Vaccination is Biblical
God said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” – Numbers 21:8 (NRSV)
Vaccination is the topic du jour. Facebook is packed with posts of people displaying vaccine cards, prompting “vaccine envy” from some and skepticism from others.
Vaccines have been around since the 1700s when Edward Jenner, a European scientist, found that an inactive copy of a disease could stimulate the body’s immune system to fight back. Jenner learned this “like curing like” technique from an enslaved African named Onesimus.
“Like curing like” has biblical precedent. For Israelites bitten by a plague of serpents, the cure was a serpent-copy on a staff (instead of in a syringe). It was the first vaccine.
Would billboards and memes about the biblical roots of vaccination help those infected by conspirituality, a contagious blend of conspiracy theory and pseudo spirituality? Perhaps “like curing like” could also be effective against a plague of misinformation and unbiblical bull. If so, you just received your first dose.
Not everyone took advantage of Moses’ snake bite vaccine and it didn’t end well for them. I sincerely hope today’s anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers fare better. For Moses and for us, mass vaccination is the surest way of like curing like and of neighbor loving neighbor.
Blessed are You, who provide ways through the wilderness with a serpent on a staff and with science in a syringe.
Matt Laney is the Senior Pastor of Virginia Highland Church UCC in Atlanta, GA and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first two books, The Spinner Prince and The Four Guardians are available now.