Reposted from The Latter Day Conservative
Guest post by Samuel Smith
As drug manufacturers rush to create a vaccine for COVID-19, one question is sure to be on the minds of many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: “What is the Church’s position on vaccines?” Of course, many will point to the 1978 statement from the First Presidency wherein they stated: “We urge members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to protect their own children through immunization… Failure to act could subject untold thousands to preventable lifelong physical or mental impairment, including paralysis, blindness, deafness, heart damage and mental retardation.” Others will bring up the fact that since 2012, mass vaccination campaigns have been officially part of the Church’s humanitarian initiatives. Because of these facts, this is where the issue ends for many people. However, the questions most worthy of our consideration are these: What is God’s position on vaccines? Does He care? Is He in favor? Does He oppose? How can we know?
The answers to these questions, as I will argue, are yes, He does care and does have a position. The way that we can know is not only through “personal revelation”–for there is a chance we could be deceived by only relying upon such alone–but also through an appeal to the scriptures and prophetic teachings on the treatment of our bodies. So, let us examine some of these things.
Truth Should Be Confirmed By Scripture
First, we would do well to establish the fact that each of us is responsible for our own salvation and the path we chart. If we don’t know the doctrine found in the scriptures that lead the way to life and salvation, that is no fault of any leader–it is our own. Indeed, Church authorities have stressed time and again, that we each have the responsibility to discern truth for ourselves, by appealing to the scriptures. For example, Joseph Fielding Smith once proclaimed:
“It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside. My words, and the teaching of any other member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them. Let us have this matter clear. We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man’s doctrine. You cannot accept the books written by the authorities of the Church as standards in doctrine, only in so far as they accord with the revealed word in the standard works. If Joseph Fielding Smith writes something which is out of harmony with the revelations, then every member of the Church is duty bound to reject it. If he writes that which is in perfect harmony with the revealed word of the Lord, then it should be accepted” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, p. 203).
President Harold B. Lee taught this principle frequently as well. On one occasion, he affirmed:
“The scriptures are the standard by which to measure truth. All that we teach in this church ought to be couched in the scriptures. We ought to choose our texts from the scriptures, and wherever you have an illustration in the scriptures or a revelation in the Book of Mormon, use it, and do not draw from other sources where you can find it here in these books. We call these the standard Church works because they are standard. If you want to measure truth, measure it by the four standard Church works. If it is not in the standard works, you may well assume that it is speculation. It is man’s own personal opinion, to put it another way; and if it contradicts what is in the scriptures, you may know by that same token that it is not true. This is the standard by which you measure all truth. But if you do not know the standards, you have no adequate measure of truth” (Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 149).
With this idea in mind, who can point to the scriptural justification or rationale for vaccines? I have yet to find anything sufficiently and comprehensively convincing. On the contrary, as I will show, the justification for vaccines appears to rely more on the arm of flesh rather than on God. The scriptures repeatedly teach us to rely on God and His wisdom and not on the arm of flesh. In the Book of Mormon, Jacob proclaims:
“O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish” (2 Nephi 9:28).
In 2 Nephi 28, Nephi teaches us that “cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost” (2 Nephi 28:31). In the Old Testament, Jeremiah proclaimed: “Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord” (Jeremiah 17:5). Furthermore, again and again in scripture we are commanded to “live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4; D&C 84:44; D&C 98:11).
Clearly, if we want to establish the truth of any teaching or any principle, it must be rooted in the scriptures, relying upon the Lord and His wisdom and not on the wisdom of man.
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