A Lutheran Case for Religious Exemption

Religious exemptions aren’t the long-term solution to the tyrannical vaccine mandates, but for some families, they may be what keeps a roof overhead and food on the table in the short-term. I’ve been frustrated that the LCMS has thus far failed to offer much in the way of guidance or support while her people are at risk from various government and corporate institutions who are threatening their livelihoods and families. James 2 certainly comes to mind: “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?”

I suspect we will soon have many Lutheran families who would be helped by a specifically Lutheran explanation for how our faith disposes our consciences against vaccinating ourselves and our households. I’ve seen Christians in various traditions putting together documents to help the faithful maintain their livelihoods–something for which we should be grateful.  However, I have yet to encounter a specifically Lutheran rationale explained.

The following is a beginning towards that goal. It’s not the only objection a Lutheran’s faith may have imposed on him, and it’s by no means the only one on my mind (the role of abortion in these vaccines, for example, is abominable).  It is, however, the one closest to my own conscience. It is my hope that our pastors and overseers will willingly uses this and other rationales in religious exemption letters for the flock God has entrusted to him.

Article XVI of the Augsburg Confession states:

The Gospel teaches an eternal righteousness of the heart. At the same time, it does not require the destruction of the civil state or the family. The Gospel very much requires that they be preserved as God’s ordinances and that love be practiced in such ordinances. Therefore, it is necessary for Christians to be obedient to their rulers and laws. The only exception is when they are commanded to sin. Then they ought to obey God rather than man.

A Lutheran ought to love and obey the authorities which God has placed over us. But the state is not the only civil authority which God has established, for the Lutheran Confessions recognize the family alongside the state. The Gospel requires us to preserve both and it is necessary to be obedient to both. Our only exception is when such an authority commands us to sin.

It is precisely such a command to sin which I and many other Lutherans find in this attempt to mandate vaccinations against Covid-19 and its variants both for themselves and for their families.

Lutherans believe, teach, and confess that we are all called by God to certain offices or vocations in this life. We have therefore been given a moral obligation to fulfill them to the best of our ability. In fulfilling them, we are not robots or automatons following a script. Rather, In the course of these vocations, we must each exercise our best judgment with the wisdom God has given us.

Nevertheless, we remain accountable to our Lord from beginning to end for our actions. As Martin Luther himself found in exercising his own vocation as a Doctor of the Church, our consciences are bound to the Word of God. When he rejected the demands of many of the civil and religious authorities of his own day, he did not do so on his own account. Rather, he knew that he must obey the calling and commandments of Jesus Christ over and against any other authority. No Lutheran has any less of an obligation in the fulfilment of his own vocations.

Consider, therefore, the following Commandments our Lord & God has given us in Holy Scripture:

Thou Shalt not Murder

Our Confessions explain this commandment thusly: “We should fear and love God so that we may not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every bodily need.” (SC I 5)  What’s more, whenever we speak of loving the neighbors God has given us, the same rules naturally apply to ourselves as well, for our Lord said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31) Accordingly, this commandment pertains not only to the harm of others, but also to the harm of self.  We must highly regard the lives of everyone we encounter, but our own lives and those of our families remain our responsibility.

Therefore, each head of household must judge for himself whether or not his actions will support his household’s needs or cause bodily harm. Though it is impossible to altogether avoid such harm in this life, our responsibility requires us to weigh potential harm against potential benefit in the decisions we make.

Like all medical treatments, Covid vaccines bear both specific benefits as well as certain risks. Both of these can vary wildly from person to person. It is quite clear that some people are at great risk from Covid–the old, the infirm, the obese, and so forth. It is also quite clear that the virus poses very little risk to others–the young & healthy, the naturally immune, etc. It is therefore incumbent upon each of us to weigh the costs and benefits of these treatments as they pertain specifically to the lives under our care–including our own.

No mandate can absolve us of this responsibility. Anyone convinced that these treatments offer more bodily risk than reward would be guilty of violating the Fifth Commandment by administering it to his household over-and-against his own best judgment.

Thou Shalt Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother

As our Confessions explain regarding this Fourth Commandment:

God wants to have this included in this commandment when He speaks of father and mother. He does not wish to have rogues and tyrants in this office and government. He does not assign this honor to them, that is, power and authority to govern, so they can have themselves worshiped. But they should consider that they are obligated to obey God. First of all, they should seriously and faithfully fulfill their office, not only to support and provide for the bodily necessities of their children, servants, subjects, and so on, but most of all, they should train them to honor and praise God. Therefore, do not think that this matter is left to your pleasure and arbitrary will. This is God’s strict command and order to whom also you must give account for it. (LC I 168-169)

The bodily necessities of all those in our household are the first and most obvious responsibility that any parent has been given by God Himself. This is no less true when it comes to medicine than matters of food, shelter, and protection. Anyone convinced that a medicine is to the detriment of those under his care is therefore violating “God’s strict command and order” by administering it against his own best judgment.

What then of the State? As we’ve already established, mustn’t we maintain and obey government alongside family? Our confessions explain the relationship between these two civil authorities thusly:

In this commandment belongs a further statement about all kinds of obedience to persons in authority who have to command and to govern. For all authority flows and is born from the authority of parents. Where a father is unable alone to educate his rebellious and irritable child, he uses a school-master to teach the child. If he is too weak, he gets the help of his friends and neighbors. If he departs this life, he delegates and confers his authority and government upon others who are appointed for the purpose. (LC I 141)

Our respect for any earthly authority ultimately proceeds from God’s command that we honor our earthly parents. It is indeed parental authority from which any other earthly authority is delegated. When the state abdicates its responsibility to assist parents in the governance and support of their households and instead chooses to override and dominate them, it is the state which has put these two civil authorities into conflict. The state’s negligence and/or abuse in such matters does not abrogate God’s strict command to fathers and mothers to care for the well-being of their household, including themselves.

Therefore, if a head of household is convinced that his government, employer, or any other governing institution is demanding that he harm rather than provide for anyone in his household–including himself–he is obligated to obey God rather than man and disobey that errant institution. A Lutheran who is convinced otherwise about these vaccines may judge differently; but our faith and tradition demand that we be convinced–not compelled.

I stand convinced that receiving these vaccines is not in the best interests of my household. Accordingly, my faith and religion bind me against submitting to this mandate. In the words of Martin Luther, “Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me, amen.”

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17 Responses to A Lutheran Case for Religious Exemption

  1. philip says:

    I think we have sufficient evidence that the vaccine does not prevent transmission, at best it reduces symptoms, therefore the “love your neighbor” argument goes away – my taking the vaccine does not change my change of getting and then transmitting the COVID

    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2021/08/06/cdc_director_vaccines_no_longer_prevent_you_from_spreading_covid.html#!

    • Matt says:

      Absolutely correct, Philip. The “you need to get vaccinated for my sake” is more about submission to a forced unity than it is about neighborly love.

    • Homeless says:

      Sorry Philip, while you are correct that it doesn’t PREVENT transmission, it does reduce it. It does change your chance of getting and transmitting COVID. It doesn’t eliminate it, but it does improve it. You’re trying to give yourself an excuse for being a jerk. Get the vaccine. Love your neighbor more than your tribe.

      • manfred man says:

        Where is the evidence of that homeless? The pushers claim it does but in real world situations it has not shown to do any of these things. Israel is proof against everything you’ve been lied to and believed about this deadly shot.

      • manfred man says:

        Yea it changes your chance of catching and transmitting for the worse as we are now seeing more and more evidence of which goes against the lies your gods the government and big pharma along with big tech and mainstream media have been spouting while hiding the evil truth from the blind followers such as yourself.

      • manfred man says:

        Make me get the “vaccine” homeless. Is the name ironic or an accurate state brought on by other foolish choices you’ve made aside from so easily giving your body for an expiriment now clearly seen to be quite hazardous to many and numbers rising?

  2. John Hutchins says:

    This could certainly be valid if a mandate requires one’s spouse, children or parents to be vaccinated. Under the current situation in the USA, however, it does not apply as the mandate only applies to the worker himself. The 4th and 5th commandments are not commandments to self-preservation. For example the command to “provide for anyone in his household” does not include himself.

    • Matt says:

      Are you not a member of your own household? Does the 5th Commandment not forbid suicide?

      Jesus says to love your neighbor *as yourself*. Likewise, while you say that “‘provide for anyone in his household’ does not include himself,” Scripture says that anyone who does not work should not eat. Self-preservation is taken for granted as part of our responsibilities in Scripture. There is a peculiar brand of self-negation in modern Christianity that is in no way Biblical and is contrary to the responsibilities God has given us.

  3. manfred man says:

    Make me get the “vaccine” homeless. Is the name ironic or an accurate state brought on by other foolish choices you’ve made aside from so easily giving your body for an expiriment now clearly seen to be quite hazardous to many and numbers rising? Have you not seen the dismal results thus far?

  4. Cameron says:

    Our complete lack of faith is a huge issue here. While we’re not to be wantonly reckless with our lives or those of others, our faith in the next world tempers our fears of things like this that have always been with us and will always be with us.

    It’s very likely that very few people believe any more. Most of the remaining Christians are cultural Christians and we’re all tempted to this motivating influence.

    If you don’t believe in Kingdom come, don’t REALLY believe, this ever present threat that isn’t going anywhere is really scary. It’ll cut short your attachment to this world. And that’s all there is folks.

    It’s also a convenient means for neo-pharisees to deform Christ’s teachings to display their superior holiness. For the Christian left and the secular left.

    As a Catholic (yeah I know this is a Lutheran crowd) I’m confident this won’t be a mortal sin for me.

  5. Ruth Snyder says:

    There is a LOT of proof that the vaccines do harm.

    Listen to some of the interviews with doctors here.
    https://www.redvoicemedia.com/category/pc-radio/

    As far is an argument for religious exemption is concerned, our bodies are important to God. Tho He is not watching what we do in order to put a strike against us. So drop the whole religious stuff. If you are in Christ, your sins and stupid mistakes (such as participating in this experimental and highly risky vaccine) are forgiven and have been cast as far away from you as the east is from the west.
    But for your information, This is what God says in His Word, “… do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
    ??1 Corinthians? ?6:19-20? ?ESV??
    https://bible.com/bible/59/1co.6.19-20.ESV

    There really should be a form for conscientious objectors.

    And if you or your loved ones mistakenly got the jab, I suggest you either find some natural remedies for getting graphene oxide and parasites out of your system, and/or learn to believe God (by reading the New Testament) for the miraculous. OR prepare to meet your Maker in the next 3-5 years. What is The best way to be prepared? Read John 3:16 and believe it with all your heart. If you find it hard to believe, ask God to help you—I did when I was 16 years old, and I wasn’t disappointed! I have aspirants of salvation to this day. Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God!!!

    Concerning a miraculous ‘rescue’ from the vaccine, God’s Word says that nothing is impossible for him who believes. Jesus also said that “anyone who believes in Me will do the same works as I, and greater works will he do…” John 14:12 There are people in the greater body of Christ that have taken a hold of this promise and see it fulfilled in their lives. Seek them out if need be.

  6. EMILY MATTHEWS says:

    I would like to have seen mention of the fact that these gene therapy shots all use aborted babies in R&D and even in the shots themselves! “1000 Covid Stories” is a good resource that proves these shots do cause harm, even if they HADN’T used medical cannibalism to produce them. German, French, and Spanish drs that have tested their patients’ blood found the stacked-coins phenomenon in RBCs EVERY time. I know people that died from the shot.

  7. I consider myself to be a good Lutheran Christian. At first I did not want to get the vaccine, but having seen many cases of conscientious Christians getting Covid and dying from it, I decided I should get the vaccine. I did get the first shot and had a hefty reaction to it. Due to my circumstances, I declined a second
    Yes, the vaccines were tested, and some even used tissue from aborted babies’ cell lines. These cell lines have been around for a long while. I would refuse to take one that contained aborted tissue.
    One fallacy in the article is that young people, children, are not getting it. They are indeed very susceptible to the Delta variant and even infants are dying from it.
    Jesus, when placed on the pinnacle of the temple and told to jump by Satan, said “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” Neither should we.

    • Matthew Etzell says:

      The two situations are not comparable. Jumping from a great height typically results in severe injury or death; coronavirus almost never (less than .003% of cases) results in severe injury or death. One is not putting God to the test when one chooses not to get the jab.

  8. Cameron says:

    Lydia McGrew of What’s Wrong With the World has had a severe reaction to the Pfizer jab and has made contact with many people with the same experiences. This isn’t a random person I encountered on the internet. This is a writer I have followed closely for years.

    “The day life changed”

    “I had an extreme reaction to one dose of the Covid vaccine (Pfizer), which I received on April 14, and this has badly harmed my health. I was completely healthy prior to the shot and regularly walked 4 miles a day or more. As of now I appear to have an unnamed, mysterious disorder (probably autoimmune) which causes nerve inflammation and does not, in my case at least, respond to steroids. This condition is causing chronic, often severe pain and greatly reducing my activities. Symptoms like an allergic reaction began within about 12 hours of the shot (along with expected side effects like fatigue). I developed intermittent nerve pain within the next few days. Symptoms worsened to include major pain, nerve tingling and buzzing, and other problems over the following 3-4 weeks. So far no effective treatment has been found for me. It is unknown whether I will remain permanently where I am now, get better, or get worse. There is no clear trajectory of improvement.

    I recorded all of my symptoms independently for months until just a little while ago and was astonished at that point to get in touch with many other people in support groups who are separately reporting similar neurological reactions with variations. This has a grim fascination for me as an epistemologist.

    My symptoms are many and vary unpredictably. One major practical effect is that I cannot sit in a chair or even a partially reclined seat for more than a short time without significant pain.”

    http://whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2021/09/the_day_life_changed.html

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