A few days after I proposed to Annie, I promised her I wouldn’t let vaccine mandates keep me from marrying her.
She didn’t ask me to make that promise. She didn’t ask me to get the vaccine for her. She would never ask me to. She loves God too much for that — she loves me too much for that. Annie doesn’t insist on her own way.
I made that promise because earlier that week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government would introduce a vaccine mandate that would ban unvaccinated people like me from air travel in Canada.
Trudeau made the announcement four months ago in August, and it was enforced last month.
Because of that, unless I get the vaccine — I cannot marry Annie.
Annie and I are in the middle of planning our wedding. We’re supposed to get married in the spring. However, before that can happen, I need to travel 3,404 kilometres — or 2,115 miles — to the other side of the country for a 5-minute visa appointment in January.
Because of delays over COVID restrictions, Annie and I have been waiting for the appointment for 2 years. If I miss the appointment — the next available visa appointment is in February 2023.
And even if I manage to travel 3,400 kilometres without boarding a plane, I would need air travel to visit Annie in Ohio, anyway. As of last month, Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates banned unvaccinated Canadians from driving through the American border.
Annie and I were concerned this would happen. It seemed inevitable. That's why I promised her I wouldn’t let the vaccine mandates become the latest barrier between us.
I desperately do not want the vaccine, but I desperately want to be with Annie. My hate for vaccine mandates doesn’t surpass my love for her. So forced between remaining unvaccinated or remaining unmarried: I’ll choose to marry Annie.
I told her I’m willing to lose anything over the vaccine — except her. I’m not willing to lose a wife over the vaccine.
Before I proposed to Annie in August, we hadn’t seen each other for 2 years. COVID restrictions and travel issues kept us apart for 673 days between October 2019 to August 2021.
I couldn’t visit Annie in Ohio and she couldn’t visit me in Ontario. And yet, for every second of that excruciating time — she patiently waited on God for me.
I don’t want her to wait another 2 years for me. She’s made many sacrifices for me, I’m happy to make little sacrifices for her.
Still, from August — I decided to wait till the first week of December to get vaccinated. I hoped lawsuits over Trudeau’s vaccine mandate for air travel would compel Canada’s Federal Court to deem the mandate unconstitutional. But that, of course, didn’t happen.
Instead, 2 days before the federal government enforced the vaccine mandate for air travel—and especially, on the week when I had to get my first shot of the vaccine in order to be considered “fully vaccinated” in time to travel for my visa appointment: I tested positive for COVID.
So now, I didn’t simply have to get the vaccine — I had to get the vaccine immediately after I had COVID.
I was already concerned about the potential short-term and long-term effects of the vaccine — now my concerns were magnified. I know people who’ve had serious side effects from the vaccine. I’ve shared some of their stories in an article.
I worried, for instance, that since the vaccine is known to cause heart problems for some men around my age — getting the vaccine immediately after my body was weakened with COVID could make me even more vulnerable to that side-effect.
The virus, clearly, wasn’t a threat to my health. But I can’t say the same about the vaccine. I am young, and I’m relatively healthy. That’s why I lost my mild COVID symptoms after 2 days. The virus isn’t a threat to me. But the vaccine has been proven to be a threat to some people like me.
And yet, because of the federal government’s vaccine mandate — I was forced into getting the first shot of the vaccine immediately after I had COVID.
It’s absurd: I was forced into getting a vaccine for a virus I have become immune to.
But I wasn’t merely concerned about how the vaccine could hurt my body, I was also concerned about how it would hurt my mind. This is because the most important reason why I didn’t want the vaccine is because I didn’t want to sin against God.
I am not suggesting people who get the vaccine are guilty of sin. I’ve said in the past people have a righteous basis for getting the vaccine — and people have a righteous basis for not getting the vaccine.
I had a righteous basis for refusing the vaccine. I do not believe the supposed benefits of the vaccine outweigh its potential health risks for my body — especially after I had COVID. I have legitimate reasons to believe the vaccine could harm my body. Therefore considering my concerns, I did not believe it glorifies God for me to get the vaccine (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
And though getting the vaccine isn’t sinful, these types of vaccine mandates are. COVID passports and mandates are designed to “help” people by harming others. These vaccine mandates are a clear example of partiality and discrimination. They are not merely authoritarian, they are evil.
I’m deeply disturbed by that. If I’m getting a vaccine, it should be because I believe it’s best for my health. If I’m getting a vaccine, it should be because I would be glorifying God with my body. I do not want to get the vaccine in obedience to an evil mandate. I do not want to get the vaccine to satisfy oppressive policies.
Yet immediately after I had COVID, I walked into my local pharmacy and I received my first shot of the vaccine. They didn’t ask me about my medical history, including my history with COVID. They simply instructed me to sign a simple form, then they pushed the needle into my arm.
Did I violate my conscience? Did I sin?
Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t think so?
Maybe that’s because I’m deceiving myself. Maybe I’m justifying myself, but I don’t think I am.
If it’s Christlike for a husband to sacrifice his life for his wife — is it sinful for me to risk my health for my fiancé? Is it sinful for me to comply with an evil mandate so I could obey God’s law about men cleaving to a wife?
Either way, I’m grateful I can entrust myself to a gracious and faithful God.
I made my decision. And it’s bittersweet. But truly, it’s much more sweet than bitter. After all, Lord willing, I’m a few weeks away from holding my soon-to-be bride in Ohio. I don’t regret that.
That’s why — she’s why I got the vaccine after I had COVID.
Originally published at Slow to Write.
Samuel Sey is a Ghanaian-Canadian who lives in Brampton, a city just outside of Toronto. He is committed to addressing racial, cultural, and political issues with biblical theology, and always attempts to be quick to listen and slow to speak.