Having walked through the first three principles practiced in Sanctuary Medical Care and Consulting, I turn my attention to one that may surprise you in certain ways. If we take the Bible seriously in what it says and consider it as God’s Word, we should apply it 7 days a week, not just in how we worship on Sundays. This includes how we care for ourselves in regards to medical choices. Easy enough so far – where is the surprise? The surprise lies in the fact that several medical therapy options available today expose patients to worldviews and beliefs that contradict Biblical teaching. Many Christians choose these therapies unaware of their spiritual implications. There lies the surprise.
If it works, what difference does it make? That is the purely pragmatic approach many take, closing their eyes to what worldview lies behind the therapy. They are suffering and they simply want to get better. Who can blame them? I definitely won’t judge those who are suffering, but I will try to encourage wise choices in my practice. Your medical choices do matter as much as other choices you make. Attending another religion’s rituals, especially participating in them, involves patients in disobedience to God’s Word. Likewise, applying medical therapies based on non-Christian worldviews can directly or indirectly lead to the same.
The direct forms of disobedience are more obvious and easier to choose against. For example, counseling or therapies which enlist spirit guides or connecting to the universal in nature should be blatant red flags. The Bible forbids “necromancy” or consulting the dead spirits. The Bible explains reality in terms of Himself as creator and we are creatures rather than all being part of some universal energy force. Still direct, but maybe a little less obvious are therapies which require the sacrificing of human life for their existence. This mainly regards therapies based on embryonic stem cell research. Using cells harvested from sacrificed human embryos involves patients in the murder of human life.
The indirect forms of not applying Biblical guidance to medical decisions are not usually as obvious. There are a few therapies which grew out of Eastern/New Age worldviews which contradict Biblical teaching, but their widespread acceptance often hides their roots. For example, many Christians look to Yoga for its health benefits. It has even been shown in studies to improve strength and flexibility, possibly lowering blood pressure as well. Christians assume their poses without awareness that at its very core, Yoga is intended in its poses to bring out life energy and control inner energy sources. Several great Christian authors have addressed this mixing of the physical and spiritual in Yoga, but its influence continues to grow. Another therapy which walks the line between science and worldview is accupuncture. Several studies have demonstrated its benefits in chronic pain. Anecdotally, it has been used for many other symptoms and diseases. The problem lies in that some accupuncturists approach it as purely a therapy which manipulates the nervous system mechanically, while others see it as manipulating energy fields flowing through the body. This latter approach is clearly not compatible with Biblical teaching. One should discern which approach is being applied by their accupuncturist.
Okay, so even if you accept that some therapies are based on anti-Christian beliefs, can’t you just use them for their benefit and leave the spiritual behind. First, this mistakenly separates the physical from the spiritual. We live out our faith in flesh and blood while we fight in the spiritual realm. Disconnecting them is a big mistake. Second, how closely should we walk to temptation? Shouldn’t we stay further away from things we acknowledge to be wrong? Finally, we may know that we are not buying into the worldview underneath, but will our neighbor? The Bible does teach that we are responsible for leading others astray.
We may downplay the spiritual aspects described above, but our justifications do not change reality. In my practice, I want to provide sufficient information for patients faced with decisions whether they are choosing between medications and surgery, between conventional and alternative therapies, or between therapies based on Christian principles or non-Christian worldviews. The choice belongs to the patient, but I don’t want patient’s to make decisions with their eyes closed. If I do that, I have not glorified God in my medical practice and I have violated principle one.
PS: If you are suffering and feel convicted/guilty of having chosen a therapy contrary to the Bible, I have good news. God forgives…when we ask for forgiveness.
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.