’s something like 10 a year. Further, when I speak with truly qualified scientific and medical experts (not graduates of the University of Google–I’m talking about my travel medicine doctor who’s a university medical professor) they consider the anti-vaccine movement to be dangerously misinformed. I agree.

      • “Rather, I’m concerned that so many people seem willing to let others carry the supposed burden of vaccination so that they don’t have to. To me, that’s a failure of the commandment to love our neighbors: our infant neighbors, our elderly neighbors, and our immune-compromised neighbors. That’s a disease of the soul….” This is where you pretty clearly made it a spiritual issue. :)

        I would encourage you to do some honest research for yourself. Doctors, unfortunately, are trained by the system that buys into drugs and vaccines, and unless they do their own honest research (which most have not- they hardly have time, but many have and many of those have stopped forcing vaccines), they have no reason to change that opinion. So the fact that you got your info from a doctor/prof says very little. My husband is a doctor, so I know how the system works (& he is not against vaccines- really neither am I, lol.)

      • I think you’re assuming that I haven’t looked at “the other side.” I have. I’m not convinced.

        And, actually, yes, I do think that getting vaccines or not is a spiritual issue. Because ultimately, everything is a spiritual issue.

  4. I really appreciated your hermeneutics post. When the H1N1 flu first hit my oldest son was quite young. He had a severe egg allergy, so could not be vaccinated, but he also had asthma and a generally compromised immune system. I remember how frustrated I felt whenever others would tell me they weren’t vaccinating their families. They were worried about such a small risk of complications, whereas we were facing a very serious struggle if our son caught the flu. My perspective on vaccines ever since has always emphasized herd immunity and the needs of the weakest among us. Thank you for putting yourself out there and taking the slings and arrows in order to communicate this view. I’m grateful.

  5. You ladies over there at Her.meneutics take so much crap for doing very good work. I think you all are doing pioneering work in the church – taking the criticism that people seem to feel free to heap upon women – in the hope that the church will get more used to hearing our voices. I hope that you are getting the encouragement you need to keep up the important work you do!

  6. Rachel- I just left a comment at the Her.meneutics blog post but I wanted to say again, thank you for being willing to write it. Also, yes, the dissenters to your opinion were the loudest and most numerous commenters, but thankfully not the majority of most people I believe. Just those who are most emotionally invested and therefore the most likely to comment, and comment loudly in response.

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  8. Bless you, Rachel, for taking this stand. For me, vaccinations are a public good and we, as part of that public, have a moral responsibility to those among us who are older, younger or somehow compromised. (I’m especially frustrated with people who refuse to vaccinate their children and basically draft off those of us who do.) It’s one of the ugly downsides of a culture that’s increasingly focused on individual rights while losing sight of how we all personally benefit from caring about our neighbors too.

  9. My mother was a WWII nurse and took the first polio vaccine available when pregnant with me. She’d nursed enough people who’d developed and died from diseases we don’t even recognized now to see that my brother and I got every vaccine available.

  10. Wow. I wondered if after reading all of the comments from your her.meneutics blog if you regretted the words you chose, but after seeing your blog here- obviously not. I’m not saying your should change your opinion on vaccines, just your definitive position on not vaccinated is a sin. In addition, if your intent was to truely appeal to christians to reconsider their moral responsibiltiy to vacinnate, you may want to ponder the old adage, “you get more bees with honey instead of vinegar” or consider Romans 11:22. I’m pretty shocked (and saddened) by your sarcasm, haughtiness, arrogance and pride.

    • I do not have a ‘definitive position on not vaccinated is a sin.’ But I DO think it is worth considering what our choices in that area say about our love for our neighbor. (You might see my follow-up of sorts at //

      As to the charge of “sarcasm” I offer this piece, a defense of sarcasm– //

      As to the advice to catch bees with honey, why, that’s what humor is for. I would offer that advice to the more than 150 commenters who insisted that my perspective is more or less from Satan.

      As to the somewhat more serious charges of “haughtiness, arrogance and pride,” I can only say that I am ever thankful for God’s abundant mercy and grace.

      • I didn’t see the “haughtiness, arrogance and pride” Rachel. I did see someone speaking plainly and clearly. You didn’t go on the attack, just forbore mincing words. Sometimes that looks like arrogance to those who don’t share one’s opinion, I guess.


        P.S. Well-timed sarcasm has its place in God’s kingdom. Elijah showed us that with the prophets of Baal, didn’t he?

      • Thanks for your response.  Can you reference in any of your blogs where you write about not being vaccinated is NOT a sin? I read your subsequent blogs which led me further to my conclusion. My point is that you may have a valid post IF you simply would have been kinder and not “holier than thou” (goes back to the haughtiness thing). 

        As far as defending your post by reflecting to the commentators who were mean: this is about YOU the arthur who is representing Christ on a public CHRISTIAN forum. Romans 12:21 says do not be overcome by evil, but evil with good. We should only be concerned with what we speak and how we conduct ourselves. I would propose that proverbs 15:1 is fitting which has been my point all along: a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a Harsh word stirs up anger. Humor, my dear, is far from what I was I implying. How about displaying grace and mercy to the mothers who feel like not vaccinating their children is the best option?

        And finally, yes Thank God for his mercy and grace. That is one thing we can agree on. What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

      • I’m not sure I’m going to be able to give an answer that satisfies you. But I am also not sure how you construe my post(s) as unkind,’holier than thou,’ haughty, and, apparently, flagrantly sinful (that ‘grace may abound’). We disagree. I can respect that. I ask you to do the same.

    • These are very strong words, and, I would like to add, a misreading of a sound and carefully considered opinion. Why is it that the strongest judgments come from people who think that Rachel’s perspective is judgmental? The haughtiness, arrogance and pride is all yours! While we are using Scripture, I think Luke 6:41 applies. The irony of your comment and others that like that feel it best to blast Rachel to pieces for, what they perceive to be “too judgmental” of a stance reveals the foolishness of these comments. Practice what you preach, hypocrite. You white washed tomb!

  11. Rachel, I love this topic so much that I had to look up your blog and add a new comment to it how many weeks after you originally wrote this??? Anyway, I have been loving my neighbor so much the last couple years by telling them not to get certain vaccines for their children either because the side effects seem scarier than the disease they are hoping to prevent. I could certainly not live with myself if I took the precaution for my own children and then sat back and enjoyed the risk that all the other children were taking in the world simply to keep my child safer.

  12. Pingback: How To Tell If Your Liberty is Being Threatened Or If You Have the Flu. « Rachel Marie Stone

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