Biblical arguments for and against use of cell lines such as HEK293 in vaccine development and manufacture

I am sorry that I have not been as active on here as I hoped I might and I do hope that I will not just sweep in here and ask for help when I need it as I am today! I have been challenged by a few people recently about the issue of the use of human cell lines which originated in long ago abortions in vaccine development and /or manufacture. I have been surprised that although my instinct is to say “yes” to these vaccines morally not least because of the idea of two decisions being both a bit bad and on the side of rejecting the vaccine much more harm could come than not somehow “approving” of an abortion which happened for different reasons decades ago. But what has surprised me is how little Bible gets quoted in the articles I have seen on this. I am therefore working up what I hope to be a fairly comprehensive article addressing why Christians can feel morally comfortable taking the COVID19 vaccines. Are any of you aware of articles that address this with Bible verses or if not can you think of verses that you think might be relevant on ether side of the coin? I had a look in the forum and could see some old decisions of this point but forgive me I couldn’t find any that addressed the Biblical arguments… If anyone can help me with a few suggestions that would be awesome. Thanks!

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Genesis 50:20. But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.

I sort of cringe to post this, as while it sounds quite appropriate, does take things out of context and is a sort of proof-texting. However, it as well as other verses support that God 's creation is good, and while evil exists, good can come from it, perhaps the ultimate example being Bathsheba being in the genealogy of Jesus.

I like it…thats going to make it into the final thing!

The verses that come to mind to me are the ones about straining at gnats and tithing a tenth of the spices while neglecting justice and the love of God.

The ethical arguments calling for avoiding the fetal cell vaccines are similar in some ways to arguments for reparations for slavery, though you would never hear the people who are so concerned about the fetal cell lines saying that White people should be denied anything that benefits them in the present because sins were committed in the past and their wealth is birthed from injustice.

Basically something immoral happened in the past and we have an opportunity in the present to benefit from a long causal chain that could be traced back to that immoral event. Does that make benefiting wrong? We benefit from land that was violently stolen from indigenous people. We benefit from companies and industries and social systems that were built on the backs of slave labor and colonial imperialism and oppression. Heck, we benefit from manufacturing practices that currently enslave children and pollute the world to the point of killing poor people who have to live in the degraded environments.

The only reason Christians are outraged over this vaccine issue is because abortion is such a politicized issue that generates passion that can be channeled in support of other issues. But feeling all righteous because you won’t take a vaccine that is tainted in your mind by a decades old abortion that would have happened anyway, while not taking any strong moral stand on much more clear issues of benefitting from evil is a Pharisaical look.

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Ever hear of Josef Mengele? He and others may have found advances in medicine, but they were not worth the price, and neither is using aborted baby parts, no matter how old.

“Those Jews are going to die, so we may as well use their bodies for something useful.”

I won’t take the vaccine, but the aborted cells are the least of why. No, maybe not the very least.

No “aborted baby parts” are used. Clearly you don’t understand what a cell culture is. It isn’t a person or a part of a person. The aborted baby has long since ceased to exist.

Basing moral arguments on ignorance of the actual situation isn’t all that effective.

As long as part of that baby’s body is still alive, it still belongs to that child. And they aren’t using old toenails that are inconsequential. If the DNA is still whole, they could clone that child, couldn’t they? Anyway, some vaccines still use baby cells including diploid lung fibroblasts.


The following isn’t directly applicable either, but I find it more to the heart of the matter.

Luke 17:1-2 Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!
2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

But we do benefit from certain medical knowledge derived from such experiments. Once knowledge has been obtained we cannot “unlearn” it.

Note that in each of these cell lines the whole DNA is NOT intact. Genetic modification is used to make the cells immortal and further genetic modification is used to cause them to manufacture proteins or entire viruses. The crucial point is that these cells could never be used to make a human baby. In fact in that sense they are less “human” than the skin cells we shed every day each of which at least in theory could be a source for a complete set of our DNA and a resultant clone of us which would have the same moral status as an identical twin.

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Thanks everyone for sharing. Some of the ideas made it into the final article. This is a real issue for some Christians so I’d love it if you could pop over read, comment, and if you like it consider sharing it on Social Media. Some Christians are going to turn down these vaccines for this reason. here is the link: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock/2021/01/are-covid-19-vaccines-made-from-aborted-babies-what-is-hek293/

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Thank you for your hard work putting it together. It is definitely something I will recommend my friends read who have questions on the issue.

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Thanks for the encouragement Phil. I was surprised how little biblical discussion I could find on this subject. Am bracing for the possible deluge of comments from those who disagree if anyone on here can jump over to social media and/or my comments section so I don’t feel bombarded if that does happen that would be awesome!

It happens all the time. We still can’t exactly copy Damascus steel or early katanas. Greek fire, how they cut stones for the pyramids, etc. All it would have taken would be to hang the doctors and burn their papers. And put these babies to rest.

Relevant comment and conversation here:

@Patrick_S

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Well, all the cells that were ever part of a baby are long dead. I don’t believe you understand what you are talking about.

And I don’t believe you have thought the matter through. Whether these embryos were killed 60 years ago or yesterday for stem cells, a child died to supply the material for these cell lines. They were not asked to contribute to science.

That’s not why the child died. The child was aborted by its mother, and in a separate decision, the tissue was donated to science instead of disposed of. The scientists never said, let’s find us a baby to kill so we can make vaccines.

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Didn’t they? Maybe not vaccines specifically, but whatever they felt like ‘researching’. What if there weren’t frozen embryos handy, do you think that would have stopped them?

How else do you think Planned Parenthood makes money by selling baby parts today?

The preliminary hearing for undercover journalist David Daleiden began Tuesday in California with Planned Parenthood admitting that it harvested aborted babies’ body parts and supplied them to human tissue procurement companies, according to the Center for Medical Progress.

After reading these contributions and the article, and letting it all sink in, my central take away is that the issue is analogous to the organ donor who was murdered that someone so aptly gave as an example. The donor suffered a terrible evil, but as a recipient of the donated organs, one is honoring the donor, not celebrating the evil. With the vaccines, receiving the vaccine should be seen as a way of honoring the life lost, and while it gives personal benefit, also is an act of service so as not to infect others and gives honor in that way also.

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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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