There is a church in the Portland area that has come under fire for their no-traditional-medicine, faith healing approach to medical concerns. A teen died a few months ago due to an easily treatable condition that his parents chose not to treat conventionally, relying on prayer alone. His parents were convicted on charges of child neglect. And in my opinion, rightfully so. Now their newest thing is a family refusing to get an eye condition of their 7 month old daughter treated that could cause blindness if left untreated.
Here is the story.
Here is a comment I wrote on KATU (one of the Portland news stations)'s fan page regarding this:
I'm a Christian and believe God can and does perform miracles, BUT its on HIS terms, not ours! And sometimes the answer is the quiet, simple one, not the "flashy," mystic one. God imparted humans with great intelligence; the intelligence to heal others through medicine. In fact, one of the authors of the Bible (Luke) was himself a doctor! Why would Jesus (God in the flesh) possibly choose a doctor as one of His 12 disciples and an author of part of His Word if He didn't believe what they do is holy and good? And Paul instructed Timothy to drink wine (the "medicine" of that time) to cure a stomach ailment. (1 Timothy 5:23) Based on that evidence, how can I possibly believe God is against conventional medicine? If you need healing, go get it! Don't wait for a miracle to fall out of the sky, because the miracle is already here - you just have to go get it! These people clearly don't understand the Bible. This is a cult, and not a true representation of Christianity. Most Christians are intelligent, reasonable people who would do ANYHTING for the good of their children (which God also supports). Its clear these people are more wrapped up in obeying their cult than doing right by their children, and that just sickens me!
That is by no means all my thoughts, but it is a good start/summary. So to elaborate, let's start with the faith aspect of this.
I guess one of my biggest issues with this is, these people are completely misinterpreting God's heart. If Christians are called to be representations of God, then they are representing God as someone who neglects His children. They think they are honoring God by their choices to ignore mainstream medicine, but in actuality, they are misunderstanding Him, and therefore misrepresenting Him. They are not a true picture of the TRUE God! But yet, its extremist cult members like this that give the collective body of Christians a bad wrap. Its extremists like this, who do NOT understand God's Word and His ways, that are sometimes all the world see. As a Christian, it frustrates me that I get lumped in with people like this. And it also makes me sad that there are people out there who don't know God....even if they think they do. They don't understand that He would do ANYTHING for us, and that His heart is that we love our children as he loves us.
This may seem like a harsh statement, but I would never want to follow, much less serve, a God that expected me to neglect the needs of my children. I would venture to say I may even walk away from a God who wanted me to do that. My children are my life, my breath...everything that I care about. I love my children more than words could ever convey! I would do anything for them! I would even DIE for them! And God, the TRUE God, feels the same way about His children - you and I. Think about it for a second... God came to Earth, in the form of a man, Jesus Christ, to bring His children back to Him, to teach His children His ways, to heal their hearts, and ultimately to lay down His life for them. THAT is how a parent is supposed to treat their children!! A parent is supposed to do ANYTHING for their child whom they love....ANYTHING....even lay down their life for them. And as I said I wouldn't hesitate to lay down my life for my children, God didn't hesitate to lay down His. So I am left with one burning, and quite disturbing, question... Why are these people unwilling to love their children as Jesus loves us? If they are truly followers of Christ (and that is the name of their church, "Followers of Christ"), then why aren't they following His examples?
As a Christian, I am by no means opposed to "letting go and letting God." Not at all! But I feel like we need to do something proactive too; to do what we are capable of, and let God deal with what we are incapable of. We should ask for God's help, wisdom, and guidance in everything, but we still need to be diligent. I believe in the power of prayer with all my heart. I wouldn't be sitting here today as a Christian if it weren't, in large part, because of the constant prayer of a friend of mine over the course of 4 years. But I believe that if the answer is right there in front of us, yet we ignore it, then we are ignoring the answer God has already provided for us. Which to me is like saying, "Sorry God, this isn't good enough. Can I have something else please?" "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (James 1:17, NIV) Did you get that?? EVERY good and perfect gift comes from God above! To have a good and perfect gift in front of you and ignore it, seeking another gift - a bigger, better, different, more "significant" gift - is, how do I put it nicely? Rude? Inconsiderate? Selfish? It would be like me going out and buying my kids a swingset for Christmas, and my son saying, "Yeah, that's nice and all, Mom, but can you buy me a DS instead?" I took the time, the energy, and the money to provide him with a great gift, something he could use and enjoy. To tell me he wanted a different gift would just be rude, inconsiderate, and selfish, right?! So to do so toward God would be all that much more, right?! That's the way I see it.
And one other thing... Christians (myself included!) are opposed to abortion, believing that no life should be terminated, no matter how small or new. Yet, these same people who don't support abortion are evidently okay with the termination of the life of their child if they need medical help. It makes no sense. Life is life. If you can't support abortions, but can support watching your teenage son die of a treatable condition, then I'm sorry....doesn't that make you a hypocrit?
Okay, now for a more legal/political look at this topic....
I am all for the separation of church and state - both as a Christian and a Libertarian. I want the church out of the state's affairs, and the state out of the church's affairs. But that said, medical neglect is a form of neglect, neglect is a form of abuse, and abuse deserves punishment. And for anyone outside of a faith healing church, its cut and dry - "you do the crime, you do the time." You neglect a child, you abuse a child, you go to jail. Its that simple. Why should any faith be an excuse not to pay the same penalties as anyone else for the exact same crime? They are still Americans, and should therefore still have to answer to an American court of law. As soon as we start making exceptions, that is when our judicial system no longer means anything. So on that note, I am thankful that the State of Oregon didn't let these parents off scott-free. THEY, and they alone, were the only thing standing between life and death for their child! And now, this new family with the little girl, her parents are the only obstacle between sight and blindness. How sad and selfish!
If you are a legal adult and want to refuse medical intervention, fine, be my guest. That is your right. But if you are a child's caregiver, you are supposed to advocate for and protect that child and meet their needs. And if you don't, then you have just committed abuse. Its that simple. And no amount of religious justification can make that right, nor should it get you off the hook.
I believe that every American has a right to their own belief systems, and I think one thing that sets America apart is the protection of one's religious rights and freedoms. But the Constitution clearly states that the government's job is to intervene in matters of violation of someone's God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Denying your child life- or sight-saving treatments is clearly a violation of the right to life! So its a cause for the government to take action. Prosecution is the clear consequence.
There's more I wanted to add, but its not coming to me right now. I guess that's what happens when you make a blog a week-long project. But oh well....you get the idea.