Thursday, July 23, 2009

Faith Healing

There's a local case (which I think made national news?) about a couple whose daughter died. The reason she died? They relied on faith healing, and did not seek medical treatment for her. As a result, she died from complications which could have been easily avoided, if only her parents had taken her to a doctor when it became obvious that she needed help.

I'm all for freedom of religion, so I hate to say this, but I think this is just wrong. Yes, I do totally believe in the power of prayer, but sometimes a little mundane help is needed. Perhaps I can illustrate my point with a little story:

There was a flood coming, but a man who had strong faith in God refused to go to safety. The first person who came to him was a police officer, who said "Come on, we need to get you to higher ground." The man said "My faith in God will protect me. I'm staying." So the police officer left.

A second person came in a canoe. This person said "Come on -- I'll get you to safety!" The man said "No, my belief in God will protect me." The same drill happened later when a helicopter came to rescue him from where he was perched on his rooftop.

The man wound up drowning. When he came before God, he said "I trusted you to rescue me! Why didn't you?" God replied, "I tried. THREE TIMES."

I heard this as a joke, actually, but on reflection I realized that it makes a good point. Yes, miracles do occur. Sometimes they occur in the form of people who want to help.

Use the tools available to you. If you want to use prayer, great -- I know that when I am worried about someone who is hurt, I pray to Brighid. But also seek medical treatment, in addition to prayer. For all you know, it might be the miracle that will make the difference between life and death.


Anonymous said...

I've heard this joke as well. But it's a christian and an atheist on the back of a ship. The christian wants to show that God will save him. So when he jumps overboard. They throw a life preserver tied to a rope to him.. he swims away. They send a boat and a helicopter, he swims away. When he finally dies and arrives at the gate of heaven, St. Peter can only say "We sent you a life preserver, a boat and a helicopter. What else did you want?".

I don't mean to be cruel about this, but even christians say "God works in mysterious ways". Why do such ways have to be magical? Why is a life preserver not a miracle?

Sarita said...

Maybe because it's an every day object, unlike Moses parting the Red Sea.