One thing I like about Patheos is it gives us a chance to read what others think of us. It isn’t always pretty, it isn’t always comfortable reading. But listening to other’s perspectives is often of benefit us. Sometimes they may prompt us to say something we wouldn’t have otherwise, as the “Friendly Atheist” did today. I read his post about a couple who have apparently not sought medical help on two occasions leading in each case to their death of a child.
Friendly Atheist feels that Christians are nowhere to be seen when it comes to responding to things like this. Here is an extract of what he said:
Religion shouldn’t be a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.
And we shouldn’t have to wait for a third Schaible child to die before the parents are punished for their faith-based homicide.
On a side note, a lot of Christians will go to great lengths to protest abortion rights because they oppose “killing innocent babies.” But those same groups are basically nowhere to be found in cases of faith-healing deaths.
I’m not familiar with the case, and at least in the second situation we should hold to the usual “innocent until proven guilty” rule. But I am sure that all my regular readers would agree that people with physical illness should pray AND simultaneously seek medical help in exactly the same way as unbelievers. I am sure that all my readers would join me in arguing parents must care for their children by utilizing the skills of the medical profession.
We would argue that the same God who urges us to go to him in prayer has also given the skills to Doctors to heal us by medicine. I have heard of accounts where people were healed on the way to the doctor. Interestingly, when Jesus healed the lepers in his day he would send them to the Priests who fulfilled something of a medical role in those days. God even chose a doctor to write one of the gospels. I hope that Christians everywhere will not feel guilty about visiting a doctor, and would urge their friends to do the same. Faith and works are called for!
Unfortunately, there are many people who still feel guilty about going to the doctor when they have a mental illness. Somehow mental illness feels different, perhaps partly because of what the Bible says about joy, and probably more so because it remains a taboo topic for many Christians. I believe things are changing, and am praying that the pace of such change will accelerate. I do believe that God can heal today, both physical and mental illness. But I also believe that he gives us doctors to assist in his healing work. I would never discourage a Christian from seeking medical assessment, advice, and treatment whatever condition they are suffering with.
I think it is important that we are vocal about some of the issues that our opponents think we are silent about. Perhaps Christians don’t speak much about this kind of thing because we know that the vast majority of Christians would agree with the perspective outlined in this post. But we must learn not to assume, especially when those that disagree with use our silence to assume things about us.