Australia, Lockdowns Targeted at the Unvaccinated - a Believer's Response?

Hello BioLogos Community,

In New South Wales, Australia, vaccinated people currently have many freedoms restored (we just came out of a 4 month lockdown). However, unvaccinated people have not been given the same freedoms. They will be given freedoms on either 15th Dec or when our state reaches 95% vaccinated adults (we’re sitting just over 90% now).

The government believes we are likely to hit a 95% vaccination rate in December, which is why they pushed back unvaccinated freedoms, to try to incentivize that higher rate. I figure the higher the vaccination rate when unvaccinated people get their freedoms back, the less deaths there will be as a result (saving lives has really been the main goal over here). Our NSW government has allowed unvaccinated people to go to church though, thankfully. So I wasn’t too concerned by this differentiation in freedoms while we try to reach that target.

However, I have noticed many of my Christian friends and family, vaccinated or unvaccinated, are pretty much done with the restrictions. They’re just not following them anymore if they can get away with it. They are meeting in homes, posting the photos on social media, and inviting unvaccinated people into large groups, despite current emergency restrictions.

This surprised me. I thought as Christians, they would be more careful to follow Government Restrictions not because of their respect for government (which many don’t have anymore) but because of their respect for God. If you’re a Christian you know what I mean by this. We follow the government unless the government are blatantly going against one of God’s commands.

In order for their conscience to allow this disregard of the current emergency laws, they must believe the government are going against God’s commands somehow. I’m not sure exactly what the Biblical argument for this would be, I imagine it is something to do with showing favoritism.

Some of these friends view our government’s decision as a totalitarian one, and they put the unvaccinated into the same category as the Jews in WWII. So they think by allowing unvaccinated people into their homes and events, they are being the good Christians. So I’m feeling really awkward trying to follow rules at the moment.

I’d appreciate a bit of feedback on this tricky situation. Does the government have good enough reason to make this social distinction considering the data on vaccines? Or is there something I might be missing here?

Thanks in advance!

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Hello sister.

I am new in the faith, living in Victoria, Australia.

I’m with you. Render unto Caesar, in order to maintain the order and the separation of church and state.

I was quite political before I came into faith. I still understand the worries and interests of those in different corners of politics, but, I think for most they are a perverse distraction. A focus of anxieties that believers would be better surrendering to God about.

Collaboration between religion and politics really bothers me, because, politicians have always been self-interested, and always will be. And in recent years – new in our part of the world but definitely influenced by US developments – political agents seem to deliberately incite anxiety and to invoke religious identification (including anti-religious identification) in service of their power missions.

I look at the Australian Christian Lobby and see Nebuchadnezzar pretending to be Daniel, Pilate pretending to be Jesus, Herod pretending to be Paul. Our Scriptures are better than painting the government side of those as devoid of value. And yet the example is quite clear… Let them look after the aqueducts while we do God’s work.

As a new believer I’m not in a position to preach, but, I think this is a good article from our neck of the woods, not on Covid but on another matter that has been an issue for Christians. This came after the author spent a lot of time opposing ALP initiatives on religious freedom issues Thank God for Labor - Eternity News

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Everyone is to be in submission to the authorities whether you are a born again believer or a non believer

Obey government unless the governing authorities tell you to sin

Obey authority so you don’t experience the wrath of the authorities

We cannot reform the system of the world.

We are being baited everyday to take the bait and have our minds occupied with the things of the world and away from Christ.

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This thing about submitting to authority has a rather rancid taste in Hong Kong.

Doesnt sound like the Spirit of 76 either.

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I would think that obeying the authorities in matters of public health and welfare would be not only Christian but reasonable for non-Christians also. Especially so when not excessively burdensome. However, many here in the states disagree, and feel any inconvenience is too much. So much for carrying the cloak the extra mile.
It is remarkable that you have achieved such a high vaccination rate there, and it is interesting that the government is still worried. Once vaccination availability was high here, I personally eased up on precautions, feeling that people made their choice, so can’t preach too much about it, difference being that our state government in all its wisdom outlawed masks and social distancing essentially.

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Outlawed social distancing?! The introvert’s dystopian nightmare! … “You there! I see you’re standing a bit too far away from everyone else. Come in here and get in with the crowd! This is your final warning!”

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Yep, sounds like here. Many Christians got together without masks even when we were under a mask mandate (we aren’t anymore), and our church didn’t follow or encourage anyone to follow rules (which is a contributing factor to us not currently attending there). I think our sense of “rugged individualism” influences our faith more than we’d like to admit, and maybe it’s more common in rural areas where people are used to more freedoms in some ways. But I think a lot of people just took the “Let us not give up meeting together” verse in Hebrews to mean they could just do whatever they wanted without restriction.

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Well, that was artistic license. It just seems that way to introverts. And actually outlawed mandated masking, not masking itself.

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Our societies already have plenty of laws related to human health and safety. Look at driving–we have lots of laws concerning driving. We have laws concerning parenting. We have laws concerning the environment and animal care. We have laws against public urination. It’s part of being social. Why should the deadly plague be any different?

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According to the NY Times, Over 10,000 Australians seek compensation over vaccines, despite low reports of adverse effects. It is unclear how a few hundred recorded cases of adverse effects have led to 10,000 registrations of interest in the compensation program.

Dear DaughterOfEve

As a fellow Aussie Christian in a place with similar restrictions I’m absolutely with you on your interpretation of what a Christian’s approach should be, obeying government restrictions as they are put in place for the welfare and safety of others.

I know the restrictions have been tough to live through and especially young people long for life to return to normal, but think there are two or three categories of those who resist the current restrictions.

Those who break the rules for the sake of heroically making a point about “freedom” are at best, not thinking very straight and at worst just plainly selfish. Their “freedom” to enjoy life as normal in the short-term means others, at more risk from serious consequences of Covid, have less freedom, perhaps even the freedom to live many more years. And yes, there are many of us and our lives are valuable, thanks.

Then there are those who have been sucked into a conspiracy theory. For them, the seriousness of the pandemic has been grossly inflated by governments (apparently this involves all the governments of the world including Chinese, Soviet and Cuban communists, Muslims, and western democracies). This apparently is in order for governments to put themselves in debt for decades, badly damage their economies, wreck supply lines, exacerbate food shortages and cause civil unrest. Without saying, it all has something to do with the anti-Christ and setting up a one-world government.

This is all based on the belief by this second group that they have some secret knowledge of how the world works which we other unintelligent and blind people cannot see, so that any attempt to persuade them otherwise is pointless. Yes, I have an old friend now among them. To her I am a sleeping sheep or something.

I fear a third group of those who blatantly break the current laws and restrictions just want to cause trouble for governments. These include anarchists or those completely puzzling “sovereign citizens” who claim not to be subject to any government or laws. Presumably these people still want clean running water, hospitals, properly qualified dentists and expect others to drive on the correct side of the road.

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Definitely a false nobility, and we see it among Christians in other areas, notably in YECism supporting a strictly literal reading of early Genesis.

For some reason, I dislike being enlightened as to my being oblivious that the world is ending right now.

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Amazingly, I note Australia had a total of less than 2000 total deaths from Covid to date, and while is having a surge, had about 1000 new cases and 10 deaths today. In comparison, my state of Texas had well over a 1000 new cases and 94 deaths today, and we are happy it is that few, as the big Delta surge seems nearly over.

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I don’t know the Australian Constitution (or whatever governing documents exist), so it is difficult for me to assess what is appropriate there.

In the US, following the leaders as commanded in scriptures could be interpreted as following either the leaders or the Constitution. I think the Constitution is the higher authority, as elected officials have sworn or affirmed their obligation to follow the Constitution.

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Here in the U.S. I’ve been horribly disappointed at the response of most who are vocal about their faith. Early in this mess, I started to look for guidance from pastors who endured earlier plagues and ran across Luther’s letter:

I have found this to be an excellent guide both for his theology as well as his views that are not informed in any way by the baggage of American christian culture.
I’ve shared this article with many people. I’m our church’s librarian and put a link to it in our catalog. I’ve encouraged other people to look at his guidance and discuss it. I don’t believe it has made any difference at all.

Keep doing what God’s word instructs you to do. Pray for encouragement and strength. It’s really hard to keep going, when you feel unsupported, or opposed by the people who should be your support.
I’m sorry you’re exeriencing this, too.

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Do not follow a multitude to do evil.

The trouble is which multitude?!

Even in Merrie Olde Englande there are two close members of our family who are free with their advice that we shouldn’t get vaccinated or use microwaves. I’m off for my booster in an hour. Back to nuke lunch. I won’t mention it.

The following paragraphs seem especially relevant:

"Others sin on the right hand. They are much too rash and reckless, tempting God and disregarding everything which might counteract death and the plague. They disdain the use of medicines; they do not avoid places and persons infected by the plague, but lightheartedly make sport of it and wish to prove how independent they are. They say that it is God’s punishment; if he wants to protect them he can do so without medicines or our carefulness. This is not trusting God but tempting him. God has created medicines and provided us with intelligence to guard and take good care of the body so that we can live in good health.

If one makes no use of intelligence or medicine when he could do so without detriment to his neighbor, such a person injures his body and must beware lest he become a suicide in God’s eyes. By the same reasoning a person might forego eating and drinking, clothing and shelter, and boldly proclaim his faith that if God wanted to preserve him from starvation and cold, he could do so without food and clothing. Actually that would be suicide. It is even more shameful for a person to pay no heed to his own body and to fail to protect it against the plague the best he is able, and then to infect and poison others who might have remained alive if he had taken care of his body as he should have. He is thus responsible before God for his neighbor’s death and is a murderer many times over. Indeed, such people behave as though a house were burning in the city and nobody were trying to put the fire out. Instead they give leeway to the flames so that the whole city is consumed, saying that if God so willed, he could save the city without water to quench the fire.

No, my dear friends, that is no good. Use medicine; take potions which can help you; fumigate house, yard, and street; shun persons and places wherever your neighbor does not need your presence or has recovered, and act like a man who wants to help put out the burning city. What else is the epidemic but a fire which instead of consuming wood and straw devours life and body? You ought to think this way: “Very well, by God’s decree the enemy has sent us poison and deadly offal. Therefore I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely, as stated above. See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.

…But if some are too panicky and desert their neighbors in their plight, and if some are so foolish as not to take precautions but aggravate the contagion, then the devil has a heyday and many will die. On both counts this is a grievous offense to God and to man — here it is tempting God; there it is bringing man into despair."

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Off to get my booster in a bit. We can compare side effects.

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Thanks for reading this. I was amazed at how the more things change the more they stay the same. Luther could have written this yesterday, really.
I think his warnings about treating our own lives frivolously is an important corrective, reminding us that suicide is a sin.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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