Texas pastor and author Robert Jeffress is encouraging pro-life Christians to consider taking the COVID-19 vaccine, saying it's consistent with a pro-life ethic of selflessness and considering the needs of others.
Jeffress also says it "bothers" him to hear evangelicals argue "my body, my choice" with the vaccine.
"That's what the pro-abortion people say," Jeffress said.
Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, made the comments in a new interview with theologian Curtis Change for the website ChristiansAndTheVaccine.com.
Asked what Christians should consider when deciding whether to take the vaccine, Jeffress responded by discussing his pro-life beliefs.
"I think somebody who is as pro-life and outspoken on that, as I am, has a duty to be consistent with that. I believe if we are intent on protecting life inside the womb, which I am, we need to also be careful to value life outside the womb and do everything we can to preserve it," he said.
Jeffress then quoted Philippians 2:3-4, saying it's the "controlling passage" for him on the issue.
"'Do not merely look out for your own personal interest,' Paul said, 'but also look out for the interest of others. Have this attitude in yourself, which was in Christ Jesus,' who gave Himself, was crucified for our sin payment.
"And I think that's something that the evangelical community needs to be reminded of. It's not just about me; it's about us," Jeffress said. "And, if we're really Christians, we need to think about the wellbeing of those we come in contact with – spiritually and physically as well. You know, Jesus came to earth to die for us, not for His benefit, but for ours. And we're to have that same attitude toward other people as well.
"What really bothers me," Jeffress added, "is the number of evangelicals I've heard adopt this mantra: my body, my choice. That's what the pro-abortion people say."
Christians, he said, should instead have the belief that "it's not just about me."
"And so when I weigh that, it makes sense for me to encourage other people to have the vaccine," he said. "I might not need it. I may not need the vaccine. I may not contract the disease, or it may be a very low-grade infection I have. But what about that person I come in contact with? I have no idea how I might affect and perhaps even harm them. And that's why I think Christians need to think seriously about taking this vaccine."
Jeffress said he received the first dose of the vaccine in January but nearly missed his appointment because he had to take a call from President Trump, who was calling from Air Force One. Jeffress, chuckling, said he nearly "almost missed my exit to the vaccine site" due to the phone call. He received his second dose in March. Trump was vaccinated in January.
"I have been praying like millions of Christians have been praying for a cure to this pandemic," Jeffress said. "... As a pastor, I saw [COVID-19] take the lives of many of my church members. I saw heartbreaking situations where families had to say goodbye to their loved ones using FaceTime. We saw our church not able to meet for a period of time because of this. We were praying for an end of this pandemic, and I saw this vaccine as an answer to that prayer. And no vaccine is perfect, but I believe that looking at the odds, I would be much better off taking the vaccine than ignoring it. So, it was really a no-brainer for me."
Photo courtesy: ©Dr. Robert Jeffress Facebook page
Video courtesy: ©Redeeming Babel
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.