Praying Parents Praiseworthy?

I’ve gotten involved in a conversation with Nick Norelli about the couple who prayed for their child but did not seek medical assistance, with the result that the child died.

Somehow we need to sort this issue out from a legal perspective. Parental negligence cannot be left open to justification by appeal to religion. From the perspective of Christianity, however, there should be no doubt that these parents’ action was utterly despicable. I submit three passages for the consideration of those who would defend the parents:

James 2:14-17 says:

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Isn’t this exactly what the parents did? They spoke words, but did not act on behalf of one in need. According to the Bible we are responsible even for those we don’t know (which will lead us on naturally to the next passage from the Bible), but how much more are we responsible then for our own children?

In the second passage, the parable of the good Samaritan, it would be all too easy to assume that the priest and Levite were heartless individuals. That would make us feel less guilty when we read it. But should we assume that they passed by out of indifference? Was it not more likely that they were concerned for ritual purity, or for their own safety? We should not assume that they did not pray. What set the Samaritan apart was that he did something. This point is even clearer in the next text. Matthew 25:34-36 says:

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Note, once again, that no one is praised for having prayed for the poor, the hungry, the sick, the imprisoned and the naked. Prayer, according to the Bible, is not enough. Sometimes it may be all you can do. But that is to be viewed as an unfortunate circumstance, not an ideal one.

This is yet one more example of a “Biblical” Christianity that doesn’t know the Bible. Behold the damage that it does. Dare we go so far to say that those who advocate these ignorant forms of Christianity are complicit in murder?

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