It wasn’t long ago (2015) that David French was arguing against liberalism in the church and for religious liberty of conscience. Fast forward a little bit (2019), and David French is advocating for our God-given liberty to be used as a license for immorality (Jude 4) and for the noble character of the abject failure that is President Joe Biden.
Fast forward to the era of forced vaccination, and David French finds himself mindlessly shilling for the destruction of personal liberty at the request of an ever-more-powerful and godless government. French purports to speak for evangelical Christianity while instead acting as an apologist for the religion of the state. He is too smart to claim ignorance and instead is most certainly acting out of malice. His “civil society is morally neutral” political theology is – at best – controlled opposition, and at worst a deeply damaging false religion lulling believers into taking off the full armor of God and putting down the sword of the Spirit at the very moment the enemy is at the gates. His role in societal and evangelical discourse is to lecture pew-sitting evangelicals from his ivory tower on the virtues of biblically divorced, state libertinism (masquerading as political libertarianism), generational guilt for systemic racism, and now the “neighbor-loving” virtues of vaccine mandates.
Earlier today, French published a piece on the never-Trump and Baby Murderer Biden-enabling The Dispatch entitled “It’s Time to Stop Rationalizing and Enabling Evangelical Vaccine Rejection.” For those who don’t know, The Dispatch is the brainchild of largely irrelevant “conservatives” Jonah Goldberg, Stephen Hayes, and Toby Stock – founded after Hayes allowed the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard to fizzle into non-existence as real conservatives grew tired of their self-indulgent never-Trumpism. French joined the rest of the Never Trumpers there in 2019, where he is a senior editor and current
darling stooge of the liberal evangelical elite – palling around with the likes of fake conservatives Russell Moore and Al Mohler. While he has historically litigated for religious liberty, his current relevance (versus the rest of his Dispatch comrades) stems from his position as the go-to “respectable” evangelical apologist for state power and cowardly Christian capitulation.
In French’s article, he starts by parroting the now denied state claim that the vaccine stops the spread of the virus and laments that evangelical rank-and-file are not falling for the lie that asserting one’s medical freedom (and thus standing up for the medical freedom of their fellow citizens) is “gravely wrong and dangerous to the lives and health of their fellow citizens.” How a person failing to take a vaccine has any bearing on another’s life or health is a question French is neither willing nor able to answer in light of mounting data demonstrating that vaccines do not stop or slow the spread of respiratory diseases, neither is he willing to call something “gravely wrong” a sin lest he is forced to defend his absurd position with actual scripture.
At issue is whether or not an employer has the right to force vaccines on its employees, and whether religious convictions can be appealed to by an employee seeking to remain unvaccinated and employed. Employers “mandate” many things as conditions of employment – what we wear, how we operate, when we do our work – that are material to the job at hand. Yet issues of personal liberty – what we eat, where we live, who we marry – are issues of individual conscience, and employers would be rightly forbidden from usurping this authority for themselves as a pretext for employment. The God-given rights of life and liberty are unquestionably instituted by the biblical prohibitions against murder and theft (among others within the Ten Commandments) as well as the liberty necessarily implied by an individual’s responsibility to respond to God.
So are vaccines analogous to an employee safety protocol (like requiring hand washing before returning to food preparation) or a personal medical choice (like taking a flu shot)? Is taking a vaccine an issue of communal necessity, or one of freedom of conscience? Christians calling for religious exemptions see the violation of conscience that is compelled vaccination – a usurpation of the autonomy that rightly allows them to honor God in bodily submission (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). To Christians, the body rightly falls under God’s jurisdiction, not an employer or a government.
In arguing for vaccination as a community responsibility, French predictably returns to the Faucian trough of disinformation and noble lies, claiming that “it is clear that much (though certainly not all) of our remaining refusal problem is not one of information but one of moral formation itself.” He fails to acknowledge the censorship, de-platforming, and de-personing of any doctor or scientist not towing the government line and instead places the blame for liberty-insistent Christians refusing the vaccine on our lack of moral formation, with no respect at all for the conscience of Christians as ministered to by the Holy Spirit. French says we’re not getting vaccinated because we don’t know the difference between right and wrong.
Then he steps in it by appealing to the great reformer Martin Luther.
Like the COVID-fearful liberals at Christianity Today and Relevant Magazine, French idiotically appeals to Martin Luther’s letter to Johann Hess to argue for the righteousness of vaccine mandates (even though vaccines didn’t exist in the 16th century), claiming that Luther’s decision to engage in basic hygienic precautions during the plague even as he continued to minister was proof that Christians were morally obligated to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Never mind the fact that Luther was in the midst of Bubonic Plague – a bacterial infection that does not spread from person to person and is not slowed by vaccination, rendering Luther’s recommended precautions of fumigation, air purification, and social distancing entirely useless.
It is incumbent on the Christian to take care of themselves, including by taking medicine “in order not to become contaminated” (a nice definition of a vaccine before vaccines were invented). To the extent that he or she takes risks, those risks should be on behalf of others. As a person created in the image of God, taking care of yourself is an independent good. Taking care of yourself so that you can care for others is an even nobler good.
To David French, we should take care of ourselves in order to be available to take care of others, but we shouldn’t have the liberty to determine how we take care of ourselves. That’s for the government and smarter people like David French to decide for us.
Ironically and in a direct and stinging rebuke to French and his ilk, the thrust of Luther’s letter to Hess is actually one of Christian liberty and freedom of conscience. Luther writes of Christians who ministered in the face of plague versus those who chose to flee in fear, choosing not to judge either position:
To begin with, some people are of the firm opinion that one need not and should not run away from a deadly plague. Rather, since death is God’s punishment, which he sends upon us for our sins, we must submit to God and with a true and firm faith patiently await our punishment. They look upon running away as an outright wrong and as lack of belief in God. Others take the position that one may properly flee, particularly if one holds no public office.
I cannot censure the former for their excellent decision. They uphold a good cause, namely, a strong faith in God, and deserve commendation because they desire every Christian to hold to a strong, firm faith. It takes more than a milk faith to await a death before which most of the saints themselves have been and still are in dread. Who would not acclaim these earnest people to whom death is a little thing? They willingly accept God’s chastisement, doing so without tempting God, as we shall hear later on.
Since it is generally true of Christians that few are strong and many are weak, one simply cannot place the same burden upon everyone.
Later in the letter, Luther encouraged Christian ministry in the face of death:
Those who are engaged in a spiritual ministry such as preachers and pastors must likewise remain steadfast before the peril of death. We have a plain command from Christ, “A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep but the hireling sees the wolf coming and flees” (John 10:11). For when people are dying, they most need a spiritual ministry which strengthens and comforts their consciences by word and sacrament and in faith overcomes death.
And in near-direct opposition to the David French-ian position that fearfully submitting to COVID lockdowns, distancing, and vaccines is loving our neighbors, Luther warns Christians against protecting themselves from disease lest we fail to love:
It is not forbidden but rather commanded that by the sweat of our brow we should seek our daily food, clothing, and all we need and avoid destruction and disaster whenever we can, as long as we do so without detracting from our love and duty toward our neighbor. How much more appropriate it is therefore to seek to preserve life and avoid death if this can be done without harm to our neighbor, inasmuch as life is more than food and clothing, as Christ himself says in Matthew 6:25. If someone is so strong in faith, however, that he can willingly suffer nakedness, hunger, and want without tempting God and not trying to escape, although he could do so, let him continue that way, but let him not condemn those who will not or cannot do the same.
Luther also answered the question of whether the Christian response to the threat from disease should differ from our response to the threat of persecution:
Yes, you may reply, but these examples do not refer to dying by pestilence but to death under persecution. Answer: Death is death, no matter how it occurs. According to Holy Scripture God sent his four scourges: pestilence, famine, sword, and wild beasts. If it is permissible to flee from one or the other in clear conscience, why not from all four?
Luther consistently sets up God as the authority over life and death, and obedience to Him the Christian duty over every other concern:
We must pray against every form of evil and guard against it to the best of our ability in order not to act contrary to God, as was previously explained. If it be God’s will that evil come upon us and destroy us, none of our precautions will help us. Everybody must take this to heart: first of all, if he feels bound to remain where death rages in order to serve his neighbor, let him commend himself to God and say, “Lord, I am in thy hands; thou hast kept me here; thy will be done. I am thy lowly creature. Thou canst kill me or preserve me in this pestilence in the same way as if I were in fire, water, drought, or any other danger.”
David French, on the other hand, deferred to state power and “science” in response to COVID-19, arguing that as long as the state had a compelling interest (controlling a pandemic) and “the science says that being in a room with a bunch of people facilitates the spread of the disease” (hint: it always does and will continue to), the government can close our churches and religious liberty doesn’t matter. French encouraged pastors to abandon the flock in the face of peril. He continues to act as a faithful, cowardly fool for the state, deferring to secular bureaucrats every single time in the name of Christian love no matter how often they lie to us or how much authority they wrongfully usurp.
French has the nerve to accuse Christians who rightly stand up for the individual right to choose one’s medical treatment (along with Martin Luther) of libertinism because we do not accept his warped state-worship that makes government the determiner of godliness rather than the subject of it. French’s worldview is one that sees liberty in Drag Queen Story Hour, but libertinism and immorality in a person being able to choose their own medical treatments.
David French is a modern-day Pharisee, placing legal burdens on the shoulders of Christians that are not only biblically indefensible – he can’t even twist Martin Luther’s words to defend them.
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