Fountain #4: Secular Thinking and Medicine

Modern medicine, in viewing the patient through a purely secular lens depersonalizes the “sick person” into an object for study and calls them a patient. The patient is no longer whole, but an object divided into smaller and smaller parts as specialization focuses on organs rather than the whole person.

Relationships are devalued.  Doctors are taught to remain neutral in relation to the patient.  The patient is further isolated from relational context such that the social environment contributed to their illness is ignored.

The human spirit is left out in the cold as well.  Because it is beyond the realm of scientific measurement, the spiritual aspects of the person is ignored or denied.  When illness threatens life purpose and meaning, secular medicine has no answer.  At best secular medicine compartmentalizes the mental and spiritual problems of the patient, leaving them to the perview of the religious professional.  No one addresses the patient as a whole.

Human life is no longer valued except in regards to what it can contribute to society.  Fetuses and those nearing the end of life are disposed of by abortion and euthanasia.  Eventually, the value of a sick person is considered less than the well.

Rather than approaching patients in a mindset of service, medicine has transformed into economics, markets, and business.  Competition vies for market share instead of serving the patient, especially the poor patient.

Secular medicine leaves no room for ultimate reality.  Death is the proverbial end of the road.  It is the end of dreams and aspirations.  Hope is destroyed by death.

Even community health falls prey to secular medicines misperceptions and misapplications.  The community is not viewed as an organism with life, but as an object of study.  Production units and other statistics make the shift from life to scientific investigations.  From there, community health becomes an outside work in which the professionals from outside the community impress better health into the community rather than working from within the community.

Christians might falsely believe that they do not fall into the same traps of secular medicine, but they would be wrong in many ways.  The church itself relegated itself to care for the soul which it considered of more importance.  In falling under the spell of Greek philosophy separating mind and body centuries ago, the Church made it easier to leave the physical care to others.  Along the way, the Church began to teach acceptance of suffering as the Christian life rather than combat illness as a work of Satan as Jesus did.  Now Christians participate in the same fragmented model of care.  Hospital chaplains function entirely independently from the medical team.  We neglect the impact of relationships in the patient’s illness.  We fail to engage them as a whole person.  The uncomfortable nature of death prevents us from preparing them for what all must face.  We fail to care for communities with justice through the same means as the secular world.  What must change?


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