There was a time when it used to surprise folks when they heard my husband and I ate meat and vaccinated our children. While it is true that my medicine cabinet is well stocked with various tinctures, essential oils, and plants (I actually just cleared up a bad case of hives with dandelion root this week! Praise God!), I also keep an epi pen in my First Aid Kit. Why? Well, turns out there isn’t much that grows out of the ground that can help me if I get stung on the neck by a bee. Our philosophy on medicine is that God gave us the tools we need to live well. We don’t much care whether they come from a lab or our own backyard so long as they do the job well and we can genuinely thank God for them.
I was raised in a fairly “natural” home. I never had any vaccinations as a child, ate whole grains, virtually no processed foods and my mother had 3 midwives and 6 successful home births (I still remember checking all the labels on the meat packages in our freezer knowing a couple of them were her placentas). My husband had a slightly different upbringing, raised with a (at the time) more commonplace influence from modern medicine. You can imagine the kind of discussions that were sparked when we started discussing normal parental decisions like healthcare, birthing place/methods and whether or not to circumcise our sons. He was (and continues to be) patient with me, and I had/have ample opportunity to practice the type of God ordained submission talked about in our Bibles.
In the last couple years, my husband has been pursuing his master’s degree to become a Physician (PA). We decided together to go in this direction, factoring in our mutual fascination of the world God made combined with ever-increasing personal experience and interest in illness (God has seen fit to give me a host of weird body and mental challenges ranging in severity from Hyperemesis Gravidarum, PTSD and Depression to Reynaud’s Phenomena– that’s right, I have a phenomena — and poor circulation). Sadly, in under 4 years, we’ve literally gone from being invited to “pox parties” to receiving snarky comments about his career choice in the hallways at church. On the flip side, we also encounter skepticism (and occasionally alienation) from those who operate primarily in the realm of modern medicine.
Now, I’m not here to complain. We do have a genuine interest in both old and new health lotions, potions, pills and procedures. We enjoy learning new things, discovering the magic God had placed in our hands for cultivation to the end of knowing Him and blessings others. We don’t believe everyone needs to agree with us or that we are infallible, however, we would love to see the rifts in fellowship, the unkindness, the sharp words, the desperation and lack of joy (symptoms which indicate potential idolatry) regarding health care decrease. The world is broken, no one and nothing apart from Christ is perfect. Please forgive my lack of finesse when I say, we all need to stop whining and work together! We certainly need to stop allowing our own elementary understanding of God’s world distract us from our explicit, God-given responsibility to encourage those around us (1 Thessalonians 5:11). I’m not throwing around accusations and if you think I’m talking to you, you are probably mistaken. On the other hand, maybe you, like I, need to ask yourself these fundamental questions from time to time:
- Do you believe God is for you? Then who and what can be against you?
- Do you believe God is good? Then why are you so afraid?
- Do you believe He is ultimately in control of everything? Then why are you worried?
The tragedy is not that my husband and I end up spending a lot of time discussing different types of medical methods and even defending people we don’t necessarily agree with. The tragedy isn’t that we don’t fit into a nice, cozy click to keep us feeling safe in our ideas. The tragedy certainly isn’t that there are different opinions (that is actually a blessing designed to equip, sharpen and encourage one another). What is horrible is that the weak are rarely helped through zingy memes and Facebook debates, the ill are not healed by arguing over them and worst of all, God Himself often gets forgotten amid in the finger-pointing. The problem isn’t modern medicine or alternative medicine, the problem isn’t who has more letters after their name, who has a better education, or whose older; the problem is sin — this subject merely becomes the vessel for it.
The exhortation is this: remember that you don’t have to agree about methods, you MUST love your neighbor more than yourself (Galatians 5:14). You MUST think more highly of the other guy then you do of yourself (Philippians 2:3). You should sacrifice yourself, your time and your ego to speak charitably with all humility and love. And no, I don’t think I’ve mastered this art myself, but I am certainly getting in a lot of practice, for which I am praising God.
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:29-32 (MSG)