I’ll take a swing at it.
When I first began pastoring I looked into the Religious Exemption from Social Security. At the time the basic gist was that you had to be religiously opposed to receiving public benefits. The wording made it quite clear that it couldn’t be a conscientious objection.
Well, I was pretty sure then and remain convinced today that I could have invested that 15.2% in a more wise and helpful manner than the government. I was also convinced then that I didn’t think it wise for the government to be involved in things such as compulsory payment into such a program. I also was convinced that the ill-advised direction of the government to help since FDR was a series of worse and worse decisions. If I were a member of Congress I would work to repeal those things.
In other words, I think it is wrong that I must pay 15.2% for the government to give me back some (or all, or more) than that at the end of my life. They have no business in it to begin with but they are certainly out of line to require it.
But, the wording made it very clear that the exemption wasn’t for those who thought it unwise, but for those who were religiously opposed to receiving government assistance. That is a much harder case to make. You’d have to be opposed to government backed loans for housing, school, and a host of other things. You would have to think them not just unwise but striking at the heart of religion.
It is hard to make such a case with the Old Testament sitting there with pagan governments paying for religious works. It might not be a good decision, but it isn’t anti-God.
But the problem is, my understanding of what is wise is Biblically informed. I didn’t learn it in a secular ethics course. I came to those beliefs because of the Bible.
So, am I opposed to government backed insurance? Yes. It is not good in an ultimate sense. Am I religiously opposed? No, because God has put sovereigns over me that say to pay the tax. And that tax, they tell me, is for my good. I think they’re wrong. But they have commanded and it is not wrong to pay it. The government is trying to help its many children, many of whom would be utterly destitute if not for SSA, to have a bite of bread before they did.
Now, back to vaccines. There are differences, to be sure, but as has been demonstrated before, vaccine mandates are not new. The government may be wrong in its administration of its medicine, but it is trying to keep its citizens from dying.
Have you ever told your son to walk it off only to find out his foot is broken? (I have.) Have you ever resisted taking your child into the doctor and when you did find out they had a simple ear infection and they could’ve been made well days ago? (I have.) Have you ever forced the doctor to see your child because you were concerned and it turned out to be nothing? (I have.) Has a doctor ever missed something life threatening and wanted to send your infant home to their death? (Ours did.)
We make mistakes with everything even when we are trying to be godly. The government makes mistakes all the time with the authority it has been given. That doesn’t mean it is religious because you’d do it differently. It just means they are wrong. If that is the test of whether to obey then we’re all sunk.
(It should be noted that the SSA Religious Exemption is dramatically different than just a few years ago. I’m assuming because of The Affordable Care Act, you have to be opposed to public and private insurance. And it has to be documented historically. See here: SSA Handbook � 1128)