Communal Over Individual

There are (at least) 3 biblical tests for checking the quality of our loving our neighbor.


The primary Western and American way of thinking about ourselves is by the concept of the individual. I tend to understand my identity through self-determination, my own thoughts, choices, preferences, etc. I tend to think that if I or others belong to a group (rich, poor, fat, skinny, midwestern, west coast, etc.), its because of my own choices, not the choices of those before me (ancestry) or around me (culture).

This is dramatically different than the biblical worldview. Biblical authors and audiences thought of themselves primarily as part of a community. They understood their place in life not primarily through their own choices, but by the collective choices and forces of their community (both past and present).

So, when thinking about “loving neighbor as myself,” to revert to talk of “personal choice,” “doing my OWN research,” “individual conscience,” is nonsense, biblically speaking. Moreover, as I think about care, I am intended to consider the needs of the many as greater than the needs of self.

“In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Phil 2:3-4)


Throughout Scripture, there is a recurring theme of God’s covenant people needing to be a light to the world. How others perceive us matters, because it’s how others will perceive God.

“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).

Church elders are to “Have a good reputation with outsiders so that they will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.”

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders.” (Col 4:5)

“May your daily life win the respect of outsiders.” (1 Thess 4:12)


Finally, Christians are to be known as those who are willing to give of themselves—even put themselves into harms way—in order to care for others.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).

“If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two.” (Matthew 5:40-41).


The vast, vast majority of the scientific community believes that vaccines (including the COVID vaccines) help prevent the spread of COVID; dramatically decrease hospitalizations and death; and (bonus!) help you not get sick either. The vast majority of the global and American population believes this is true and has acted accordingly.

On the other hand, white evangelical Christians are among the most likely to refuse the vaccine. They see the vaccine as more a threat than covid.

This means that that demographic has failed all 3 biblical tests above. 1) When people decide that they know better than actual epidemiologists and scientists, that means that they believe their individual research and understanding is superior to the community’s. 2) Christians have gained a reputation as selfish, ignorant, and individualistic jerks who care more about their bad theology than caring for others. 3) The vaccine-hesitant tend to also avoid other COVID prevention matters (masking and staying home while sick), which means they appear to be unable to do anything even slightly self-sacrificial for the sake of caring for others.

Anthony Parrott

Anthony Parrott

Washington, DC